One of the best things about being married is that, if you find the right person, you can complement each other. One person’s strengths can fill in for the other’s weakness. One person can handle one part of running the household while the other person covers another area. There is no place in my marriage where this holds more true than when it comes to outside of the house vs. inside of the house. I love the outdoors. I find myself revitalized after time spent in the sun. Hiking and seeing the majesty of North Carolina’s mountains has brought me such joy in the past five years that I don’t know how I made it that long before finding that aspect of myself. However. I do not find great joy in yard work.
I hear you. I know you may be thinking…yes, but who finds joy in any kind of work really…um, my husband. Now don’t get me wrong, with football and the solo parenting it brings, I end up cutting the grass more often than not. When mulching day comes around I am not afraid to be dirt-covered and sweaty, running wheelbarrows up and down the front hill. But I don’t love wandering the aisles of the garden shop at Home Depot or cruising through the local nursery finding new petunias to plant. That is Nick’s happy place. When spring comes and the first sunny day arrives he starts planning what day he’s going to plant the garden. And then, despite the plan, it becomes EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND DAY.
The inside of our house could be crumbling, the laundry could be piled up past the bedroom door, but as long as it doesn’t creep into his landscaping, weekends are for yard work. When money was tighter in our early married days, I’m talking “put back a box of cereal to stay under budget at Aldi’s” tight, I had to shut my eyes and try not to sweat that we were planting enough marigolds to carpet our outdoors. And every time it was worth it. One, because it made our house look gorgeous. And two, because Nick would be so happy during the entire process. From planning to planting to standing and admiring, it brought him joy.
And then the weekend would end. And Nick would go on the road recruiting. And the phone calls would start. “Have you watered my plants? How are my flowers looking? What do you mean ‘It rained so they don’t need to be watered’?!” I seriously receive multiple phone calls a day checking on the watering status of the plants. And then when he would get home late, if the day had been crazy and I hadn’t gotten a chance to water, he would make a cup of coffee and go out to his happy place to water the flowers. After a few years of square foot gardening I told my husband I maybe wanted to step back from the vegetable garden this year because it was a lot of work. Nick listened. And started container gardening instead.
This love for the outdoors is just one of the many reasons why I am eternally grateful that my husband set aside his “go to law school” plan after earning his MBA and instead became a football coach. Because if he was inside four walls all day every day I don’t think his soul would do well.
I appreciate the beauty of our yard. I enjoy the hard work of putting the mulch down. I love watching the teamwork of our kids hauling wheelbarrows and shovels and pitching in to make the job go about 20 times faster. I appreciate that mowing the lawn on our inclined yard basically earns me a bonus workout. But I do not love the slow down and the planting. I don’t love the standing and the watering.
Yesterday we went back to the garden store to get “just a couple more” flowers to fill in a new bed Nick had decided to dig out. We soon had a cart overflowing with flowers and 3 new window boxes to hang on the deck. When I was driving back from picking our daughter up from church a couple of hours later, I got the phone call to head back to Home Depot and grab 2 more window boxes and the flowers to fill them. And I wasn’t the least bit surprised. I, on the other hand, tend to kill more plants than I help to grow. A few years ago our friends came over to dinner to welcome them to our new town. They brought a potted plant. I have successfully kept it alive by the grace of God and some sort of miracle that is a shamrock plant. (I recently, through an Ancestry DNA search, found out that my family is a large percentage Irish…so maybe that’s the lucky answer.) But on more than one occasion I thought the plant was down and out only to be able to bring it back to life.
Yesterday, while we filled the cart with flower after flower to go around the outside of our house, I got a little ambitious and bought 3 plants to go inside: my territory. They are all labeled as “low maintenance” and 2 are succulents. I will let you know how long they last. Nick laughs that I am the Plant Killer. But then I remind him that I have kept our 5 children alive for 11 and a half years. And we figure that as long as we both do our jobs it will all work out all right in the end.