Today I cut up my daughter’s fruit. In my usual fashion, I prepared a two-fruit salad of oranges and grapes, carefully slicing the orange into little squares and taking each grape and cutting it into fours. Personally, I think it tastes better when the juices of each mix together. You know, the sour mixing with the sweet?
Returning home early from school I served the lunch to my twelve-year-old. It really was an average lunch on an average early dismissal day. But as I have learned in my continual quest for meaning, meaningful moments can happen when one least expects them. It was a moment of genuine gratitude. A moment where she was developmentally showing her ability to prove her knowledge of the give-and-take of the world. My twelve-year-old turned to me and said, “Mom, you cut up my fruit. Thank you, Mom.” Tenderly, thoughtfully, fully present, a little surprised, and staring at the chopped sweet and sour mixture in front of her. I paused for a second, looked at her, smiled and went back to what I was doing and said, “You like that, huh?” I wish I had stopped at that very moment and engaged or told her how wonderful it was to hear that thank you. Maybe it was better I didn’t. It was so sweet. The comment.
When I’m feeling sour and unappreciated, I often tell my children that they are like the CEO of a business and I am their employee. “How would you like to go to work or school every day and never have the people in charge tell you that you are doing a good job?” I have told them over and over that I need positive feedback. A mom cannot exist on sour fruit alone. The sourness of, “I don’t like this, can I have more of that, why did you give me this?” can sting the heart of a mother. A mom needs to know when she gets it right, she needs to know when people are happy, she needs to be told that she is doing a job well done. A mom needs to feel sweet sometimes, and not always sour.
I am well aware that parenting is a mixture of valuable sour and sweet moments. Both of which are equally important to developing healthy, stable families. Moms and children spending too much time in the sour waste the effort of cutting up and mixing the fruit. I was reminded today to linger in the sweetness a little longer, even if it only comes from a tiny piece of a very small grape.