Strawberries and Jam
I had big plans for a post today. Strawberry picking and jam-making and a quiet day at home. I could just post the photos and carry on with the idea that that was our day, but it was only a part. Much more prevalent and laced through every interaction were the tears and the frustration and the tantrum that made us leave the strawberry picking with only a few quarts of berries for today.
She had a little bit of vinegar in everything she did today. The sort that pushes every one of my buttons and makes me impatient and apathetic and cold, the way I am when I like myself least as a parent. It brings out the bad and I am solely responsible for my own actions, especially in relation to a 5-year old. So I bite my tongue and take deep breaths and an extra minute to close my eyes and lean on the back of the car as I walk around to get in on my side after buckling and say a desperate prayer asking for extra patience and kindness in me today. Especially knowing that the vinegar usually comes out when she’s most needing something or worried about something and she takes careful gentle coaxing to talk about and articulate what is going on.
He didn’t help with his jumping and pounding and not listening and touching and not listening and breaking things and spilling things and not listening and stepping on my feet constantly and screaming at his sister over taking turns and turning the hose on time after time after time…
And the constant, “Mommy look!”
But at the end of the day, we are fine. I am fine and she is fine and he is fine. For once I really did keep it together. I didn’t yell and I tried really hard not to be the cold mother with the icy, annoyed clenched jaw. I don’t want to be that to them because of my own inability to see through it all to the fact that they are children. And this world? It’s hard, man! It’s hard enough for adults, but for kids who have to rely on someone else for every basic need it can be oh-so-unfair sometimes and I want them to learn through us to see the good.
And there was good. So much. Also laced through the complex interactions that are our everyday are the moments of quiet coloring and arms wrapped around necks to hug tightly and the laying in bed and running fingers through hair to help them fall asleep and squeals of laughter and secrets whispered in my ear and shy smiles that creep across her face just before she asks me again how many days are left until her birthday and his knock knock jokes and swinging higher and higher and naming the plants in our garden and peanut butter and jelly on a blanket outside for lunch.
So, today we went strawberry picking. We also made freezer jam. There was a whole lot in between. I could add a recipe, but I followed the one on the back of the package and it basically consisted of: mix packet of pectin and 1.5 cups of sugar in a bowl. Mash your fruit. Put it in the bowl and stir with the sugar and pectin for a few minutes. Ladle into jars and eat it now or freeze for later. Promise your kids that they can have toast with jam for breakfast the next day. Stop along the way to take pictures of everything because it somehow makes everything feel better for a minute. Eat strawberry shortcake like a maniac instead of eating dinner. Let kids stay up late playing outside in the backyard while you figure out what the heck you’re going to do with your 13 tomato plants that still don’t have any support. Wash their dirty feet for once before they go to bed for the night. Get up tomorrow and do it all over again.