I sit at my counter looking out the window at the corner of my backyard. I notice that the leaves of a large tree have already started to change color as I sip my piping hot and obnoxiously complicated latte. It was an iced coffee last week, but now the morning air is crisp and it’s officially hot coffee season. The supermarkets are lined with pumpkins, I am hoarding apple-cinnamon candles, and my front bushes are covered in cheap, stretchy, decorative cotton webs. As a mom, it is the season of doing all the fall gram-worthy things, checking all the projects and outings off my #fallfamilyfun to-do list. But today, nine years and four kids into my motherhood journey, I will lower the bar. I will set my seasonal expectations reasonably low and know that much of the activities will be a little chaotic and disastrous — and that is okay.
First there is the apple picking. Donning some kind of plaid or mustard-colored apparel, I will inevitably pile the kids in the car for an argument-ridden and explosive car ride to the local orchard. Once we get there, we will then pay an exorbitant amount of money for a medium sized plastic bag — one that will only fit a relatively small number of apples. And during the picking, when we are supposed to be making our happy and glorious memories, kids will argue about which direction we walk in, whether or not we are allowed to eat the apples along the way, the names of the different apples, and the heaviness of their bags. It will then unquestionably turn into some kind of apple collecting competition where they will fight to the end to become the apple picking champion. And when it is all said and done we will have sweat-soaked flannels and enough apples to make pies for the entire neighborhood. I mean, if I knew how to make pie.
And then there are those weird-but-cool amusement farms. You know, the ones with the enormous pillow-looking things that a million kids jump on at once. I will bring all my people there and attempt to have a day full of joyous fun while the kids swing on tires and bury themselves in a sea of dusty corn kernels. We will order apple crisp at the snack stand and get attacked by bees and then I will have a full-blown panic attack when I lose a kid in the corn maze. When we leave, we will be broke and heading home with a car full of sugar-infused kids who will likely bicker all the way to their rooms, leaving a trail of corn kernels in their wake.
Next will be the pumpkin carving and decorating. They always look forward to pumpkin purchasing day. They scour a large patch of grocery store entry pavement until they have selected their perfect specimen. Then they spend the drive home arguing over whose is biggest, whose is best, and my personal favorite — whose is worst. Once I have finished raising my voice to teach them a lesson in kindness, we arrive home for the carving. This part is not stressful at all, especially for an anxious mom like me. The carving tools, the begging to use sharp knives, the pumpkin guts — it’s all super ideal, really. And their carving attempts always go exactly as planned, leaving them super happy with the result. It’s fall family perfection.
And we can’t forget the food and drink! Family trips down the Pinterest rabbit hole inspiring new apple and pumpkin recipes of all kinds, a cornucopia of family fun. The kids love the dumping of ingredients and our creations make the house smell of fresh autumn goodness. Thankfully that makes up for the fact that the finished product usually tastes like feet. It’s the journey, not the destination, as they say.
Overall, the efforts put forth to live up to the fun fall standard set by my feeds are worth it, I think. Despite the failures and fights, these activities do bring us together and who doesn’t love a cider donut after all. As long as you are equipped with realistic expectations and a decent amount of patience, you will be able to enjoy all the foliage-littered fun. Just try not to get lost in the corn maze.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.