It’s been awhile Farmgirl sisters…Time for some catch up, let’s get to it:
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. That pretty much sums up parenthood, right? I’ve come up with another summation: childcare and coffee. That’s what my days have been made of for the last couple of months (and laundry…piles and piles of it! Thank you washing machine!). Like many aspects of parenting, just as we are getting used to this phase it shifts as we emerge out of Opal’s newborn days.
Wait–she’s not a newborn anymore?! That’s right, it’s been that long since we last shared some stories. Opal is 3+ months! Ava is talking up a storm and POTTY TRAINED! whoa.
I could probably end my post here. On the surface, that’s what we’ve been up to: learning how to use the potty (did you know that there are potties everywhere?! I’m reminded of that often ), laundry, coffee, spit-up, playgrounds, some sleep here and there. But, I don’t want to be superficial with you…I’ll let you into what’s been going on in my slightly overwhelmed mom brain:
Being a parent to young children is amazingly difficult on many levels. Being a feminist stay at home mom is confusing. Being an outdoorsy, environmentally conscious mom in a concrete jungle apartment can be frustrating. Being a stay at home mom can be lonely and isolating (even though I’m never alone…).
Being a parent to young children expands one’s heart, patience, intuition and acceptance of the unknown on many levels. Being a feminist stay at home mom further deepens my support of a woman’s right to choose the life she wants to live. Being an outdoorsy, environmentally conscious mom in a concrete jungle apartment challenges me in ways beyond the general modern “fluff” of parenthood (not that the fluff isn’t important, as well!). Being a stay at home mom can open doors into meaningful conversations with family and friends (old and new!) who have been through it before.
Honestly, I’m tired. All. The. Time. Sometimes I don’t know how the human race has survived with the total and utter exhaustion these littles inflict on us not-so-littles. But then they smile when we sing out of tune, or draw a picture of our family, or just give a huge hug out of the blue and say, “me love you, mommy.”
I’ve noticed that I’ve been speeding through phases of personal growth. I think they are phases that everyone goes through: Contentment–>frustration–>improvement–>contentment–>frustration–>improvement–>repeat ad nauseam. I think I’ve traditionally gone through these phases at a “slow” pace: somethings are learned over years and years, others over months, some over a week or so. Recently, these phases have been like a day to day roller coaster! It starts with feelings of personal disappointment (feeling like an inadequate mother/partner/human in some way). Then, after briefly feeling badly about it and voicing concerns to whomever will listen to me I make some plans to improve whatever it is that is troubling my psyche. I enact these plans (for the most part…) and everything feels great for a moment. Repeat.
Things I’ve “improved” upon in the last couple of months:
January: Spend as much time snuggling Opal as possible. Heal. Nourish. Sleep?
Early February: Feeling homebound. Decide to do something unique every weekday: an outing or art project. Going to the grocery store counts!
Late February: Feeling unfulfilled. Start to breakdown my SAHM (stay at home mom) duties into “payable” tasks. This gives some accountability, stability, direction and fulfillment in what can seem mundane.
Early March: Feeling unimpressive. Declare that if I’m going to be a SAHM I might as well kick butt (I used a different word…) at it! Take on some bigger building/learning/art projects.
Mid March: Prioritize outdoor time–feeling cabin feverish!
Late March: Feeling fat (so stereotypical…). Realize that I’m not necessarily disappointed in the appearance of my postpartum body (this body has done A LOT for me and others), but in some of the lost strength and agility that I’ve been experiencing. Start more intense physical workouts.
Early April: Feeling stretched too thin. Try to achieve some balance between personal goals, household duties and child development–bonus points when they coincide!
Present: Feeling frustrated. Learn to let go of expectations. Take deep breaths. “Plan” life in five to thirty minute increments. Tell myself that keeping the whole family alive, fed and (generally) clean is a HUGE accomplishment.
So, there it is. I want to be the mom who is like, “Everything is butterflies and rainbows all of the time! Parenthood is nothing but a blessing!” But that mom is fictional. I swear that any parent who says everything is great all of the time is lying to your face!
There is a trend right now to tell people that they are “enough.” I appreciate this sentiment, but there is something about it that doesn’t sit well with me. It doesn’t encourage improvement or support aspirations. Understandably, it is aimed at people who are full of self disappointment.
Also, truthfully, the good and great times FAR outweigh the frustrating and stressful. However, like most things in life, I tend to remember and dwell on the rough patches.
One thing that really helps me and my family is a good Farmgirl attitude. Farmgirls know that everything happens in cycles. We recognize that there are positive and negative aspects to nearly all of our daily activities. We see grandeur in the mundane and simplicity in the complex. We have seen calves born in the morning mist and we’ve heard piglets scream as they leave their mothers. We’ve sewn quilts that will be handed down for years to come, and we’ve created outfits that our children have scorned from day one. But in the end…in the end we know it is all good.
As the winter ends and spring starts to unleash its explosion of green I’m preparing to start farming again! five years ago, there was still a considerable amount of snow on the ground at this point in time. Tomorrow, I’m going to help put up high tunnels for anticipated planting in the next couple of weeks. It’s going to be an early season!
Let’s not go that far between visits again, okay?! I missed you all and hope everyone is happy.
Sending peace and love from Alaska,
Alex, the Rural Farmgirl