like a love song, baby

Ladies

If you got to choose, which woman would you like to suddenly observe, standing twenty feet away in the fabric store, stroking her “moustache” and eyeing you pervily? I say either way You Win.

By the way the three “grownups” accompanying me and the children today, after our lunch, also used their hard-won cash to purchase… pop guns, rubberband guns, and whoopee cushions. Then they gave these items to my kids and it wasn’t just the children who made liberal use of all of them while I was trying to navigate my mom’s electronically-plagued minivan through dense-as-MILK highway fog and aggressive and/or drunk holiday drivers.

So basically, I had a great, fabulous, wonderful roadtrip today.

Oh, and I bought four yards of two wonderful yardages of fabric and two fly zippers for two pair of pants, and one treat item for each child, for a total of $17, due to my laughably large bundle of coupons.

Aberdeen, Phoenix Singing

In Aberdeen, after dropping friends off. We’re stopped for a short train. I wish I could capture the colors, how beautiful it is here on a winter’s night. And my daughter, how fabulous she is. She won’t sing when I point the camera at her, not that you could see it anyway. I like I caught a glimpse of her smile at least.

when shit gets real

Why Do I Not Have A Subscription To This?!
This post is dedicated to the wonderful & talented Idzie, also Maine Coons magazine.

***

Today I’m lying on a table getting myofascial massage for my  head and neck pain. The bodywork feels amazing and strange and all of a sudden the pain and lack of movement in my neck are drastically reduced. I am not only given incredible massage and manipulated but shown the weirdest fracking exercise I’ve ever come across, like seriously I’m embarassed to have to do it in a room with two people watching my technique, and no I’m fully clothed and mostly lying down, it’s just an incredibly weird series of movements.

The practitioner and her assistant find out I homeschool, because they ask about my “workday”. Four minutes later they’ve forgotten already as they ask in the kid in the lobby is with the Hoquiam school district. “My kids are homeschooled,” I remind them.

What follows is the very typical, OH SO TYPICAL I could write it out verbatim, series of questions and statements (this happens a lot when I’m a “captive” audience, dentist etc). Including, “Homeschooling works, but only if the parents are educated” and horror stories of totally messed-up kids that are a direct result of homeschooling (no totally messed-up kids are ever credited as the direct result of public schooling, just so you know). I know I should be long past this, but I am always surprised when people who did not or do not homeschool and display profound ignorance about those worlds (including not knowing state requirements or legalities of home education nor, even more importantly, having delved into the autodidactic tradition with even one toe), proceed to tell ME with authority tons of Truthy realities, I mean just go on and on. And then, comically, end the often one-sided conversation (one-sided as far as openmindedness, assuredly) with a version of, here’s today’s: “Well, I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other.” Pro-tip, Yes You Do.

Today I have a life lived in gratitude and I can tell you, no matter how cheeky I sound here, I am in full acceptance of these varieties of limitation and I don’t hold a grudge (I mean come on… I have my limitations too, like everyone). Maybe I feel a twinge of sadness. I find it’s pretty easy to have a conversation with consideration to person going on, and with a good deal of kindness. “Yes, reading and math are frequently issues of controversy when it comes to home education.” That is a statement of fact and I can say it. The fact I get queried, very rarely, what I believe or how we do things, lends me to further consider that yes, People Do Have Opinions, and they aren’t availing themselves of mine, and that’s cool. This is made all the more comical given how many parents, adults, and teachers have taken me aside to ask me How Did I Get My Kids To Read So Early or, Wait, Kids Can DO That? It’s like I get the recognition something is working, but a constant stream of opinions as to how it Can’t or Won’t.

Since our family is in quite the minority in America by not only “homeschooling” but also not following school-at-home edicts nor centering our parenting in an authoritarian/authoritative fashion, we’re regularly asked to not only defend our very lives but give a treatise or exposition on how Stuff Works, like college. And the law. And free-range kids. In conversations I try to be kindest to the adult in question while being entirely honest (many people who don’t school stay in the closet, so to speak – and there are many compelling reasons to do so). This keeps me relaxed and enjoying the conversation. No, really. But I really do get the vibe that when my children display epic talents or literacy or math skills or social skills I’m looked at as an exceptionally “good mom” (I’ve already written on this), whereas, in the case of questioning and commentary on the lines I received today (Ignorant to Semi-Hostile, with Socially Polite Overtones), I can feel the beady eye on my kids and any, at all, “backwards” or squirellyness or even unusual sartorial expression is received with an arch eyebrow. Whatever.

Anyway, today my son had kids at the door all day long begging him to come out and run the neighborhood. My daughter (after putting finishing touches on her new blog) in her evening frock attended the hospital with me to visit a newborn and new mom, speaking directly and considerately to mom, friend, and hospital staff. Earlier she and her brother cooked and did dishes and laundry with me entirely peaceably, took care of pets, and socialized and assisted at an evening party of my mother’s. It’s not like I’m writing about Performance, I’m just saying, it’s really weird to be considered default=Batshit by so many for doing things that are Entirely Normal and work out really, really well.

skateboarding

turning it into funky science fiction

I’ve returned with some Friday links. As you’re reading this, I am likely intubated and undergoing a surgical procedure! So you’re having more fun than I, most likely (the good news is the procedure might ALSO involve LASERS).

skateboarding

5 minute timelapse; a roadtrip across America:

 
Film: 5 Old-Timey Prejudices That Still Exist In Every Movie from Cracked.com. Cracked is pretty clever much of the time, and this article showcases its smarts. Considering a likely target audience I’m impressed the author didn’t do the obligatory fawning to a certain television and film writer/producer/director too commonly worshipped for what I consider (like the author does) repeat iterations of pseudofeminist waif-fu tendencies. One note on the article – I’m designating an honorary BOO for calling thin women “unnatural” – even if it’s a good guess many Hollywood actresses likely participate in orthorexic behaviors and/or eating disorders and/or dieting and/or heavy-duty workout regimes – and for not being more cautious in purporting an apparent concept of a so-called objective view of how pretty Michelle Rodriguez is (as opposed to a socially- and culturally-prescribed “pretty”/”beautiful”).

Food, food, glorious food! Here is a recipe for a Moist Chocolate-Beet Cake, from David Lebovitz’s blog, adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater.

Family life: Unschooling: An Introduction by Laura at Authentic Parenting. Most my readers have been around long enough to hear, learn from, and/or tolerate my thoughts on and practices regarding life learning, but this is a pretty good 101 article, and I’m glad she posted it.

In a recent blog post Wendy Priesnitz asks, and answers: why does the contemplation of unschooling, or life learning, result in a backlash from many adults, many who are self-named “progressives” (well, that’s what I paraphrase she’s writing about). She writes, ” […] I understand that rejecting long-held beliefs and admitting you’ve been lied to and taken advantage of can take time. And it can be painful. But if you are moving in that direction, please believe that the way to ensure a happy future for your kids is to ensure they have a happy present.”

And here’s one for the ladies. Oh, and the dudes. Y’all should read it. I know nothing about this project – “No One’s The Bitch”, but I’m really liking the concept! Stepmoms/divorced moms etc. are often culturally encouraged to pit themselves against one another. “The master’s tools”, and all that.

A tutorial: for a fishtail skirt (in this case, demonstrated on a small human). My daughter isn’t likely to wear dresses unless they have a lot of character (see: previous) – this might fit the bill.

Mothers & Our Families: Never Perfect, but Always Great at Birth Without Fear. Some lovely thoughts and images.

Finally: WHO SOMETIMES WISHES IT WAS STILL THE 90s?

nature red in tooth and claw

About twelve hours ago while I washed dishes and sipped coffee and got ready for my day, I received a text from the friend my son was visiting. “Nels says, ‘Mama I want you more than anything. You’re the best mama in the world.'”

Loving and demonstrative their entire lives so far, my children have been telling me these things even more often. “You’re the best mama.” “I love you.” “I want you.” “Cuddle me.” The other day in Happy Teriyaki, my daughter tells me as we walk to the loo to wash our hands: “Mom, you’re the most tender person in the world.” And, sadly, I reflexively responded to her lived reality with a cock-block of negatory logic, “No, I’m not.” I recognized my mistake immediately, of course – let’s hope one day my heart can outrun my mind which in turn will outrun my tongue.

I’m glad my children hold me dear.  I’ve not been holding myself in the same light. Self-criticism is not a worthwhile practice; after all it is no virtue but rather still staying in the Self, where we suffer much and don’t do others many favors either (I can quite picture what Thich Nhat Hanh means when he calls our condition “the corpse-like state of self-absorption”). And since I grant a great deal of importance to the gift of life, if there’s one thing I think I might look back on and regret, a forerunner in the race would be not giving myself a break. In fact a spiritual mentor recently spoke this phrase when I asked about the experience of Guilt for our past (and present) poor behaviors: “We can only live starting this moment, so maybe let’s give ourselves a break,” spoken softly and punctuated naturally with the most easy and simple and gentle smile.

I’m going through a lot right now so perhaps I can “give myself a break” that I produce few results, for instance the grand event yesterday was taking a walk and getting tacos, or that a few days previous I succeeded in the dubious accomplishment of watching an entire season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in one day (most of the ladies were deserving of the title but frankly I was arsed at the finale – hence my new tattoo JUJUBE 4 EVA!). The sudden change of season to the cold and dark has typically been difficult for me emotionally, and this year seems little different. I’m in my first year of Recovery, and now I have a (possibly) chronic medical condition and face, very shortly, (what occasionally seems like a torturously arbritrary choice to have) surgery.

These things, on top of the rest of Life, might not be a big deal to others. But they are a Big Deal To Me, and at least today I know that matters.

Nels snuggles us in bed while we watch a nature show, some horrible big-toothed fish being dragged out of a river, and suddenly he says, “Gosh!” as if he’s surprised. I look and see he’s holding his underwear, donned only a few minutes ago after his bath, in a ball in his hand, and he’s got his head cocked, posed in a feigned quizzical surprise. Nude and warm under the covers. And I laugh and laugh and laugh.

Children, they’re good for what ails ye. Or at least, me.

only puts in motion what has been locked in frost

First Day Of First Grade

My first day of school, first grade
Taken in the bus we lived in

The family I grew up with until about age eight, my maternal family, mostly what I remember was a messy and boisterous tribe who started childbearing a bit later in life, consumed spirits by the case (or in the instance of wine, the box or gallon jug), smoked a fair degree of pot (some of them way more than others), and mostly wanted to eat and drink and have a good time and certainly never wanted that to end. The parties around the bonfire singing and playing music (old stuff from the sixties mostly), must have been fun for many but I grew them into a resentment. Most everyone worked hard and drank hard too, although a few members dropped out of much employment. As far as I know, I’m the only alcoholic in the family, but it seems like there sure are a lot of drunks.

In my memory my grandmother never much quit smoking cigarettes her whole life even though she ended up needing a breathing apparatus and assistance. She died of alcohol- and smoking-related complications but to my knowledge the family didn’t name it thus. You know, just a mystery stroke I guess. I got to be there for her death – myself, my husband, and the start of our own family: our four month old daughter. Many sorrows were ahead for my husband and I along the lines of our family inheritances, but at the time we didn’t know this.

My childhood experiences contain many hurtful memories, although in that family it was requisite we describe ourselves and our relations as “warm and loving”. Despite this mythology, I perceived I was only enjoyed and loved when I was being adorable – or a Good Girl, or both. I was told girls were supposed to be beautiful, and certain girls in the family were praised as such, and since I wasn’t, at least I knew where I stood on that count. At the same time I remember at a very early age believing there wasn’t any adult I could count on to choose me and my brother and our sense of safety, over their drinking and drugging. Since I was so little I was powerless to change any of this.

In addition to the drinking and drugging, which invoked a fair degree of fear as years went on, there was just daily life. The adults in my life changed, like chimera, during the day and as evening wore on. I rarely knew what was expected of me, only knew if I was meeting approval or not. One minute they’d be mostly tending to their work or the kids – or, as is more likely, ignoring us – the next they’d be overly sentimental, lachrymose, and effusive – or toxic and full of venom directed at little Me, their faces flushed and hardened into set-jaw choler beneath small angry eyes. My character defects and my errors, my objections to unfairness, any assertion of my own will counter to theirs, and my crudely-expressed desire to be treated with dignity was not ignored – it was punished. By age two the family called me “Little Hitler”, and later cited this as funny, good thing I straightened myself out, I was such a willful child.  Later an adult from this family would tell me it was okay for me to lash out against my own children. “They have to understand that you have feelings too.”

Oh, I made sure my kids understood I had feelings alright. Just the way I had done to me. As a mother I was Feelings ran rampant.

But, that was later – my own family.

Back to my childhood: relatively early in life I discovered I was capable at succeeding in school, and this performance placated these adults and put me in a category convenient for them. I wasn’t the beautiful one or the good one – I was the smart one.

I certainly wasn’t in a position to perceive that these people were sick and suffering in their own ways, and coped via chemicals and Authoritarian parenting and gastronomical excess et cetera, simply to manage their own pain, stress, confusion, depression, excitation, and suffering. They did the best they could with what they had. In this way my story is hardly unique, nor is my family.

As carefully as I’ve laid out my childhood memories, I want to further impress upon the reader that I do not hold resentments over these events – not anymore. In fact, the release of resentments has been the greatest gift I’ve afforded myself, and it was only possible through some measure of divinity (the old adage is true). But I am also not going to pretend these things didn’t happen, or they didn’t hurt at the time. They are simply a part of my history.  I know now that not one of these adults wanted me to feel unsafe, or scared, or sense I was an afterthought running around barefoot and expected to be “good”. As best as they were able, they loved the children in their midst, likely better than they themselves had been loved.

By the time my mother, father, brother and I moved north and away from this family to take advantage of an inexpensive living situation, my survival traits were intractable and reflexive. Seen this way it seems I was doomed to have a love affair with the escape available in alcohol and drugs. I remember my first drink – it was at age twelve and I flew high above those feelings of low self-worth, Unacceptability, embarassment and shame. The history, frequency, duration, and behaviors of my drinking career are details unimportant regarding what I write here, and now.

What matters today is I have a story to share with those who suffer as I did. What matters today is I am responsible for myself and others, and there is no point to shame myself or blame myself – or blame or shame others – for the past. I was gifted something amazing in my Recovery, as I could have lived the rest of my life out as others before me have – or far worse.

Today I live on a knife-edge of amazement, a case of being astounded by what has been given. When I am outside walking and the wind is blowing and I feel clear and alive I am also on the verge of an agoraphobic episode, flying off the face of the Earth into the Great Beyond simply because it is so massive and so much larger than I. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. I am fearful of God, but not in the way most nonbelievers would think this means. I do not worry God is going to bash me flat like Whack-A-Mole and I do not think there is a vengeful power who holds sway. I am fearful because I perceive the depths and breadths throughout, but I can not understand or grasp it all. I have lived for some little time floored at the life I was given, how incredible and amazing it is. It is such a gift. I do not wish to squander it. I do not wish to forget the gift. I no longer wish to poison it or smash it to bits, or smash at other people.

I want to hold so fiercely to my gratitude and never let it go. To life any other way is, for me, a Living Death.

***

Found written in a notebook:

Escribir

Question: How do you implement non-punitive parenting [and whole-life unschooling]?

Remember so long ago when I wrote a primer on non-punitive parenting? That got a fair number of shares on Facebook as well as several emails, tweets, and comments that asked for more information or follow up.

But, I had a hard time thinking of how to write another piece for many reasons. One, I wasn’t sure if I should write to parents-to-be (who may be more open-minded to such ideas), or write to those who’d already had bad experiences or results from mainstream parenting strategies (in other words, who could use some help, but already had specific problems developed between themselves, their children, and other adults – the latter class who may or may not be supportive of non-coercive/manipulative/authoritative strategies). And really, that last little bit is crucial. Assisting families out of harmful patterns and (seemingly) complicated impasses is often best done with specifics discussed, and at length. To that end, I am always willing to respond to emails and assist anyone as best I can (kelly AT hogaboom DOT org). I do this writing and work for no other reason than I am passionate and I want to help families live in harmony, freedom, and with intelligence and respect.

Fortunately, a reader and Twitter friend gave me a few direct questions about her specific situation and I was able to write her. After the first bit of our exchange I asked her permission to publish her query and my response, as I thought it might help other readers (please remember anything written to me is considered fair game for publishing, although if you have any specific objections let me know as I am often wont to honor them). So here’s a scenario-specific followup.

***

This is Sandi, @5and1 from twitter. I’ve seen you link some really interesting things about non-punitive parenting and unschooling and I’d really like to learn more. I’ve looked a bit on your website but if you have other resources I’d love to read them.

A bit about my family. I have four year old boy/girl twins. We co-slept for a year and a half, and I nursed them for almost two and a half years so I’m used to being labelled as a hippie by my friends and family. My kids are whip smart but have room to grow socially. They have been in preschool for a year and are really excited to start back again.

We don’t spank but we do do time outs. I am realizing that they are not effective so I’m trying what I call time ins. The kids have to sit with me and once they are able to we talk about what has happened. But. Even that is not always effective. I am way more shouty than I care to admit. I never thought I’d be this kind of parent. I know that it could be a lot worse but I see that there is loads of room for me to improve.

So what has worked for you and your family in terms of non-punitive parenting? How have you implemented unschooling?

Thank you for the generous offer to give me more information!

Hello Sandi!

I think it is wonderful that you’re seeing the limitations of punitive, authoritarian, manipulative, and/or coercive parenting. Many if not most adults are quite sure these strategies are necessary, and very fearful that if they were to abandon them for something else the results for parent and child would be horrific or at the very least, highly uncomfortable and inconvenient.

My kids are “well-behaved” (whatever that means! – I only report what many grownups tell me, here), literate and life-skills proficient, social, intelligent, strong, loving, empathetic, self-directed (now there’s a value you won’t see most school environs fostering or supporting in a meaningful way) and this is all despite the many many times I’ve fallen well-short of my ideals and been quite ungentle – and resorted to punitive or authoritarian strategies. I too was for a long time able to report “I never thought I’d be this kind of parent”. This was made confusing by many factors, especially considering that before I had children, I’d never been a violent person or rather, had not considered myself one. It was a very discouraging revelation to find out I was, or had that potential as a parent. But I have resolutely used my experiences to delve deeper into the roots of my story and my inner states of spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as developing and writing with a critical eye towards the narratives society purports – which are often quite harmful. The results are pretty good, in that we’re a happy family as far as I can tell, my kids are thriving without school or authoritarian/authoritative edifices, they tell me I am a wonderful parent, and I am committed to further improvement, god willing.

So as for being a “shouty” parent, or behaving in ways you never thought you would – welcome to the human race. I have not met a parent/carer who would claim perfection in the ideals they wish to live out, although I have met some who seem not to examine their own behaviors very closely, nor evidence corrections. I never want to sit back and justify my bad behavior or poor strategies, and leave it at that. I want to, and do, pick myself up, apologize, strive to do better through mentors and/or spiritual practice or whatever works. Sometimes I think I will never get it “right” but – that’s okay. The days I think, in so many words, I’m doing so awesome at this gig!, and compare myself favorably to other parents (ugh, yes, I do this sometimes), I’m usually overlooking something and I am definitely suffering from major cases of Ego and Denial! Usually these spates are followed by me having a massive and inappropriate blowup at my children.

So, you asked about my family. My kids are 7 and 9. Raising them as we have, they are very adept at handling themselves in many situations I notice schooled kids, parented in mainstream and authoritarian fashion, tend to be less competent with. They also seem very happy, well-rested, well-fed, and physically and “academically” active (the latter: they read, study, teach themselves skills and world science, do math etc. on their own). The factors I’d say contribue to our successes (such as they are):

1. a knowledge and acceptance that to live the way we wanted required financial sacrifice (specifically, of a fulltime income),

2. a partner who is in as complete agreement with these principles as is possible or likely in another human being, and who is as committed as I to our role as parents, and our passion to sort out problems when they arise (I don’t think a partner is necessary to so-called whole-life unschool, but if you have one that is in disagreement with these parenting values and practices, this can add some complexity),

3. freedom and autonomy given the children as much as they request (example: today the kids know they can choose school if they ever want to try it out),

4. complete inclusion of the children as to how the family runs itself and why, and a regarded voice in all decisions.

When it comes to freedom and autonomy for children as well as their vote, my main regard is safety as is age- and child-appropriate on a case by case basis. It seems to me safety concerns take a more active role when a child is very little. But in raising kids the ways we have, it is incredible to me how adroitly they master concepts of personal safety and how quickly they are to take suggestions, directions, and/or advice from a parent who they’ve come to trust via their own experience, and trust at a deep level.

By the way, I have realized that “time ins” can be tricky too, because we may still be forcing our will on our children. If children respond well to “time ins”, use them! But I suppose if pressed to comment I would say it’s better if kids are immediately removed from hurting one another, or humanely separated if need be, in a non-punitive nor angry fashion. Then each child should be loved up or given attention to in whatever way seems best, making sure your OWN needs are as reasonably met as possible before doing so (learning to meet one’s own needs, with regularity, is a challenge but well-worth the effort). Later in the day when things are calm a brief, age- and child-appropriate approach to conversation may be introduced, but watch and see how interested, if at all, the kids are in this. The separation, whereby you keep the kids safe, and respond with calmness as to whatever need they may have (food, attention, a quiet space, a LOUD ROWDY space, whatever it is), and later discussion with your partner or mentor as to the children’s possible deeper needs, is probably the most effective treatment in the long term. Over time kids will trust you to keep them safe while not trying to direct their feelings, actions, thoughts, etc. This in turn gives them room to develop better strategies and participate in family life in a more self-authored and likely more helpful way.

Obviously what I describe above, especially for young children, is time-intensive and means being able at any moment to put your work on the back burner. I just want to acknowledge this, because few adults seem to give primary carers respect for this aspect of a difficult job! This time-intensive nature was a fact of parenting my young children, but I will add that so soon the kids grow and need so much less physical constancy – and also that I miss the intimacy of my infant and toddler years, and in no way regret the efforts I put in during those times.

And on that note – your children are young enough they likely can’t be left unsupervised for much time at all. You also mentioned on Twitter that you work out of the home. I don’t know if you have a partner and if he/she is interested in the tenets of whole life unschooling, or life learning, or whatever label we’re calling it. All of these listed factors matter. However, I am convinced no matter what our particular circumstances are we can always move away from harmful practices towards ones that better reflect our ideals. So please do write more, with specifics, if you want to, and I will respond as best I can, keeping in mind that for some situations I do not have first-hand experience (for instance: raising twins).

If I had young children and was unable to have a partner at home, I’d probably seek out care for the kids in a less academically-inclined school – like a Waldorf or an outdoor preschool (however, in my opinion it is likely better to have the kids with kind and loving adults than prescribe to a specific type of educational model, so the type of preschool etc. is less important than the leaders/directors/teachers). Alternatively, I might seek out someone such as myself, a person at-home with other kids, who could care for yours in a way you and the children would be happy with. Finally, I might also consider committing to a life where one partner can be at home, if he/she can do so with a willing spirit (and I can speak to how exciting it is!). I might also consider living on student loans or some other form of assistance for those early years. These are all deeply personal decisions, especially that of working in-home without pay nor status, and I will say there is a phenomenal lack of support for kid-care work should you or partner choose it, or should you seek to have it personalized. Just things to be aware of, because my experience is that in having my children out of mainstream school/daycare structures I am often asked, basically, to explain or justify myself! *grin*

If you have any questions or desire clarifications please let me know. Realize also I am only a person raising my children and (to a lesser extent) other children around me. I have no professional qualifications that make me an expert on much of anything. I am passionate about these ideals and happy with the way we live – but I am human and fallible and have many lessons to learn. I write and share like I do because of how many adults have requested it, and how many have told me it has helped them.

Thank you for your query!

Sophie! circa April 2003

I’m so used to doing everything with you / planning everything for two

Sophie! circa April 2003

When my daughter was about ten months old her interest in breastfeeding suddenly waned. Of course by then I’d heard of babies so-called “self-weaning” at even earlier ages, but at the time I had misgivings about the whole business. I wasn’t sure if she was ready to quit nursing altogether or if she was just taking a break, and I was damn sure I wasn’t quite ready – and most distressing, I didn’t know my role in all of it. It was a painful experience and, as so many mothering quandaries often are, one that felt – in final estimation – mine to sort out, with the help of my daughter, who was of course very, very little (months younger than the above photo). See I suppose I couldn’t or rather never have relied on the comfort of mainstream “experts” directing my life. While I’m thankful for this character trait, to the extent we resist conformity we may pay the occasional price of Arbitrary Self-Inflicted Agony.

So I sought the advice of some women I trusted, women and medical professionals who knew their shit regarding nursing. Looking back I now know I was privileged to have started my family in such a pro-breastfeeding culture. I remember one lactation consultant, at least, telling me that in light of the fact my daughter was first walking she might be a little distracted. If I wished I could use this opportunity to encourage breastfeeding – you know, just offer a sip now and then – and that my daughter might resume her interest. And I did – and she did, too.

For about a week I felt a panic that perhaps I’d “forced” my will on my infant daughter (although of course I never “forced” a feeding), and perhaps more alarmingly, that I’d lost the opportunity to help her be “independent” (ha!). You know, that I’d done something hippie-Earth-Mama-selfish and facile and my child would suffer for it. Et cetera.

Of course, as it turned out my daughter nursed for over two years more, and this was an incredible experience – I can’t even recount all the many wonderful memories I have and the closenesses we lived (and still, she seems so little to me at weaning, when I look back!). To this day I feel a stunning and overwhelming sense of gratitude for the women who advised me as they did. And I suppose I should be grateful for my own instincts which led me to the counsel that worked best for me.

But today I once again hover in a position of minor parental agony; the children seem in so many ways not to need me, and yet I cannot seem to let go of most a decade of intensive care. I sense they are more independent than ever and that we are providing everything they need as best we can (and conferences with the children themselves support this). I know they can tell me what they need (Nels: “Snuggles and love and food and my Little Mama”) – and yet I am prone to guilt if I spend a few hours without them in mind. At least, on this last count, pervasive Guilt is old behavior and I hardly expect to be rid of it like magic just because I’m now sober.

All demonstrable evidence suggests the children are thriving; yet I keep searching for fault within myself or something I should, or shouldn’t be doing. This is prideful and this is arrogance; when I do this I am willfully blind to the beauty of their daily lives. They are surrounded by people that love them, and they live in a home and town they adore with people and animals they love deeply. They spend most of their time outside and are courageous in their exploits and fierce in their friendships. Their summer is full of everything I loved from (or wished I had during) my own childhood: sleepovers and waterparks and ice cream and books and tree forts and visits to neighborhood shops where everyone knows them, bike rides and gardening with their grandma. They continue to show moral and emotional traits that bring joy to others. They are loving and directly hug and greet all manners of friends, young and old.

They are empathetic and considerate. They are kind. Twice now in the last week I’ve had sleep problems (meaning: onset insomnia, staying up watching shite escapist television on Netflix). Both these mornings the kids rose, dressed themselves, ate, washed their hands and faces, brushed their teeth, cleaned up after themselves breakfast-wise, fed the cats, and checked on the chickens, bringing in eggs. They called their father – but in the next room, whispering so as not to wake me (Ralph told me later).

It’s absolutely amazing at times their consideration and maturity; and yet, to be honest, it makes me want to cry.

In short I am experiencing an insecurity around my Motherhood that I feel neither my children nor my husband can fully understand (although some of my close friends and family seem to relate). It’s as if I’m asking myself if I’m brave enough to self-care a bit more. Or maybe I’m afraid if I were to do so, something Horrid would happen or I’d suddenly miss a need of theirs and I’d screw it all up. Somehow.

It’s funny because as a child the word my family used against me that hurt the most was “selfish”. Somehow I grew into a different kind of Selfish than what I suppose they meant; today my sins seem to be that of self-obsession (Perfectionism) coupled with a lack of self-respect.

I don’t want to model that for my children – anymore.

Serve God, love me and mend

It’s been suggested to me I should build a sense of humility by doing “inconspicuous good deeds”. It’s a really good idea. Today I took a few friends’ kiddos for a walk, then dinner and a bonfire; and while cooking I got a phone call; I received the opportunity to commit to taking two more teens tomorrow to an Al-Anon meeting (and ice cream after). Of course in writing about it here I risk being not-so “inconspicuous”, but today the awareness of helping others with no desire for reciprocity or reward kept me right in the moment.

Flora

Railroad tracks.

Kidlets

I had enough kids that at one point I almost left one behind somewhere. But that was okay, it was one of mine.

At My Mom's

We stopped at my mom’s for firewood…

At My Mom's

… and I lingered in her back garden.

Phoenix, Cassidy, Nels

I made the kids hot dogs, hardboiled eggs, potato chips, carrot sticks, cubed cantelope, macaroni and cheese, apple juice, and s’mores. While I cooked I sent two girls back with the firewood wagon, to my mom’s. The children brought out chairs and helped me start a fire and a few of them sat and read. It was heavenly.

While walking at one point Nels asked A. if he could hold her hand. She smiled and said, “Why?” He replied, “Because I like you.” She said, “Okay.” Then they held hands for a while and she said, “You’ve said you love me but that you aren’t going to marry me.” He said, “Right. I love you.”

It was about as simple as hand-holding can be.

a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out

LOOK AT THIS CAR

Newness

Have a look at this beautiful motherfucking car. It was last seen being awesome in my huge ass driveway which is where it is right now being awesome as usual.

(h/t because I am not funny, I just steal other people’s jokes).

Today was busy-busy-busy. I had to drive my new (used) car around town and not turn it off for a few errands because A. I had to make sure to get supplies for an event I’d committed to today, see below, and B. my new car was sold to me (deliberately) with a bad battery that had to have been sneakily kept-charged rather than the dealer just buying a new one (oh, expect a scathing online review. Actually, more a matter-of-fact one) and it was so bad I would need a jump at any juncture.

As of today I’d already YouTube’d up how to get to and examine the battery (it’s kept under the backseat! there’s a positive terminal in the engine for jumps though!), something I figured out that my husband hadn’t and the car parts dude hadn’t. The car parts dude (a big strapping fellow) wasn’t going to help me switch the battery out because of that seat thing, and when I told him it was either that or jump me, and by the way the seat was no big deal, two spring-loaded clips, I wasn’t strong enough but my husband had done it the night before – well then the dude jumps up and whips my battery out there and yanks on the seat and helps me switch out. Sudden wellspring of altruism or indomitable male ego? We’ll never know, but I drove off after a nicely-purring startup and a weight off my mind and a fair bit of cash spent. As well today I have jumper cables and the thorough knowledge of how to do jumps, since I had the pleasure of performing several the day before.

The stereo’s anti-theft code didn’t come with the car (and seriously? Retrieving one’s code is a PITA) so Ralph suggested upgraydding the stereo and I said Okay, knowing entirely the expense this might incur. Luck was with me as the shop I chose (the one my dad had frequented) had their little Euro antennae adaptor etc. and we had it all done this afternoon. The fellow who installed the stereo was named Roscoe and I found out he is a champion basil grower – I shit thee not (as in wins Grand Champion etc. at our County Fair). I had been querying him about car stereos and a few other things and sat practically on his lap watching, and he humored this (and the soft brass semi-stripped special-five-sided-hex-key-required bullshittery to remove the factory install), but when I asked him about the basil he brightened right up. We talked for a while and he ended up sending me home with four plants, including a lemon basil and very explicit instructions to get the best out of the plants – and how to start new ones via cutting (his preferred method).

Automotive Accessories

Fucking Hoquiam. It’s just great.

We had a Doll Picnic today at the Gallery as part of our Childhood Perceptions show (this was the abovementioned event I was required to bring food and drink and do some work at), including a professional dollmaker and many readings and a very large dressup game and food and drink – all orchestrated by our show’s co-curator Jeanne.

Master Reader

The event included many of Barb Shillinger’s dolls and her expertise and willingness to talk to children about them.

E. & (Some Of) Barb Shillinger's Dolls

Phoenix chose an alter-ego for an hour (“Fern”):

… while during cleanup I quite sensibly was waylaid by children wanting to climb in my trunk:

Skunks In The Trunk

And then there was Robin Moore’s Charles Bukowski hand puppet that I thought was stellar:

Guess Who?

I was pulled and pushed all ways today but I got through the day and had some lovely, lovely moments. As you can see.

I can’t quite express how happy I am to no longer be forcibly car-free. It has made life easier. Maybe. I prayed a lot while our cars were out – prayed not for a car, but for acceptance, patience, humility. I am in a way more worried now because cars cost money, and we haven’t in the past had money set aside for car bullshittery, so it’s been hard. And perhaps most relevant to this story, everything I’ve done involving cars, I’ve had to learn shit the hard way. Seriously. And I’ve been a slow learner.

But today I can pray in gratitude, and give this new responsibility to God, and enjoy our good fortune.

And on that note:

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” ~ Charles Bukowski

 

 

sewing curtains

so who doesn’t have a party to go to?

Well our party spirit is a little dampened. This morning we found out someone got ahold of Ralph’s account/credit info and cleaned us out. I mean CLEANED us out. So that was kind of fun! Ralph had to stop work early and make all these phone calls and stuff and I have no idea if we’ll get our monies back and get food and stuff! Wheee!

But nothing shall stop me from Friday’ing your ass up! Pull up a cup of joe and check the linkage!

***

Androcentrism: It’s Okay to Be a Boy, But Being a Girl… at SocImages makes valid points, plus I didn’t recognize who that was in drag at first. Pretty cool.

While we’re on the above-mentioned quote, please watch this Madonna video. MY FAVORITE PART of the video culminates at 02:49. P.S. So interesting this video got banned after the other violent shit male artists have pulled.

Tracy Morgan: If My Son Was Gay, I’d Stab Him To Death; HA HA HA that Tracy Morgan! So funny! Hm, there’s not an emoticon I can think of to type how I really feel about this. … Anyway, here’s Wanda Sykes response to Chris Rock’s defense of Morgan, via Racialicious. Thank you Ms. Sykes.

Okay, moving on. Look, I totally enjoy FYeahSeamstressTiger on a lot of levels (for instance, as I believe I’ve made my position clear long ago [#7]):

sewing curtains

 
But the aggregate effect of the occasional snooty I-can-sew-so-well-and-you-totally-don’t-get-it leaves me cold.

h/t friend Dawn for this Cute little flash animation about how we’re gonna fuck things up. IS it flash? I don’t know. I just call everything that has that look, flash.

Bullying (30): How to stop parent bullying at ronitbaras.com. The “I need to think about it” technique? Kelly-Goddamned-Hogaboom needs to practice this one.

When Homeschooling is Blamed for Child Abuse by Laurie A. Couture. Sometimes I’ve wanted to write out what’s behind the many distinct eyerolls I experience when I hear child abuse blamed on homeschooling – because it’s just laughable. Ms. Couture’s article stands on it’s own merit, however. And the last bit:

“The vast majority of parents who allow their children to learn at home are passionate about their children, love them deeply and put them, their needs and their interests first. Child abuse is a tragedy that will continue as long as this culture supports power-over, punitive, subordinating ways of treating children. Unschooling and relaxed homeschooling are part of the solution!”

Yeah, that gives me the chills.

The Link between Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders by Kendra Sebelius (also known as @VoiceinRecovery on Twitter). Absolutely bleeding edge on progressive treatment for comorbidities more common than many people realize.

Yes, I put my name on the bone marrow donor registry but I kinda want to pee in fear thinking how awful it would be to donate. I’ve given plasma before so know the whole, suck the blood out and put it back in routine (COLD blood going back into one’s body, ugh!), but the needle in the pelvis bit sounds like the real picnic. ANYWAY, truly, if I can help in this way I hope to!

Make (or at least, read about the deliciousness): red currant jam from David Lebovitz’s blog. I am new to having him in my feed reader and I’m liking what I read. His points on complaining about red currant prices are pretty rad.

This week: I watched Norwegian indie film Troubled Water, and started Canadian television series “Due South” (spoilers in both links, obv). The former is elegantly-rendered grief porn, & I say give it a miss (despite a few merits). The latter is a lot of fun, altho’ it’s so unselfconsciously mid-nineties it actually might bog me down and I might not finish. But I can’t get enough Paul Gross, he’s like Cheez-It’s to me.

Quote of the Day
Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers. ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Tweet of the Week
Kevin Murphy, participating in a Twitter hashtag game that many others were rather vile with. But in this case – MUCH LULZ