When I was a little girl, my family lived in a house with a big back yard. Most of the backyard was nicely landscaped and manicured, but at the very back edge of the property was a dirt slope that was prone to weeds. In the summer mornings, my parents would herd all five kids outside with paper grocery bags, and tell us we couldn’t come inside until we had each filled a bag of weeds.
I don’t think this was cruel and unusual punishment. In fact, thinking about it now, I think it was pretty clever. Those long summer months, with five kids to occupy, must have been stressful to my poor mom. Of course we took summer school (yes, children, in the dark ages, there used to be school in the summer). We had ballet lessons and swimming lessons and went to the park and the beach, all that. But three long months to come up with activities to keep a pack of kids from killing each other, I think today’s modern moms might blanch at the idea.
Anyway, once we were assigned to our garden duties, my older brothers would dutifully start pulling weeds and working towards filling their bags. But Wendy and I had another solution. We would fill our bags about an inch or two from the top with dirt, and then sprinkle a handful of weeds over it, like icing on a cake. We would then present our bags to the warden, I mean, my mom, and would be allowed back in the house to play with our Barbies.
As an adult, I have owned two houses, both with large yards. And I have enjoyed pulling a weed here and there. There’s something really satisfying about pulling a big old weed out by the roots. I walk my yard every day or so, looking for weeds, clipping and trimming flowers, and generally think I do a good job of maintaining the property (with the help of gardeners, who come by once a week to mow and blow).
This weekend, my parents were over, and we toured the yard. My stepmom looked at one of the flower beds and mentioned, wow, you have a ton of weeds here. And I looked down and saw to my horror, that the whole path was lined with weeds. And not weeds that had suddenly appeared. They had obviously been sprouting for some time, and my myopic Mr. Magoo like scope had failed to see them. Suddenly, I was horrified, and felt that I had failed at maintaining my property. I vowed to spend time every day out there working until I had yanked every weed.
Last night, I was talking to Kerry, and shared with her a decision I had made yesterday regarding a career option. She didn’t agree with my decision, and explained why. And while I stood by my choice, as soon as I got off the phone, I felt awful. I felt full of doubt, about my decision, about my future, about the weeds in my garden. I know it sounds like an overreaction, and it probably was. Kerry is incredibly supportive of me, and certainly didn’t intend to set the swirl in motion. And she didn’t, I did it all by myself.
But doubt is a weed. It can grow quickly, and when you aren’t looking, it can choke your mind and your faith. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be open to critical comments and feedback, or even differing opinions. You must be. But, you also have to make a decision to stand by your choices and not let yourself second guess. You have to pull the doubt out by the roots, so it can’t grow back or take over your life when you aren’t looking. I’m headed out to the yard now, to finish pulling the weeds that have sprouted. And, I’m not filling a bag with dirt with weed icing either.
The end, for now