Valley Voices

With kids and restaurants, parents are just like farmers – you reap what you sow

Jill Simonian is a wife and mother of two daughters.
Jill Simonian is a wife and mother of two daughters.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I made a quick trip to Fresno to celebrate a cousin’s wedding. (What a wedding!) The families of the bride and groom are farmers, as were many of the guests. Let’s just say, if you weren’t a farmer at that wedding, you were very closely related to a farmer one way or another.

Whichever way you looked, there was some kind of gorgeous fruit display catching your eye. (Can we talk about how delicious and robust those grapes were? We don’t have grapes like that in Los Angeles – trust me, I’ve looked.)

I kept hearing the word “harvest” throughout conversations:

Harvest is keeping us busy!

“I’m counting the days until harvest is over!”

Harvest this and harvest that.

One of my cousins even reminded me of a picture my cousin took of my 96-year-old grandma inspecting her own raisins during harvest, and what an iconic picture it is. No matter what happens over the year or how the crop turns out, harvest always comes and you’d better deliver something. Whatever you’ve got when it’s time, that’s what you harvest. Grandma has been doing it for almost 70 years.

I don’t know anything about farming. My mom’s dad farmed grapes and raisins, but the only thing I remember about any of it as a child was seeing Grandpa drive the tractor up and down the rows in the sun and walking in the hot dirt between the vines from time to time with Grandma. I was wondering when I could go back to the house and continue playing rock star or actress.

If I was like any other kid, I probably complained a bit. I remember my mom talking about how, when she was a little girl, her young life centered around planting and watering and maintaining and pruning and – harvest. How she grew to resent it during her childhood years.

“I can’t tell you how many times we had to leave a fun party when I was a kid because Daddy had to check the water on the ranch.” Sounds like something any normal kid would complain about.

But, in the name of family, work, life and obligation, they did it as a family because – harvest was coming.

Now that ranch belongs to my mom and my uncle, and they’re maintaining it (with the help of my younger cousin and helpful folks in the business). It belongs to her family, to our family. Families reap what they sow. Parents reap what we sow. I’m not talking about business or financials here.

Recently, I took my girls to lunch, as I’ve done a hundred times since my first one was born six years ago.

“You’re lucky! Your daughters are so good in a restaurant!” a nice lady commented to me as she walked by our table.

“Thank you,” I smiled.

I didn’t tell bother to tell that person that she caught us on a good day, that I had a scuffle with both of my complaining girls that morning just to get them into the car, or that I’d previously logged what I’m guessing was hundreds of hours of rule-enforcing, strict behavior expectations and nonnegotiable consequences when they didn’t behave prior to this day.

I haven’t been lucky, I’ve worked my butt off for that result. Parenting can be exhausting, especially when children are giving us a run for our money and we can’t see an immediate result of what we’re trying to do (i.e. raise good kids). Parenting is like farming – you put in all that you can but you don’t truly know what you’re going to get.

I see farmers as problem-solvers: If something’s not producing, they must figure it out fast (Is it the soil? The water?). Then they do everything they can to fix it as soon as possible. Time is money, time is life.

The same thing goes for our kids: If there’s a problem, we must figure it out and fix it as soon as possible (reading troubles? emotional problems?) because we don’t have time to waste. I’m told that 18 years pass quickly and “harvest” comes before we know it when raising children.

So we try our best with the intention to reap what we sow against the weather, elements and bad water that none of us have any control over.

I don’t understand crops, harvest, grapes, raisins or how everyone’s doing almonds now (is that right?), but I do understand the concept of putting in time, effort, motivation, creative thinking and emotional resources into doing everything I can to reap the best harvest in the climate I’ve been given for the long haul.

I have no idea what challenges are ahead of me as my daughters are so young, but all I can do is put in everything that I have for my own peace as a parent. The rest is of out of my hands.

Some seasons will be dry, some seasons will be great. Some seasons will be so bad that I’ll probably throw my hands in the air and consider neglecting every last square foot just so I won’t have to worry about whether I’m doing it right anymore.

But we can’t; we’re parents. Watering, pruning, raising and responding matter, even if we doubt the season we’re in and the weather’s terrible. We must believe we will reap what we sow.

Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and graduated from Sanger High School. Founder of the lifestyle blog, she is a Parenting Lifestyle Expert for CBS Los Angeles and is writing her first book, ‘The FAB Mom’s Guide” (Spring 2017). Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @jillsimonian. Her column appears monthly in The Bee.