I don’t remember how old I was when I learned to peel and cut up an apple. My husband knew how to, over 40 years ago, probably before we even met. He was always very handy with a knife. He grew up in southern Italy, where fresh fruit was plentiful and delicious and picked daily from homegrown trees.
My millennial kids, on the other hand, don’t need to know how to use a knife because they are usually not cooking and getting takeout. They are probably serving whole apples, not cut-up ones for their kids. And who knows what the millennial kids will do? What happens with each generation?
Numerous disagreements and many changes have been made from one generation to the next regarding raising kids. Most of us can recall at least one story or tradition from our own childhood that sticks and finally makes sense after becoming a parent.
My little tale comes from my dad. He taught me the art of the mundane task of peeling and dissecting an apple. He taught me by example, but it only became significant and made sense after I became a mother.
When I was younger, we often enjoyed big Sunday meals with both sets of grandparents. We were so graced by their presence and wisdom and naturally didn’t ponder for a second how privileged we were and how fleeting those days would be. Our go-to dessert was always seasonal fruit and espresso. No serving up of sweets like cakes or pies, partially because we were stuffed from our five-course meals of spaghetti and meatballs and partly because it wasn’t our thing.
Once, I noted how my dad, like his mother, would split the apple. He would core it and cut off a piece. He would carefully peel that small piece, take a quick bite and set it down. Then he would continue cutting and peeling to serve it in a bowl for all of us kids to enjoy.
I’m sure it was just a habit my dad and grandmother acquired, but it translated into a motherhood truism for me. You can’t take of others unless you take care of yourself first.
It is so important to heed this advice. Watching my dad always take that first bite instilled a habit in me. Eat before or during the kids’ mealtimes, doze off for a few while they’re napping, text your best friend if you can’t call once a day, aimlessly scroll through your social media after putting the kiddos to bed, leave the dishes and watch a movie instead. Get a pedicure in the middle of winter. Make those important doctor appointments.
Take the first bite of the apple and make self-care a daily necessity.
Alternate feeding your body and soul, just enough to get you through each day. Thanks to my dad for showing me, in his own little way, how it’s done!