This week, I really didn’t feel like writing. Look, I have a lot going on. Not only am I learning some new things at work, but we are fully back into the swing of things with school and all the after-school activities. And honestly, it was hours before I needed to have this column turned in that I was wracking my brain as I was packing Maylie’s lunch because I still didn’t know what in the world I was going to write about.
As I was examining the strawberries to cut up for her lunch, trying to use every last one that was still, you know, good, in the old container before I opened up the new one, I realized that I was only able to get one or two out of this batch and had to resort to the others in the fridge. Tossing the older strawberries away and grabbing out the fresh ones, I realized that some of them were already not quite bright and red as well — still definitely edible, just not as juicy and delicious looking.
Per the norm, I reached for those ones first. After all, they would go bad the soonest, so they needed to get eaten up first. But then I stopped myself.
For the first time, it dawned on me that I was continuously giving my daughter the “just OK” strawberries. Surely, those red, delectable, ready-to-eat berries would sit in the container for a few days before I packed a lunch again, and then they too would not be quite as delicious and, at that time, I would serve them to her.
But never was I giving her the best strawberries. Always, I packed her the so-so ones, and always, time stole the scrumptious sweetness of her snack.
Oh, she never complains. This girl loves strawberries. Every single time she brings her lunchbox home, those are always the one thing that has no doubt been eaten. Maybe, she doesn’t mind at all. Maybe, she is just used to it. Or maybe, she has no idea just how amazing the best of the best berries are.
Questioning and laughing at myself for thinking about such crazy things this late at night when I still had to finish all of the nightly things, write an article and find some time to get some sleep, I realized something.
What if I am the strawberry?
Look, life is crazy busy. Most days I feel like I am literally feeding my babies the part of me that will just make it through the day — the sad strawberry that is just enough. In my mind, I kick the can down the road thinking that “after this” or “after that” I will have more time to give more — the scrumptious strawberry. And yet, days later, that savory strawberry — myself — is just as busy and life is just as crazy as it was days before. So, my babies again settle with a dismal berry — just enough of a mom to get us through.
Even in an exhausted Mama’s head, it was an eye-opening thought. During this stage of life, sometimes as a Mom it is overwhelmingly hard to be the best every single day. In fact, somedays, I am just relieved to make it through in hopes that I can be better tomorrow. But, what about today?
If I am being honest, the thought that actually made my stomach turn was what if my kids are fine and fed with no complaints because they are so used to a Mommy that is always that mediocre strawberry? What if I am not taking the time right now — each and every day — to give them the best of me and they have just accepted that?
Yes, I am busy. We are all busy. Life is busy. But, that’s the thing. It will be busy again tomorrow as well. Time will still pass, but this is a time with my babies that I will never get back. I need to stop sticking the best of me back in the fridge for another day when I know that I will be just as wilted then.
Immediately, I began searching through that strawberry container for the best-looking, brightest red, juiciest berry in there. My baby deserves to have that daily in her lunch — just like she deserves a Mama who pours everything into her and doesn’t wait for a later time to do so.
So, you may see me out buying strawberries a little more frequently now, but you will also see me giving more of myself each day. Time is a thief and I am no longer letting it steal these precious years from me. From here on out, my babies will be getting the best berries — and the best Mama — daily.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.