In the Weeds*
At the front of my house, there is a stone pathway that runs alongside my driveway.
For most of the summer, it has been more weeds than walkway, and as much as I’ve tried to give myself some grace about it, I hated looking at it.
It was like this visual reminder of all the ways that I was failing. In my head, when we had purchased the house last fall, the walkway was this beautiful pristine path that I had since neglected.
So, as I sat on my step one day in late July, I yanked out a weed. And then another. It was strangely fulfilling. I know there are probably much easier and much more efficient methods to do this, but since it felt like my fault that I had let the walkway grow over, it was my penance to pull them out one by one.
After that, whenever I had a moment, I would slip outside to pull a few weeds. At first, it seemed like it wasn’t even worth it. I would pull out handfuls and it barely looked like I did anything.
But gradually, inch by inch, a beautiful patchwork of stones appeared. I could only ever steal snippets of free time to do this, and my old lady back would only tolerate me bending to pull them for only so long.
While I was down in the dirt, all I could see were the stretches of weeds ahead of me. It wasn’t until I stood up and stepped back that I could see the difference of where I’d been, to where I was now.
Isn’t life a little like that sometimes? When we’re in the weeds, it’s all we can see. But when we stand up and step back, it’s easier to see the progress we’ve made.
My little patchwork of stones became like my own secret garden that I was quietly reclaiming. Every inch that I cleared was a little victory. Even on the days where I have felt so overwhelmed, I look out at my path and see the progress I’ve made, one weed at a time.
I’ve had some setbacks, and it’s taken me so much longer than it probably should have. As I worked outside tonight, it still looked like I had so much further to go.
…but then I stepped back and looked again at the whole path. The whole picture.
When I began, it felt like such an enormous job… but I just kept going. And every time it felt like what I was doing wasn’t making a difference, I would stand, step back and see my progress.
I only have a few feet left to go until I’ve totally reclaimed my beautiful patchwork stone path. I know it’s silly, but it was like this benchmark upon which I compared the previous homeowners ability to care for and maintain this house to my own.
Then, a little while ago, a photo we took when we first viewed the house popped up in my Timehop. It was beautiful. I remembered why we fell in love with the house as soon as we drove up.
…but then I saw something. I zoomed in. The pristine walkway I had “remembered” was all in my head. There, plain as day in the photo, was a walkway FULL of weeds. I had spent weeks beating myself up for a problem that was there before me. Here I was worrying that the neighborhood would think that I had “let the house go”, when really, I was making it look better than it had when we bought it.
My “secret garden” is now more stones than weeds. I’m almost there. I’m kinda proud of that.
When I’m “in the weeds”, all that I can see are the ways that I’m struggling. My house is a mess a lot of the time, and sometimes I yell at my kids. I don’t always cook because I’m tired, and sometimes it’s just easier to serve chocolate pancakes than fight about vegetables. My lawn probably needs to be cut, my kids fight non-stop and my laundry pile is like a volcano, ready to erupt. Weeds everywhere.
…but then I have a moment where I remember to stand, step back and look at the whole path. After a long day of non-stop bickering, tonight I watched my children happily play together in the playhouse my husband labored to build. No one cared about messes or laundry, and they were thrilled to have pancakes for dinner.
At the end of the day, despite the ways that I worry that I’m failing, they are happy, and they know that they are loved.
Isn’t that enough?
When I look for the weeds, that’s all I will see. When I compare my pathway to others, it rarely feels like it ever measures up.
But this little patchwork of stones is mine… and under the weeds, it’s beautiful.
Sometimes I just need to remember to step back and appreciate it… even when it’s not perfect.