There’s so much to report on from the Freedom for Family Wellness Summit. But I have hardly had the time to go through my the messy, sketchy notes I took while my baby girl slept in the sling. And as it turns out, I missed a lot of the conference because it was just too hard.
It was hard on both of mom and baby to be out Thursday evening and all day Friday — for me having to prepare my own food ahead of time for efficiency (so I could staff the Holistic Moms booth during breaks) and to minimize reactions to gluten- or dairy-contaminated food, and for my daughter (two months old) having no long stretches of sleep away from my body or from noise and bright lights. Unlike her older brother at this age, she’s often happy to be in a dark, quiet room after dark and for naps. But until she’s older, and until I get my breast pump up and running, I’m not leaving her for more than an hour at a time.
By Saturday, I was just done. I had to return to take down the HMN booth, and I thought I would go back Sunday for the workshops on “Personal Healing, Grounding and Transformation.” I mean, what sounds better than getting tips from Birthing the Future founder Suzanne Arms (who I’d missed at 8 a.m. on Friday) on “the art of becoming an effective advocate for family and social healing while keeping yourself healthy in the process,” discussing transformation of our own birth experiences with Elena Tonetti-Vladimirova of Birth Into Being, and hearing from the founder of The Consciously Parenting Project about “empowering tools for joyfully navigating daily challenges?”
The Type A part of me wants to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way for things that can enhance my understanding of health & wellness and possibly further a career in writing about health & wellness, or parenting, or anything else I think I know a thing or two about. And living outside of Washington, DC, there is no shortage of opportunities!
It would not take much to fill — even double-book — every night with a Meetup or a lecture or an author event or a freelancer happy hour or a mom-related event, to say nothing of social evenings, gatherings with friends or writing group buddies, or (as if I could remember what this looked like) date nights. Oh, and don’t forget the parent evenings at the boy’s preschool! Or Holistic Moms events! Forget evening yoga classes — those are a thing of the past (or distant future).
I figured that I would be a homebody for a while after having the baby, but things keep coming up that are important to me. My son was so portable at this age; if we tried to lay him down after he fell asleep, he screamed, so we kept him on us until we went to bed. Going out to La Leche League, I did the same. But, new to the life of a stay-at-home mom and not yet a freelancer or community organizer, I didn’t have much occasion to leave the house after dark for several months. It’s a lot different this time around. Not only was I attending the summit and staffing the HMN booth, I had to set it up and take it down and try to wrangle other people to take shifts. I also managed to get a group discount so that a bunch of people — some of whom I don’t know — could attend the conference. That’s great, but it was a lot of work before I even got there.
On one hand, I felt like the Sunday workshop would probably be, as its title promised, transformational. On the other hand, I felt like I keep putting off transformation by doing things like going to talks all the time. I say I want to slow down, but I don’t. I say I want to read more and do more meditation, but I don’t have the time because I’m out of the house. I say I want to enjoy beautiful fall weather but instead spend it in the car and in a windowless conference room? Not this time.
Saturday night, I started re-reading Katrina Kenison’s Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, a book given to me three years ago by my son’s first babysitter, a Waldorf school mother. I decided to go back to that book after starting Kenison’s newer book, The Gift of An Ordinary Day which deals with her life as her children get older and opens its first chapter reflecting, “When my children were small, I would sometimes lie in bed in the early mornng and try to envision the day ahead. Not the schedule we would keep or the activities in store, but rather the attitude I wanted to bring to these things. Imagining myself being patient,calm, accepting, I would create a picture in my mind of the mother I wanted to be for my two young boys.”
I am great at thinking about things to do, but I consistently choose not to devote energy to cultivating who I want to be beyond just thinking of the words I know I’m not (namely, “patient, calm, accepting”). I decided upon reading Kenison’s words, that if the baby and I had a good night, and if my husband slept well enough to feel fine spending the morning solo with our son, I would go to the transformation workshop the following morning. But if not, I wouldn’t.
The baby squirmed a lot around 2 a.m. such that when my alarm went off at 7 a.m., I could have sworn it was still the middle of the night. I didn’t make it out of bed until 8 a.m., about 15 minutes before we’d have to leave if I we were to get there on time. I don’t skip breakfast for anything, and I decided to try to just enjoy my family on a lovely Sunday rather than spend over an hour in the car for the fourth day in a row.
The reviews of that are mixed, as are my feelings about staying home. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and I can’t keep talking about groundedness if I’m consistently on the move.