During the height of blackberry season, Teri Sinnott ponders lessons in parenting that are ripe for the picking.
You can learn a lot about life from a blackberry bush. You have to be careful how you handle them, or you get scratched by the thorns. The berries, if picked too soon, are tart, instead of sweet. If you wait too long, the berries are gone. Opportunities missed.
In a lot of ways, it relates to life and especially parenting our young children.
Once the blackberries start to ripen, my kids can’t wait to start making homemade jam and baked goods from scratch. Our cupboard will be filled with jam. We will freeze baked goods and enjoy them for months to come.
When blackberries ripen, it happens fast. The time is limited before they go bad or get eaten by bugs, birds, or the neighborhood kids. I think about how fast childhood goes. Summer is short and the time we have together flies by.
My three girls have watched the plants grow. They have learned how to tell when berries are ripe. They help pick the berries, even my 3-year-old. They work together as a team. Then, they watch how those same berries turn into different foods.
Not only watch, but help. They are part of the process. Every step of the way. It is a fun experience each summer, but let’s be honest, it is also an exhausting one. If you cook with your kids, you know exactly what I mean.
When harvesting the berries, if you aren’t patient, and you try to rush, you will likely get cut by the thorns. It is a slow process, full of patience. To cook or bake with kids takes a lot of preparation and patience. Everything takes longer. It’s messier.
You know that it’s inevitable: someone will crack an egg and only half will make it in the bowl. Flour will go everywhere, you may forget an ingredient, or two. The mess will be tremendous. It takes longer to clean up than it did to cook.
At moments, it’s frustrating. They fight over whose turn it is to stir, who gets to pour the next ingredient, who spilled the milk.
You may get to the end of your rope. It’s hard sometimes to not ruin the experience with our reactions.
But there is so much value in doing these activities with our kids, even when it is hard.
It’s so important that we keep calm; they are watching. That we laugh things off; they are learning. That we keep the fun; we are shaping the future.
This morning, in the chaos of our baking, a large hunk of butter went flying. It took us a minute to find where it landed. When we did, we all laughed. But they didn’t laugh until I did.
They held their breath wondering if Mommy would get upset because someone wasted a large amount of butter. They know Mommy doesn’t like when we are wasteful.
This was a good reminder that my reactions matter. It is up to me if this is an experience they will want to remember. It is up to me if we are making memories that they will cherish or want to forget.
I need to be sweet, like the ripe berry and not tart.
I need to not push my kids to “ripen” too fast. Understand that they are young and learning.
Will they look forward to summer baking or try to avoid it?
This summer, I’m teaching my oldest to read the recipes. She is 7 and a pretty good reader. I am teaching her how to identify the right measuring cups. She is going into second grade and though she doesn’t understand fractions just yet, she can easily compare and match numbers.
She was so excited to tell us what ingredient was next. The joy on her face when she would say, “We need 2 eggs. I can crack them, Mom,” said it all.
They are so proud of everything we make. The girls also love sharing it as well. They love giving jam to our neighbors and taking baked goods to their grandma and GiGi.
I see how their generous hearts are growing as they relish in the joy it brings others. I think they love sharing what we make as much as they do eating it.
These experiences are a time for learning. Not just the kids, but me too. Reminders of what is important. Reminders of how my actions affect them.
These little moments matter. These moments build their futures.
When they are moms one day, I hope they take the time to do this with their kids. I hope they pull out our old recipes and tell their kids stories about baking with their sisters and mom.
Even better, I hope that years after I am gone, my girls get together every summer with their kids and grandkids and make blackberry jam, bake homemade muffins from scratch, and laugh about the faces I would make when the flour would go everywhere, or the jam would start to boil over.
I pray that they always look back fondly on these moments and remember that these are the moments that matter.
I will always cherish these memories with my kids. Even though at times it can be frustrating, taking the time to just be present with them is key. The cleanup may take hours, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Copyright 2022 Teri Sinnott
About the Author
Wife, mother of 3, teacher, and blogger Teri Sinnott utilizes her professional experience and passionate heart to encourage others. No stranger to using her voice to create positive change, Teri hosts social media platforms that are centered on inspiration and providing a community for fellowship amongst Christian women. Through service and speaking God’s truths, she hopes to bring people to Christ by speaking to the hearts.