Restful respite: a moon garden

by Sheri McGregor

ways to get to sleepWhen the still of night hits, rejected parents often have difficulty soothing their minds and settling into slumber. Hot summer nights (and unrest in the world) can add to the trouble of getting any sleep. Don’t just lie there feeling miserable as the whys and what-ifs loop through your restless mind. Get up and take a dose of the moon! Create something fun and calming: a moon garden. 

In the early days of my estrangement from my son, I would often wander outdoors in the evening. By the light of the moon, the bright, sunny colors of my daytime garden faded, making room for more demure features to shine. The chalky leaves of Artemesia and Dusty Miller, a shallow, solar-lit bowl, and glowing spheres that mimicked the moon itself became a tonic. 

A dose of the moon 

There’s a poem I love: The Moon, by Jaime Sabines. It speaks of taking doses of the moon for a variety of ailments, including insomnia. In my moon garden, the blooms of Angel Trumpet softly scent the evening air. Tiny toadstool-shaped lights glimmer from the backdrop of shadowy bushes along a meandering walk. In the quiet of evening, the softest breeze rustles unseen leaves. The tinkle of a fountain soothes my ears.  

I hadn’t planned my moon garden where the pale flesh of an echeveria seems to glow in the moonlight. It was purely by accident that I chose a few plants with silvery, ashen leaves and white blooms that took center stage at night. That accidental moon garden was restorative for my estrangement-weary soul. As Sabines’ poem says, there is no better tonic. Taking my moon garden in doses calmed me and helped me find the peace to sleep. 

Your moon garden 

Next time you have trouble settling in, go outdoors. Find what’s already in your moon garden and then enhance those features. Even a patio or terrace can transform into a restful respite by night. Add a comfortable chair, a table for a cup of calming herbal tea, and a soothing sound like a tiny tinkling fountain or bamboo chimes.  

Recently, we have begun a long-distance move to a new location with the most enchanting yard. Tree frogs sing, owls hoot, and ponies occasionally whinny when startled by a passing deer.  Periodically, a string of dragonflies around a tree trunk blink on, their wings a rainbow flash in the night. As we settle into our new home, I’ll be adding elements to enhance my new moon garden. Sabines is right. There is nothing better than the moon as tonic.  

Related reading:

Moon garden design

About the history of moon gardens

For parents abandoned by adult children, sleep can be elusive

Abandoned parents, let your light shine

Troubling dreams, why do I have them?

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25 thoughts on “Restful respite: a moon garden

  1. Maggie M.

    I am 82 today . And I have reached an understanding of how parenting is supposed to work .and I have finally experienced PEACE in understanding.
    Our children grow up under our love and guidance ..Our job is to help them become independant ,useful citizens .. and good parents themselves if they choose to have children . And then our job is DONE.. The future relationships are entirely based on the individuals .. and just as one’s friendships from our youth ebb and flow like the tides ..our relationships with our children and even our grandchildren , do the same . this is normal ! Our kids are not clones of us .. They are INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE. And just because you share genes, doesn’t mean you are meant to share ideas, ideology, pleasures, fears, likes, dislikes, politics, religion, OR LIFE!! That MAY happen ..but it is rarer than you think . AND EVEN SIBLINGS, who are close in age , and were very close as kids, cannot be expected to stay close as they become their own individual grown up selves. THEY ARE DIFFERENT PEOPLE and NOT always suited to be Best Freiends For Life!
    Another important point to remember is rhat “Family” does not necessarily mean a Blood Bond… so ” choose” your family wisely and BE the kind of person that you would wish to have as ” family” .
    So as my very wise Mom told me as my children grow up and left home. ” LOVE THEM AND LET THEM GO!”
    And I am saying..” YOUR PARENTING JOB IS DONE NOW .. IT IS TIME TO LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR OWN FUTURE. ” Please don’t waste time looking over your shoulder. LiFE is about LIVING..not crying over What IFS..and WHYS.. Love your kids from afar.. You gave them life and raised them the best you knew how at the time.. Don’t have expectations of other people ..including your children.. move on with a FULL and GLAD HEART and SMILE as you take back your Future. It’s YOURS and you are FREE to LOVE your children AND YOURSELF! AND REMEMBER…IT IS NOT OUR BUSINESS WHAT ANY OTHER PERSON THINKS OF US !! God Bless you Everyone.

    1. Dianne B.

      Happiest of Birthdays Maggie!!!

      I love your way of thinking, as I also feel the same. God gave us children as a gift to borrow. When they are grown and gone their way, it’s okay. They are not our possessions nor would we want to hold them back from their journey. Having peace now and with better understanding I accept this. Is it difficult at times?
      Many Blessings to You and all who read this.

    2. Christie R.

      Thank you for sharing this. I can’t tell you how perfectly it fits the hole in my heart. Your wisdom is f deeply appreciated. May God bless and keep you. I hope to meet you in person in heaven one day.

    3. Lisa

      Maggie, what a beautiful and wise post! I am 57 and am learning to let go and let my son and other children go and be who they are supposed to be, instead of what I expected. I have to say it is freeing for me and for them. In this past year I have grown so much, but had to pull the weeds so my garden of love for myself and others could bloom. Where I used to feel anger, hurt and fear has turned to compassion for others as they learn to pull the weeds in their own gardens. Although our son has made contact, and we have had difficult discussions, I still have to pull the weeds of fear that he may decide not to have a relationship with us again. If that is the case, I know that I am enough and my husband and I did the best we could. So many people in my life have planted seeds of love in my garden I can honestly say I am enjoying the beautiful blooms. Thank you for you reminders of what parenting is all about.

    1. Cj

      Beautiful idea, jm working on better sleep, maybe this will help. I am the opposite I cut off communication w my adult daughter last week after years of being emotionally abused and manipulated. After a phone call asking for gas money that it was urgent because a friend needed her to come over.
      I told her if the friend needed her to come over, why not ask them for money (it was the first time i refused). Thats when the screaming started, i finally raised my voice as well and asked her to let me speak! Then she hung uo on me. For some reason I did not take it well this time, Ivwascstill recovering from being vety sick from covid its like my brain said….. Im done. so I wrote her a letter telling her this will be the only way i communicate w her till ahe can be able to have a normal conversation.

  2. Elizabeth L.

    Moon garden sounds like a beautiful thing, great to see all your comments. I’m just going to keep on keeping on, all the best to everyone

  3. april i.

    this is all wonderful feedback and I am so glad I found this site. My problem with my son has been ongoing for at least 6 yrs, until this xmas which was the last time he was at our house, blocked me from texting him and wont answer any phone calls from his father or me.. I am not extremely religious but am a christian and have always believed in god. I have prayed so much and read books on believing etc, so much the last 2 yrs for my son, now I cant even pray anymore, I feel like an atheist, I dont believe god answered any prayers concerning my son, and I have given up on religion. This is not who I am, and I want to believe but I am just empty as far as faith goes. Any suggestions? Of course there is more to my story but too long to enter all here.

    1. Mary d.

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I, too, lost faith during a difficult time. All I can say is that even though I didn’t feel like praying I almost forced myself to say one prayerful thing before bed. I just said “Give me hope, don’t let me wake up feeling so hopeless.” Truly, waking up everyday was and is still, the hardest part of my day. That emptiness, that sadness set my day in a lot of ways. It’s literally all I could muster up but it was an answer to prayer most days when I remembered to pray it.

    2. Red

      I am also in the same situation with my son 5 years now. Sometimes it’s very had for me to pray. But God knows our thoughts and we know that God works in mysterist ways, so don’t give up. I have found when the words don’t come to me to pray I pray Gods model pray. Keep the faith, he will answer our prays in away we would never have imagined.

    3. Mimi

      Hello April i.,
      You said, “I want to believe but I am just empty as far as faith goes. Any suggestions?”

      “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
      “So then faith comes through hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

      Reading your Bible will increase faith. Try not to skip around in reading a few verses here or there. Rather, read an entire book at one time. Try to understand who was the author of the particular book and to whom was he writing. For example , Ezekiel was writing to the Israeli exiles in Babylon during about the year 600BC. And, Moses wrote the first five books in the Bible and probably Job. Anyway, in all the books, we see that G-d gives everyone freedom to choose. He doesn’t use force. G-d is not going to force your son to love you. But, you can pray that G-d will keep knocking on the door of your son’s heart. Trust in the LORD, lean not on your own understanding.

      Hope this helps. Keep the faith. ❤️

  4. Dawn

    We live on the Gold Coast in Australia and I always appreciate the full moons we can see here and also equally the beautiful sunsets. We sit in our deck our on the water with a glass of cold wine in hand and it would seem we have a beautiful life and we have. Lovely family both in other parts of Australia and back in the homeland (UK(. However, I have twin sons who we have done our best for, loved them to the moon and back, they’ve lived in beautiful homes and have always been well fed. We have taken them on exclusive holidays and they have experienced private education through to University fur most if their lives. Thought we had brought them up correctly as they were so well mannered etc. However, they went into the movie business as screen writesss and the other started directing. We sold our business in the gas and oil industry and along with our friends invested VAST amounts of our money in their movies and careers. But, continuous mistakes were made and after four years my husband actually got angry with them for losing all our funds (talking a few million here). They moved on with their lives and went to live in Hollywood and we were told goodbye good riddance good luck, we want nothing to do with you any more. They are now successful screenwriters in Hollywood and we are told they tell everyone they had terrible rough upbringing as children and have nothing to do with us anymore. We were not invited to one if my sons weddings and were not even told of my grand daughters birth. I cannot believe the hurt they have caused as turning their backs on us hit them out of a very bad financial situation – I hope they can sleep at night as I certainly don’t. But after seven years I am learning that I have a good life and I have to keep moving forward.

    1. Ophelia

      Hi Dawn,
      I really feel for you. No good deed goes have a similar story in some ways. I have 2 sons the eldest is the one who has abandoned us. My husband built him a cabin in the garden for him and his girlfriend to live in whilst saving, we thought for a house but his girlfriend wanted a flash wedding. It was mad to spend all that money when they hadn’t somewhere properly to live, but we were told get on board or you will be left out. So we did..however Our once loving son was changing. From then on we were treated like the baddies and problem after problem ensued. My son changed to someone we didn’t recognize, he talked to me rudely and disrespectfully.
      Well they eventually left under a cloud and we thought things would calm down. We got to the wedding skin of our teeth…then she got pregnant, when they were renting.and no money..something else we had to go along with..At first they allowed us to see baby and get attached for 7 weeks but finally our son had another go at us over trivial crap, then didn’t want to see us again. We were heartbroken, ..I ended up with cancer and when he found out he didn’t care. It’s been a 3 year nightmare, loads more ups and downs, I won’t bore you with. They have another child he cruelly told me about but wont let us see… So you can see you are not alone, we also brought our kids up well, holidays etc. But more you do less you are thought of.
      I am still lucky to have my youngest son and he has supported us and helped us through the worst time of our lives.
      You are right though, eventually you have to get on with your life..hard as it is..but you cant let them destroy your happiness as we did our best as parents and we deserve happiness. God bless you xx

    2. Rebecca

      Hi Dawn and Ophelia
      We have a similar story especially Ophelias .
      We too had our grandson torn away at 10 weeks .
      The difference we have is that his beautiful sister who he was so close too has learning disabilities and he has done this to her too . She does not understand and I feel like I’m going through it twice .
      We will never understand .
      Take Care
      If you have any tips for Christmas ?

  5. joly k.

    I keep my self busy so I do to dwell on what my children do or do not think. I have busied myself with SPCA and The Human Society work. I’ve helped abandons animals mostly cats and kittens, My sons sound like they are jealous, but they do not make an effort for me. I tell them I love them and get on with my life. Maybe someday they will notice me again.

  6. Michele R.

    Thank u Sheri and all of you other estranged parents out there for your emails, articles and letters it has meant the world to me and let me know i am not alone. May the Universe bless u all

  7. Di

    Dear Sheri, I purchased your book. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My daughter became estranged this past December (2019). I thought I was going to remain in the pit of unimaginable pain, I made it out thanks to God. I know that it will be a struggle sometimes but that moon can be my reminder of all that is bright in my life.

  8. Brenda B.

    I have 4 adult children. The eldest is married to a man that is deeply insecure & for whatever reasons, he despises me, makes it difficult for my daughter & their 4 daughters to have contact with me. My second daughter has always been a willful, strong willed difficult child. As hard as I tried to have a relationship with her as an adult, it was disastrous. I had to realize that while I love her dearly, it’s better for me to love her at a distance. Her father taught she as well as her 3 siblings that I was unworthy of respect, that I was of little value. She considers herself a “daddys girl”. My third child & only son and I are in regular contact. Although it’s just online messaging with a phone call a few times yearly, it’s what I have. My youngest daughter calls me every Sunday, on the phone. She and I have a somewhat prickly relationship at times yet mostly it’s warm, sweet, I cherish it. Her father turned his back on her 4 years ago. Did not go to her wedding or her graduation from Engineering School with ZERO student loan debt!!! His loss. I have the closest relationship with my youngest daughter, so, I will cherish her

  9. Brenda B.

    Although the poem about the moon wasn’t resonant with me, I do have a love for the beauty of the moon. When I was married & living in Germany, I met a young Polish artist. He was self taught, a brilliantly talented artist. When I walked along the Fussgangerplatz in Kaiserslautern, Germany, he would often be there, painting what he saw or a person who was willing to sit for him. He was homeless, struggling to perfect his skill. I spoke with the man I was married to at the time so that I could have this young painter over for Sunday dinners. I introduced him to people who could appreciate his painting skill. He began to get more & better paying work. The man i was married to became a bit resentful & jealous of the attention this young, humble, unassuming painter was getting. The painter was able to rent an apartment, buy a bicycle & a car. The man I was married to stated that he didn’t want the man to come over for Sunday dinner any more. With a heavy heart, I explained this to him. He told me that with all the help I had given him, he wanted to make a painting for me. ……………………………..I asked him to paint a full moon for me. The painting was glorious! Beautiful! The man I was married to hated it. No shock. I hung it in my craft room. A day later, I went in there, the painting was not on the wall, I found it in the closet, I replaced it, 2 days later, it was not on the wall, not even in the closet. When I asked the man I was married to, he said he didn’t know where it was. I found it in our storage room. So, it went. We moved back to the USA a few years later, our children were older, by now.

    Years later, after I had had enough of a lying, cheating, manipulative narcissistic male, I saved up money, squirreled away non-perishable groceries. When I was moving out of the family home (he flat out refused to leave unless escorted out by police), I couldn’t find the painting anywhere. It was not on the wall in my craft room where it had hung for 3 years. The man I was married to smirked & said nothing when I asked him. So cruel.

    Now? I have met a wonderful painter who is painting a beautiful, 20 X 20 picture of a full moon on canvas. All that I love is slowly coming back to me.

  10. David D.

    Hello, Sheri, thanks for your message. I had forgotten about this connection. As much as I think about my daughters, I have had many happy years with my wife and our dogs. I have had (very) occasional e-mail contacts with my younger daughter, but nothing with my older daughter. At my age (75 & 1/2 years), I believe that my chances will be few.

  11. Pamela S.

    Beautiful thoughts … THANK YOU, Sheri 🙂 May you spend many happy hours creating and peacefully basking in the moonbeams shining on your new moon garden …


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