|Containment... one parenting strategy at work|
It has been a little over a year now that the birth of our daughter sent our homesteading life into a new direction with a new pace. There is no denying that our plans have slowed down to a turtle crawl from their former rabbit-like turbo speed. We are in the slow lane, chipping away at what we can each day, and thus, we have reluctantly adjusted our expectations. In the early months, I learned to be pleased if I got one boringly domestic task accomplished each day: “I got the diapers washed! Cross the dishes off the list!” We could slowly eek out a project during assorted nap times. We were two people reduced to the capacity of a half person. We learned that what we suddenly had lots of availability for were social things that didn’t require arm capacity or punctuality. We could sit around and visit and take walks and such. We could travel. We could even sit in meetings if Caris wasn’t too fussy, taking turns bouncing her up and down and retrieving her pacifier. Somewhere in the course of the last year, my internal clock has shifted. I have chilled out and adjusted to the new erratic, spontaneous flow of our life. Goals are loosely held to generously set deadlines. Unexpectedly, little windows of time open in the day for things to get done, but they can never really be counted on in advance.
|Porch roof underway...|
|Caris "helping" on the worksite|
It never really occurred to me that anything else than this slow-lane-with-baby adjustment was possible, especially out here living simply on the land, but I felt thoroughly schooled the other morning when I stopped by my Amish neighbor’s farm to buy some strawberries. Something has been eating every one of our meager patch’s berries before we can get to them, but Lena and Ira have buckets brimming with them. And hundreds of little vegetable seedlings for sale from their greenhouse business to replace all of the ones I have managed to stunt or kill from neglect at our homestead. They also have plenty of milk for sale from their sizable goat herd. And then there are the rest of the animals on their farm. And did I mention they have seven kids under the age of 10? And Ira works construction jobs quite often too. He happened to be home and very congenially asked me, “so what has been keeping you busy?” After hemming and hawing a bit while I went through my mental list of what had previously seemed to be quite the juggling act: a single baby, a small garden, random house construction projects, community meetings, chores and art-making in the margins… hmm. I finally settled on an evasive, “oh you know, this and that!” Considering that they cheerfully manage seven times what we do, I can’t complain. It gave me a new perspective though, an awareness that we are novices learning how to live off the land compared to our neighbors who have had a lifelong education and the wisdom of generations in living-off-the-land skills.
|So those warning are on the bucket for a reason!|
So the trials and tribulations of parenting on a homestead? Is it worth it? Despite the frustrating moments sandwiched between dirty diapers and prosciutto leg, I think so. There are plenty of magical moments that make it worth it. This afternoon I gave up on doing anything productive and joined Caris for a romp in the sandy creek bed on our land. Slow flowing water meandered around us in little pools, dappled sunlight streaked through the giant trees up on the banks, birds and butterflies darted through: for an hour I forgot that life was anything short of paradise. I am glad that she will grow up knowing what monarchs and swallowtails look like in person. And knowing the names and calls of dozens of bird species, and which plants are poisonous (even if she learns it the hard way) and which are medicine. Yes, all in all, I am glad we are raising her here, in this way.