I don’t know about you, but I find myself still wondering when we can get back to normal. And it doesn’t matter how much I hear and read that there never will be a going back to normal, not all of me can adjust to that reality. I don’t want to. I mean, who DOES want to accept this new truth that is engulfing our entire planet? No one does I think.
But you know what, as inconvenient, confusing, even sad as all the closures, cancellations, mask wearing, wondering if I’ve washed my hands enough in a day, accessing the risk versus the need to ride the ferry, go to town for any kind of outing, and easing into play dates, extended family visits, and choices to partake or not to partake…. through it all I know I’ve been gifted with time with my littles.
In the process of all this time, I’ve come a little closer to knowing what kind of life I want to provide for them because I’ve had this opportunity to be so immersed in their needs instead of sharing that responsibility with other care givers outside the home. I’ve also learned R and I have a deeper connection to how we operate and thrive and how and why we set each other off. Something that has always puzzled me and even worried me. But now that I have a better understanding of this, I can better help us both. Which I can say, it’s been a bit rough to get through this process of discovering. In turn, noticing how much R & V’s relationship is flourishing and how they learn from each other and how they care for each other, and resolve conflicts has been stunning. It’s driven home even more the need to keep them a bit closer to home. Though the need and creativity does arise for giving them space from each other. But now I know exactly why.
At the start of the pandemic outbreak, I moved a certain book to the front of my book cue because something told me I’d need it. Home Grown by Ben Hewitt . I am so glad I did. I still have about 30 pages left, but let me tell you. It has been a balm to this anxious mom’s soul.
Our older, who is still freshly 5 has a….. different way of operating in the world around him. He is as stubborn as they come. Personal agenda driven, thinker, tinkerer, high speed mover, high impact seeker, rolling high emotions that seep out of him in a way that can bring me to my knees. And adverse to others’ ideas…. which is f****ing HARD to live with. And his negotiation skills are something to be envied.
I bought Ben’s book in 2013 while teaching at Squam Art Workshops, a Taproot gathering. He gave a talk on his book and I was intrigued. Having studied the Reggio Emilia approach to learning while getting my degree in art ed, his words and his endeavors with how him and his wife chose to rise their family spoke to me. So just now, 7 years later I’ve cracked it open and it has been giving me so much reassurance that just letting R be really is ok. It also speaks to me about my own schooling experiences and how it was social torture for me most of the time. While reading it I have had many feelings. Some of which include feeling not alone in those schooling experiences. How I hated sitting still in a class room. And the anxiety that riddled through my body on a daily basis was enough to probably power the entire school.
I remember once having a passionate conversation with my husband as we walked home from the ferry about what our future children should do with their schooling after high school. He was pointing out the positives of getting an education (college experiences). I cringed inside only being able to imagine frat parties, crazy debt on all of our parts, and mountains of pressure to “succeed” on our children. I countered with trade schools, taking time in between for them to really think for themselves and to decide. I felt and still so, if they are happy, self sufficient, responsible, and kind humans, I don’t care what they do or who they pair up with, if anyone, in their adult future. A “college” degree was not the answer for me. It still isn’t. And though, I have more positive than negative experiences of my own from a college degree, I wish I had been comfortable to just think about other options when I was in high school.
There was a time that I would have absolutely panicked over not knowing how I was going to get help for our oldest- whose energy and need for change is enough to give me both indigestion, and heart palpitations at one time. But I’ve learned to ease into his flow as I ALSO strive to ease him into the idea of what is expected of him. Honestly, this process, if I can call it that, goes against all the grain that was instilled in me as a child that you simply JUST DO AS YOU ARE TOLD. NO MATTER WHAT. OR ELSE. I never knew what that or else was. But I was terrified of it.
Nothing of the sort works like that for R. In fact, if anything, the times I’ve tried this line of parenting, I’m just left with rage boiling over and out of me from his non compliance. It’s not pretty. I’ll spare you the aftermath that follows. But my husband who is ever supportive, empathic, and kind, and who loves me to the end of this earth, encourages me to go off somewhere for a few days to get a break. So that’s what I do and that’s where I am now. And that’s why I’m able to get any writing or painting done for that matter.
And speaking of painting; these watercolor sketches/ studies are from photos of the kiddos. Their ears and curls and many shades of pink make for good subjects as I contemplate how best to be there for them when I am there and even when I’m not. As I told my son before I left that I was going away for a few days for some “mommy alone time”, he said he didn’t want me to go and that he wanted to snuggle me ALLLLLLL DAAAAAY! As I tried to pick up my melting heart off the kitchen floor, I response with, “Well, honestly, going away sometimes helps me be a much better Mommy to you and V.”
The thing is, this Mommy alone time is also needed so I can plan the next phase for our life. Even if it’s just scribbling a few ideas out. I’m looking forward to creating a Reggio inspired, unschooled exploration, OT rich, island community sharing flow for our littles. This space here will continue to see change after change from sharing my work, my process, my mothering experiences and all that that can encompass.
I’m now going to go make a list of social stories to write, and ponder how to teach them (let them explore really) the carding machine, indigo vats, and foraging safely. This will not be about accomplishing anything tangible but rather just share and open up new experiences to them and see what they both do with it. And what we can all learn from each other.
If I don’t loose my mind in the process, I’ll share our experiences here.