Over-Mothering Kills Something Wonderful
Is this tale a cautionary metaphor for neurotic parenting?
A four-leaf clover is sometimes called a shamrock. Trifolium repens is the plant that begets the bona fide four-leaf variety, but almost all the buds from such plants are regular three-leaved versions. Only occasionally do shamrocks randomly sprout from these plants.
Celtic legend that pre-dates Christianity designates the four leaves to represent faith, hope, love, and luck. Later, St. Patrick used the clover leaves to symbolize the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and—when one is lucky enough to find a fourth leaf—God's grace. Why a saint would use something extremely rare and random to signify divine grace is beyond me.
Despite several attempts, I've never found a four-leaf clover in the sea of three-leaved weeds that is our yard. Perhaps I am too judgmental: according to the ancient Druids, our yard is filled with symbols of faith, hope and love, if not luck. Maybe I should just be thankful for what we've got.
Recently, our neighborhood friend was on a walk and stopped by to enjoy a beer on our front steps. During that 10 minute chat, he casually looked over and found four—four!—four-leaf clovers, sitting right there next to our steps. He has apparently found many in his life. He must be the luckiest guy in the universe.
I was so excited and then instantly worried that this fascinating, anomalous plant might be mulched by our lawn mower, eaten by a bunny, trampled or killed if we ever decided to try to grow actual grass in the yard (highly unlikely).
Oh my goodness, I had to save this plant! Following the stem to the runner, I found its roots, gently extracted it from our yard and planted it safely in a small green planter on the front porch, figuring it shouldn't be that difficult to grow confined in a pot. It's a weed; what could go wrong?
The next morning, like magic, all but one of the four-leaf clovers was gone. I suspected one of the kids harvested them, but they all deny it. A few days later, that last lucky clover dried up and died. In retrospect, it wasn't mine anyway. My coveting this plant is reminiscent of the children's story, Henry and Mudge and the Snow Glory by Cynthia Rylant. Why couldn't I just admire the clover for what it was, without trying to control it?
Lesson learned: When you have something rare, quirky, wonderful and thriving, don't screw it up by trying to change it. I suspect this might apply to parenting, too.