About to Bloom

I ripped out her zinnia. Technically, I didn’t do it, but it’s my fault.

I took all three kids shopping with me for new school clothes over the weekend while Brandon stayed behind to mow the lawn. “That’s a weed,” I told him as we walked by a planter, pointing to a tall, odd plant I hadn’t noticed before. He pulled it.

USPS Vintage Seed Packet Stamps - ZinniaThe first grade kids planted seeds into little plastic cups as winter turned to spring. We could see them through the window and Eleanor showed them to me, saying that they were supposed to be a surprise. (She was too excited and proud to wait.) The class had lined their cups along the windows and watched them grow, then brought them home just before Mother’s Day weekend to give as gifts. Eleanor and I watched as her seedling continued to grow, remembering (mostly) to water it — just a few drops at a time. “Not too much, mom! Here. I know how to do it.” The weather finally warmed and we planted the tiny sprout outside in a big planter where the side yard meets the back, where we would see it often. We checked on it as it grew sideways at first, then up, growing from two leaves to four, and then eight. We didn’t know what color it would be, but we put forth our best guesses. Pink, probably! At least we hoped so. It’s my favorite color.

This morning, it was Brandon who was taking all three kids out while I stayed behind to work. I helped get them ready, like always, then went out to help load them in the car. “Let’s go check on the zinnia before you go!” My idea. And when we couldn’t find it, I realized that hadn’t been a weed. I realized why I hadn’t noticed it before. It had changed. It was just about to bloom.

I know it’s not that big a deal, but we cried, me more than her. I thought that maybe I could find someone with a zinnia and transplant it, showing her when she got back. It’s not the same though, is it? It won’t have the same bend to it. It won’t be the seed that we cared for together. We’ll never know what color it would have been, but I’d like to think we were right. Pink, my favorite.

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  • kara
    August 23, 2016 at 11:22 am

    awww. we have some pink zinnnias blooming in our chicago backyard – if you happen to be near bridgeport we’d be happy to cut a bouquet for you :)

    • Making it Lovely
      August 23, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Thanks, that’s sweet. It was just this one special flower.

  • Katie J
    August 23, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    oh crap.

  • Em
    August 23, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Maybe the writing comes across more dramatic than you meant it to sound? Plant a new one in a new cup with her, they grow very quickly. Mistakes happen.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 23, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Do they? I think it’s a bit late to start over, and this wasn’t just a random flower. She was so proud of having nurtured it through school, and of having given it to me for Mother’s Day.

  • Caroline
    August 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Crying over a picked flower? I’m sure your little girl started crying because of your over reaction. You made a mistake. Not a big deal . You’re still a good person and a good mom. Just replant.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      I held it together pretty well until I saw the tears in her eyes starting to well up.

  • Dee
    August 23, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I think your reaction makes sense. Mistakes happen, but sometimes they feel like failures. I would feel the same. I’m sorry that happened, and I hope you can make a new happy memory planting something together.

  • sharon
    August 23, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing these little moments in your life as a mom. They bring back fun memories of my kids at that age.

  • judy
    August 23, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Well I’m with you after all of that care and attention I would have cried with my kiddo too. You might-if you haven’t already- tell E that the lesson learned is to always take a moment to think before we act. I would have saved myself a lot of stumbles and bumbles if I had followed that rule.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 23, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      That’s a wonderful lesson to come of this. Thank you.

  • Lori Wilson
    August 23, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I would have cried too. I don’t think this is overdramatic (jeez, people!), but one tiny sad moment where you felt some (valid, because they all are) strong emotions. Obviously, you aren’t comparing this to something truly tragic like death or illness, and yes, you can plant another. But, that’s not what this was about. Thank you for sharing.

    • Carol
      August 23, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Agree, I’d cry! It’s sad to lose something you worked together on before even seeing the fruits of your labor. RIP little flower

    • Making it Lovely
      August 23, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      It’s a small thing, yes. A minor loss. But I just felt so awful this morning for having let my girl down.

  • ktornese
    August 23, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I would have cried too and i’m not a parent, in fact, I was getting a little teary just reading this. That being said – I have a yard full of weeds because I never know what’s going to flower and what won’t!

    • Making it Lovely
      August 23, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Oh, I’ve definitely pulled out weeds on accident that were actually flowers! They didn’t have any special memories attached though, so not such a big deal.

  • Jessica
    August 23, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    This is great writing.

  • Kelley
    August 23, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I don’t understand the criticism either since I got a little teary-eyed just reading this. Maybe because I have a daughter a little younger than Eleanor and your story is something I can easily relate to, but still.

  • Kristin
    August 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    My kids are 19 and 21, but I’m with Kelley…I was teary-eyed, and I would’ve been crying if this had happened to us. It’s not the loss of the flower itself, but the anticipated surprise, the love and care that you both put into it, etc…it was definitely a loss. It is a valuable lesson for our children to learn that we parents make mistakes and that we feel regret, apologize and feel the pain that results from our actions or inactions. Be glad that Eleanor planted the seed in a cup. My daughter came home from preschool and asked what would happen if someone planted a sunflower seed in their nose. I gave an academic answer, and then stopped…had she planted a seed in her nose? She was very vague, and ended up having endoscopy to ensure that there was nothing foreign planted in her nose, while her teacher anxiously watched to see how many seeds sprouted in her cup.

  • Mindy
    August 23, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    So much to learn from this and none of it trivial. Eleanor can see her mom as someone human who makes mistakes and suffers from the consequences. You see in Eleanor the joy of giving and sharing and having come up against a hard truth- life is temporary, we’re all just coming and just going. A bit easier with a flower than with a pet or a person, but still, it was more than the flower. It was her effort, her gift. Maybe talk about how all growing things return to the earth and enrich the earth with their life force and then spring forth to show us their beauty once again. Go plant a garden full of zinnias and look for the one you lost there. It will be there. And forgive yourself, my dear.

  • OneDay
    August 24, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Oh nooooo! May you grow many more together!

  • Adeline
    August 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    It wasn’t over dramatic; it was a little girl’s dream, her efforts, her joy all put into that one plant…more for you, her mom, than for herself. It was her gift to you and that was what made it special. The good thing is, you carry that in your heart; her love for you, and her nurturing spirit. And while it may feel like you let her down, you didn’t, because the lesson learned is that disappointments will come our way, intentionally or not, but eventually, it’s how we react to them, how we pick up the pieces, whether they are big or small, and get up and keep going that is the crux of the matter. The thing is, from now on, every time you both look at zinnias, you’ll think of each other and that which is a sad memory will, in time, be a sweet memory that will strengthen your mother-daughter bond more. :-)

  • Beth Fioritto
    August 24, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    You made me cry reading this. I want to send you all the zinnias now.

  • Tara
    August 24, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    This made me cry! I have been there, as has (or will) every mother – just maybe not with zinnias. You are human. Thank you for sharing your story, and sending big hugs to you both!

  • Marisa
    August 25, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I loved this piece of writing, I think it does such a good job of capturing those mistakes all of us moms make and the sorrow we feel afterwards. It isn’t really about the flower at all, it is about the memories with the flower and the excitement and anticipation you and your daughter shared. I hope you can start again, maybe you can present her with a gift of seeds on her birthday or another special day, a chance to grow new memories. Thanks for sharing. I think it just helps moms like me know that we aren’t alone in these mistakes and the reactions we feel are normal.

    • Liz
      September 3, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      Adeline and Marisa stated my thoughts well. Great writing and a true glimpse into your mind and soul for a moment. I identify with that feeling of loss – even if something small. Of course moms want to respect and nourish something important in the minds of our children. We want to show them how to care for things big and small. This post made me tear up, as well.

  • 'col
    September 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Aw, poor both of you! So many people have said it better than I could, but please know that you’re not alone and we all mess up sometimes–remember to give yourself the compassion you would give to Eleanor if it were her who had made the mistake. Your lovely relationship is the thing that matters most.