Friday, September 27, 2013

The Bohemian Farm Part 2

I go home to remember who I was and where I came from. To see who I am now and who I want to be. Home connects me to the memories that have made me. It's not just my dad watching The Price Is Right or the feel of my Meme's cold and soft little hands grabbing mine. It's those things and everything. The older I become and the farther away I live, going home hits me harder. When I am in the midst of something, I start to forget the details. I look past certain trees and ponds. The food tastes familiar. The sounds and smells of life are simply that, just life. When I leave and return again and again, older and changed, things start to seem new and oddly familiar at the same time.

When I was in middle school and my parents separated, my dad went to live with his mom for awhile, my Meme. She still lives in the same trailer on my Uncle Donny's land. Their property is out in the country between my childhood hometown of less than two thousand and the "big city" of Saint Joseph, Missouri. I remember vivid memories of going to my Meme's to spend weekends with my dad. There was no television, besides a couple of news stations that came in through a handmade antenna. No one had a smart phone, and Meme has never had a computer. So I walked the cornfields after they had been harvested. There were acres and acres behind her house. The lower part of the corn stalks still remained, and they left little rows and paths perfect for following to no where. I would walk alone for a couple of hours at a time. Sometimes wearing an old cotton sweatshirt of my Meme's if it was colder than I had packed for. I would walk around, trying to figure out life. For the time, I was all alone in the huge and quiet field. The drama of every day couldn't reach me. I might be able to hear my name shouted from the porch, but nothing else. No troubles or fighting, just the Earth and God and little ninety eight pound me, covered up in Meme's powder blue sweatshirt.

I always said I wanted to get out of country. Out of nowhere and find somewhere. I knew I would leave Missouri, although college didn't get me too far. Just living in another small town in Arkansas, but it was a little bit bigger and there were more than sixty people in my graduating class. About seven years after leaving my home, married and with a baby, I realized I wanted to live on a bohemian farm. What exactly is a bohemian farm? I think its actually a mixture of my imagination, my childhood, and what I want in the future. Its a simple life, where there is enough air and land to walk and think and breathe deep. It is kind of like Meme's house, but in my head it doesn't have the sad parts. It has a laundry line and a huge garden. Andrew has built a cellar where our winter squash and canned jams rest. My kids play outside as much as possible, building forts and playing make-believe. They are young and free and careless in the best ways. Our house is small but we have a lot of land so it doesn't matter. The sky is bigger than my childhood, because we live in Texas. Its hot but we have lots of trees. The trees bear apples and pears. The Bohemian Farm is simple but rather magical. The furniture is older, mostly vintage, but isn't anything special to the average stranger. There are books and art supplies scattered about. Dishes to be done. Happiness and messes.

I think it is important to always have dreams. Even if my dreams seem a little ambitious or too picture perfect. Because in my mind my dreams of a Bohemian Farm are bits and pieces of what I already have, the things I long for, and the happiness of my childhood. It may have been this trip home that I realized that my childhood has stuck with me more than I had realized. That my grand adventures and hopes for the future are tangled up in what I have already lived.

When I took Blanche out to Meme's house the sun was warm and the air was crisp. It felt like fall. We had ham and beans and cornbread. And Meme seemed to prove some of my thoughts on the evilness of the microwave and its ability to cause cancer by microwaving cornbread on styrofoam plates. Meme is Eighty. And she has never had cancer. Maybe its all the fresh air and organic vegetables that grow fifty feet from her front door. She made coffee and apple crisp. I am sure the apples were from down the road. Uncle Donny gave me fresh raspberries from his garden while I took pictures. They were little bursts of sun candy. If such a thing exists. Everyone was happy. Blanche swung on porch swing with Meme, and we could see the cows heading to the pond across the road. The sad memories of my childhood didn't seem to have taken place here. I think if I wasn't in charge of a toddler and getting her down for a nap, I may have just stayed outside all day. I would have laid out an old afghan of Meme's and written in my journal and read a book. There was still no television or internet. My family's property seemed to be there solely for enjoyment that day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

When I feel like a Bad Mom

When I was early in my pregnancy with Blanche I had a next door neighbor who was also pregnant. She however had what looked like a one year and a three year old as well. I remember before I had met her I heard her through the walls one day scream, "Oooouuucchh" and then I could see them walking out her front door. Trying to manage both little ones and her pregnant body. My guess was that one of them stepped on her toes. Her scream was pretty intense though. More of a "I really hate this day, actually this month" type of scream. But then the next day I saw her helping the smallest on to the sidewalk and sweetly saying, "Come on baby." I figured she was being sweet because I was around and later told Andrew she seemed sort of crazy.

I am now that woman. Except I am pregnant with an almost two year old. I try to be honest with my writing. Most of the time my sentiment comes out probably louder than anything. Tonight though, even though I had everything ready to do a post on how I gathered enough energy to do a DIY the other day, I knew I needed to write honestly about how hard it can be to be a mom. I think it is extra hard when my body is full of hormones, and I feel literally crazy at certain points. This is at least how I feel while pregnant. I have always loved the miracle of pregnancy and how amazing it really is, but besides the baby all the other parts of pregnancy make me not want to do it again. But the baby part is a big pull. Either way, I feel a lot more for my neighbor I had once judged.

Yesterday was just a crummy day. I had been up late the night before waiting for Andrew to get off work, then we talked until almost one. Blanche cried a few times in the night (more rare for her these days) and was awake at six am crying that she was hungry. I tried to be a big girl and get up with her even though I was tired. I made us oatmeal with almond milk and brown sugar and we both inhaled it. By seven thirty she passed out again and slept for another two hours. But for some reason I woke up in a funk and couldn't pass the bad night of sleep. I just felt short and frustrated. Weepy and fat. I didn't even want to look in the mirror. I just felt gross. I think this is actually called extremely hormonal.

Andrew tried his best to start his day off fun. He asked if I wanted to hike. I told him I was too exhausted. I told him I didn't like hiking when I was tired. He asked if I had ever tried. I asked if he had ever been pregnant.

The morning became more stressful as I worried about things out of my control, like the square footage of our apartment and how we were all going to fit as a family of four. We went to Target to buy a few things, and I refused to eat lunch beforehand. So then I was hormonal and hungry. Blanche and I ended up both napping while Andrew was making us lunch. We slept through lunch. It was just one of those days where eventually I was saying sorry and hugging Andrew, but we were still going up and down on this hormonal ride of pregnancy.

What makes bad days worth it is when you come out on the other side. When you can work through things with people instead of just yelling at them. I was sort of being a baby about our living situation, and Andrew was trying to make it better. We ended up rearranging our beds and our bedroom, and I actually like how it functions way more than worrying about how it might look. I loved Blanche's antique bed frame in her room. But the truth was Blanche wasn't sleeping in it. I by no means cared that she was sleeping in our bed, but the space was getting tighter as my belly grew and everyone was waking up sweating now that I am pumping so much blood. We moved her twin bed on the floor beside our bed, and we all slept great. Blanche slept all night in her special bed which she loved, and crawled over to cuddle Andrew in the early hours. Even though we are going to have to store my beloved bed frame for awhile, there is now room for a baby swing in the playroom. Andrew and I had gotten through the rough day and came out feeling like we had solved at least some problems.

In the midst of the bed moving, I was washing all the sheets, and Andrew was vacuuming. Any issue while pregnant always seems to involve cleaning to make me feel better. I also have to make things seem a little pretty too. So I was putting fabric in embroidery hoops to hang above our "sleep space." When I was about to hang them for whatever reason I was being crazy about the fabric staying put and getting them on the wall. Blanche kept reaching her fingers out to touch the fabric. I kept telling her no, my voice getting louder as she kept trying. Eventually she started touching them, and I smacked her hand away. She immediately cried from hurt feelings and cried to Andrew to hold her. Andrew said he didn't think that was necessary. I knew it wasn't. And I felt like a horrible person. Its like there is something inside of me causing me to feel flustered and hot and anxious about the smallest things. I hate the feeling, but it seems at times almost unavoidable while pregnant. I eventually told Blanche I was sorry and that I was just frustrated. But I still couldn't shake the feeling of being a bad mom. I talked with Andrew last night and he told me that I can't judge myself on one or two incidents and especially not while pregnant.

Today Blanche and I were in the room just playing and being sweet. She looked up at the fabric hoops on the wall and said, "No No No." My heart hurt. I told her I was so sorry. That I shouldn't have hit her hand. I told her I had been very tired and frustrated but I shouldn't have hit her hand. I hugged her. Then I asked her if she wanted to touch the fabrics. I lifted her up and let her graze her hands on each little hoop. She was so happy. She started running around the house looking for daddy to tell him what she got to do, forgetting he was at work.

While I hate the moments where I mess up I am also thankful that Blanche can see from the start that her parents aren't perfect. That we are just as human as she is. I never want to be the mom that yells or hits. But I do want to be the mom that admits when she is wrong. Blanche will learn love and grace and forgiveness when she can see it first hand. I pray so much of the time that God would help me love. I remember his simple reminder to me that love is patient and kind.

Today was so much better. We went on that hike and loved each other. Blanche threw rocks in the water and played in the park. Andrew made us lunch before going to work. I was patient with Blanche. When she started being naughty or loosing control of her emotions, I tried to respond as the adult. I know that I will never be able to say I did I did it all right, and this pregnancy is only half over. But I am asking God to make me a better person in the midst of being exhausted and hormonal and dealing with an over emotional two year old. I write this mostly for myself. To be able to let go of yesterday. But I also write this for any other mom who feels like she messed up or isn't good enough. Know that you are not alone and through love and grace we can do so much good.