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The battle for blueberries . . . and compromise

I completely lost my shiz this morning. I'm not proud of it, but shiz got lost.

The morning started casually enough. "Hey guys! " I smiled as I walked down the stairs on this gorgeous August-in-Maine Saturday, "We're going blueberry picking today! And to a new lake!" Both children, sitting on the sofa with overflowing bowls of Cheerios, sighed and rolled their eyes. They stomped around the house. The little one even started crying. WTF?

They actually got mad at me about the prospect of doing fun things. This happens often, in fact, and I shouldn't have been surprised. But that made me even madder. I was so pissed, I couldn't find adult words -- just yelled my own childish nonsense like "I just want to do fun things with you! Is that too much?" and "fine, then I'll pick blueberries alone!" -- and I sent Happy to his room because I didn't know what else to do. I fumed and fussed. I even said the F-word (and the image of Zippy's big blue eyes, wide with shock to hear me speak -- no yell -- that word will never leave my mind). Ugly mom moment.

Know what they were upset about? What they really wanted to do? Watch YouTube videos of other kids playing video games and building Legos; go to Target to spend their allowance (which, let's face it, is actually my money because they don't do too much to earn it) on the video games and Legos featured in the YouTube videos; come home and play video games all afternoon.

This. Kills. Me. Chunks of my soul screech and cry every time I realize that my children, people made from my love and DNA, would rather stay indoors staring at a television on a beautiful weekend day than do unique, once-a-year sorts of outdoor things. How is it possible? How have I screwed up so badly with them? We live in Maine, for Chrissakes. Go outside! People would (and do) spend thousands of dollars for these experiences you have right beyond your doorstep. How are you so ungrateful and spoiled so rotten?

Blueberry picking at Winslow Farm in Falmouth
Once I spewed all my rageyness and everyone was sufficiently teary-eyed, it hit me: These kids spend every weekday outside all summer long. They go to a fabulous day camp that takes them to all the best spots in the Maine/New Hampshire area. Trips every day. Lots of fun things. Meanwhile, I spend every day all summer in a dark office gazing out the window at the lunatics at the bus shell. So while I'm dreaming of blueberry picking, they're probably dreaming of sitting still for a while out of the sun.

Also, I am an outside person. I prefer outside to in; I become grumpy and sad and short-tempered if I don't get at least an hour of outside time every day. Don't even get me started on shopping malls; I would rather ride to the dentist on my bike through a hurricane than spend a gorgeous Saturday (or any day, really) at the mall. And video games! I would rather scrub bathroom grout with a toothbrush than play video games. I can't sit still very long without going bonkers, either; they really can. My kids might be more like my husband, who prefers malls to woodsy trails, TV-watching to cloud-gazing.

Besides, Maine is their home now, their Everyday. Of course they take it for granted! I grew up in New Jersey, crowded, hot, far away from blueberry picking and lobster shacks on a rocky coast. I dreamed of living here because of the amazing vacations we took when I was a kid -- and frankly, almost two years post-relocation, I often pinch myself and say aloud "This is your life, baby, not a vacation from it."

Outlet Beach on Sabbathday Lake...not bad
We live here, so we don't really need to cram in so much to every weekend. I know. We could probably all use more concentrated chill time. I know I push too hard to make every day awesome. And I realize that my definition of an awesome day may be different than theirs.

Once we all cooled off and dried tears this morning, and after I apologized for the hundredth time for saying the F-word, Honey made giant soothing egg sandwiches, and we looked at the forecast. We came to a compromise: A chance of showers and thunderstorms in the forecast means we give blueberries and lake time a try, but if at any point it thunders or rains, we will come home so you can go to Target and then play video games.

Know what happened? The sky stayed blue. Puffy, picture-postcard clouds floated by, but it never rained. We picked six pints of organic high bush blueberries, while the kids smiled and said things like "This is BERRY fun!" and "Oh, how I wish my mouth was a vacuum!" Then we went to a secluded sandy beach on a lovely little lake, where we floated on inner tubes, jumped cannonballs off the pontoon dock, and ate a grease-dripping-down-your-chin delicious snack-shack lunch. Everyone smiled dozily as we polished off our ice cream scoops and piled back into the car at the end of the day, blissed-out and beaming.

And right now, as I type, a sun-tanned boy snuggles next to me playing Lego Star Wars on the Playstation, while his dad and big brother troll the mall for new toys and back-to-school clothes. I just laid out two pints of blueberries to freeze, and when I sign off here, I'll find a killer blueberry pie recipe online. Life is good in this house, despite the morning blow-up.

Sometimes Mama knows a thing or two about how to spend a Saturday. And sometimes she needs to take a breath and think like a kid. We all know, too, there will be plenty of time for indoor chill time come November.
Lakeside lunch 


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