Friday, June 23, 2006

The lesson we can learn from grapes

A week or so ago I was shopping in a big warehouse store and stopped at a sample table. Usually these tables offer a tidbit of some delectable precooked prepackaged and pre-calorie infused treat offered in mass quantities that can be served to your visiting dignitaries within minutes of leaving the walk in freezer in your house. I buy these treats for my kids on occasion, the boxes last us for weeks. It's an easy alternative to the "Perfect Mothering" that I plan to discuss in a future blog. This particular day, though, at this particular table, the product being portioned out to club members was grapes. I popped one in my mouth, and then one into each of the eager palms presented me by my adorable children, and told them I wasn't going to buy them a whole 4 pound box because we had 4 pounds of strawberries at home.

The demonstrator overheard my comment and quickly used the sharp brain under her white paper hair net. "Have you ever had them frozen?" I admitted I hadn't, and she started extolling the raptures of the all-natural slushy-like virtues of the frozen grape. My kids were now drooling and I promised to keep the idea in mind.

A few days later the strawberries had been sacrificed to the ravages of the blender and I decided to pick up some of the fore mentioned grapes. Once they had been procured I let them sit in the fridge until I found time to clean and freeze them.

This brings us to this morning when I decided to take advantage of my children's preoccupation with their breakfast to complete this task. So while they concentrated on getting pre-packaged and pre-cooked waffles smothered in whipped cream (three pack of cans, near the milk) and syrup into their mouths I started divesting the grape vine of it's burden young.

Now most of the grapes came right off the vine and plopped cheerfully in the bowl to await the baking soda rinse that would free them from their pesticide coating. There were those few grapes however that clung tightly to their mother vine and ripped part of the vine of with them. These had to be retrieved from the bowl and the lingering vine portion carefully removed. I thought for a while that it was the fault of the individual grape, but upon closer inspection I discovered that it was really the fault of the vine.

You see the vine was weak because it had been pouring it's nutrients into the grape long after it should have started to let go. The healthy sections of vine remained intact because they had the floral integrity to let go at the proper time. The broken and withered sections had made the classic mistake of mothering to long.

It's an easy mistake to make, or at least I would assume so. (I'm trying hard not to make it.) It starts with a simple gasp of concern the first time the wind wiggles your precious grape within in your grasp. It's so tiny then, just a bud really, and you pull it close hoping to protect it from unnecessary harm. As it gets older it grows and being the good vine you are you keep it safely nestled in the heart of the bunch. When it's time to receive its dose of pesticide you make sure it gets covered, but worry that the powder will stunt it's growth.

Every day you pour everything you have into your little round joy, and you try not to think about the day of harvest when your little seed bearer will head off into the world. You stick with your darling until at length your resources are depleted, your once strong stem is withered and dry, giving every last drop of moisture, nourishing to the very end. Then one day some hot young red-head comes along and pulls him away. You have been giving for so long, you don't know how to let go, so the force with which she pulls snaps you in two.

So there you are, broken, depleted, and unable to free yourself from the bond with your off spring. Your world has changed and yet you try to live vicariously. You hope that sticking close to your little bud grown big will give you just a taste of what life was once like, back in the vineyard. The simple truth though is, this isn't your place, and there isn't enough of you left to go on.

So mothers, take a hint from the stem laying bereft and broken in my garbage can. Let go. Release your child a little at a time until the day comes when your child goes off on it's own. Do this and there will be something left of you when your child is gone. Start today. When your toddler stumbles say "Whoops! Haha, did that floor jump up and get you? Well stand back up and try again." When your child is learning to write her name find the point at which you stop putting down an example to follow. When your child is struggling in school, guide and teach, help him grasp the concept, don't do the homework for him. You have to let go!

That, my friends, is the lesson we can learn from grapes. Now I need to go put these in the freezer.

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