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Garden Guilt

Like most of you, I'm sure, I've been busy the past few weekends visiting nurseries and working on my garden. As I planted a few new shrubs on a recent raw, windy, drizzly Saturday, my neighbor across the street called out, "You'll do anything to get out of that house, huh?!" He just likes to tease me but it got me thinking.

While I was outside digging, my 18-month-old was inside napping. My husband was home too, so if she woke up before I "finished outside" (I'll never really be done gardening) they'd have fun together. But I still felt a twinge of guilt and my neighbor's comment made that guilt flare higher.

Because, even though the baby was sound asleep, there were plenty of other things I could be doing inside the house—laundry, cleaning, sorting through any of the various piles of papers and things that just seem to appear over the course of a week.

So as I planted the shrubs, I came to realize gardening is the one pastime that I've been able to keep up since I became a mom and I think it all has to do with that sense of guilt. I love reading, knitting and other needle arts . . . anything crafty, I'll try it. But I can't really bring myself to do much of those things anymore, and it's because they all involve me sitting still in the middle of our various messes.

Gardening feels more productive somehow; more of a contribution—though, just like with the sweaters I've knit, I'm generally way more interested and impressed than anyone else is with what I've accomplished in the garden.

Although—I may have a garden fan in our toddler. Watching her inspect a crocus this spring, complete with a little bee inside, made me more than glad that I took the time to plant bulbs last fall. Weeks later, she still points toward the window whenever a bumblebee appears in one of her books—as if to say "Remember when we saw a real one in that flower?" My husband thinks I should garden "for myself" but I don't know whether that's possible, or if I would enjoy it as much. Sharing my garden with our daughter makes it truly more worth the time I put into it. I know when our new dwarf Korean lilac blooms this May and she sniffs its flowers, all that guilt I felt while planting it will go "poof."

Do you ever feel garden guilt? Where does it come from for you?