Let Them Be

My mother handed down to me a Christmas Cactus about 5 years ago. “I could never get it to bloom,” she said.

My mother’s thumb is ever-green, so for her to give me this plant was a sure sign she knew its demise grew near. I can’t keep anything belonging in nature alive. I took the pot and stuck it next to the fireplace. If nothing else, the container was a pretty shade of red.

I ignored the cactus until late Fall, when I saw a tiny pink bud appear. Huh. Interesting. Then I forgot about it once more.

Every so often, the kids would have a half filled water bottle. Instead of dumping the contents down the drain, I’d tell them to pour it in the plant.

A year passed and my parents came to visit for the holidays. “The cactus is blooming!” Mom exclaimed. Sure enough, 3 pink blossoms peeked through the prickly stems. Huh. Interesting.

This year, pink flowers are everywhere on the plant; this greenery survived a third house move, more neglect, and since July – puppy nibbles. I am now the Christmas Cactus Whisperer. The answer? Let it be.

Letting things be is a good philosophy sometimes. I’m not saying to ignore the care-taking of your children by any means, but to leave them alone every once in a while isn’t a bad thing.

Take, for instance, Eldest. She’s an introvert, nothing like her mother. In a group, she’ll hang back and observe before attempting to make conversation. (If she DOES decide to make conversation.) Countless times I’ve pushed her, “Go! Get in there! Make friends!” Since she was a tot, an annoyed glare has been her only response. Once I leave her alone, she’ll usually end up with a friend or two. Sometimes, though, not. Even then, I’m the only one who’s bothered. She always seems perfectly fine.

Then there’s Youngest. That girl makes a snail look as speedy as a cheetah. Home-schooling can be rough when I think I need to stick to my schedule. Shoot – asking her to brush her teeth can be rough when sticking to my schedule.
“Hurry up!”
“Have you done math yet?”
“Hey, hey, hey! Are you paying attention?” 
“Nose in the book!”

Now if I leave her alone and tell her lessons need to be done before dance, theater, etc…, the work gets done. Not in my time, mind you, but it is finished. And when I’m not helicoptering over her, she retains information so much more than if she’s stressed by my pushing.

Letting plants be comes naturally to me. Letting people be does not. I can be overwhelming – I know that about myself. I need to stand back and not hover over those close to me. Only then will they bloom.

How do you allow for those you love to just be?

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