Tamára Lunardo

Author & Editor



February 2012



Watering Weeds into Flowers

Written by , Posted in life

It was a day-after-day kind of day. Another day at home, twin three-year-olds whining at me, wearing on me, pulling on me and my threadbare patience. I read all about the French parents and their supremely well-behaved offspring that the entire Internet was going ga-ga over, and I was 12-years tired of my whole stay-at-home gig, and these people amazed and inspired and pissed me off, and I tried to reproduce their authoritative tone, but I guess I lacked a certain je ne sais quoi because my smallest children kept acting like total merde.

“I hate staying at home,” I confessed.

And it was selfish, this admission out loud, this burden on the man whose hands were tied to an office desk, whose heart broke a little more every time he heard over the phone that his babies were not delighted over. But his words bore no admonishment, only gentle truth: “You won’t have that forever. And then you’ll miss it, you know.”

And I knew it; I know it. But that day I didn’t want to pay the price for future fond memories. Right then, that day, I didn’t want to be yelled at about tightening the straps of tiny shoes. I wanted to do my work, alone.

So they yelled and I yelled back, and instead of discipline I taught them “goddammit,” and I felt bad for them but mostly I felt bad for myself.

He came home for lunch but the respite was brief because they wanted to sit on my lap before I’d finished my salad. And I was hungry. So I grumped and I gritched til I didn’t have to hold them, and I got to eat my salad, but he held the big-blue-eyed babies, and they laid curly heads on Daddy, and I could tell they were all filled.

Before he left, he reminded us about watering the new plants in the garden– strawberries and lettuce to grow and to grow on. So I heaved sighs and we donned shoes and I-know-I-know-you-want-me-to-tighten-the-strap.

I stood by the spigot, filling and refilling sun-bleached plastic watering cans, and my littlest girls made merry trails of drops, back and forth between a grumpy mama and a winter-worn garden. But after a few minutes of tuned-out refill duty, I noticed that they were watering weeds.

And I realized that’s what I’d been doing all day.

So I gently guided their efforts to watering the fruit- and flower-bearing plants, and after they decided our work was done, my two tiny girls delighted to pick me bouquets. And I could see that they were weeds, but in that moment, they looked just like flowers.

  • http://smkelly8.wordpress.com smkelly8

    So refreshingly true. You’re not the only one.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thanks for saying so; it helps. 🙂

  • http://www.lifebeforethebucket.com Adrian W.

    I like the “Why French Parents are Superior” tag on this post. =)

    I used to do maintenance and landscaping work, and so I have a special distaste for weeds. Anytime I seem them, I cringe. However, I’ve never thought of how I view others who seem like weeds in my life, so this was eye-opening in that aspect.

    Thanks for these words!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Oh gosh, no– I hope it didn’t come across that way. I didn’t see my girls as weeds; it was my actions and reactions that were the weeds. My sweet girls helped me change my attitude, watered my weeds into flowers. So sorry if that didn’t come across.

      • http://davwalk.wordpress.com David N. Walker

        It did. Loud and clear.

        • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

          Thanks, David! My inner perfectionist is assuaged. 😉

  • http://faithchaser.wordpress.com FaithChaser

    Boy, that was a real “snap my head backward” realization this morning, Tamara.

    For all my philosophizing about proper ways to parent without dousing the fire of my son’s spirit, I never thought about it being just as easily doused by watering the wrong things. Those “weeds” will grow up and strangle the beautiful “flowers” of his soul and keep him from God’s purpose for his life.

    This image is a very powerful one for me; thanks for sharing, Tamara.

    We are here and we learn by God’s grace.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I’m glad it reached you that way today.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

    I find that anger sometimes builds momentum, and it almost grabs me and shoves me forward in a direction I don’t want to go. It’s so hard to yank myself out of it. Sometimes we need a jolt, even if its a gentle metaphor in the garden.

    This post also reminds me that I’m totally in for it with our first child arriving this July. Totally… in… for… it.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      That’s exactly how I get– propelled in directions I don’t want to go. Thank God for the jolts.

      And yeah, you’re screwed, buddy. And so, so blessed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1553906570 Karen Moret Harrison

    I remember the days you’re writing about. When I was pregnant with my second child, I remember being sad and telling my husband “I like just the 3 of us. I don’t know enough about her (my daughter) to start focusing on another child. She’ll be 18 before we know it and out of the house.”

    He laughed at me and said I was being dramatic. Well, here she is 17 years old. I want to go back in time and re-see the things I miss. Not the big things; just the day to day stuff.

    There were many times during the past years I resented being a stay-at-home Mom. Mostly in the infant and toddler years. Once the were old enough for Mother’s Day Out, I didn’t resent it quite as much. But now when I see the fine young lady my daughter has become and the tender-hearted young man my son is, I know ever day was worth it. Well, that might be a stretch. Let’s go with most days were worth it.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      “I want to go back in time and re-see the things I miss. Not the big things; just the day to day stuff.” Thank you for saying this from where you are on the other side; I needed to hear it.

  • Harmony

    Man, that is my week.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Just keep on the look-out for the flowers, my friend. Glad we’re in this real-life thing together.

  • http://onewomansperspective02.wordpress.com Rebecca Carney – One Woman’s Perspective

    Ah…how I wish I could go back and water more flowers than weeds. In the moment, sometimes other things seem more important that the busy busyness of the days at hand. Great post.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Yes, and even when I know that these other things aren’t always more important, they so often seem much more desirable. *sigh*

    • http://gravatar.com/onewomansperspective02 Rebecca Carney – One Woman’s Perspective

      Your post is especially poignant following the death of one of those children…there is so much I wish I could go back and change or do-over. Things I thought so important at the time now seem so miniscule. Cherish the moments…they only come by once.

      • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

        Thanking you for your grace through my own tears. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  • Laura B

    I don’t think I could do it, Tamara. But I do know I spend many moments each day gazing longingly at the freeze-framed smiles that adorn my office, wishing she would run in for just another hug or to report another mess. Oh, to have the best of both worlds.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      This reminds me of an older mom who once said, “You can have everything, just not all at once.” I try to live in the truth of that, but mostly I eff it up with my own impatience. 🙂

  • http://thisgalsjourney.wordpress.com Jennifer

    Oh, girl, you got me. That is me. Has been me. Why don’t I notice, nurture, tend to my flowers instead of spreading more fertilizer on the weeds in my own heart??

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Weeds spring up and thrive so much more easily than flowers. Flowers take real tending. Here’s to our gardening a little better today.

  • http://maywoodliving.wordpress.com Kathy Harp

    I thought those years would never end. I thought diapers would go on forever. I thought car seats would never come out (oh wait, they don’t!!!) I remember screaming with the windows wide open for all the neighbors to hear. But my daughters remember music playing and fresh baked cookies and, oddly enough, a clean house. (Go figure on that one!) And I remember sunny days and the freedom to go with the flow rather than by the clock.
    What is a weed? Any unwanted plant. A rose bush in a corn field is a weed. A dandelion bouquet is a treasure. It’s all a matter of perspective. But you know that.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      A matter of perspective. Funny how I knew it enough to write it, but I find your reminder still teaching me; thanks for that.

  • http://gravatar.com/lauriemohr Thoughts From a Real Life

    I remember days like this all too well. Thank you for sharing your beautiful and honest perspective. -Laurie

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thanks. I think sometimes just being honest about the crap and hearing that you’re not the only one with it is a big help.

  • http://shawnsmucker.com Shawn Smucker

    Your house sounds very much like our house. My wife and I talk about this staying-home thing on a regular basis. I like the open-endedness of the post because there really is no neatly-wrapped resolution when it comes to being a stay-at-home mom who also has outside aspirations.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I’m really looking forward to meeting you guys– it will be a delightful madhouse. And yeah, there’s no neatly-wrapped resolution here, not if I’m honest. And I think sometimes we just need an honest glimpse instead of a perfect package.

  • http://meetthebuttrams.wordpress.com Meet the Buttrams

    I think we’re in the same place, my dear. Thank you for this.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      My pleasure. These “you’re not alone” responses are really lifting me.

  • http://leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    Oh my word, Tamara. This is beautiful and unexpected. Even though I nanny and give the baby back to her parents at the end of the day, I fight through those moments of wishing she’d take her nap so I can write. It’s silly because I adore her and her family and this gift that they’ve given me- a paycheck that affords me the opportunity to write. So I try to put my agenda aside and focus on my part in growing this little girl. The rest can wait.

    • http://twitter.com/life_edited Amanda Williams (@life_edited)

      Sweet Leigh. I am certain you are doing a fine job of loving that little one. Miss you.

      • http://leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

        Oh, thank you, dear friend. I hope so. Miss you, too.

  • http://twitter.com/life_edited Amanda Williams (@life_edited)

    This resonates with me so much I want to laugh and cry all the same. Laugh from the joy and gift that I really am not alone. I know people say it all the time, say that they understand, but your words just proved that you really do. Oh, thank God!

    I don’t have a garden, but I do water my weeds. And most days I feel justified in doing so. I spew anger, I grow resentment, I feel hurt and misunderstood and hopeless. And those three little angels take it all and give back love. I’ll never understand how God can use such tiny beings to be such a megaphone of grace and love, but I am thankful. Your post reminds me that I am oh so thankful.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thankful along with you, for knowing we’re not alone and for being blessed beyond deserving.

  • http://iamjakz.wordpress.com Jakz

    I see it like this- As an at-home mom, we’re helping to create a masterpiece out of our children, but sometimes all we see are the tedious, endless little brush strokes. Small work that leads to no visible end. Sometimes we need to step back and view the canvas as a whole, incoplete yet beautiful.

    Parenting is nothing less than exhausting. You’re not alone! But days do get easier!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      It’s so true; I’m glad for that small moment where I got to step back and see it.

  • http://twitter.com/sarahbessey Sarah Bessey (@sarahbessey)

    Absolutely beautiful, Tamara. You are reading my own mail here.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thank you, friend. I’ve added it to your Practice of Parenting blog carnival. It’s not the most pristine practice, but it’s my real practice, in all its dirty truth.

  • http://www.agoodmeasure.net Sarah Park

    Oh, I know these feelings so well! My twin girls are almost five now, and it’s just this past year that I’ve looked at my husband and said, “You know, I actually enjoy them as *people* once in awhile now, when I’m not wanting to strangle them.”

    Thanks for your honest, encouraging words.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Ha! I’m glad you were encouraged. 🙂

  • EllieAnn

    I went through this a couple of months ago. It was not pretty.
    And I’ve just decided that I NEED to plant a garden so that I can learn all of these life lessons by tending to it. 😉

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I am grinning at the idea of a garden for lessons’ sake. You know you might be a writer if… 🙂

  • http://hailtothechic.wordpress.com Sinta Jimenez

    That’s beautiful! Relatedly I’m going to start growing some flowers soon with my toddler, hope it works out just as well!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Enjoy growing those flowers, in every sense.

  • http://fitnessgetzeasy.wordpress.com Chrystal

    A fantastic reminder to cherish what will be gone before we know it. Even when it doesn’t seem cherishable. LOVE!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I needed the reminder myself. Glad it helped you too!

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    Can I just gently say here – how very lovely it is to find your voice in this space again? This is beautiful, so true, so poignant. Yes, the stay-at-home gig gets old, but it’s truly garden time, isn’t it? Finding that balance between mothering well and maintaining personal sanity is tough to do sometimes. I’d say you’re finding it really well.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thank you; I miss writing here, but working on the book is so important. I know you know.

      I’m not sure how well I balance, but I’m grateful for the encouragement while I try.

  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

    i love this, and i know. we’ve been having One Of Those Weeks. your words are balm.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Ugh, I’m sorry you’ve had a week like that. How gracious, that we get to live in community and not go it alone.

  • http://rasjacobson.com Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson

    I’m sorry. I have to say, I think it’s lovely that you’ve wrapped this up in a lovely literary bow.


    You need to get a babysitter once in a while so you can get some work done.

    It’s not selfish, and you’ll appreciate your garden more after having been away for a little while.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thanks, friend. I think I ended the story where it felt right, but I certainly have no pretensions of wrapping it up in a bow. In fact, I wouldn’t even want that. I wanted to show real life, mostly in its messiness, but also a little in its beauty.

      I’m getting help once in a while. Thanks for looking out for me. xo

  • Elena Aitken

    SO not alone. Been there. Am there right now. Will be there again.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      “Will be there again.” Oy, that’s the dark humor in it, isn’t it? My kids range from 3 to almost 13, and it doesn’t get easier– just different. All hard, all worthwhile.

  • http://kvetchmom.wordpress.com kvetchmom

    I feel exactly the same way. Really. You are not alone. This is the hardest work. A lot of days I wish I was the one tied to an office desk. Thanks for your honesty!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Did you catch my jealous tone in that sentence? It was there. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!

  • http://www.paigekellerman.com Paige Kellerman

    Oh wow, are you sure you weren’t spying on me yesterday, so that you could write a full-length report on my crazy level? LMAO I have twins that are almost two and another one on the way. Staying at home is so hard, but so worth it. For me, it’s really about waking up and making it to bedtime, while remembering to feed, clothe and pick up a zillion messes. The twin thing is wonderful but they do tend to execute the “Push you, Pull you” syndrome quite nicely, don’t you think? I too have a problem with getting angry, but am trying my best to keep it in check. It’s nice to hear there are others out there doing the same day-today, flippin out, but loving their kids at the end of it…I’m off to eat chocolate and hide, now…

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Enjoy that chocolate. With twin toddlers and a baby on the way, you surely deserve it. 🙂

  • http://mattshedd.blogspot.com Matthew Shedd

    Thank you. You found me guilty today.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Well you can see that you’re not alone. 🙂

  • http://reconcilingviewpoints.wordpress.com reconciling viewpoints

    There are days, and there are days…. We all have ’em, whether we’re the one tied to the desk or the one tightening straps, filling sippy cups and cleaning messes.

    Real life…. weeds and flowers together, right?

    Good post!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thanks, Dan. Yeah, it’s easy to think the grass is greener, but I’m sure you’re right that it’s not.

  • brenda

    so honest..so raw..so true for so many moms..thank you…made me think of me some 30 years ago and brought tears to my eyes…loved it .thanks so much for posting

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thank you. I’m glad it touched you.

  • http://randomlychad.com RandomlyChad

    As a “work-outside-the-home” dad (what choice do I have?), surprisingly I find that I can identify the sentiments you express here. The workday grinds me down, and when I get home, I find I just want children who will listen. To me. When I issue a directive.

    Do I have such children?

    Not usually.

    This makes me mad.

    I say things I shouldn’t.

    So it goes…

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Does any of us have such children? Oh yeah, right– the French. *snort!*

  • http://www.newlifecalu.com Kim Wilson

    In the garden of blog posts, this is one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen in quite some time!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      So gracious of you; thanks, Kim.

  • http://www.joyinthisjourney.com Joy @ Joy In This Journey

    I really appreciate this. I’ve wanted to write about the struggle of motherhood but I honestly am afraid that confessing my eff-ups could get us in trouble. It’s comforting to know that I am not alone.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      It can be so hard. Writing won’t make it easier, but it might make it lighter. xo

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  • http://kathleencaron.wordpress.com kathleencaron

    Lovely reminder of the blessing of staying home with your children while they’re small. And I was surprised to learn that the French have children.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara


  • http://peanutbuttercupmoment.tumblr.com/ TJ

    This was REALLY good. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to quote you in the future. =) Thanks for making me think.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Aw, thanks. I’m glad you found some good stuff in there.

  • http://simplyjan.wordpress.com simplyjan

    I’m guilty of watering weeds, too, not just in terms of my attitude when I’m annoyed with parenting, but also with administrivia at work and little pet peeves with extended family and “obstacles” to my writing, etc. Thank you for the reminder that it’s all about where we focus our attention and how we choose to view life that matters most. Beautiful.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Thanks, I’m glad the message spoke to you.

  • http://ramblingbarba.com Ken Hagerman(The Barba)

    I am not a stay-at-home mom nor do I have twin 3yo girls but I do have “those” days. I had one particular crappy one recently when my vocal and tasteless complaints at God garnered me a realization that I was the one at fault. Damn.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      Ha! Those are the most uncomfortable learning moments. 🙂

  • http://janaecharlotte.wordpress.com Janae

    It is with much appreciation and laughter that I read through your mama-life post. So few speak about the tired, the goddammit, the just-wanna-be-doing-something-{anything!}-other-than-mama-right-now, reality. And it really is perfect that it is juxtaposed against the amazing beauty and ‘aliveness’ of your precious daughters. When my shit starts hanging out with my bad attitude, my son could not be more amazing or more present or more loving. The irony often makes me soften and accept, unless, I just stay pissed off for a bit longer. ;o)
    Thanks Tamara – your transparency is magnifique!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      This really made me smile. Merci. 🙂

  • http://makingthetrek.wordpress.com tracye1

    Great post. Huge lump in my throat. Because I don’t have that stay-at-home time anymore and I miss those “on-my-last-nerve-moments”, but I still water weeds FAR too frequently instead of enjoying the moments. do we ever get it “right”?

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara

      I’m certain I’ll never get it all right, but it helps knowing I won’t be going it alone.

  • http://www.gatebeautiful.ca Bekka

    I absolutely relate to this (well, ok, so I don’t have twins, but I do have a three year old daughter and a recently-turned-one-year-old son). Reading this also reminded me of the FiveIronFrenzy song “Dandelions”. For those not familiar, the chorus goes:
    “Lord, search my heart,
    create in me something clean.
    you see flowers in these weeds.”

    • http://tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara


  • http://www.lifewithbellymonster.blogspot.com Liz McLennan

    Oh, Tamara. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning, because I taught my sons “Leave me alone for 5 FREAKING minutes!”, and to holler it at top volume.

    This is quiet. And loud. And beautiful.

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