Tuesday, January 17, 2017

There's Enough Time to Dream

I'm currently sitting at the computer in my room in the dark, trying to remain calm and still while I type so that maybe the stirring baby on my bed won't see me. Its like he is the dinosaur and if I act enough like part of my environment, he won't even see me. Just kidding, he is walking this way. Now that he is almost eighteen months, sliding off the bed and walking over to the computer, crawling on my lap to nurse, its no big deal. There aren't any tears but I still have a slight suspicion he must know when I am about to try and write. But I've got a warm cup of coffee, its raining outside, and the girls are watching a show while I type away nursing a baby. This feels calm.

After a year and half of working through postpartum depression, things feel calm. I label the last year or more as postpartum depression, but maybe its was a season of struggling with that at times, but also just climbing out of a very hard season of life. I am realizing now that I had gotten use to chaos. Good chaos, for the most part. But in the three and half years we've been in Austin, up until this last lease, we had moved every year and had a baby in 2014 and 2015. But now things are slowing down. Andrew just got the position at the Whole Foods literally 2.2 miles from our house, we have re-signed our lease, and I'm actually not pregnant. Not that having babies is a bad thing. I am so glad that Andrew and I dove head first into life. I am happy and grateful for three beautiful siblings all only a couple years apart that will play and learn together as they grow. I would not want it any other way. However, as things have started slowing down, and the calm is returning, my brain is finding that I have more time to think about things. My brain has time to ponder more than where the next baby's things will go, or when my next doctor appointment will be. I am no longer breastfeeding around the clock or wearing a fussy baby to sleep. No, I almost have two toddlers and a preschooler now. Or maybe one toddler and two preschoolers? Either way they are growing fast and the baby days seem to be slipping away. And as those times leave me, I find myself giving away cloth diapers and checking out books from the library about composting. Moving forward in new ways.

Andrew has a bike fixed up and ready to start commuting to his new job as soon as the rain slows down. We are building a compost together and have taken on the challenge of having a CSA (community supported agriculture) box each week and learning to cook more seasonally. We are drinking champagne and making frozen pizzas too late at night. Remembering ourselves and one another. What it means to be friends and to truly enjoy one another. I even feel myself thinking to other moms in the midst of tiny baby days... its truly goes so fast. Soon you will start to find yourself again.

Part of "finding" myself these last few months has been moving out of survival and onward with intentionality. I feel like I am finding more of "my people" and a community around me. One of my good friends, Morgan, is really knowledgable about personality types and how we live and interact with one another based on them (think myers briggs). I took a test a couple of months ago, so she could analyze me while we hung out ;)  My results, which I think are pretty accurate, was ENFP. I think motherhood makes me more introverted at times, but ultimately I enjoy and get energy from connection with people.

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive. (Oriah Mountain Dreamer)

This was the quote at the top of my personality description https://www.16personalities.com/enfp-personality. I am "a campaigner and a true free spirit". I can relate a lot to what is being said under the description. Once someone told me they didn't like taking personality tests because they were limiting, but I sort of think the opposite. They can explain a lot about a person, and then I personally find freedom in knowing why I do certain things, and knowing that I am capable of growing past some of the weaknesses. Here is one of my strengths:

  • Energetic and Enthusiastic – As they observe, forming new connections and ideas, ENFPs won’t hold their tongues – they’re excited about their findings, and share them with anyone who’ll listen. This infectious enthusiasm has the dual benefit of giving ENFPs a chance to make more social connections, and of giving them a new source of information and experience, as they fit their new friends’ opinions into their existing ideas.
Lately as I have been coming back to "my old self," I find more ideas and even passion for ideas coming back to me. This has really created a bit of introspection, especially when my good listener friend Morgan is around. The other day I was telling her about my current idea/passion of our family moving into a tiny home one day. After listening for a bit she said, "I feel like you say something really cool or that you are interested in, and then you knock it before giving it a chance."

Hhhhmm. Maybe I do do that. I told her that I think or know people are going to give me the downside, or the "practical" so I must subconsciously prepare myself. Actually practicality is a weakness of my personality type. However, being AWARE of my weaknesses doesn't discredit my strengths. As I have become a mother/ adult I have been telling myself that dreamers are not as important in society. For such a long season life has been about the practical. Changing diapers, feeding mouths, bathing babies. My dreams have been pushed back a bit. Or I have told myself at times that its a distraction. 

This last month as I have thought about the New Year I have said yes more to dreaming, and I am finding that it really is who I am meant to be. As I have dreamed (and even practically accomplished somethings) about composting, less waste and buying in bulk, minimal living, eating seasonally, tiny house researching.... all of these dreams have brought about conversations and connections to people. Which is really a core value to me.

So take time to self reflect or take a test https://www.16personalities.com/ online and find out your strengths.  So many of us are in the midst of the early years of motherhood, and I think knowing strengths can help with identity and finding passions.  It is possible to be a good mother and also know who you are, to even love who you are. 

I am excited to have friends that challenge me to be myself. When we as mothers feel fulfilled in who we were made to be, we will flourish at the self sacrificing job of motherhood. 

The pictures above our my kids (and Morgan's) being themselves. Free little spirits that don't know any better than to just be themselves. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Art of Staying Home

"There's romance enough at home, without going half-a-mile for it; only people never think of it." -Pickwick Papers

"It is right to begin with the obligations of home, and, while these are overlooked and neglected, no other duties can possibly be substituted for them." - Bleak House

Saying that the home is a romantic place as a stay at home mom can seem like a very far stretch. Even as I tried to write this post yesterday there was literally too much noise and needs to have much of a clear thought. The duties of motherhood are not romantic, but moments can be.

I have been reading through a book for a couple of years, A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. It has taken me a couple of years because I am basically trying to work up the energy (while sometimes pregnant or with a new baby) to read about a theory of education after the kids are in bed each night. But over the last couple of months I have been getting more into the depth of the book, and I had read the quotes above in a chapter the author was writing about Charles Dickens' writings and his regard for home. This idea of home life has always been interesting to me.

When Blanche was just a baby and we lived in Arkansas we had a pretty beautiful home life. One, because I only had one baby, and two, we had very little money and stayed home or went on walks most of the time. We lived in a small town named Siloam Springs and Andrew could walk five minutes to downtown where he ran the coffee shop. There were many weeks where we maybe only drove our one car to the store once or twice and that was it. It was a "treat" to go into the bigger city and shop at target or the local health food co-op. We often went once a month to the co-op, bought in bulk, and cooked through the bulk over time with fresh produce from our garden. Yes, I said Arkansas when Blanche was a baby, not Little House on the Prairie. It is easy to romanticize our small town life. We still had long days and Andrew was often very exhausted by dinner. He rose early and normally did most of the cooking. While I helped clean and took care of Blanche. But as I now look back to that time I do see a romance to the slow life. I hung diapers every other day on the laundry line, and would often bump into my neighbor doing the same thing two spaces down in our townhouse. I made sun tea and sewed cloth wipes and burp rages. I made homemade make-up with that same neighbor friend, and we even shared dinner or wine outside the homes in our backyard space. Life was slow. Sometimes I felt too slow.

We moved to Austin for Andrew to have more of a career. And with our move to a bigger city, we have slowly lost a lot of that old life. Somethings had to leave with time. We now have three kids over one. Sometimes we found that buying things already made at Whole Foods with Andrew's discount was cheaper and more time saving than making it ourselves. But there are times when I can think I am always saving time but I'm not really using it. I told Andrew the other night while we laid in bed that him working full time as the only money maker, me taking care (feeding, clothing, bathing) three small children, running a home, and trying to live and eat in a healthy and responsible way... well there's the week. There are the days. They are full and busy with just that. But as we've come to a new year and I have had more time at home and time to think, I think its time to relearn the art of staying home.

After several slow days at home I have come to believe that staying at home is an art. There can be beauty to it, but it requires thought, motivation, and patience. When I talk about the home being romantic I don't mean sitting in my pjs watching Netflix (but for the record... anyone with a new baby and literally stuck at home... please, stay in your pjs, watch Netflix, I have been in that season many times). The romance of home is having the time to make vegetable soup while the fire is going. For Andrew to make homemade soda bread to go along with it, and for the girls to have as many marshmallows as they and their stuffed animals need. The romance of home is raking leaves and making lemonade. It is having enough time for my kids to make a hot chocolate stand out of dirt and old gardening containers in the backyard. Shoot its even just enough time to do my laundry.

Before the holidays I had a few weeks where we literally had something planned for each day. A lot of times they were just morning activities but they were still taking time, thought, and energy from me. As I have slowed down with the holidays I am seeing the need to have these reset days. Slow days always built into our lives to recharge, to become immersed in deep play at home, to do chores and just breath. The kids and I have taken many "walks to the stop sign" this week. We literally walk a ten minute walk, or they ride their bikes down the sidewalk, to the stop sign with a "kitties for sale" sign and then we turn around and go home. This is enough for them. They love this.

In the end home can feel like hell and be romantic all in the same hour. It is just life with small children. I think the more I learn this and know it to be true, the better. Because then the hellish parts don't get me down so much, and I can move forward and connect with my kids. Because that is the reason I am home to begin with, to be with my kids.