Sunday, May 14, 2017

Learning from mothers: Using the raspberry patch to teach and learn

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and potential mothers. Many of us have experienced a loss of our mothers, and on Mother’s Day we reminisce about them and remember things and stories that have kept them alive in our memories and thoughts. On this glorious day, I urge all of you to take a moment and pen a story (or two, three, or even more) about your mother and what you have learned from them. Here is one of those stories and some of the values I learned from my mother.

Barbara Hammon, my mother who died way too early!

Learning from mothers: Using the raspberry patch to teach and learn

Mothers can be subtle in their teaching. Thankfully. Most mothers do not sit down with their children and say, “OK, I’m going to teach you X. Now get out your pencils and notebooks (iPads, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and all those other social media things) and take notes.” Rather, mothers teach through showing and loving their children. Many of those teaching moments happen during a work project or just being together.

Taking time in the raspberry patch was just one of my mother’s ways of teaching me. Although I may not have realized it at the time. She didn’t intentionally try to teach me anything. Her way of teaching was showing me how to do lots of things, in particular as we worked together picking raspberries during the summer months.

Here are five things she taught me while we picked raspberries:

Complete a task from start to finish
Completing the raspberry picking didn’t stop in the middle of the row, nor almost at the end. Picking to the end of the row was the completion of the task. Granted, we stopped periodically to rest and carefully pour the berries into little green pint baskets, but we never quit until the entire patch was picked for the day.

Always to do a good job
Most mothers are fanatics about making sure you do a good job, and do it well. She wants to make sure you do the job correctly and proficiently. When you pick raspberries, you should pick all the ripe ones, which is no small chore because many of the berries are hidden beneath leaves, inside of the bushes, and way down low on the hanging branches. Over the years, my mother showed me how to lift the vines gently with a leather glove on the left hand and pick with the right. I can still hear my mother’s voice, piercing the still morning air, saying: “Darrel, bend a bit lower and pick the big hidden ones, hanging on the lower limbs.”

Review the work you have done to make sure you did it correctly
Often, it seems, you have to look back on what you are doing to see if you are following the right steps, or look at the job from a different angle. Looking at it just one way doesn’t always give you the perspective you need to complete the task. Picking raspberries was no different. Once finished, we walked slowly back up the rows we had just picked so we could review what we had done — reaching out and picking one of the berries we had missed. Rather, I had missed. My mother’s words, “Good job,” never failed to give me a wonderful feeling for the day.

Work together because it is more fun
The age-old adage “Many hands make light work,” is just plain truth. Working together not only makes work a little easier, it also brings families closer together. What I enjoyed most was working side by side with mother. Sometimes we would talk about whatever, often nothing really important. We would have contests like who could pick the biggest raspberry. Winning wasn’t totally the point. It was working together as a team, finishing as a team, and having fun simultaneously.

Help others finish their tasks
Perhaps, helping others with their work was an important concept in my learning. When you work in teams, working together toward a common goal is paramount in bringing a project to successful fruition. Picking raspberries meant working as a team. While we each had a side of the row, we truly worked in tantamount. My mother would normally beat me to the end of the raspberry row. She would turn down my side and work toward me. But I suspect she held up once in a while to see if I would reciprocate. If I ever finished before she did, which was seldom, I started on her side and picked toward her. It didn’t bother me to help, and I continue doing it.

Often we learned things from our mothers that weren’t overt at the beginning. Only when we look back on the situation does it finally occur to us, “Hey, I actually learned something from that incident.” Now, as I continue to complete those events, I realize I have personally reaped great benefits from the early mornings picking raspberries with my mother. A very Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful wife and my two daughters are incredible mothers because of the values and teachings they have learned and implemented from their mother:

Joanne, an incredible mother!

Hailey, Anna Rose, and Anna Rose