How Gardening and Raising My Exceptional Child Are The Same

I have always been a person who has pushed myself, whether it has been academically, socially and later as a writer and Mom. I had very high, unrealistic expectations of what my family, friends and the world needed of me. Then I had Michael and became a mother. And not just any mother, but a mother to a child that saw the world differently and didn’t fit into any category. He was like me. I was a child and later adult who questioned where I fit, what job would satisfy me, and until I met my husband, what partner would be right for me. Then it all came together when Michael was born. I had to relearn how to see myself, others, the world, and what and who I really was. I also discovered something besides writing that helped open up my heart and soul to God, the Universe, and my place and fit in the cosmos we call life. Very simply put, I discovered gardening.

I discovered it quite simply as the house my husband and I fell in love with came with a very large yard. He worried when we bought it that it would be too much for us. I saw potential. This was my first glimpse into my crazy optimistic risk-taking side, that I could try and fix something that would not be easy, and that I could invest time, years and energy into doing it. So yes, the yard was big, not well-tended by the previous owner who lived in the house alone, and I had to start trying to nurse this baby back to health. I started out rather well, but soon became overwhelmed by other life expectations. Then Michael was born and autism entered our lives. Everything, other than eating and sleeping came way after therapy and working with Michael. But in the last couple of year,s I have lovingly started getting back to my second love, nature and gardening, (writing being my first, after Michael of course. 🙂 ). And yesterday morning as I worked outside, sweat glistening on my brow, I thought to myself that tending to an overgrown garden is like raising an exceptional child. There are ups and downs. There are moments you want to give up because it is hard and you see no end in sight to teaching simple concepts in different ways or in things taking longer to do, constant maintenance of new skills or trimming new branches. But then there is that moment your child does something extraordinary that people told you might never happen. He talks about having a family and a wife. You were told he would have no interest in that. The garden starts to take shape and look well manicured after only two days of hard work. Wow. Imagine what a summer outside would do. Imagine what nurturing the seed of hope in your child will do.

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If we look at our child as an overgrown garden that is out of control and cannot be helped, we will be discouraged and give up. But if we see that with love, time and maintenance how beautifully our child will grow, we will enjoy the journey of raising them. This is so true. I enjoy trimming my branches and being outside in the wild that is my yard as much as I do in watching Michael grow from the baby who could not communicate into the young many who though he struggles is still curious, brave, funny, smart and full of adventure, knowledge and his own brand of genius that keeps his Dad and I on our toes. Even in the midst of dark times, and I prayed hard to stay strong in those times, Michael is like my blooming garden out back. Some people look at it and see all the work that lies ahead. I see potential, beauty and feel the peace of being connected to nature, to God, to where I belong.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever felt that gardening or seeing the wonders of nature is similar to raising a child? Do you feel that peace wash over you and notice your child absorbing that peace that flows off you when you are both outside as well? If so, it is no coincidence. Try and find time to be out in nature with your child, or to garden alone or with them. It will change how you see parenting. It will change how you see yourself. It will help bring you back to what is really important: growth, building things slowly, and caring with love for the living elements around you. Until next time.


I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website:, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on

2 thoughts on “How Gardening and Raising My Exceptional Child Are The Same

  1. Where was this piece when I was facing my own version of exceptional — not autism, but very different from what everyone (including me) expected and judged….Ultimately finding my own way to writing, to my own huge yard-garden challenge? Beautifully written, so heartfelt and powerful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad to hear that though coming later than you needed it, seeing the post helped you realize the connection of gardening and our inner spiritual challenges. Thank you for your kind words as well! So glad you found your way back to writing. Will look for your work!

      Liked by 1 person

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