Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blueberry Picking

The scratches and small cuts across my arms, hands and back are proof that I became one with a bush; several bushes, really. I went blueberry picking this morning. It was a mother daughter excursion! My adult daughter and I set out at the crack of dawn, trying to beat the heat and the crowds in an effort to bond and collect a year’s worth of antioxidants. Blueberry conditions were not perfect thanks to the drought and record breaking heat, but off we went anyway.
I was, literally, in a bush when I heard the whine of a small child. “Mommy, I’m done. I want to go home,” followed by crying and what I believe was the sound of a small body throwing itself on the ground. Firstly, I must say. . . . I’ve been there. Every mother has been there. Maybe not among never ending rows of barren blueberry bushes, but perhaps in the grocery store or in the middle of the mall or well. . . name your place.
I smiled and thought to myself. . . . I’m so glad I’m past that. Most of the time I wish my girls were small and still allowed me to dress them in cute jumpers and Mary Jane shoes, but today I was thrilled to be the mom of a first year attorney who found time to spend with me. I dodged a few bees, sweated profusely and thought about my girls and the stages we’d gone through. In the end, and in spite of many parenting mistakes, they turned out well. I thought about going and finding the mother of the child in the midst of a tantrum to tell her that the future will be brighter, when I heard, “Mom?”
“Mom?” “MO-om?”
“Elizabeth, is that you?” I was pretty sure it was the sound of her voice, but I’ve been in several situations where I answered a strange child’s call for their mother.
“Yes, where are you?”
“I’m in a bush.”
“Mother, everyone is in a bush. Which bush are you in?”
I followed her voice and found her sitting on the ground. “I’m hot!” she said.
“Me, too.”
“Oh good, let’s go,” she answered way too quickly.
I looked at my bucket and it wasn’t even 1/4 full. I wasn’t close to being done with blueberry picking .
“Elizabeth, I came here to pick blueberries and I really need to continue.”
She agreed and we went about hunting for the blue bursts of color hiding among the greenery. It was harder than in past years. The blueberries were few and far between, but I was committed to the job, pulling tall branches down to search and finding great satisfaction when a small bunch of ripe berries were found. Slowly my bucket was filling. I had settled into a rhythm and found the process quite relaxing, until I felt small, hard pellets hitting me. No, it wasn't a bird nor was it small hail and it wasn’t wayward bugs. I looked around and found that they were blueberries. It seems that, once again, Elizabeth was done. She was cleaning her cache and throwing the bad berries at me, her mother.
“Stop that,” I said with a laugh. “What the heck are you doing?”
“I’m really ready to leave. I’m hot and tired and hungry.”
I considered the circumstances and decided that another fifteen minutes would be a good compromise. The compromise idea didn’t sit well with her, so she kindly announced that I could take my time and enjoy. She would wait in a cooler place. As she walked away, she added, “. . . And please don’t get lost.”
I did get lost in thought once again and finished up about 30 minutes later with only 3 pounds of blueberries. Not a great blueberry harvest, but I’d had fun. I began the hike back to the car wondering where I’d gone wrong. My daughter lasted only 30 minutes at best and began a somewhat more dignified tantrum than her 3 year old counterpart. In true maternal style, I was trying hard to place the blame on myself. It was then that I realized that we all have many roles. I know that for a very long time I was different when with my mother than when I was going about my daily life as a full fledged adult. Maybe I was, in some way, encouraging Lizzie to act like a child. My friend Judy often refers to me as “mom.” I can’t seem to help myself. My maternal instincts aren’t just reserved for children. They pop out before I realize it. I tell my husband to wear a jacket when I’m cold. I remind my friends what to bring when we are going on a day trip. I take care of people. Its who I am. Some would refer to it as a control issue. Maybe. I don’t really mean it to be. So. . . After a few minutes of objective introspection, I decided that I needed to work on this aspect of myself. No more over- mothering. I nodded, agreeing with myself and headed to the car where I found Lizzie sound asleep.
“Lizzie,” I whispered. “Wake up, I know a great place to buy you a jumper and some patent leather Mary James.

No comments:

Post a Comment