In lieu of a calendar, I’ve always relied on Starbucks to notify me of the upcoming shifting seasons. When is the first day of Fall? As soon as the Pumpkin Spiced Latte makes its seasonal arrival, of course! After several days of fueling myself with autumnal drinks that spark a cult-like following, I was itching to celebrate the commencement of Fall with an afternoon of family-friendly seasonal activities. Aside from scoring a new pair of limited edition Louboutins, nothing tickles my fancy quite like meandering through a field of vibrantly colored pumpkins with my children or picking apples at our favorite orchard. For the past several years, Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard has provided us with the most perfect destination for family fun amidst a backdrop of crinkly leaves under foot, crisp red apples begging to be picked, and the aroma of fresh apple cider donuts in the air. And for parents whose children stage imperfectly-timed meltdowns on their grounds, rest assured – their spiked cider is some of the best I’ve had.
We couldn’t wait to make our annual pilgrimage to Harvest Moon this Fall and had been looking forward to our visit all week. I made an elaborate mental blueprint of our day from start to finish beginning with photos in the pumpkin patch followed by pony rides and culminating with apple picking. Spending the afternoon traipsing through the picturesque countryside with my little sidekicks would be nothing short of delightful. After draping myself in my favorite fur vest (because what else should one wear apple picking?) we packed the car with all the essentials (extra layers, camera, bottles of water and several pairs of shoes for different terrain). But despite my painstaking efforts to adhere to a thorough agenda for the afternoon, what ensued could best be described as sheer pandemonium. We’ve all heard the bitter Yiddish proverb, “Man plan, g-d laughs,” but the individual who coined this expression of wisdom was most certainly referring to my life in a nutshell.
What I had anticipated would be a mild September afternoon actually capped out at a sweltering 91 degrees. The assumption that we would have quintessential Fall weather was only my first of many miscalculations about how the afternoon would transpire. What a fool. Luckily I was able to change into a more weather appropriate outfit I had stashed in our car. As we entered the pumpkin patch my ordinarily easygoing 16-month old clung to me like a current-season pair of Manolo’s at a sample sale. Seemingly overwhelmed by the mass quantity of future jack-o’-lanterns, she fought me tooth and nail as I tried to lower her to the ground. What about the photos? How can I possibly get the highly-coveted instagram-worthy shots if I can’t even set her down for a moment? Mom plans, G-d laughs. As I snapped away for the next few minutes, the images I captured were ones of an adorably nurturing older sibling and the cutest pouty lip on this side of the Hudson. The unwavering connection between these two had never been so palpable as in these tender moments. And although the images weren’t the idealized representation of children in a pumpkin patch, they epitomized the chaotic reality of parenthood.
Next on the agenda – apple picking! I had spent the night before perusing Pinterest for the most appetizing baked apple recipes and ultimately selected a scrumptious apple crisp. My 3-year old had also spent the previous week in preschool learning to identify different types of apples based on color and shape and was eagerly anticipating this segment of our afternoon. As we began our ascent up the steep hill to the orchard, the blazing afternoon sun was beating down on us with relentless fury. Just keep going. With beads of sweat already dripping down our foreheads, the prospect of pushing a double stroller up this steep hill seemed absolutely dreadful. As a result of these unforeseen sizzling conditions, we made the executive decision to forgo what would most certainly be a painful apple-picking experience for all. So much for my homemade apple crisp. Mom plans, G-d laughs. I quickly ushered my son over to the farm animals, and after a pony ride he had completely forgotten all about apple picking.
This may not have been the exact day I had choreographed for my kids, but it was their day and they lived it just how they wanted. Despite the tears shed, stifling temperatures endured, and disappointing changes of plans, the laughs we shared are memories I will always hold dear. And as we enter this new season, I will strive not to burden myself with disappointment of activities not completed, play dates not had or trips not taken. So what if we didn’t get a picture-perfect moment in the pumpkin patch? So what if we didn’t make it up the hill to the orchard? Although I’m consistently searching for teachable moments in the day-to-day activities with my kids, some of the most valuable lessons learned are my own. So frequently we foolishly hold tight to our expectations and assume that we are in control over the details of our lives. But despite our most careful planning, life with kids is unpredictable and much of what happens is beyond the realm of our control. The sooner we can surrender ourselves to the uncertainty of motherhood, the easier it will be to implement tools that will help us stay calm amidst the struggles and challenges thrown our way. It will be chaotic. It will be far from perfect. But it will undoubtedly be the most wonderful time of your life.
Shop Our Looks:
Off-the-shoulder top – H&M
Ray-Ban Shrunken Aviator Sunglasses – ShopBop
VALENTINO GARAVANI Rockstud Jelly Sandals – Saks Fifth Avenue
Picnic Ruffle Romper – Moonlight Bundles
Ralph Lauren Childrenswear Boys’ Performance Polo – Bloomingdale’s
DKNY Khaki Cargo Shorts & Belt – Zulily