Father’s day, a little late…

I have never been known for my ability to be timely in terms of holidays.

I usually remember the birthdays of my immediate family…but that is what they make calenders for, right?

Anyway. Here is a nod to all the fine papas out there. You guys rock.

Nevan, Nathalie and their papa. (One of the finest I know…)

Rain, rain, rain

It’s been raining for days. Well, seemingly.

Enough so that we feel soaking wet, through and through and the laundry won’t dry.

I’ve been laying in bed for what feels like hours before finally at four am, I slowly sneak out from under the covers and try not to wake anybody up.

This mama has an early morning almond butter and jam sandwich addiction.

Sitting at the computer, listening for the rustling of sheets, I eat my sandwich. Sip a cup of tea. Think how sometimes I wish I could sleep just a bit later so the pounding in my head would go away.

Thinking about this site, as I look over our pages. Realize that we agreed to keep the extreme personal to a minimum. Not very good at keeping to that, am I?

Thinking we need to get back our joy of the just beginning- that inspiration and drive to make changes in it and the creativity of a project.

Two mamas working out the bits and pieces of brand new homes (building, moving into, finding, repairing…etc…) and one mama drowning in working from home  and the challenges of single motherhood. Making this for a challenging project. No need for excuses, but the simple of facts. Making ends meet has always been a dilemma. We are nothing new.

Watching our children, day in day out. The adventures of homeschooling and of early toddler hood. With it’s many and very different bits and pieces. Us mamas on similar paths, but oh so very different when it comes down to the passing of days. Our menus are always different, just like our shopping lists.

The rain keeps falling.

And I listen for my wee one. Wondering when she will wake. We’ve slept terribly these past nights. One more spring cold, keeping her head full and me just from sleeping deeply.

I imagine the garden seeds I planted just before the rain. And the plants I delivered to a friend’s doorstep yesterday afternoon. He said he would put them in before the rain.

Feeling the damp soaking into our roots. Nourishing, quenching and fulfilling.  Our days full of this, the growth and sweetness of spring.

Mad chaos.

The mamas  at Your Mid-coast Mama have been having quite a spring. If it wasn’t sick kiddos, it was sick mamas. And if everybody was healthy, then it was pouring down rain so hard you couldn’t even open the front door. Which meant NO play dates. No field trips. No picnics on the rocks. No babies crawling/stumbling/toddling with their mamas close behind.

It has, however meant flowers are blooming, trees are budding (and bursting!), coffee is being drunk (or homemade lemonade- hot with honey!), and fabulous baking being done.

We have no excuse.

Life has gone on and we’ve been miserable at the inspiration thing.

I apologize.

(ida)

Taking steps

My littlest one is figuring out what it means to take steps. In the sense of walking and movement.

My big girl is learning what it means to take steps in terms of becoming a “big kid”. She is becoming aware of the sense of responsibility that comes along with being not only a big sister, but a person in a community that is ever changing and constantly in motion.

Watching my girls in their movements has me thinking about the tides of life, and how they ebb and flow with the times and years gone by.

I moved back to the Midcoast a couple weeks before my oldest was born. We had been living just outside of LA for the beginning of my pregnancy with her, and then in Roanoke, Virginia for the rest of it. I was just barely 23 years old. and had just graduated from college the week before my daughter was born. It’s amazing to think back to that time and realize that it was a lifetime ago. So much has changed since my early twenties, the most significant being the birth of motherhood.  Talking with friends and others about the differences between being a young twenty something and a older mother of daughters is truly an interesting conversation to be had. Yesterday when I stopped by my favourite cafe on my early morning walk, I talked to a friend whom I hadn’t seen for months. We both compared our lives before children and how although  living in a tent and the back of a van are FUN, they certainly aren’t More fun then learning, living and loving with a couple of incredible little wild impish ones/ aka: our children.

Life seems to be all about the chapters. I can’t remember exactly where I read it, but it said something along the lines of:  First, you are someone’s daughter. Then you are someone’s lover. Then you are someone’s mother. Lastly, you are a Grandmother.  (A bit swift and concise, but possibly the truth. There might be some missing steps, but in the grand scheme of life, probably not many…) After realizing that so many out there are hard bent on fighting this- and the graying of their hair- I’ve decided that growing up and growing older is ok with me. Especially if it means I get to be with the friends, family and community that I’ve grown to live in and love.

mother's day, 2011. My mother, my grandmother and my youngest daughter (and me)

(ida)

Planting the seed

There is something to be said for life long affection of dirt.

My oldest loves the stories I tell her from when the summer she was a year and a half and would “help” me in the garden. First, she would eat all the green cherry tomatoes within her reach. Then she would start squealing that she had to go “potty! Right now!”  And I would dash her half naked summer skin out of the garden and away from our crop as quick as can be. And now, six years later, she laughs so hard she cries every time she makes me tell that tale again.

Ever since she was a wee one she has spent parts of her summer helping out in the garden. She has always loved it- especially the part that involves picking and eating. I remember doing that as a child, but somewhere in there, my affection for the soil waned and I saw it as labour. And of course balked at it. I am trying to make that not a part of our world- the simple “You have to help” thing, just because like most chores we are “required” to do as children, we begin to step back and no longer love. I don’t want that. She is also harbouring the seven year old independence itch right now. In this, she wants to do her own thing 99.9% of the time. And if I happen to ask if she wants to do something with me, it has to be at her own accord, having nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the fact that I came up with the idea. It’s a rather funny time for us, and I’m willing to just be present and let our time together be wonderful, no matter the circumstance.

Seven year olds are a rather sticky breed, they want their mama close, but not so close. And when they fall down off their scooter and skin their knee, they absolutely want the cuddles and affection. More then anything, though, they want to ride to the end of the block on their own. Sweetness.

So, yesterday afternoon we set up on the porch to plant our tomatoes, tomatillos, and basil (two kinds, purple ruffled and regular big leaf). We had to put the pots up high so that a certain wee one wouldn’t take it upon herself to empty each and every pot that we filled. Or to find out exactly what lobster compost tastes like anyway. (Gotten from this fabulous company… LOVE their soils!)

Poking the holes, and being ever so careful that only the allotted amount of seeds land per hole- it was quite the task. And I think just perfect for a girl learning the dexterity of her movements. I have been so impressed with the grace of this girl, whether it is in ballet, riding her scooter, or balancing her toddler sister on her hip. She is growing up, right before my eyes. A sight to behold. (And nothing like it to make me realize how quickly time is flying by!!)

And then, of course, here is our other helper. Being OH so very helpful.

And of course, our favourite seed companies…

Fedco seeds

Johnny’s seeds

High Mowing seeds

(ida)

A Bird in the Hand

I recently read a piece in the Huffington Post in which the author, Kara Gebhart Uhl, apologizes to all the parents she’d judged before she had children.

“Pre-children: No TV until age of 2 and then only 30 minutes a day.
Post-children: Ha.

Pre-children: Only organic, healthy, homemade food.
Post-children: My kids love Wendy’s.

Pre-children: Public tantrums are unacceptable.
Post-children: Removal of the child is only sometimes doable; predicting when a tantrum is going to strike is often impossible.”

I get that she’s being funny, cute, down-to-earth. I read it and at first thought, well, I have kids and I don’t take them to Wendy’s, bribe them with candy, or give them my iPhone to get them to calm down. You can still parent naturally, gently, and make it until bedtime without becoming insane.

Or can you?

I have visions of instilling this beautiful self-regulation in my children so that they flow effortlessly through their days, knowing when they’ve had too much play and retreat to their beds, knowing when they’re hungry and reaching for the fresh fruit I have available, knowing when they have to use the bathroom so they don’t have accidents, understanding their limits and boundaries so they can push back gently in the face of negative peer pressure.

Yeah.

Oh, wait. Here’s another fantasy I have. I am so in tune to my children’s needs and desires and emotions that there is incredible harmony in our home. And when I take them out in public there are no temper tantrums, no pulling away and running like an escaped convict down the aisles of the health food store, no asking for a “treat” five hundred times. My children would be curious, polite, engaged, and mellow. Their needs and mine being continuously met by each other in a blissful system of harmonious mutual giving, appreciation, and forethought.

Yeah.

A recent trip to the dentist for my 5 year old reminded me what an imperfect system my parenting is. Poor girl was scared. Didn’t want them to get near her mouth with the drill and no amount of cajoling would convince her to open her mouth and stay still. We have to try again. I told her, in all my naive belief that the inherent goodness of children wins out, that sometimes we have to do scary things. And once we’re through the scary thing the feeling we get for being so brave is incredible. That it’s a reward in itself. I validated her fears, tried to bolster her self-confidence and tried to gently let her know the procedure is necessary.

Yeah.

The only way I’m getting her to even consider going back is pure and unadulterated bribery. I told her we had to do it but we could make a “plan” for afterwards. Cushion it to myself however I want, I’m bribing my kid to get her teeth fixed. We’re going out to lunch and to a toy store afterwards. That’s the “plan.” Not just “the feeling of conquering your fears is the reward.”

It’s made me realize that we do need “tricks” to “get through” some days as parents. I firmly believe that the tricks (or maybe tools is a better word) don’t have to be candy or excessive television, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think that we don’t need some coaxing, calming, validating, transition easing, and even once in a while, some bribery. We accumulate these techniques and save them up in our mama “tool bags.” Singing is great for easing transitions — (“Now it’s time to come to eat, welcome, welcome!”) Finding a way to say no without saying the word “no” — (“Oh, man, it would be really fun if we stayed in our pajamas until lunchtime, I agree. Let’s make a plan to do that on the weekend, okay? We need to get on clothes so we can go to the store this morning.”) And lots and lots of redirection — (“Oh, I loved when we played that whisper game yesterday when your sister was napping, let’s do that!”)  I understand I’m trying to get my kid to do what I want or don’t want her to. I’m still, in essence, coaxing her into (more) socially acceptable behavior.

(Or you can just put your kid in a basket.)

It would be nice not to have to do this, but it’s okay. In a way, this is “bird in the hand” parenting. Our realities don’t live up to our fantasies far more often than than they do, as Uhl makes very clear, and we need to adapt and adapt quickly. And having these “tricks” in our hands gives our parenting tangibility and functionality. We can take them out at a moment’s notice and feel their comforting heft and usefulness. Because so much of our parenting happens (forgive my murdering this metaphor) on the fly, I’d rather have a bird (or yes, even an iPhone occasionally) in the hand than two in the bush. Or an empty hand.

(Erin)

Little alters everywhere

A few days ago I realized that in our house we have, for a long time, harboured a supreme lack of faith. In the Waldorf philosophy, there is much emphasis put on simply the power of magic of belief. When I first started reading the world of Rudolph Steiner I was 19 years old, and positive that the direction that the world was going to take me in was that of farmer. I was sure of it. I loved the soil and it’s freedom like nobody’s business. And then, I discovered Steiner and biodynamics. It lended itself in the perfect mix of magic and practical. It made sense in my brain because it relied on the power of a higher power- whether it was through religion or the earth’s mystery, I didn’t care. I needed faith in the dirt.

In the years since, I discovered in just how many ways Steiner put forth his views. My husband told me when he first read Steiner he was shocked back to his Mormon upbringing by how eloquent he was. He just had something on everything. He (Steiner) was “touched by the angels,”  which is something I would have never believed until I let go of the power of my own atheist upbringing and allowed myself the luxury of believing in something. I won’t say that age thirty I began to believe, because that is simply not the truth. I will say, however, that I have begun to give weight to the power of the earth and it’s many unexplained miracles. I began to understand that every life needs a little more then magic to get through- even if that added umph is simply the belief IN magic.

I realized how important it is to raise children with the utmost faith in the certainty that there is a world of unknown – and in that unknown, miracles can occur. My seven-year old began asking me this past December how did I know Father Christmas was coming… ? And much later on…. by the way, are fairies REAL? And how about unicorns? I told her with all the seriousness I could muster that Father Christmas comes to children who believe that he will be there (which is, in most ways the truth) and OF COURSE fairies are real. I said I didn’t know about unicorns, mostly because I’ve never seen one, but that doesn’t mean much. I asked her if she thought they existed, and she said, “Yes…,” rather tentatively.  I realized then that at about this age is when it happens. The practical mind starts to let go of the possibilities of the magics of young childhood.  I had hoped to have it last a bit longer, so both my wee ones were enjoying this at the same time, but now I understand that my big girl will help it remain for her little sister. And I’m ok with this.

In all the thoughts I had about the magic in our lives, I realize that both my oldest daughter and I set up alters. Perhaps unintentionally, perhaps unwittingly, but they are there, none-the-less. Giving a sense of normalcy and peace in our otherwise cluttered, madness, nonsense world.

(ida)