Living naturally, most of the time.

End of summer, with grief and relief

As summer 2015 draws to a close, I am filled alternately with grief and with relief. Now, it’s pretty typical for me to flip-flop from one extreme to another in my emotions in the space of about two minutes. I remember one fall day I took my children to Ticonderoga Farms by myself and thought it was the most peaceful, bucolic, carefree day then decided moments later that it was the most pathetic and lonely time I’d ever had. And back again, several times. Settling into a place of acceptance would be a great mark of progress. But right now I’m settled into a no-person’s land at the bottom of the pendulum, somewhere between feeling a) relieved and grateful that I only have to get through seven more regular weekdays until it’s back to my children getting out the door to school at 7:45 and not seeing them again until 2:30 or 3:00 and feeling b) grief-stricken that I am almost out of time to give my children a summer I feel good about I was actually about to go to bed just now so that I might get up and actually exercise and not be groggy. But I hadn’t written in so long and I wanted to capture where my head is. I didn’t expect to start crying so hard. But that really shouldn’t surprise me. It has been a challenging time. When I thought ahead to the summer, I intentionally wanted to build in lots of time at home so that my children could be bored, just play in our yard with neighbors, and maybe spend few days doing an in-home scrapbook camp to deal with all those old photos and to finally make some albums. I didn’t feel like I could justify the expense of too many camps, and I hoped I would be up to the challenge of creating fun and rolling with the days. That was a nice idea, but it didn’t factor in that my kids and I simply do not do well without structure, even if I love the idea of not having to make lunches and they love the access to screen-time, which is off-limits Monday through Thursday during the school year how intense my depression would get at times and how much I would still be struggling with my overall health such that having no time alone to think or create except after they went to bed would drive me absolutely bonkers further threaten my marriage, and zap me of...

Lukewarm on/in spring

Dear Spring, This is difficult to say, but I’m no longer sure that I love you. We’ve had some amazing times together, I know. And I have always loved your greeny-gold and that feeling of newness you bring with you. But lately things have just been too up and down. The temperature, for one. The older I get, the harder a time I have with so much inconsistency. There’s a lot of unpredictability in my life, and yours is getting a little hard to take. I need some reliability. This roller-coaster style of yours also encroaches into other areas that are also getting cluttered and tiring in a way they weren’t years ago. There are all the sports that are dependent on the weather such that I plan the entire weekend around them and then, bam, all bets are off and I can no longer do one of the three things I would have wanted to do instead if my son didn’t have to be at Little League and his dad wasn’t playing Ultimate Frisbee. It’s not even just the weather in the moment, either. It could be the soaking rain from the day before. Don’t try to tell me the past is in the past. Only if it’s artificial turf! (Well, the baseball fields are a little more forgiving than the soccer and Ultimate, but you still never really know just how much one patch of earth can hold.) Of course one of the things everyone loves about you is the growth you bring. People feed off of you, quite literally. It’s exciting. And delicious! But damn if it isn’t a lot of work. I’m overwhelmed just looking at the garden and the green things that came up practically overnight and wondering where I should focus my energy so I can eat what is good, ditch what is depleting, and ensure I don’t let too much go and then become overrun with more than I can handle. Ain’t that always the case? Also, you ask a lot. The fundraisers! The field trips! The amount of time I’m spending volunteering in some way or another with my children’s school seems to be outpacing the amount of time I spend with them. Yes, you give, but you take a lot too. And this may sound harsh, but you really are toxic. I mean all that green pollen dust coating cars and infiltrating noses. And the exhaust from construction vehicles (I know, winter hurt your roads something serious this year. But still.)...

Family legacy ambivalence

Welcome to the April 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family History This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, lore, and wisdom about family history. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. *** As my son gets older, I hear him sounding like a mini-me, making up songs with kooky words, singing out loud about adding 28 plus 6 while he figures perimeter on his math homework. It can be a delight to see your child reminding you of yourself. Other times it can be embarrassing. It can also be anxiety-producing. What worries me most is when he takes things too deeply to heart, and I worry he will follow in his parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps of holding on to hurts. With such a strong history of depression, and having lost my brother to suicide, it’s hard not to feel some anxiety about my intense little guy’s emotional well-being. In January 2009, I had a piece published in the Journal of Attachment Parenting International (before it became Attached Family magazine) in an issue about “healing childhood wounds.” I talked about my parenting choices and some of the holistic health choices that I pursued first with myself to heal from a thyroid disorder and regain my fertility and then with my son to try to undo some patterns of thinking I’d grown up with. It was really important to see my son growing up with a sense of optimism and not dread or depression. Sharing the piece with my mom was its own kind of healing. Then, a few months after the 2010 birth of my daughter, my health declined. I’m still trying to figure out what all went awry so profoundly and how to address it, but at a minimum it’s safe to say that I was pretty severely adrenally fatigued and that my leaky gut had caused big problems. It’s taken a lot of time and energy these past four years. Then my mother’s health declined, and after I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, I decided I needed to spend time with my mom on my own, without my kids. So I flew out on Valentine’s Day 2014 and again in November. We had some great talks, and I learned a lot both times. One thing I’ve come to realize is that I am or have been turning into both my...

Our days, these days

Welcome to the March 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Day in the Life This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have given us a special glimpse into their everyday. *** Since I’m always wondering where the time goes, I was thrilled to have a reason in this month’s blog carnival to account for it! First, my family vitals: Ages: Husband & me – early 40s. Kids: 4.5 and almost 9 School: Me: MAs in English and Women’s Studies. Background in teaching high school English. Respect and am in awe of homeschoolers but am not one! Kids: 3rd grade and Montessori pre-K at the same public magnet school, the only Expeditionary Learning school in our state. (Yes, she goes all day at a young age.) Work: Husband crunches numbers and is the breadwinner. Even though I’ve got my hands in lots of things and want to be a working-at-home mom, I have to call it like it is for now: I’m a SAHM. Pre-kid I was a public high school teacher and post-kid a private school tutor for 6 years but not anymore as I try to make a go of some editing consulting and build a website business all the while doing lots of volunteer work and spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen and trying to improve my health, something I could not do if I had a regular job. The Daily It probably seems like a pretty sweet deal that, most days, my husband takes our kids to school at about 7:45, and the bus brings back to the neighborhood at 3:00. Sounds like a ton of time to myself, doesn’t it? Yes, I am privileged that I don’t have to clock in anywhere or to do the school shuttling duty more than a few times most weeks. However, when you have to cook all of your food from scratch using a very few ingredients (to which it would not be fair to restrict the rest of your family), you are effectively making six meals a day, which is a lot of time a whole lotta dishes! Why so high-maintenance? I’ve been gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free since 2004, and that shift, I believe, was a huge part of my overcoming Graves’ Disease (autoimmune hyperthyroidism), regaining my fertility and being able to go on to have two healthy pregnancies. However, as I’ve gotten older and dealt with the strain that comes from nursing for...

What I wish for my daughter on her fourth birthday

My daughter is about to turn four. Her grandparents are asking what they can get for her. The question has made me feel hollow and heavy at the same time.   I don’t feel like I can give her the things I really, truly want her to have.   She is a hilarious and fascinating little being who has a lot to offer the world. She is not lacking for personality or joy. I am, generally speaking, providing a decent existence for her. Her smile shines. But at the same time, there are so many fronts on which I feel I’m missing the mark. Modeling is key for children, and the values I hold dear are not getting conveyed to my daughter by the way I am currently being. I wish I knew how to give her what I want.   I want her to feel intimately grounded and connected to nature. I want to her be filled with a sense of wonder. I want her sense of magic to overrule a need for limits. I want her sense of inner peace to be a mooring set so deeply that she can always find her way back. I want her to feel like there will always be enough time. I want her to trust that it will all work out. I want her to believe in the possibility of a long-lasting, loving partnership. I want her to know how to give and accept help. I want her to grow within a stable, supportive, and connected family. I want her internal rhythm to be balanced and solid. I want her to delight in following and creating traditions. I want her default switch to be set to content. I want her to have respect for fear but to choose love.   I want her to be healthy and strong. These gifts I would buy with my soul. Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend on Facebookshare via RedditShare with StumblersTweet about itSubscribe to the comments on this...

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