Sunflowers + Sunrises
I settle into my hot pink desk chair, a mug of hot coffee in my hands, and gaze out the window. Below me, tracing the sidewalk in front of our house, sunflowers sway wildly in the early morning breeze.
I wasn’t sure if these flowers would grow. The seeds were scattered haphazardly by my children, a late-spring pandemic project, a desperate attempt to keep them entertained when we were all going stir-crazy from being exclusively at home for a whole year. Gardening is not my forte, and I didn’t have the highest hopes for our little garden bed, but we planted them anyway.
For a while, we faithfully watered them, dragging the hose out each day to sprinkle them, once a week adding in some plant food. As green started to poke through the earth, we attempted to weed the flower bed, but there were two issues. One, I didn’t really know what was a weed and what wasn't, and two, my toddler shadow was the only one eager to help, but he always went straight for the stems I was reasonably sure might be the plants we were trying to grow.
Then summer hit, and we started leaving the house regularly again, heading to the pool each day (much to the dismay of our dog). As our days got busier, tending to our flower bed got pushed aside. We sporadically remembered to water, half-heartedly pulled a weed or two, but mostly, we just let nature do its work and waited to see what happened.
In mid-June, we noticed green stalks growing tall. I tried to think back to the seeds we had planted–did we put in sunflowers? Those are tall, right? After a quick google search, and a check-in with my seven-year-old who has a much better memory than I, it was confirmed: yes, those were sunflower stalks.
Each day, we checked on them. One day we realized they were taller than the toddler–taller than the five-year-old–taller than the seven-year-old–taller than me–even taller than my husband. But no blooms yet.
A few days later: "Look--here’s a bud!" And then we found another, and another.
Checking on the sunflowers became a daily ritual. And then, we saw the first bloom. Bright, bold, beautiful.
They’re growing like crazy now, standing tall, blowing in the breeze, and bringing a smile to our face each day. They grew, even though the conditions weren’t perfect and the gardeners weren’t experts. My camera roll is full of photos of them; photos that remind me to be brave and bold, to keep growing even when the conditions aren't perfect.
I turn thirty-five today and now that I'm officially halfway through my thirties, I've been thinking about how everyone says it's such a great decade; you settle into yourself and are more clear on what you want.
It's true. I'm less worried about what others think, more bold in declaring who I am and what I need. I'm less likely to commit to something I don't really want to do; more likely to assess if I'm really spending my time the way I want. I'm less swayed by opinions of others; but also more open to considering why I think or feel a certain way and to exploring new information. The conditions haven't been perfect, especially in the last sixteen months with a lot of brain space taken up by surviving a global pandemic, but there has been growth.
I'm more confident in my parenting now than I was five years ago. I remember the first Target trip I attempted with my then two-year-old and newborn. I ended up sprinting across the store with a half-fed baby because my potty-training toddler needed the bathroom right that second, never mind his little brother's need to eat. By the time we made it back to the minivan, I collapsed in the front seat, exhausted and flushed with embarrassment, sure every other shopper in Target had noticed just how frazzled and unprepared I was.
Back then, every "sure looks like you've got your hands full," comment made me question myself. What was I doing wrong? Why didn't I have it all together, and was it that obvious? Now? Well, my hands are often quite literally full, between kids and water bottles and snacks and when someone feels the need to comment on it, I respond with "They sure are," and don't give it a second thought.
I'm less worried about trying to fit everything in these days, more worried about making the time for what is important to me. Despite spending most of my life as a night owl, in the last year, I’ve seen more sunrises than the previous thirty-four years combined. I didn't wake up one morning and realize I love getting up early. I don’t spring out of bed chipper and ready to face the day. More often than not, I have to set multiple alarms, and I rarely make it out of bed without hitting the snooze button at least once.
But early mornings, watching the sunrise, watching the sunflowers sway, watching the world outside my window wake up, while I put words on a blank page, is a bold act for me. It’s saying: my dreams matter. I want to write and I’m going to make it happen. I’m going to make it a priority.
Are the conditions always perfect for morning writing sessions? No. I’m often tired or I forgot to set the coffee the night before or my kids wake up before I’m ready. But just like those sunflowers, I’m going to keep going, keep growing, see what happens. Regardless of the conditions, I sit and fill blank pages with words, putting action behind a dream I've always had. I don't let what people will think of me or the length of my to-do list stop me. I know this is something I need and so I claim the early mornings.
I watch the sunrise paint the morning sky and dream my dreams: bright, bold, beautiful.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series "Bold".