A few weeks ago a group of mom’s was together, and the topic of free range parenting came up, there where laughs and shock, and lots of stories of neighbors or kids we knew who had this as a lifestyle. I was tired that night really, really tired, and couldn’t chime in and muscle myself into a conversation about something I feel so passionately about. No, I don’t free range parent. I am free to parent.
Simple as that.
No theories. No experts. No books.
Just my learned experience, shared experiences, and my gut reaction to what my husband and I feel is appropriate.
And I think that is good. I hope most people parent that way. That they don’t prescribe to the notion that they need to label themselves. Because here’s the great/not-so-great 🙂 thing about raising kids, the minute you say, I will never, you will get a kid that pushes your resolve on that. The more kids you have in your family, the more clearly you see, how your personality and your kids, all play together. How all these strengths and weakness, have different ways of needing to be molded or supported. The best support system a family can have, extended family and family friends. The more opinions and experiences that you are exposed to as a parent, the less hard you are on both you and your kid. Go with the flow, let your kids take you on a parenting experience. If you go into it with the best of intention and a little bit of stubbornness and authority, chances are your gonna have great kids.
I feel free to parent my kids as I see fit at that time, place and child. You should too. I won’t judge. Promise. I might ask a question about it, but its not to make you feel less confident as a parent, but for me to maybe learn something and add it to my parenting.
That’s is it.
Be free to parent.
If you are one of my neighbors you probably saw me out there, pushing that little gas mower around while my husband played with the kids. You probably thought, really? It’s Mother’s Day!
What you probably didn’t see was the bliss in my face as each row of grass was neatly cut after I walked by. How I may have paused at the top of the hill while the sun filtered through Crab Apple blossoms.
When I was a kid, I used to think my dad was a jerk cause the minute he got home from work, he played with us as my mom when out and mowed the lawn. All I could think was, hasn’t she worked enough today?
Fast forward, many years, I am at home with a babe of my own, getting frustrated as Art mows our tiny city lot as I hold a crying baby who won’t nap because the lawnmower is going. I call my mom in a voice that must have been filled with tears. She laughs a little as I explain my frustration with what seems an ongoing and weekly yard struggle. My mom gently, in only a way mom can, tells me that when we were little, she would wait for the minute my dad was home so she could start mowing. I was sitting there on the phone thinking “Really, Mom?!?!” She explained when you mow the lawn, it blocks out the rest. It’s just you, the outdoors and that long grass that gives way to the blade leaving a neat space behind you.
I understand now, the need for a little room to escape, yet the simple pleasure of a job well done. All neat and tidy, no little hands undoing your work behind you. I understand how the warmth of the sun, the sweat of good work, and the breeze, all pull you back to your center.
As a parent your work is never done, but if you can somehow find a way to let your work give you a little pleasure, or escape, your life will be so much the richer for it. This is the real thing about parenting, you let people do the jobs they are good at, or need to do to grow
This Mother’s Day I thank my mom for knowing where to find her center. I thank my husband for knowing its all about walking the thin line between getting things done and relaxing. Most of all I thank my family for giving me a center to pull back to.
I can feel it coming, its not here yet but it will be, sooner than I think. Its hard not to wish away these days with the boys, full of chaos, yelling, stinky feet and sticky hands, but someday it will slow a little, and I will welcome that. It’s hard not to feel the guilt of wishing it away, but honestly, I do.
Someday there will be more hours between the chaos, then where will I be? Who will I be? It feels almost like a failure as a SAHM. That moment when, yup the kids don’t need me 24 hours of the day, so that makes me pretty much useless? This moment of transition is weighing heavily on my mind as I think about my future mixed in with my children’s because the biggest lie of motherhood is that when you become one you have an firm opinion on everything. I don’t. I am still learning, right there along with my kids. In the trenches of life everyday, those glorious, muddy sunlit trenches. Its hard work raising little peoples, while you are still raising yourself. That gray area where you are still figuring things out is where all the doubt creeps in. Its creeping. My mom friends who all retained some of their identity by keeping a part time job, or full time career, whether by choice or necessity, will more than likely make it through this transition easier. I feel like I am at the beginning of college and told I can do whatever, except I am getting older and I at the BEGINING. It’s frightening, what if I make bad choices with my work, my home, I am not just screwing it up for me, but my family. They would be the collateral damage. It’s happened.
Trying to jumpstart my fried brain, carry on a conversation that doesn’t revolve around development stages, to motivate myself with out little voices pushing me on, these things scare me.
I think people get offended when I talk about this, that just raising my kids isn’t enough. It’s not. Sorry. As much as I love my family. I need something to fuel my soul that I do for myself.
Where are you in the journey? How do you fuel your soul? Do you feel yourself growing, right there along with your kids?
- Disclaimer: Don’t mind the striped socks, its the start of another Minnesota winter and I plan on being warm.
Stitch Fix #2
Once again five items on the cheapest level. Want to see what was in the box.
Alright, here we go:
My least favorite item in the box, a Market and Spruce Breyson Split-Neck Tab-Sleeve Top. I am not a huge fan of the wide pleats, they are not nice to my (uhmmmm….) chest. The pants are also from my box they are Kut From the Kloth : Danny 5-pocket Knit Pant.. They had me at knit.
Next is the Skies are Blue: Benson Embroidered Trim Top. Like it, not love. But like. ( Again with those KNIT pants 🙂
This cardigan is a multitasker. I should have taken a photo of it open, its just as cute. This is the Market and Spruce: Alan Cowl Neck Asymmetrical Cardigan. I will be honest the minute this shipped I went and looked at the order form than googled all the clothing items on it, and I was pumped when I saw this. The better surprise when it arrived in the color I wanted!
And lastly and my most favoritest. (I know not a word, but exactly the right word.) Look by M: Torrey Twist Cable Knit Infinity Scarf. Just look at it. Whats not to love?
Feels like I am just slogging through all this.
How to be the person I want to be, how to take care of those I love. I am just barely making it through, and it is so frustrating because I feel like I am doing it in a vacuum. The changes to my self that feel monumental, are barely perceptable to others. The things I would love to do have to be put on hold which frustrates even more my temper which I am constantly losing a battle with. I feel a shadow of my self and a shadow in my life.
But what do I do?
Here’s what I am trying to do.
Taking part in Flora Bowley Bloom True Course.
I thought one way I can keep pushing forward in my dreams is by trying to keep learning more skills in painting and finding a community. The course has been amazing and I am learning so much and meeting fellow like minded people from around the world. Right now though, I am completley and utterly frustrated that I can not dedicate as much time and energy as I would like to, and in answer to that I am mad, sad and completely frustrated by what I am putting out and what I am getting in return.
Make a support network.
I have been mothering in an isolated corner for about 2 years since we moved, and as anyone who has been parenting for any amount of time knows, it gets lonely. No matter how wonderful your partner is ( and mine is pretty wonderful!) I just have not been able to make friends like I did in the city. I don’t know what I am doing wrong and it just hurts. It seems no matter what at some point in the conversation it turns careers, and everyone I have meant seems less than understanding of how I can be frustrated being a stay at home mome and being an artist. Really don’t I have the best of both worlds? And I am completely written off. They talk about how it sucks working part-time and juggling that, and home life, and partners. And I feel for them. I really and honestly do. Its somewhat akward for me to discuss though the guilt I feel some day when I would rather just run away than stay for one more day in a house where my art supplies sit and find a thousand excuses (both real and imagined) to not be able to use them. It rips my heart up.
I have been working on myself and all my not so good parts. That hot headed part, that selfish part. I am trying. I am trying to figure out who I am in this world and this family while at the same time trying to guide little souls to be their best and sometimes it just gets all murky and mixed up. Its hard to guide, when your not even sure where things are headed yourself.
Okay, so this seems like a downer of a post. It wasn’t not really. It was an airing of dirty laundry. The truth that settles in my heart. Hearing my voice, even if in a void. What do you do when you feel like your getting mired down? I would love to know? Maybe next post a list of wonderfulness in the mess of life to combat the negative energy of this post? Maybe this post wasn’t really negative, but just me, letting some things go.
I keep seeing this mom I want to be. This wife. This sense of self. Its overwhelming. Very. Very Overwhelming. How do I see it? Well try this title on.
Whoa, I just layed that all out there for everyone and whoa, what a tall order.
Here’s the thing, I don’t expect perfection. ( It wasn’t mentioned anywhere up there on that list.) But I do expect to feel fulfilled and living my life to the full potential that I was given to use.
The other thing? I am not finding a lot of support in this. From raising a family in a mostly retired/hermentic neighborhood, to being someone who has a hard time making friends, to just not finding a lot of support in one place online for this journey that I have chosen for myself. So in true family spirit, you figure it out and if its not there, you build it yourself. So I am gonna try. Grow a little wild spirit here in Suburbia, grow some dedication and resiliance. Grow myself. Once a week I am going to post at least one resource that I feel supports this self I am creating. From art, yoga, spiritual, physical and eatable :). Its gonna be fun! You ready?
In the silence of the house now its easier to gather my thoughts, or at least pick them up from the scattered floor of my brain. Thoughts are slowly coming together after a whirl-wind of a summer. Did I do everything with my kids? No. Was it picture perfect? No. Did I lose it? Yes
Do my kids still love me? Abso-friken-lutely.
What do I want for my kids? For them to explore the world, even if they are never seasoned vetern travelers, to at least travel the immediate little world with all their visual and emotional capacity. To always be curious. To remember people are real and fail sometimes, but they can always try again. ( I teach them this lesson well and often.) To look a cultures and religion with open hearts and minds, but to retain confidence in their own beliefs.
I want my kids to grow wild.
There is no longer a wild frontier for my boys to help shape the skills needed to be a strong adult. But there is home and there is a world around us that we can act and react to. Sometimes I worry if I am up to this task of supporting and grounding that will be needed to make these three small boys live up and out to their full potential, but I think to myself, grow wild, you go, I will follow and when you feel a little unsure, grab my hand we can walk this path together.
But grow wild.
This world even if at this time, it contains the few surrounding block of our neighborhood offers so much. The colors and textures of our house and outdoors. The things you find on the ground. The food we grown and eat all made by our hands, using recipes from everywhere and anywhere. Our personal relationships with each other. The stories we create to transport us. The images we make to explain. The small community around us. How we spend our time and who we spend it with. Enjoying what here with us at this time and this place.
We grow wild.
I don’t know what I should be thinking, what I should be doing. I don’t know anything.
6 years ago. I thought I knew who I was. Not everyone liked me, I was okay with that. I had one rock onto which I anchored myself, my loving husband. I had a career that was taking me into all the places I wanted to discover. Than I made a choice a life-altering all-consuming choice.
I chose to be a parent. With my whole heart, my whole soul, and my whole brain. I don’t regret it for one minute.
Here’s the thing though. When you dedicate your life to something that you want so badly so much, you sometimes lose sight of the person that will make that happen.
I’ve lost sight.
That girl who could have gone to MCAD but instead went to Moorhead, because she already knew a name wasn’t everything but paying off debt could be. She’s gone. The girl who could see a picture in everything with out even trying, she’s completely bewildered. Someone who could pull colors from the sky, now too foggy brain to even notice. A girl who could make a mean meal out of leftovers in the fridge, who didn’t feel like her day was going to fall apart if her bed didn’t get made. She’s lost.
Lost in the everyday, the getting through, the just hoping her children don’t remember or copy her short fuse.
She wants to escape, to get herself together, so she can comeback a be here. Be present.
But every morning it starts over this place where I am failing. Its really that, when you feel like you are so constantly and consistently failing, you starting feeling like giving up, that there is no hope and why should you even keep up hope.
My children are beautiful and brilliant, and have so, so, much to give. But I feel tapped nothing left to give and I fear that they feel it all to much.
How do you keep giving everyday?
What keeps your soul on fire?
I just feel like a shadow.
I want myself back. The person I know can make this happen. Make my sons proud I am their mom, make them want to come home and not escape it. That they will see me as a person, not just a mommy, but a wonderful amazing person who travels this life with them always as a support.
How do you give more, when you are emptied out inside?