On my list of favorite things, homemade freezer jam is definitely near the top. Unfortunately, my freezer has been void of its goodness for several months now because five children tend to empty the freezer faster than I can fill it.
The kids have asked me several times over the past few months when I was going to make some more, to which I usually answered: “I need to do that soon…” as my mind trailed off to the hundreds of other things that I also needed to get done.
Since I did not get my act together before the beautiful spring strawberries doubled in price, I was thrilled to see raspberries on sale last week. I love raspberry jam even more than strawberry, so I bought a case of beautiful berries, excited to come home and get to work.
After about an hour of mashing, measuring, stirring, and pouring, I had a dozen beautiful jars of red deliciousness. As I started to clean up the sticky mess that engulfed my kitchen, I could not resist stopping for a moment to scoop the remaining few spoonfuls of jam into my waiting mouth. Immediately upon tasting its sweetness, I was transported back in time…
Suddenly, I was a little girl again. I was sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table with my family, longing to sit in the window seat that housed the cute handmade dolls with the yellow yarn hair. Grandma was hurrying around the kitchen – cutting grapefruit in half, warming up her delicious cinnamon rolls, toasting slices of homemade bread, and filling a bowl with raspberry freezer jam before setting everything carefully on the table for us to eat.
I can still feel the warmth of her house, hear the pleasant conversation, see the light coming in through the bay window and falling on the window seat by the table, and taste the jam on her homemade bread. It is funny how something as simple as jam can leave an indelible imprint on a young mind.
While lost in my memories, I found my thoughts slowly drifting in another direction. In between thoughts of my grandmother, I began to wonder what memories would be forever ingrained in the minds of my children.
Sometimes I worry that the things my kids will remember when they are grown will revolve around the times when I was at my worst. They will probably remember the time when I lost my cool and told my son to “shut up,” even though that is a phrase we do not say in our home. They will surely recall how he immediately started to cry and told me that he didn’t like it when people swore at him, and how I told him to keep it up and he might hear some real swearing. (True story!)
They may think back on the times when I could not tolerate our messy home any longer, and how I stomped around mumbling loudly about how I must be the only one who knew how to put things away. Perhaps they will reflect on how my high expectations of them sometimes led to frustration or the times when I was distracted and didn’t pay enough attention to them.
Yes…I have had many bad parenting moments that I wish I could go back and erase. Unfortunately, parenting is a game of trial and error, and, in my case, there has been an overwhelming emphasis on error. I make a royal mess out of things all the time. Sometimes, at the end of a particularly frustrating day, I am convinced that my kids are going to grow up and blame every one of their problems on my poor parenting abilities.
And who knows? Maybe they will.
Nevertheless, despite the mistakes that I have made, and will continue to make because I am imperfect, there are also many good moments.
There are times when I drop everything and have a serious heart to heart conversation with one of my kids about something that is deeply concerning them, which leads to moments of understanding and growth.
There are times when I rearrange my schedule to be at an event that is important to them, even when it is inconvenient.
There are “mommy dates” where I spend one on one time with each child.
There are times when I say a heartfelt prayer with a worried child.
I am here when they get home from school every day, allowing me to hear the run-down of the day before they head off to their next activity.
I am (usually) awake when they get home from a date or weekend get-together, giving me a few minutes to hear about what they did with the friends who have become such a large part of their lives.
I may not be perfect, but I am HERE…doing my best…and that counts for something.
When all is said and done, I hope the memories of me being there for them will be the ones that leave a lasting impression on their minds.
You, like me, may make many mistakes in this business of raising children. However, if you are doing your best to love, understand, and BE THERE for your kids, I am convinced that they will one day be eternally grateful for your efforts. That may not be this day, as sometimes kids, teens, and even young adults are not very good at seeing beyond themselves.
But one day…
Something, like raspberry jam, may bring them back, and they will remember. Perhaps for the very first time, they will truly see your efforts, feel of your love, and be filled with gratitude for things that long went unnoticed and unappreciated.
Just be there. Keep trying, keep loving, keep praying, and then hold on for that day.
You are doing better than you think.