Wouldn't You Make That Trade?

Last year, I saved a couple Boston ferns to overwinter (CLICK HERE to see how).  Who wants to pay for new ones every spring?  
Just give them a drink every 3 weeks or so and they will survive.  The problem?  
They get scraggly.  The old dead fronds turn brown and brittle and need trimming.

The new growth seems determined to grow, like a toddler balancing on their tiptoes, just barely out of reach of the cookie dough spoon.  The problem?  Those old fern fronds are blocking the light and taking up valuable root space in the basket.

The solution?  You've got to shear those ferns.  You've got to go to town on them and cut away all the old, dead growth.  It did its job, it was beautiful, but now it is finished.  Time to move on, time to start anew.  Get those old fronds out of the way and new fronds will grow high and proud, lush fern foliage dripping out of the edges, waving in the wind.

There is an exception to the rule.   When you go to trim the fern and you find this:

Don't cut.  Don't touch that fern.  There are times when the dead fronds can stay.  Their purpose is greater than growth.  They are there to protect and hold 6 tiny little lives, so let them be.  There is a time in life when growth doesn't matter.  There is a time when improvement isn't needed.  When all you really need to do is hold and protect.  There is no need to groom properly.  There is no need to think deeply.  There is no need to move, or work or become a better person.

There is a time just to be that little fern, holding on to those dead fronds, and caring for those little eggs.  It will only be 6 weeks and the birds will be born, the eggs cracked and thrown out by mama bird.  The babies will grow unimaginably fast and then they will be gone.  Poof -- one day in summer and it is all over.  No more watching the mama flit from branch to branch, squawking over her babies.  No more tiny little chirps and tiny little beaks.  There will be time to prune the fern.  It can recover.  ...and if it doesn't?   Well, it is worth it, isn't it?  A fern for 6 tiny birds?  Wouldn't you make that trade?

I know that it is good for me to grow.  I know that it is good for me to think deeply, live lively, run and eat well.  I know that it is good for me to do pilates and have lunch with friends.  I know that I need to grow spiritually and intellectually.  I know that blogging and writing and list making renews my soul and gives me a fresh outlook.  I know it is good for me.  I know what I need and I know how to get it.  That doesn't mean I should.  There are hours, days and sometime years that my only job is to hold still and protect.  My personal growth matters not compared to the protection of my babies.  Protecting their hearts from hurts and protecting their lives from harm.  That is my only job.

There will be hours, and days and years that they won't need me anymore.  I can cut off the old and the used up bits of me and grow with renewed energy.  I will have time to grow later.  ...and if I don't?  Well, isn't it worth it?  Myself for 3 tiny little souls?  Wouldn't you make that trade?


Nessa Bixler said…
Oh my... here was a post where I thought I was going to become a better at caring for plants and then I get a beautiful look at being a better mom and human.
Four Flights said…
wow, amazing. such a beautiful sight to see and treasure to find!
Beth said…
Dang, here I was thinking I was gonna get a lesson on fern care and BOOM, you make me get all teary-eyed and stuff. How do you do that? Great post!
I always like lulling folks to sleep with garden talk and then smacking you in the face...like that song (is it Bach??)...whatever...anyway -- thank y'all for reading my thoughts out loud -- much love -- MWAH!
jess said…
speechless with a whole lotta goosebumps. thank you for the reminder. it's hard not to give into the pressureto do better, be better, live better at the expense of time with the kiddos. thanks for the reminder :)
Ginger said…
Wonderful post! :)
That was beautiful Amy, you "got" me too.. hugs to all of you!
I just blogged about finding a nest myself! It's in a much uglier location, but it also hadn't inspired me like it did you. :) Great post!
Hi! I'm Shannon said…
What a sweet, sweet post. Good thing that momma bird picked your fern. And your babies picked you =)
Lisa said…
Wow. Incredibly well said. This is something I have been struggling with lately...letting go of MY growth so that my little ones have ample space to do their own growing with my help and protection. Thank you.
Beautiful find, beautiful post.
Anonymous said…
There are 5 eggs that are the same and 1 that is different. There are birds that will lay their egg in another birds nest. If the 1 different egg hatches 1st, it will kick out the other eggs or babies :-(