Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It's My Nature to Nurture by Alison Henderson

I'm a born mom. I think I knew it from the start. How many other junior high school girls would have read The Grapes of Wrath and been overcome by a desire to feed every starving Okie in California? Now that we've moved to the tourist mecca of Carmel, we have lots and lots of company. And what do I want to do? Feed them, of course!  Food is still a major expression of my need to nurture. I'm not sure where this came from--certainly not from my own mother. I'm surprised I'm not Jewish or Italian.

I never had aspirations for any particular career, and although I enjoyed surprising (to me, anyway) professional success, the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment in my life have come from being a mother to my wonderful daughter. I was a very hands-on mom, and we are still extremely close. She lives half-way across the country and is pushing thirty, but she still calls me nearly every day to share what's happening in her life. I've also 'adopted' some of her friends when they needed me. I even took her best friend wedding dress shopping twice because her own mother wasn't in the picture.

When I was working, I managed a brood of a dozen mostly younger employees. The best part of the job was training and mentoring them. I always kept a box of tissues on my desk, because somehow word made its way around the company that I had a good shoulder to cry on. Once when a visiting executive asked me to define my position--I was V.P. of Underwriting and New Business--I told him I was the Office Mom. He seemed a bit taken aback, but I considered it the most important aspect of my job.

The big jade plant
I'll mother anyone or anything that needs it. I can't help myself. I'm currently nursing a new succulent garden made up of rejects from one of my neighbors. She called one day and asked if I'd like a few starts. I said sure, I love succulents. When I arrived to pick them up, I was shocked. She loaded the back of my car with a big jade plant that had been yanked out of the dirt and the roots allowed to dry, several other plants that were nothing more than broken stems, and one with a long stalk covered in dried, dead leaves. I brought them home, dug a few holes, and stuck them in the ground. I've been watering them faithfully and watching for signs they're going to "take" on our rocky, dusty hillside. 

This was just a broken stem.
I'm happy to report they all look pretty good. The leaves have plumped up--a sure sign they've put out roots. Sometimes, all anything or anyone needs is a little TLC and some serious mothering.

This aeonium is showing new growth.


Leah St. James said...

The plants look fantastic, Alison! Very cool. I'm the office mom where I work, too. Except it really is my job. I'm the go-to person for pretty much every request around the office--from help with our electronic timesheets to Band-aids. When we have "food" events, which is often, I'll make sure I wash all the fruits and veggies (that need it) before setting them out because I KNOW they won't. But most of my "nurturing" seems to be in the form of "gentle reminders." I've had to send notes about cleanliness (or lack of) from the copier area to the kitchen.

And I must confess I once scolded a (young) co-worker who grabbed a handful of snacks (a giant handful!) to horde at his desk instead of taking just one. Me: You're not taking ALL OF THEM, are you?!? Co-worker (glancing down at the dozen or so items in his hands): Uh...no...of course not. I was just deciding which to pick." Me: "Those don't just magically appear here from the 'office food fairy,' you know. Someone has to go out and buy them, then lug them from the store to the office, across the parking lot and up the stairs. Do you know how much effort it takes to bring in food for 65 people?!?!" Yeah...it wasn't pretty. I apologized, of course. Not that I didn't have a valid point, but that I could have explained with less hysteria, and venom. :-) Ahh, the joys of office motherhood.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Isn't it great how your adult children turn out to be your very best friends? I never would have believed that possible when my four (two of each) were growing up. We were the house where all the kids seemed to congregate. Like you, we even took in a few now and then when they needed it. Your plants seem to be thriving. Guess plants or people, a little TLC can go a long, long way.

Rolynn Anderson said...

The good thing about plants is they are better off with less attention, a sort of benign neglect (once they are placed in the correct spot (sun vs. shade, etc.) What I learned is that we tend to give them too much water. Succulents are hardy souls and I'm amazed how easy they are to transplant. They don't need much water, either. I just bought a new succulent that looks twiggy and the tops of the twigs are bright orange! So cool.

Brenda Whiteside said...

The plants look great! I love decorative gardening, although I rarely take the time for it anymore. I love being a mom to my son, but I think sons don't "let" you nurture them quite as much at some point in their lives. At least we are good friends. How do you feel about nurturing older people? I could come live with you!

Jannine Gallant said...

My two surviving house plants are lucky when I remember their existence. The gardening gene skipped me, I'm afraid. My mothering technique is more of the "you have a brain, use it to figure it out" variety. Unless it's an English paper. My urge to edit gets out of control with those! LOL I do enjoy feeding people, but I'm not the mom who volunteers for everything under the sun, though I do my share. Hmm, I may need to take some mothering lessons, Alison. Where do I sign up?

Alison Henderson said...

Leah, your snack story made me laugh - so typical! I'm glad I was never in charge of food at the office.

Alison Henderson said...

Margo, my daughter really is my best friend, and I wouldn't have it any other way. We manage to have a great time together no matter what we're up to.

Alison Henderson said...

Rolynn, I am beginning to worry that I'm watering the new succulents too much. Now that the seem established, I should probably cut back.

Alison Henderson said...

Jannine, you've done a fantastic job with your daughters. The last thing you need is lessons in mothering!

Alison Henderson said...

Brenda, come on over! I'm an equal opportunity motherer. When my own mom visited in July, I wouldn't let her eat just an appetizer and a big slice of cheesecake at a restaurant, and she's 85! She grudgingly agreed to have a bowl of soup, but told me later she felt better because of it. Vindication.