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On Peonies and Ants

May 25, 2017


I love peonies.  Last summer after much begging, my husband and kiddos got me three plants for Mother's Day that we planted in the backyard.  I've been noticing lately that slowly but surely some gorgeous blossoms were preparing their glorious entrance into the world. Now sadly, I'm no Floret Flowers but I do know that where there are peony there are lots and lots of ants.




They go together like peanut butter and jelly.  

Or milk and cookies.  

Or Erin and cheesecake.  

(Can we tell I'm writing this near lunch time?)


I wasn't 100% as to why that was,  however.  But luckily, that's why the Good Lord gave us Google (well.. that and self-diagnosis). One such article I read was about how that peony need ants in order to open its blossoms. Apparently it was believed that the peony produced a sweet nectar and the ants would squeeze themselves between the layers of petals helping the peony to bloom while in search of a delicious meal.  While scientists deny this claim, I couldn't help but be struck by this concept.  


It reminded me of motherhood. 



You see, my children are each a beautiful peony blossom.  Small, still sort of fragile and easily damaged by frost or insect attack.  In this, the spring season of their lives known as childhood, they are preparing themselves to unleash their unique beauty onto the unknown world.  


And I am an ant.  

And no I don't mean annoying, lunch stealing insect.  


Well... maybe that too.  but I digress.


Each day I work on my garden little peony blossoms, slowing helping to pulling back the petals of their personalities, their talents, their individuality while sipping the delicious (and let's face it sticky) nectar of motherhood.  


Some of my peony buds prefer to keep their buds held shut tightly, shyly hiding their radiance from the world (and his classmates on the playground).


Others are far more cooperative, requiring less ant-ly struggle to get them to bloom and take centerstage.


And then others are just crazy and just want to bloom like a run away freight train and making a giant mess in the process. Ahem... #henrywashere 




Luckily for the peony (both flower and children alike), scientists believe the real reason peony and ants are besties is because ants also have the ability to protect the bloom from predators trying to damage their bloom.   


When a peony comes from school and says that a kid called her a "stinky fart face" -direct quote- the ant is there to tell her beautiful blossom that those words are simply untrue.  


When another peony confides that he is scared to go to "big school" in the fall, the ant will be there to reassure him that he will do great and will have so much fun among the other flowers in the garden.  


And yes, when some mean kid...err bug bullies my beautiful peony this ant will remove said bully bug from the garden.  mmmkay, you stinky fart face? 




So you see, the act of mothering is a lot like the folklore and facts of the ant in the peony.  As a mom our job is to help them to bloom, to encourage them separate their petals  and shine their unique radiance into a sometimes scary and dangerous world. It's a hard job.  


I mean a really. hard. job.  


But I just know that when my little peonies are in bloom and I get to sit back and see what these beautiful blossoms do in the world, it will all be worth it.  

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