Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fall Fetish

Something about this time of year brings about some serious introspection for me. The harvest, the abundance of fruit right in my own backyard, the going back to school, the colors, the change of season....I don't know what it is, but I like it. Fall is the season I'd pick if I had to pick a season. So here are a couple lessons I learned today from picking blackberries:
  • Enjoy the right here and right now.

I find myself telling the girls to not eat anymore berries, because then we won't have enough for the cobbler I want to make. Am I for real? A blackberry is at its best when it's fresh-picked, ripe, and warm off the vine. So juicy and delicious, no cobbler can compete. Once I forget about the cobbler and allow myself to enjoy the berries as we pick, I have no more self control than my girls. When we're through my hands and mouth are just as covered in remnants of purple delight as my 2-year-old's. I have my girls to thank for teaching me to stop and enjoy the moment, instead of planning to enjoy it later.

  • Sometimes you have to deal with thorns to get to the GOOD stuff.

Blackberries have a pretty good defense mechanism set up to, you know, protect them from bears and little girls. The best, biggest, ripest berries are always hidden in the thorns. You better have a few scrapes after you're done picking, or you can be sure you missed out on the really GOOD stuff.

  • Taking a break to pick blackberries when my house is a disaster and my baby is crying is GOOD for me, maybe even necessary.

This really requires no explanation other than by the time I was finished, the baby had cried herself to sleep, thereby saving my sanity for maybe 1/2 hour.

  • Life is GOOD, and I am blessed, maybe even spoiled.

Those berries grow with absolutely no work on my part. I get to enjoy their GOODness without having to do anything but walk a few yards and pick away. I have lots of things in my life that I probably don't deserve, definitely haven't "earned," and probably don't appreciate as much as I should.

  • Hard work deserves a reward.

I told the girls they couldn't eat any berries until my bowl was filled. Well, they didn't exactly keep their side of that bargain 100%, but they did help me fill my bowl up as best as little girls can, two or three berries at a time. So they definitely deserved some reward of their own for all their "hard" work. And since blackberries are dangerous creatures they needed some help from someone with longer arms. I can be a nice mom. Sometimes. When I stop and actually allow myself to be nice in the moment instead of planning to be nice later.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Really Real 1st Day

Today was EM's true first day of Kindergarten. The older grades started last Monday, and the Kindergartners go that first day, only to have to wait an entire week until they can go back. The rest of the week is spent assessing each, individual kindergartner's intelligence. So today was it, the big day, her first footsteps down the path of public education. I had planned to walk her up to school, but Mother Nature put a damper on that idea. So rather than fight the masses to find a parking spot, lug three children through the downpour to get EM in the building and in the right classroom, I let my friend take her instead. Tell me I'm not a bad mom. Tell me I won't regret missing that opportunity for the rest of my life. I went with her last Monday to her "pseudo" first day - tell me that was GOOD enough. Instead of seeing her tackle this new challenge with my own eyes (which may or may not have been filled with tears had I been there), I had to receive a second-hand account of how she put on her determined face and walked confidently into her classroom. She hung up her raincoat, and looked around, unsure what to do next. She watched the other kids, looking for some inspiration. She took her things out of her backpack, and then wondered what to do with it now. She figured it out, and hung it up with her jacket. She marched her skinny little self in her skinny little jeans (is it wrong that I covet my 5-year-old's body? Seriously, if I looked as good as she does in skinny jeans I'd be wearing them daily...I digress) into that Kindergarten class. She owned her first day. I'm as proud as any mommy could be. I actually think it was for the best that I wasn't there. I don't think her first-day-of-Kindergarten story would be the same if she'd had her smother-mother making sure every little thing she did was exactly what she was supposed to do.
At EM's assessment the parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire. The last question asked something along the lines of "What do you expect out of your child's Kindergarten experience?" The answer I wrote was something like, "I hope she has a positive and fun experience. I want her to make new friends. I hope her love for learning continues to grow. I hope she develops confidence in herself." After today, I think we're on the right track. What I didn't write, but want her to remember is this: "I hope that even though there will be more influences in your life now that you have entered this big, new world, that your father's and my influence will still have an impact. I hope that within your circle of friends your sisters are always included. I hope that you remember to be nice, to remember how our words make other people feel, to listen, to tell the truth, to obey, to not be a tattle-tell. I hope you don't change too much, because I love your silly faces and voices and made-up words, I love your laugh, I love your desire for perfection, I love YOU. I hope you recognize how smart you are and that you can do anything - just don't give up when you think it's too hard. Most importantly, I hope that you don't let others determine how you feel about yourself. Know that you are a beautiful, talented, and amazing daughter of God. Knowing that will make all the difference in your life. Please, please, please don't lose that confidence you had today as you faced your first day of school. Don't let some 4'10" 80-pound girl make you think there's something wrong with you because you don't look like she does (okay, maybe this discussion can wait for junior high or high school - or hopefully this will never be YOUR issue). I hope you have the best year of Kindergarten ever!"
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