We started out the day excited to make Strawberry Jam. We headed out in search of the last berries of the season (because that is the way we roll, unlike my mom who got us out early picking our own berries). After what felt like a scavenger hunt for berries we ended up with a flat of giant strawberries and a half flat of beautiful raspberries. I could almost taste the strawberry jam in my Swedish Pancakes and the Raspberry Sauce drizzled over my White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake. I could see me and my kids in our aprons hovering over the sink of washed berries. I could see myself pretending not to notice them sneaking berries into their mouths even though Blake's berry smeared cheeks would give it away.
It would be a wonderful day full of laughter, finger licks, and memories...
Until we pulled into our driveway. In the moment it took me to get out of my seat and round the car to scoop up the berries from the passenger seat my visions were shattered.
It was chaos. (ok, maybe not chaos, but I like the dramatic affect of that word) Riley was yelling, Blake was frantic and I was in shock.
"Mom!! Blake spilled the Blackberries!!!" (she meant Raspberries but the guy selling us the strawberries saw them and kept asking if they were blackberries, I used my amazing Spanish to spell out Raspberries for him - I am pretty proud of myself)
As I opened the door I found Blake kneeling on the dividing console between the front seats, up to his elbows in smushed berries. We have asked him before to not climb into the front seat, but Riley had hopped up to check her Lip Gloss in the review mirror (I don't know where she learned that...) and Blake had followed after her. Somehow, I am still not sure, he managed to knock the Half Flat of Raspberries all over the entire front of the car. He was frantically trying to pick them up, but the berries just squished in his pudgy little hands making raspberry juice all over the driver's seat.
I lost it.
The next thing I knew I was shouting. Kids were being hurled into the house to sit on the stairs in Time Out. As I stood surveying the mess that somehow covered the steering wheel, console, both front seats and the carpet on the ground (how could one half flat cover so much??) the anger grew. I saw the $15 dollars I had just spent on the berries, I saw the berry juice oozing, I saw the carpets staining, and felt my blood pressure rising. By now, the kids are all wailing inside the house. I am not sure if they were trying to wake up JT to come to their defense (but after working last night- he was pretty out of it) or to see if I would take pity on their sobs.
I tried to channel my Mother. I pictured her standing over a freshly baked cake that she had spent hours decorating to be an exact replica of the Boy Scout Emblem for my brother's Eagle Scout Court of Honor. She was staring at a broken water balloon that we had thrown over her cake and had somehow come down right on her cake. (why were even throwing water balloons in the house? good question.) That same anger was boiling under her skin.
But she didn't yell. She calmly told us and our friends to get out of the kitchen and go home. Actually I think it was more of a warning.
I pictured her coming home from a day of selling her crafts at a bazaar to a house that we flooded when we filled the tub for an Apple Bobbing Contest at my Halloween Party. And when I say filled the tub, I mean we forgot we were filling the tub and it ran over and all the way down the hall before we remembered. Again, no yelling.
I even picture her finding me, as an adult in beauty school, trying to clean up hot wax I had spilled on her living room carpet, where my sister-in-law and I thought it would be a good place to wax her eyebrows... Again, no yelling.
As these scenarios flashed through my mind I knew there was only one thing I could do. Go back into the house where my little children were sobbing on the stairs in time out- and yell some more!!
What is wrong with me? Why did it feel so good just to yell?! That is not what I saw as a child. Or what I want my kids to remember from "the Great Day we made Strawberry Jam". And yet, I did.
After about an hour the car was clean. To my surprise (and embarrassment) I got most of the raspberries out of the carpet and the little cracks and crevices. The kids were eager to help. Especially Blake.
Looking back at "the Great Day we made Strawberry Jam" I keep thinking of my parenting regrets.
That I yelled (not just raised my voice- but full on yelled) at my small children for an accident.
That I failed at the goal of all children: "to be better than our own parents".
That I missed a chance to snuggle and ask forgiveness from a frightened sad child.
and maybe most of all:
That I did not take a picture.
Because what was tragic, and frustrating, and horrible today-- would make a funny blog post tomorrow.