At last summer is here and in full swing. And in full heat! As uncomfortable as it can be outside there is one thing that keeps drawing me back out: picking the harvest- and more to the point- blackberry season! I love blackberry season. This is the real Christmas in July. Vine after vine bursting with sweet berries. They line the road ways, loom across hedges, sparkle in the sunlight, and glow beneath fireflies at dusk. An uncanny beauty and a spark of pure joy after the summer solstice.
I am so eager to can the blackberries already crowding my refrigerator, but blackberry season means a bit more to me this year. If there is one thing I know at this point in my life it is that seasons pass all too quickly. Sometimes we are glad to see them go. Other times, not so much. And as the berries shift from red to black and fall from the vine- I feel convicted to appreciate the season of life that I too am in.
A Different Kind of Blackberry Season
The thing about blackberries is they grow unwarranted. They pop up and take over, a little more each year. To some they may seem like a weed, but to others they are undeserved and beautiful blessings. Much like the season of motherhood, itself. Motherhood, be it planned or unexpected, is a season of wild, tangled vines- interwoven with thorns of bitterness and berries of bliss.
Mamas, I know that some days feel like they last forever. But the truth is this season of life is fleeting. These chubby fingers, sticky peanut butter kisses, sleepless nights, and loud car drives- they won’t last forever. Someday we will look back and remember them so fondly. We will shed silent tears and smile at the memories we made. When we look back at this season of life, I want us to say we really lived it. I want us to recall being present, hands on, and enamored with every high and every low. We are Mamas for life, but we only get to experience our children in childhood for a season. Don’t blink Mamas.
The Truth about Blackberries: The Thorns of Motherhood
I know how difficult this all seems to the mama who is wondering “will I ever sleep again?” This season seems slow and difficult. It can feel like a time of waiting. Waiting on a new home. Waiting on a little more independence. Or waiting for a break or vacation that never seems to come. But all the while, as we are waiting and wishing and wanting- our babies are growing up. We won’t get this day back.
Just as blackberry season comes with a few thorns- so does motherhood. Motherhood is exhausting. It is long days, long nights, and countless diaper changes. It is taking a break to rest and then realizing that your kids glued toilet paper to your feet. Or rushing when you are already late just to find your two year old and your van coated in ranch dressing. It is staying up late to finish something you can’t get done during the day. It’s sleeping at night but feeling like you never really rested.
Mamas, this season can be so hard. Those thorns can cut deep. Maybe not the first one but after being snagged by two or three or finding that your legs are bound up in the underbrush- we start to crack. To pull away. To yell and cry over a sink full of dishes while little hands tug at your skirt tail. Thorns prick and stick and some even scar, but past those pesky thorns is the promise of something good- something worth reaching for.
Picking to Preserve; Learning to Linger
I don’t pick blackberries because I have nothing better to do. No, I do it to preserve them. To turn them into jam or pie filling and stock my pantry or freezer with them. Because I know after this month- they will melt into the autumn afternoons and lie dormant until spring comes again. If I want blackberry jam in the winter, I have to pull from what I stored in the summer.
Just as we preserve our food, we have to learn to preserve time. We have to see the beauty of lingering in a moment. I picked up my oldest son the other day as a joke and I couldn’t even lift him. Something inside of me shattered a little as I realized he had outgrown my arms. I have sat alone crying the last time I nursed each of my babies while also remembering that a week before I was crying because I was so tired of getting up in the night to nurse my eighteen month old.
Mamas, it goes so fast, and we don’t always know the little moments that will turn out to be big ones. We have to learn to linger. We have to learn to set up camp in the moment. To run through the sprinkler with them even though the clothes are waiting to be folded. To sit down with them while we eat lunch even though the kitchen needs to be cleaned. We have to learn to stop- lay aside the plans for the day and just take in the moment. Hold those sweet hands tight in yours. Kiss those chubby cheeks. Or play kickball past sunset. Linger here for a while Mamas. Preserve this moment. It is only for a season.
The Sweet Fruit of Motherhood
Before becoming a mama, I never really gave any thought to what motherhood must be like. The ups, downs, disappointments, dreams, beauties, and burn out- these never really crossed my mind. But the minute my belly began to show I was met with: “Oh they grow so fast.” “Your whole life is about to change.” “It’s not about you anymore.” All of those are true statement; however, everyone paints it in a negative light- but mama there is so much fruit. And it can be so sweet.
Mama you get to be the one. The one who tucks your chin and gives that final push bringing your new baby into the world. You get to be the one who hears “Mama, I love you.” each night before bed. You get to kiss all the scrapes, share all the stories, and partake in all the snuggles. When they succeed, they will run to tell you. When the fail, you will be the one to wipe tears and offer encouragement. Every recital. Every time they step up to bat. When they read their first word. Make their first friend. Meet ‘the one’. It is you they will look to. They will want your smile, your approval, your pat on the back, and your embrace.
They won’t always be small enough to curl up in your arms, but they will always be in your heart. Don’t rush it or wish it away in just because this season bears some thorns. Mama there is so much fruit here. Blackberry season is bursting with sweetness, don’t miss it.
Okay, so here we are in this season. Pushing past thorns and indulging in the sweetness, why?
Because we know that our children will grow. This season will pass and give way to another. But the work we do here, is eternal. This is the heart behind the name Aiming Arrows. Launching these babies from our home is not about landing them in Fortune 500 companies or doctorate degrees. We are aiming for something more. Something more than even we can grasp.
My niece got baptized today and I watched as my sister, who had struggled to birth this sweet girl into the world, cheered her through her second birth. I watched as she wiped the water from her feet and swaddled her in a towel. Tears dripped down my brother-in-law’s face as he baptized his little girl. My sister sat- looking every bit like the ideal mother- with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. How precious it is to be a mama! I sat in the corner, snapping photos and watching as she savored some of the sweetness of the season. But this was an eternal sweetness.
This is what we all strive for. As Mamas, we must be archers. Skilled in the art of battle. We set our sights on the Kingdom- cast aside our fear, our worries, and lift our bow. With every diaper change, every night spent reading to our babies, every worship song, and heartfelt conversation- we are pulling back that bow string and eyeing the target.
“Like arrows in the hands of a mighty man, so are children of one’s youth.”
Mamas, do not grow weary in well doing. Rock your sweet baby. Read one more book. Play hide and seek. And pick some blackberries. Aim on, because though it is for a season- this work is eternal.
Be grateful for the season of life we are in!
Happy Blackberry Season!
Want to preserve some sweetness from the season, click here for a blackberry jam recipe.