Winter Solstice Meditation

When the wheel of the year turns towards fall, I always feel the call to retreat, to cocoon, to pull away. I also feel the urge for fall de-cluttering—my eyes cast about the house for things to unload, get rid of, to cast away. I also search my calendar for those things which can be eliminated, trimmed down, cut back on. I think it is the inexorable approach of the winter holiday season that prompts this desire to withdraw, as well as the natural rhythm of the earth which so clearly says: let things go, it is time to hibernate.

Late autumn and the shift toward winter is a time of discernment. A time to choose. A time to notice that which has not made it through the summer’s heat and thus needs to be pruned away. In this time of the year, we both recognize the harvest of our labors and that which needs to be released or even sacrificed as we sense the promise of the new year to come.

This year I cocoon with my new baby. Though I have three other children, this new baby was the first child whose December 2014 106development and arrival perfectly mirrored the wheel of the year. Conceived during the first month of the new year, taking root in the darkness of winter’s end, beginning to bud during the springtime and coming into full bloom during the summer. And, then, with the season’s spiral turn into fall, when many beautiful things are harvested, his birth: October 30, into my welcoming hands in the sunlight bright morning in my living room. Now, with the steady progress   of winter, we curl together in a small, new world. We cocoon in the cave of our own home, the size of the world re-sized to the size of my bed, kitchen table, and rocking chair. This is the fourth trimester, the time in which the baby continues to develop his nervous system and continues to live within the context of the mother’s body. I am his habitat. His place. His home is in my arms.

This sinking in, this cocooning, this safe, small world is perfect for the call of winter. While my to-do list has again begun to clang in my ear and the clamor of my other children surrounds me, the early nights, cold temperatures, and gray skies, remind me to nestle, remember, and grow. Beautiful magic takes root in dark, deep places.

Winter solstice.
Deep, long, dark night.
Cold cracks
brittle branches, December 2014 004
icy stone.

Winter’s song
echoes in skeletal treetops
and crackling leaves.
Rest time.
Hibernation.
Silent watchfulness.
Waiting hope.

Sink down.
Open up.
Receive and feel.
Hold peace.

May you enjoy a rich, peaceful solstice with your family and loved ones! May you be blessed by light and may you find wisdom and solace in dark, deep, places. And, may you remember not to be so distracted by the promise of the light to come that you forget the great value to be found in quiet places and deep spaces as well.

December 2014 211

Talk Books: Women Who Run with the Wolves

“Remember, there is a natural time after childbearing when a woman is considered to be of the underworld. She is dusted with its dust, watered by its water, having seen into the mystery of life and death, pain and joy during her labor. So, for a time she is ‘not here’ but rather still ‘there.’ It takes time to re-emerge.”

–Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves (p. 441)

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I’ve spent years quoting Clarissa Pinkola Estes and yet had never read one of her books. My favorite quote is this one and I’ve returned to it again and again at various points in my life:

Be wild; that is how to clear the river.”

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Interestingly enough, I finally began reading Women Who Run with the Wolves while literally sitting in the river this summer while my kids played. One of the remaining items on my Leonie Dawson 100 Thing list for 2014 was to finish this book. And, now here in this “underworld” time with my new baby, I finally did it! In the afterword to the book, she mentions that this is a book meant to be read in small doses. She explains that she took twenty years to write it and that it is meant to be read in sections, thought about, and then returned to again. So, I guess I did exactly the right thing in how I read it this year—it took me more than six months to read it (I also read 90 other books this year in addition to this one!).

One of the quotes I quoted before reading the book was this classic one:

I am wild.

Wild Woman.

When women hear those words, an old, old memory is stirred and brought back to life. The memory is our absolute, undeniable, and irrevocable kinship with the wild feminine, a relationship which may become ghosty from neglect, buried from over domestication, outlawed by the surrounding culture, or no longer understood anymore. We may have forgotten her names, we may not answer when she calls ours, but in our bones we know her, we yearn toward her; we know she belongs to us and we to her.There are times when we experience her, even if only fleetingly, and it makes us mad with wanting to continue. For some women, this vitalizing ‘taste of the wild’ comes during pregnancy, during nursing their young, during the miracle of change in oneself as one raises a child, during attending to a love relationship as one would attend to a beloved garden.As sense of her also comes through the vision; through sights of great beauty. I have felt her when I see what we call in the woodlands a Jesus-God sunset. I have felt her move in me from seeing the fishermen come up from the lake at dusk with lanterns lit, and also from seeing my newborn baby’s toes all lined up like a row of sweet corn. We see her where we see her, which is everywhere.

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves, quoted in Celebrating Motherhood by Andrea Gosline and Lisa Bossi

via Celebrating Motherhood: The Wild Woman and Sacred Business | Talk Birth.

Photo: "Remember, there is a natural time after childbearing when a woman is considered to be of the underworld. She is dusted with its dust, watered by its water, having seen into the mystery of life and death, pain and joy during her labor. So, for a time she is 'not here' but rather still 'there.' It takes time to re-emerge."</p> <p>--Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves (p. 441)

I also love this quote about doors:

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” 

— Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D (Women Who Run With the Wolves)IMG_0545

While many quotes caught my attention upon this complete reading of her book and spoke to where I am, in addition to the one with which I opened this post, there are two in particular that really grabbed me. The first was about rage and creation. I love the idea that there is a time to show your incisors:

“…there is a time to reveal your incisors, your powerful ability to defend territory, to say ‘This far and no farther, the buck stops here, and hold onto your hat, I’ve got something to say, this is definitely going to change.’”

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes on rage and creation in Women Who Run with the Wolves, p. 363

IMG_0920And, this powerful thought on creativity and the call to listen to the whispers of our own hearts:

“She may feel she will die if she does not dance naked in a thunderstorm, sit in perfect silence, return home ink-stained, paint-stained, tear-stained, moon-stained.” –Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Photo: "She may feel she will die if she does not dance naked in a thunderstorm, sit in perfect silence, return home ink-stained, paint-stained, tear-stained, moon-stained." --Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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I just love the way Tanner (now six weeks!) holds my necklace while he is nursing.

Previous posts with Clarissa Pinkola Estes quotes:

Celebrating Motherhood: The Wild Woman and Sacred Business

Tuesday Tidbits: More Wild Woman

The Value of Sharing Story

The Ragged Self

Cousin Power!

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”

–Diane Mariechild

One of the fun and unexpected benefits of adding Tanner to our family is that he actually gets to have a close in age cousin. My nephew was born in July and it is exciting to imagine what good cousin-friends these two little boys are going to be! It was also super fun to be pregnant at the same time as my sister-in-law. I didn’t know what a fun connection that would be! My mom, Tanner, and I drove to Kansas to visit them over the weekend. We went with some trepidation as it is an almost five-hour drive and Tanner had been in a car seat exactly two other times before! (One that was a horrible experience with desperate red-faced screaming inducing maternal trauma.) The trip went well, however, with only one real stop on the way (also one short side of the road one just a few miles before our safe Dollar General haven was reached) and even better on the way home.

When we pulled into their driveway, I felt a real sense of having come “full circle.” It was taking cousin-belly pictures together at their house that I first announced my pregnancy on this blog: New Baby! We then returned to wait with anticipation to wait for the birth of Ronan and we took lots of pictures together: Cousin Bellies! When Ronan went two weeks past his due date, we experienced the Lento Tempo of being “ladies in waiting” together. I had to leave to come home to give a final exam (and check in with my family!) and cried as I drove away, worried I would miss the birth and also feeling reluctant to leave the timeless, liminal quality of being at their house full of anticipation. However, I did not miss the birth, but instead was honored to witness my sister-in-law Jenny dig deep into her own strength and resources to bring their baby into the world in a powerful home waterbirth, that then informed my own decision to welcome Tanner into my arms in my own first water birth three months later. After Tanner’s birth, Jenny and Ronan came to stay with us to help provide excellent postpartum care. So, making another trip to see them and bring Tanner to visit them, felt like another round of the circle that began with our overlapping pregnancies.

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While there, we joked about the Cousin Power all around us, because both babies experienced developmental leaps with Tanner smiling huge big smiles and “ah-gooing” clearly for the first time (previous smiles were single episode events and not ongoing spurts of interaction and communication) and Ronan rolling over for the first time.
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Another feature of the trip was Tanner riding around exhibiting serious head control, pumping legs action, and solemn eyes of observation.IMG_9649


As fun as it was to be pregnant together, it was even more fun to put our babies side by side and watch them kick and smile and look around together!

I do love me some continuity, so I asked my mom to take some more “cousin belly” pictures of Jenny and me together, but now with cousins on the outside instead!

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And, then we had to get some nursing cousins pictures too!

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 “Birth should not be a celebration of separation, but rather a reuniting of mother and baby, who joins her for an external connection.”

–Barbara Latterner, in New Lives

 

Home Remedy for Plugged Ducts

November 2014 195It doesn’t work for everyone, but I have repeatedly found ginger to be the most miraculously fast and effective cure for plugged ducts for me ever. I unintentionally pushed myself kind of hard the last week and noticed over the weekend that I had a lot of tenderness and several hard, knotty lumps in one breast. It went on all day and was getting worse even with plenty of nursing and I started to worry about mastitis (especially because I had a headache too). So, I rubbed on a paste of ginger, turmeric, and coconut oil and literally within fifteen minutes all the plugs were gone. I’m not quite sure how it works, but I can actually feel the lumps “dissolve” as I apply ginger. It has never failed me–whether a paste like this, a ginger tea compress, or just kitchen ginger straight from the shaker and held against the breast with a warm washcloth.

Use 2TB each turmeric and ginger and stir together with enough coconut oil to form a paste. Heat lightly and apply or just spread on like a salve.

My mom was the one who first tipped me off to this remedy and it works so well!

Warning: if you use the version with turmeric, it will stain your skin and clothing. I suggest nursing baby while applying it or immediately after (use caution not to get in baby’s mouth) and then taking warm shower right after.

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Not so beautiful, but effective!

 

Onemonthababy!

Unbelievably, Tanner is one month old already! He has already changed so much. Version 3WO included these upgrades:

…now with limited smiling action, wakey-eyes action, head control action, and 10.5lbs. Oh, and no longer restrained by any hair.

Now, even more upgraded one month version exhibits ability to ride around perched on hip facing outward. Head turning to look at all the things. Nursing while also tipping head back to peek over side of arm. Leg pumping action when seeing the mama or sitting on knee to watch siblings play. Tiny attempts to say, “ah goo!” and one surreal episode of saying, “Hi” to Lann in clear, tiny voice that I would have thought I’d imagined except for Lann then staring at me with startled eyes and then we both laughed hysterically.

Likes looking at ceiling fans and Christmas lights. Seems to seriously dislike car, though has only been on two outings in entire life so far. Has very specific spot on my chest on which he likes to nestle: head right on heart, body curved against my left arm. Kicks, twists, grunts and unches to reach specific spot and then conks out. Sleeps great (not alone ever). Has chubby legs and double chin. Weighs a tiny bit less than eleven pounds already. Has small amount of returning blonde fuzz hair. Also has blond eyelashes! Spends lots of time in the Boba and it is working good. Time is passing very quickly. He already bears little resemblance to the baby I gathered into my arms just one month ago. I cannot believe how fleeting the tiny newborn days are. There is no way to capture it, the only thing to do is live it.

I am doing well too. Went for walk on nice day today. Feel pretty good stamina wise and body-healing wise. Very happy. Grateful not to have clock ticking on Mark going back to work! (Feel a little ticky myself about teaching face to face again in January.) Has been interesting to actually watch myself “come back” from having my world be the size of my bed. It is like I really could see myself “returning” gradually. Thanks to excellent postpartum care, The Return has been easy, really.

I worried I might have to work hard to love this baby. Shouldn’t have worried! I love him muchly! Feels like my Best Baby Ever. I’ve mentioned several times that I am surprised by how normal and unsurprising it feels to have another baby…

I am surprised by how unsurprising it is to have a baby again. I know it is weird to talk about myself in the third person (is it a writer thing? Or, a person who collects dolls thing?!) but I told Mark the other day, “I’d put away the Molly with a Baby. But, after Tanner was born, I got her back out again and I still like her.”

He is here, where he belongs. The easiest thing about having a new baby has been the actual new baby! He is a precious treasure and I feel lucky to have him. And, I feel just as happy and excited to have him as I felt to have Alaina. I didn’t know if that would be true or not and I’m really glad that it is!

Zander theorizes that Tanner’s first word will be “brodacious.”

In non-Tanner news, the kids made cracker houses with friends yesterday and we enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner with our work party.

And, I’ve accepted that if I’m going to keep blogging at all during the upcoming year (which includes lots of writing projects already, like my dissertation, book revisions, and new book ideas), I have to learn how to do short-ish posts using my phone instead of counting on having any computer time to do so. This one, except for picture gallery formatting, was completed on my phone. Hence, the staccato tone!

Small Business Saturday: Birth Altars, Birth Jewelry, and Babywearing.

As thank you to our Brigid’s Grove customers, we’re offering free shipping for United States customers in our etsy shop on almost everything in our shop through December 1st. For our international customers, we have a thank you discount code for 10% off: SMALLBIZSATURDAY.

We made our first ever Etsy treasuries this week! The first is about birth altars:

Setting up a birth altar in preparation for labor can be very meaningful. Creating your own art to add to the altar is very special, but so is finding handmade items on Etsy that speak powerfully to the birth experience or to your plans for your birth!

via Birth Altar Art by Molly and Mark on Etsy.

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The second is about birth jewelry!

Many women choose a special pendant or charm to use as a focal point during labor. A birth pendant serves as a special touchstone/talisman during pregnancy and through birthing as well. It can be a powerful point of connection, strength, & inspiration!

via Birth Jewelry by Molly and Mark on Etsy.

IMG_8810Our babywearing mama sculpture was featured in a blog post about gift ideas for babywearers too:

No worries, I’ve got you covered with this great list of 13 Gifts Under $39 from Etsy – gifts that would appeal to any babywearer. That’s right – go ahead and check that babywearer off your gift list because you’ve nailed it. You are the best gift giver ever. And don’t worry, I’ll totally let you take the credit.

via 13 Gifts Under $39 for Babywearers | tea for three.

IMG_9350And, I enjoyed this treasury of Alternative Holiday Ideas from The Girl God on Facebook!IMG_0576

We finished a couple of new sculptures this week as well (we’ve been very productive considering we also have a four-week old baby!). We have some of our miscarriage mama goddesses finished and some of our Embrace Possibilities design in sculpture form as well. These are a little taller than our usual figures, about four inches instead of three.

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I also revised and digitally published my Earthprayer, Birthprayer, Lifeprayer, Womanprayer book of earth-based poetry.

earthprayer cover

And, now I’m going back to taking some time off to babymoon and snuggle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moods of Motherhood: Co-Creating at Home

Today’s post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing).

Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming Aloud.net

Moods of Motherhood_cover_front_300
I work at home in two capacities: I teach online as a faculty member for a college and I co-create Brigid’s Grove with my husband. I also teach outside of the home once a week at a branch of the same college that is located on a military base about 40 minutes away from our house. All my preparation, grading, students emails, etc. for the in-seat class also take place at home. Beginning in July 2013, my husband took a significant leap into being a “free-range human” and now works at home with me. This was a leap because my teaching is on a contract basis and I make 1/3 of the money that he made when he was working full-time, but, I only have to leave the house for seven hours a week, leaving two parents home full-time the rest of the week with our homeschooled kids.

Shortly before Tanner was born, I posted the following on Facebook:

I heard back from the [campus] yesterday and they approved my proposal to teach my January class as a modified hybrid, which means I’ll be able to leave at 8:00 and get out the back gate (saves me 30 minutes drive time!) to get back home to my baby, rather than having to drag him + caregiver to class with me til 10:00 the way I did with Alaina!

(Of course, it also means I’ll have hours of extra online posts/grading about controversial  topics, but I can nurse a baby and diplomatically moderate discussions simultaneously…)

I’d also like to take a minute to be grateful that, even though we’re a bit on the edge financially over the next couple of months, that we have the opportunity and ability to *do this*–have two parents home full-time, except for that one night to the [campus] for me each week! Lucky! (And, with some hearty dashes of good planning and creative other multiple streams of income.)

New Etsy Pictures 217I got a comment that gave me some pause for consideration: “living the dream. We’d love to be able to do what you are doing.” While I want to be thankful that we are in a position to make this choice, I also want to acknowledge that it isn’t always “shiny” or dreamlike! Nor did it come from only “luck,” since I want to be clear that our current household financial structure would be unlikely to work if we lived in a more expensive geographic region OR if we had household debt (Something we avoided, yes, luckily, in thanks to my grandma for a debt-free college and graduate school education, but also thanks to our own financial management and good savings habits that allowed us to pay cash for our land and to build our own home using only money we saved from Mark’s work as a computer programmer, rather than having a loan.)

So…when Lucy Pearce asked for contributions for a blog carnival celebrating the release of her second edition of the book Moods of Motherhood, I knew that I wanted to write about the moods of self-employment and co-creating a business with my husband

The in-the-flow mood: August 2014 025

We light our intention candles (yes, really!) and set up a mini-altar on the floor with items of significance to us. Cups of tea or hot cider are in our hands. Our kids are at my parents’ house, leaving us to have two hours on our own to talk shop and brainstorm ideas. We lay out our Amazing Year planner and many colored markers and review our biz goals for the month, goal-set for the following month, and the ideas start to flow. We feel in perfect synchronicity. Our collective creative energy is humming, our ideas are bubbling forth effortlessly, we are literally on the “same page.” One idea bounces off another, notes fly fast and furiously in our “book of amazing possibilities” (again, yes, really, this is written on the top of the first page of the notebook in which we brainstorm our ideas), and it feels like something alive, this process of co-creation. It feels vibrant. It feels limitless. It feels sacred.

In the pause between note taking and idea flowing, we hold hands and just sit there for a moment enjoying each other’s company. And, at that very moment, our eyes meet in the thrill of hearing the etsy app make its cha-chiiiing sound notifying us of a sale in a way that feels just like the universe is acknowledging and blessing the success of our work together…

The real-life-sucks-sometimes mood:

We accidentally sleep until 9:30. The kids eat Hot Pockets for breakfast. We argue over who gets to take a shower first. I feel dragged down in molasses by the vastly different energy levels we possess—I’m a morning person who immediately wants to hop up and get moving. Mark and our kids are not. Mark claims to be getting ready to pack orders and yet he is really looking at Imgur or sorting through Magic cards. I claim to be starting my grades for the week, but instead I fiddle around on Facebook and then speak snappily with a light dash of martyrdom. I slip into “lecture mode” about what a better job we could be doing with our house, our lives, our parenting. The kids whine and bicker. I suddenly decide that they should do excellent homeschooling work immediately, even though we’d all rather be doing something else. I try to submit my grades for the week, while also having eight other windows and/or documents open on my computer for things I’d also like to work on, while simultaneously attempting to answer questions about their worksheets. The kids bounce from parent-to-parent with their questions while Mark tries to pack up the night’s orders for mailing and Alaina sits on the floor saying, “why is nobody playing with me?” in a plaintive tone.

In my multi-tasking frenzy, I suddenly decide to add our online banking to the open windows on my computer and see, unfortunately, that we are behind $500 in our bank account and I won’t get paid for another three weeks…

Here are some things that make working together from home difficult:

Score-keeping. I was terrible at this when Mark worked full-time and I am still pretty terrible at it. By this I mean mentally keeping track of who has spent more hours doing what, who has had more time alone, who has come up with more ideas for dinner, and who has done more of what with the kids.

Different styles/types/routines/schedules/patterns. Part of this comes from personality, part comes from how we each spent the prior ten years working. I spent the ten years prior to 2013 as the primary at-home parent, with the scattered focus, multitasking, and “mother-sized jobs” that that role requires. I became very used to having to snatch at free moments to work frenziedly, accomplishing a great many tasks in a small window of time, because I don’t know when my next chance is coming.  Mark spent those ten years (as well as many before that in other workplaces and in the public school system) with a structured existence in which starting and ending times for work activities were clearly defined and the impetus for tasks/goal-setting comes from external forces rather than being self-directed by the individual. We continue to approach our days at home together with similar, somewhat discordant, habits.

IMG_9941Different energy levels. Being the “driver.” Related to the above, I have spent my entire life being essentially self-directed and self-motivated. I’m not sure how much of this is personality, birth-order, or environment (me: type-A-ish, oldest child, homeschooled. Mark = laidback, youngest child, public schooled). I have tons of energy pretty much all of the time. I am constantly popping with ideas and bubbling with “steam” for projects. I rarely settle down and relax. Productivity is my middle name and my default mode. I never drink anything caffeinated, I always get at least eight hours of sleep, and I’m always buzzing around doing stuff. I wake up in the morning with one million ideas of things I’d like to do that day and I want to start immediately, if not sooner. I think I exhaust people and I can be wearing and controlling. Mark works in focused spurts of concentration. He is slow to start in the morning and I rarely, if ever, have seen him “buzz” about anything. He takes his time. He stops to rest. He is stable and calm and methodical. He lets ideas percolate and form. He doesn’t need to talk about everything. He watches videos to learn things and after he has let information soak in, he tackles new and complicated tasks with complete focus and usually total success. He is patient and if something fails, he will learn more about it and try again. He is rarely, if ever, critical of himself or of me (I am self-critical enough for both of us, plus). He is also very used to working in environments where he does not have to be particularly self-motivated and, again, whether it be personality-based or environmental/socialization, this often puts me in the position of family “driver.” Sometimes this feels fine, sometimes I am completely sick of the role of household manager and motivator.

Never being “off.” Still related to both of the preceding two points, as someone who is used to working from home around and between my small children, I never feel like I’m off. There is always something more to do. Mark works until he is finished and then stops, even if there is something else that could be done. At home, together, all the time, neither one of us truly ever gets to be off. Kids keep needing things, dinner needs to be fixed, and I keep coming up with one more thing to “finish” before bedtime. When your life and work are entwined so deeply, there is no clear distinction between “work time” and “home time” (or family time). This is something we want to work on differentiating more firmly in the coming year.

Haphazardness. We do not have a clearly structured daily schedule which leads to a feeling of haphazard effort and randomness through the day. (Also on list for coming year.)

Introverted personalities. We are both introverts. When Mark was at work all day, he worked on his own much of the time. When I was at home with kids, I still had two hours a day on my own each day while my kids visit their grandparents. Now, neither one of us actually ever has time alone. I wrote about this in a past post:

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on the household navigation of being an introvert mama with now having my also-introvert husband home full-time. Turns out that both parents home doesn’t magically extend the hours in a day actually seems to shorten them and it means both parents end up feeling pretty maxed out by kids and in need of somewhere quiet to recharge! I love having a “free-range” husband and I’m blown away by our joint creativity, which is an energy we’ve never experienced before at this level in our 19 year relationship because he was always at work all week and we had to squeeze everything else in around the edges. I also notice these interesting facts about having us both home all of the time: the house is way messier, we consistently stay up “too late” and sleep “too late,” it seems harder than ever to cook/figure out meals, we have less time to spend on homeschooling !!, we still don’t feel like we have enough time to talk to each other, I seem to have less time to write and focus on writing, I feel like I give my kids less attention than I did when I was the only at-home parent because I now have Mark to pay attention to too and I really like him, it is perhaps harder than ever to get the TWO HOURS I desperately need, I feel as if I have less time to focus on my teaching work, we argue more over household and parental responsibilities, we laugh way more and have more fun with each other and with our kids and we do more spontaneous, relaxed and fun stuff with our kids. It has been an interesting experience!

via Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Art, Retreat, and Free-Range Husbands | Talk Birth.

IMG_0076Homeschooling. Neither one of us really thrives in the role of homeschooling parent. We homeschool because we can’t really envision another alternative that is good for our kids, not because we uber-love homeschooling and are amazing at it. It often feels like a bit of a competition for who can not be the one to do the homeschooling with the kids that day. I have never felt like I thrived in the role and so sometimes it feels good—or like, “I told you so”—to now share the responsibility (and the failures). It is hard to work with multiple ages of kids at the same time. It is hard to be patient. It is hard to do stuff that is boring because we feel like we should maintain a minimum standard of official “schoolwork” each week. Our kids can be very frustrating, obtuse (perhaps deliberately), and are often extremely distracted and appear to be purposely driving us crazy. Homeschooling also means that working from home must always be done around the edges of family, again making there be no distinction between home time and work time. We often feel only partially present and often feel preoccupied and distracted, since there is never a break! We are also in near constant contact with all members of our family all day every day and this can wear. The total immersion the lives of our kids can be exhausting, diminishes the “cherishment factor,” and leads to a sensation of oversaturation with our kids (and them with us!). Somehow we still never feel like we have enough time with each other though, again because, like our business, our relationship has to fit in the edges around very energetic and noisy children.

Here are some things that make working together from home work:

Goal-setting and regular review. We have a biz meeting a minimum of once a month. This is incredibly important in helping us stay on track and focused.

Looking outward together in same direction. Our motto from the time I was 16 and he was 18. This has been a guidepost in our marriage, lives, and now our business.

August 2014 092Capitalizing on each other’s strengths/having complementary strengths. In addition to the differences I’ve referenced in the list above, we have complementary strengths that make us work extremely well together and in a way that often feels effortless. I am good at communicating with others, with writing, and with keeping up with tasks. I write all of our etsy listings, I answer all emails/messages from customers, and I do all social media work, as well as lots of other tasks. This does not feel like a chore for me, it does not feel “unfair” (nor do I scorekeep over it). Mark does all order fulfillment, packaging, and shipping as well as the hand-finishing of everything we make. He also is the one who learns the new skills we need to move forward—I may make the original sculptures, but they wouldn’t go anywhere without his willingness to handle hot metal, study how to make molds and then go for it, and learn the chemistry of resin-casting. When we wrote our Womanrunes book, I joked that if Mark was in charge of it, it would have had an excellent cover and great images, but no text. If I was in charge of it, it would have been a Word document with good text, but nothing else.

Appreciating one another and enjoying each other’s company. Not much else to say about this one. We like each other a lot. We have been together for 19 years. We have a symbiosis and a relationship that works and works well. 

Shared focus/mutual benefit. In the years that Mark worked outside of the home, there was often a sensation of competing for “free time.” When we are working on projects together, there is no sense of “competition” when project is a shared one. When he goes to pour new goddesses, it feels like working together. When I make new sculptures, it feels like working together.

Self-direction/self-motivation. As referenced, a lot of this still feels like it comes from me, but it does really help our business and our lives move forward.

Financial management skills and mutually compatible simple living goals and strategies. We decided a long time ago (way pre-kids) what is important to us and we naturally and easily continue to make good financial decisions that are in harmony with one another. We drive crappy used cars, have only used furniture, don’t have credit card or other debt, etc. This only works when both people are completely on board with the goals and purposes of living consciously within a fairly frugal simple living framework and spending accordingly.

Grandparents!!!!! A factor beyond personal control, having my generous, loving, connected, supportive parents one mile away cannot be undervalued. Our kids go to visit them for two hours (or a little more) every day except for Thursday. How much of a gift is this? Invaluable. And, lucky. August 2014 071

Kids that like each other. Also a factor beyond personal control, having sons that are best friends with each other and who therefore get to play together all day long and enjoy each other’s company is invaluable in creating a home atmosphere that is conducive to a rewarding, home-based life.

We’ve still got a lot to work on! We also have a lot of amazing goals for 2015 and look forward to carrying them out together.

We’re also still working on this…

I envision a life of seamless integration, where there need not even be a notion of “life/work” balance, because it is all just life and living. A life in which children are welcome in workplaces and in which work can be accomplished while in childspaces. A life in which I can grind my corn with my children nearby and not feel I need apologize for doing so or explain myself to anyone.

via I just want to grind my corn! | Talk Birth.


Somewhat related past posts:

Releasing Our Butterflies

Homeschooling Today Part 2 of 2

Imaginary Future Children

Tuesday Tidbits: Blogging, Busyness, and Life Part 2

Happy Father’s Day!

I just want to grind my corn!

New Etsy Pictures 474