Those familiar feelings of being hopeless and overwhelmed set in after a call from my mechanic this morning when he told me that I needed to clean my van. I knew that.
I can laugh about it now but at the time I looked around and scaled the enormity of everything to be done if I wanted to live a respectable life.
And I do, most of the time.
I want to know where stuff is and not have everything destroyed because it’s piled together with food and sand.
I want to be able to walk across the floor without a serious toy impalement to the foot. I’d like to limit the clumsy trips across the room over slippery craft materials with baby on back.
Are other people dealing with this too?
Do you ever feel the enormity of it and think “what’s the point?”.
After Michael left for work, I sat on the couch and let it sink in. I wanted to stare at the wall, sob and rip my heart out for all my failings and stinky messes.
I let myself feel it without bringing in more thoughts of examples on for reasons I should be totally depressed. There’s always proof if you look. but…I’m not going there.
I reminded myself that I have important work to do here if I’m open to it. It matters. But it sure didn’t feel like it at the time. I felt like I could go into blame and lashing out. Probably at the kids since they are small and here.
And then it hit me…
What can I do of great importance? What can I do that would have the largest impact?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.
Where is my time most valuable and what is the most efficient thing to be doing right now. I’ve discovered that with exhaustion of a sleepless baby, efficiency can look like the food network in a dark room.
At this time though, I realized that it would be easy to tackle Michaels laundry and it would be a big deal for him. I could focus on it and get to it quickly before the repulsive front loading machine mildew sets in. I could fold them and have them all put away and ready for him. I could put his favourite essential oils on them. I can clean socks and have them all paired with fresh underwear. These things are truly an amazing thing to live.
Have you ever gone without?
So that’s what I’ve done and it feels so good to have this ready for him while he’s away and on someone’s roof in the cold so we can have money to buy boning knives and 200 lbs of honey and pig fat.
I sometimes forget the huge impact that I can have. I think myself down to nothing as I forget that we are all worthy and capable of something grand.
I don’t need to do it all. I just need to access my situation and do something. As a bonus, while doing that, I get better at everything. I gain more skills, many for organization and efficiency. I’m happy to be alive and not ranting over spilled everythings.
Yesterday I stared into nine month old Aayla’s potty of her morning excrement. A bright pink balloon was staring back at me as if saying to me again “what are you doing?”.
Even though we were careful, she had somehow found and eaten and thankfully pooped out a balloon.
It reminded me of the video I watched of The Midway Project where they photograph carcasses of birds decaying, exposing their insides full of plastic. This video really affected me as I thought about all the plastic trinkets we have had at birthday parties, festivals, camping and on and on. A party often feels like an exception to be less mindful as we bring out the plastic toys and disposable cutlery to celebrate the event.
I think a lot about discontinuing my use of plastic as a way to support the earth. I know others are doing it and I could too but I haven’t yet.
But this post isn’t about feeling guilty. It’s about finding what inspires you to be better and do better as it leads towards our ultimate fulfillment.
Stick with me.
I have been sitting with these feelings for a while. I ponder them as I haul out massive garbage bags to the back to magically be taken away and be buried into the earth. I can see the overflowing dump from the edge of town. It is surrounded by fields of food growing around the massive heap. Garbage that has flown in litters the wheat and peas and barley and we see each other at the post office and smile as if it doesn’t exist.
This is only a small drop of polluted sand in Saskatchewan compared to the other problems like the chemical runoff into fresh water which is also the water we drink.
My neighbour doesn’t live there anymore but she comes back once in the summer to douse her yard on a windy day with chemicals. It’s just a few feet away from where we grow food. What are we doing?
I’ve sat with this for a long time, waiting to feel empowered by love and not my anger.
The time has come.
I love watching my children playing with such easy joy in the sand. We went to the lake yesterday. I sat with Aayla while she slept. I watched our future unfold as Michael walked around picking glass and other garbage out of the earth where they were playing. I noticed the children begin to follow him around and Nova even began to help him pick up. She came to me curious about things that biodegrade and things that don’t. She began putting various collected garbage in water to see what would break down.
These events inspired in me the thought
At first it was very painful for me to see and hear about my child being picked on. Bullying is a big deal these days and it’s rampant. It’s heard about and we see the pictures on fb of children holding up signs demanding to end bullying. I see the pictures and i wonder how does one end bullying? I allow my mind to wander as I wonder of demanding to end something is indeed bullying itself. Maybe we could be asking the hard questions like “why?”.
When my own child was “bullied”, I questioned how someone could be so cruel as well as the lasting effects it could have on shim. I saw the beginning of it last summer as shim was chased by boys on bikes with air soft guns. Then shim told me about some boys calling shim names as they drove up and down mainstreet.
The other day, Shim came to me quivering holding back tears after a group of children lured shim into the locker room after swimming and picked a fight. Shim was hit in the head a few times before escaping. I never expected to be able to feel pain like that for another persons experience. But perhaps it has less to do with my child and more to do from my own life during times when I became a target. I remember feelings of confusion, anger and most of all, being powerless and perhaps that’s not shims experience at all.
Immediately after the locker room incident, I went and spoke with the lifeguard who was just cleaning up after a busy swim night. I don’t think she knew what happened or what to do. I explained that I saw a severity in slippery half-naked violence. She said she couldn’t pick sides because she didn’t see. I realize at that moment that it didn’t really matter. Everyone needed to be safe and nobody was. I asked that she would call 911 should violence like that happen again and we figured out that shim could change in another location and that I could come along as well.
Now what? What is left after nasty words have been directed at your child? I went home and hugged shim. I took a step out of my skin and looked at the whole picture. I saw shim with the two good friends that shim has. I remember that sacred closeness that comes when most of the world doesn’t accept you. And then when you find someone who does, it feels like home and you appreciate its uniqueness. I decided to put my energies to that and to my own connection with shim. It has taught me to seek out that which is good for us and to be aware of other people’s pain. I’m going to even go so far as to say it’s not bad, the bullying. It is what it is…a step in our evolution to wholeness. If we look closer, we will see the hurt in the “bully” and the disconnection they have to life. As I write this I feel cautious as I know that other peoples experiences have been horrible and I wish empowerment over their lives for them. I wish for them to see their worth and goodness even when others don’t. That’s what we all want right? That’s what we are all striving for…to feel whole.
We may not be able to stop bullying but we can use it as an example and as a reminder of how we want to be. We can use it to bring us closer and ask what we can do to help. In this we are not bullied, but only reminded. We can remember that people are still hurting and that it’s not about us. We are powerful beyond measure. All I can say right now is thank you.
My life began to change once I started asking the right questions. Even without answers they were powerful reminders and directions to follow. I still ask a lot of questions and try to wait with an open mind and heart. I could feel myself lifting up out of despair and purposelessness when I asked myself things like “What wants to happen in this moment?”. The simplicity of it was profound enough to pull me out of my own beliefs of what should be happening and it allowed me to start listening, watching. Other questions I’ve asked during complete uncontrollable chaos is “What is being expressed right now? What wants to be expressed?”. I have discovered that the point for me is to be of service; to see the need without my own ideas and beliefs. To be available to fill that need with glasses of water, a warm hug, a bowl of soup or an ear to listen. We are all needed, so much more than we know. And it’s not about being a slave but rather being so clear in our purpose that we can be an incredible support to others and ourselves. Maybe what this moment is needing is a warm bath or a good cry or a nourishing bulletproof coffee for yourself? It is about doing small things with great love and purpose. And I get that it’s not always way and that it’s constant work. I’ll never be done opening myself up to what wants to come through. I wake up every morning having to re-commit. What is it like for you?
One day I decided to stop lying to my children about what they were eating. I would always try to sneak in a little hemp hearts or cod liver oil or whatever my newest fad food was at the time. I started to wonder if this practice may have been hurting them more than helping. I thought about this deeply and realized that it didn’t feel honest and authentic to me. By lying about their food I was sending them the message that I didn’t trust them to want to nourish their bodies. I was also creating a relationship of distrust in such an intimate way. Food is something that we put inside our bodies. How could I be all gung-ho for food labelling yet not allow my children to know what they were eating?!?!? I’m amazed by my own level of narrow minded thinking but we grow and learn better, right?
Another thing I thought about was how powerful it is to associate what we eat and how we feel. I wasn’t allowing my children that opportunity to make the food/body connection because I assumed that I knew best. I assumed they wouldn’t want to do the best thing for themselves. That’s crazy talk (or thought). All humans want the best.
So, I swallowed my fear and clenched my butt a little, when I said ” there’s hearts and livers in that chili.” and “Yes, I added some raw egg to that”.
When I first started being honest they would often decline to eat because I had trained them that health foods were to be hidden and mistrusted. Things are much different now.
My oldest son was sure that he HATED kombucha because I didn’t tell him that I added into jellos and soups and other things, but once I started telling him, then he knew he liked kombucha and was more willing to try stuff. Everything, he was more open to trying everything!
We are actually coming to a place where the previously hidden ingredients are now prized treasures. My daughter often asks if something is good for her as she knows the value of it. My son looks up recipes for new healthy things to try. He can be heard saying such things into google search as “heallllthy marshhhhhhmalllllows.”. I believe that this honesty has improved our relationships (and our lives) in so many ways. I feel like I can openly talk about what I am fermenting and making with it and they are interested and happy to try it, most of the time. They are still human though and sometimes I wonder when I will have gone too far. The boys did try the authentic headcheese I made last week even after seeing the “ingredients”. 😀
Do you sneak foods into your kids?
WARNING: Rambly and inspiring post.
We all have different priorities when it comes to parenting, when it come to life.
I think a lot about what I want my children to learn, to know when they are adults. It’s often met with curiosity and concern when I tell people. Most just don’t get it and that’s ok. It seems that my goals are quite different than what most people think about. If you’re still reading, hooray! I’ll tell you more about me…
I want my children to be able to take care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually regardless of circumstance.
What does it mean to me to be able to take care of ourselves physically?
To me this means that as humans we can produce, source and prepare our own food locally. This sounds like an incredibly daunting task but it doesn’t have to be especially if you can connect with other people interested in this. (I will be blogging a lot about how to do this in the very soon future.) My children have followed my lead to real food and take great interest and pleasure in growing and harvesting food, going out to farms, hunting, butchering our own meat and being in the kitchen with me. I see a great value in being able to provide nourishing and convenient foods for yourself. If your food is hurting you, all other areas in your life will be harmed. It’s amazing what people that are well nourished can accomplish. It improves morale, motivation and energy for life. Many, many people do not know how to feed themselves anymore. One of the saddest things I experience is when I go to the grocery store and see elderly people or busy parents with grocery carts full of processed convenient foods. I don’t feel judgmental (anymore) but rather I see what they are missing out on; Flavour and harmony within their bodies. It feels amazing to be nourished by a steaming bowl of homemade soup or stew. It’s something that I wish for everyone. If you’re in need, come over to my house for a bowl and a cuppa. With eating well, we are more aware of our bodies and our needs and it leads us to be able to access alternative forms of health care with great success. It also means that we trust when we need medical advice/help from a doctor.
What does it look like to take care of ourselves mentally? To me this means that a person owns and takes responsibility for their life. They don’t blame and they don’t go looking for external things to make them anything; happy or sad. That’s right, people do that, I do that! I go LOOKING for situations to make me upset so I can limit the good in my life because I’ve hated myself so much. No more. I’ve been saying no to that now and it’s working.
Taking care of ourselves spiritually to me means having purposes that remain a touchstone in our lives to bring us back from our own despair. I often need to re-commit to the process of growth, of love, of good food, sustainable living, peaceful parenting and all the other new age hippy cliches. It’s wonderful to remind myself and rediscover the beauty and the magnificence of my purposes after a spell of momentary mommy insanity. It’s sweetness in action.
Are my actions coinciding with these goals? I ask myself that all the time and often it’s “no”. But I move on, growing and getting closer and seeing the beautiful results. More importantly, I’m enjoying this one life. What else is there to do but enjoy and take it all in?
What are some of the things you think about for your children?
Five children and thirteen years later, I feel like I’m just starting to get it. There’s been school, spankings, homeschooling, AP, general hippyness, Unschooling and then there is radical Unschooling. What does it all mean and which one am I? We’ve experimented a lot with which labels best define us and I really feel done with that. The uncertainty has been fading or it’s being met with an acceptance of the uncertainty. I know the flow of ups and downs, happy and sad, ok and not ok. It’s all encompassing in this life and one bad moment does not negate a life of beauty. That bad moment is transformed by my state of mind into the beauty itself. I find myself able to enjoy being a parent while tantrums, poop messes and unbelievably extreme unhappiness are occurring. When you’re a parent without expectations and stories, it opens you up to just enjoy being guardian to these tiny beings. It allows you to be an amazing support to your child and to think reasonably about solutions that are loving and patient. Don’t get me wrong, I still experience myself yelling and frustrated. I noticed the other day as out slips things like “what the fucking fuck?!?!?”. But I forgive myself immediately and move on. Does that make me a bad parent? I use to think (unconsciously) that guilt made me good. I thought it meant that I wanted to be better and I should feel bad for being such an ass of a human being to such innocent beings. What a waste that was. Moving on makes me better and ready for what’s next. I’m addressing the stories I’ve told myself. Turns out that I don’t need to worry about raising illiterate criminals who abuse the welfare system and I also don’t need to worry about what other people think. How many times have you told yourself not to, and then went and did it anyways? Times are changing and worry be a fadin’. Now I look and see what is next…what is mine to do?