We spent three days and nights at Afton State Park in a camper cabin. Well, actually we all spent two nights there–and then Mia and I spent the last night at my parents’ house and came back to camp in the morning. Body pain from a bad mattress made that diversion necessary–but it ended up being a nice little visit with my parents.
This was our second time staying in the Big Bluestem cabin during October. This year the weather was cooler and a bit rainy, but still allowed for a quiet, cozy and peaceful getaway. Mia and Anna sang and played guitar, told jokes, and we all laughed more than we have in a long time. Alan taught us how to play Black Jack and Poker. Mia, despite not wanting to go on this trip, was a great sport about it and even made time for a long hike with the rest of us. We hope to do this again and maybe have a few other families join us.
October is here, and so are the usual fall-things, like Halloween paraphernalia, colder weather, pumpkins, rust-colored leaves. It’s been one of my favourite times of year since I was a kid, and I think it still is. We had a bonfire last night, complete with the girls playing eukelele and singing. Meanwhile, our dog, Penny, chased little creatures of the night and dug holes to chase them until her paws were covered in mud.
There have been hard things going on over the last month or so. There have been transitions, and these together have brought what I am calling “growing pains.” Growth is hard, and it hurts. We don’t always know when the growing will stop, or if it will have mercy on us and give us a rest. The hardest thing for me, I’ve learned, is when others grow. When those closest to us grow and don’t need us as much, or need us in different ways, or turn toward other people instead of toward us. Different from how it’s always been, disrupting the normal flow of things, disrupting the lovely predictability and safety that’s always been there.
Many new things about my honey have surfaced over the last few months; he’s gone through an inner transformation, or mid-life crisis, as he calls it. I’ve learned that he likes Facebook and joined it without telling me. This is the same Facebook he teased me for using so much when I first started using it…and the second, third and fourth times I went back to it. He’s connected with many old friends he’s lost touch with over the years, and this has been so good for him. I’ve learned that he will share things with others that he has not shared with me, over Facebook, even. And I’ve learned this makes me feel a little jealous and left out. I’ve learned that when asked of the life experiences he’d most like to re-live, he will spontaneously narrate a long and lovely list of wonderful moments, some of which I didn’t know about. Mostly, I’ve learned that this list will leave out much about me. And again, I’ve learned that this not only makes me feel jealous, but super jealous and super left out. At the same time, I want to honor the process and allow things to be what they are.
Therapy would be great at a time like this. However, it’s currently not in the budget, so this blog will have to suffice. This blog is no stranger to that.
There have been many good times, hard times, and just as many ups and downs. Right now I’d say is a hard time. The feeling of joy has been a rare and short visitor. Other than a glimpse here and there, joy has not been here. Yesterday joy paid a short visit when I was eating lunch at the co-op with my sweet girls on a beautiful sunny day, laughing and talking, without being in a rush to be anywhere but right there in that moment. Today joy was in the purple sky at sunset and coming home to the smiling, loving faces of my children. And maybe that’s all we need–a glimpse of joy, here and there. A glimpse to remind us of what’s waiting for us when the growing pains are over.
Mia is now in 10th grade and Anna in 5th grade. Both of our sweet girls want to homeschool again this year, and we are happy to make that happen. Last year was the best year we’ve had in a long time, and I’m hopeful this year will be great, too. After trial and error in trying different methods and curricula, we’ve found our own groove and found what works for us. My heart is full and deeply grateful.
Today, I work for a few hours and homeschool with the girls for a few hours. I’m listening to this today and am glad for the reminder that attachment is the most important aspect of parenting. Even as our children grow, our attachment bond with our children is the most important aspect of their growth. I’m sure that we can maintain attachment with our children if they are in school, too, although homeschooling the girls right now feels so in line with maintaining healthy attachment.
“Relationship matters not only because it makes children easy to work with, but also because it is the context in which maturation is to happen.” Dr. Gordon Neufeld
The closest to heaven on earth I’ve been so far might be the East Bay in Grand Marais, Minnesota, where we spent a few days before the 4th of July. It’s our third time staying at East Bay Suites in room 108, overlooking the incredible “sea” called Lake Superior. Situated right along the edge of the lake, this spot is our favorite in town…or maybe in the whole world. When looking out the patio window, it feels as if one is at the end of the earth, looking into a great abyss. Every evening, sunset paints a pink, mystical sky. A more peaceful and serene setting might exist somewhere in this world, but I’ve not seen it yet.
Coming home was not easy, but it was fun to come home to 4th of July festivities and our pets, whom we missed a lot when we were gone.
Spring came and went, and summer vacation is here.
Here in Minnesota, the temps reached 91 degrees Fahrenheit today, which certainly made it feel like summer.
Earlier this week the girls and I visited the scultpure garden (photo below). That day also happened to be my 41st birthday.
A short while back, Alan surprised us with a picnic to Carver Park on an idyllic spring day, and that’s the next photo. Sometime in May, Anna had her spring ballet showcase. Other memorable events from this spring are visiting my parents a couple of times, babysitting a dog, and spending a day at the landscape arboretum. Alan and I went to a lecture on sustainable lawns and are inspired to convert our lawn into a low-mow, bee friendly lawn. We considered this a date, and I realize now how nerdy that sounds.
Anna and Mia celebrated their last day of 4th and 9th grades today. In her homeschool journal entry today, Mia wrote:
“This year I learned that happiness is one lifestyle change away.”
Meaning, switching to homeschool from public school was the change that made the difference. She is happy. Anna is happy.
April is almost over. I got my nose pierced last weekend–a milestone of sorts. I’ve wanted a nostril piercing since I was a teen, but never thought my nose or face were “good enough” for such a thing. And then suddenly, I just did it–because I wanted to. And, I love it.
A few days ago, Anna told me that when she grows up, she wants to be like me. And I thought, “wow, what a compliment and a huge responsibility.” Then a couple of days later, Mia told me that we are boring adults and she is going to be different than that when she’s an adult. And the pendulum in my mind swung in the complete other direction.
Life is so weird. It changes all the time. One moment, your kid thinks you are the world, and the next, she’s planning her escape and realizing how much she doesn’t want to be like you.
What will life be like after the kids are grown? It’s hard to imagine a life that doesn’t revolve around the care of children. Who am I if I am not a mother? Of course, I am always going to be a mother. But it will not always be my most defining characteristic in the way it is now.
I think this is what Mia meant when she said that we are boring adults. Having parenting as a defining characteristic is not particularly interesting.
Mia has no idea the sacrifice or the commitment one makes when becoming a parent. And, she shouldn’t. The gift of childhood is being free from that knowledge–free from the knowledge that life is hard work once you’re not a kid anymore.
My sister has 4 dogs and no children. She calls the dogs her kids and calls herself a mother. She celebrates Mother’s Day for herself. And, rightfully so. She’s a mother in the best way she can be. I think often what I would be like if I’d never had kids. What would I be doing now? Would I be happier or less happy? Would I have a bunch of pets and call them my kids?
Those are my thoughts for today. Happy spring, my friends.
Pisces birthday month is in full swing! Anna turned ten on the 14th and Alan turns 41 today. Happy birthday to Allison and Ocean and all the other March birthdays out there, too.
We’re in the middle of a Mercury retrograde period in Pisces, which has made for some emotionally draining events for some of us. But in the midst of that, there has been loveliness, too.
We revealed to Anna her birthday surprise: a ballet studio in the downstairs spare bedroom. Alan worked very hard on making it happen, and it looks so great. We received help from our families to pull it together, and we are grateful for that. Alan had a challenging month at work on top of being sick and rushing to get the room finished in time for Anna’s birthday. He did it all with the easygoing attitude and loving nature that he always has.
Anna has been exploring spirituality and healing. She is interested in learning “space clearing”, so for her birthday, we gave her an old cigar box filled with space cleaning items like essential oils, incense, lemon grass, and smudge sticks. She was very happy about it and we fully expect to have our home cleared of negative energies on a regular basis 😉