Suburban Housewife or Earth Mother Hippie?

Who am I supposed to be? Who do I want to be? 

Who SHOULD I be?

to-be-yourself

My mind is a world unto itself.

When I relay my dreams to my husband he is most always incredulous. They are full stories, with characters, odd scenarios and they have a clear beginning and end. When I give myself over to my little gray cells to contemplate a subject, my mind can turn tirelessly for days while I still go about my daily activities.  I have no choice, my mind just needs to work it out, regardless of my thoughts on the matter. Today I am still turning over a thought line that started many days ago.

It all started with my IPAD.

I have a Facebook account with zero information on it. I signed up to see some photos of my friends new baby 8 years ago and once I started getting “friend” requests from people I barely knew and others I no longer wanted to know, I never returned. That doesn’t stop Facebook from coming through my email and I haven’t taken the time to decipher how one leaves Facebook. If one can.

Laying in bed I checked my email, Facebook wanted to know “Do you know these people?”. 

And there he was, a former, hmmm, not boyfriend, but more than friend? Whatever he was in relationship terms, he was a dear friend whom I shared some amazing experiences with. But…he was different now.  We spent countless hours talking about dreams, plans, ideas and ideology. We leaned more toward the live in the bush of Alaska and sew our own hemp clothes. Nature was like a religion to us, hugging trees was no joke and our best moments were spent sitting completely surrounded by the works of Mother Earth.

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That is not the man I see on Facebook.

He lives in a perfectly suburban home complete with decorative accessories, his wife is the picture perfect kind, makeup, scarf and earrings for every snap of the phone camera.

Where was the cabin in the woods, the organic veg garden, there aren’t even any trees in his .17 acre backyard. Did he change? Or did he bend?

Part of me was envious of his life. The idea of living in a new suburban home with a tiny backyard has always sounded good to me. Then I would have time to decorate each corner of the mantle just so. Salon appointments would be more regular than veterinarian visits and that frumpy feeling I seem to have day in and day out would no longer exist.

But then there’s the other me, the me who still wants to live on a giant partial of 50 acres, where you will find clean sustainably raised food and dirty kids in second hand clothes (because health and happiness are not found in a  J Crew dress or bottle of Purell).

The fact is, I want them both. I want an apartment in the city with a standing pedicure appointment and a farm in the country with a fairy forest to ramp through hand in hand barefoot with my girls. Whichever way I “bend” it will always include a French Country farm kitchen, toile and an English tea set. This much has always been clear.

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So who am I? A friend once dubbed me a  “Hippie Princess”.  Although I’ve always thought that was an apt description, it really doesn’t answer the churning in my brain.

Although in my youth these questions were fun to explore, as an adult and parent they seem disconcerting. I should already know these answers, how else am I to parent without a strong sense of self. Who am I? What a  ridiculous question for a woman of my age.

The reason for these questions becoming almost unbearable is simple, I’m looking at real estate.

For the money we can spend…..

we could get a nice little suburban home in a pretty little neighborhood.

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Or….a storybook house with 15 acres in need of major renovation, that could only be afforded over time. 

Storybook House

What would you choose?

If I was worrying about feeding  my children while making a 5 mile trek to my village with 50 pounds of water strapped to my back, I would not have these thoughts.

*sigh* , definitely a first world problem.

 

 

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The Road Not Taken

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.  
Robert Frost

For some women, Motherhood is a dream come true. Keeping a home and caring for a family was all they ever wanted. For the rest of us, Motherhood is sacrifice.  I have not been able to find a way around that fact.

 But how much do we sacrifice?

Where is the line between a well rounded homemaker, a self centered egotist and a self sacrificing martyr?

The last few days I have been quietly treading water. Feeling that my life is being swallowed in a whirlpool that is sacrifice to others, while simultaneously feeling guilt for even having such a thought. There are people in this world, Mothers, Fathers and childless alike who do this daily without thought to themselves. I’m going to say it, I’m selfish. I want things for myself, not stuff, but moments.

When I was a teenager, I met my first kindred spirit. We spent our first few moments together singing the score to The King and I. Every moment after that we created the world we wanted to live in. We dressed the part, served the food and spoke the lingo. What I mean is, we wanted to live in another world and so we did. We were young girls of 14 and although to most this seemed odd, to us it was pure joy.

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We acted out our favorite parts from Anne of Green Gables.

We easily drawled a Southern dialect while eating fried chicken and telling Rhett we didn’t give a damn.

We wore pastel toile and tiny floral prints when everyone else thought geometric shapes were the thing.

We spent way too much of our Father’s money at Victoria Secret back when it was pretty nightgowns and not bustiers.

We played the piano and sang almost constantly.

We set full tea services complete with silver, china and linen, while discussing the weather in our best English accent.

We argued over Arthurian legend.

We picnicked on Box Hill as often as the weather would allow.

We lived a romantic life, we created our world and did it quite easily.

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That was the last time I remember fully being me.

Life became about school, work, boyfriends I should not have had, marriage and children. My love of a romantic living remained and dotted in that real life there were still enchanting moments. Once children arrived, they have been slowly disappearing. This morning as I sat watching my children eat breakfast I flipped through two of my favorite magazines, The English Home and Victoria, that’s when I began to feel the loss and regret that has been central to my doldrums. I realized my down in the dumps feeling was not about being a “bad Mom”, because thanks to many kind comments, I realized I’m not. It’s not about knowing how to be a “good parent”, that really is instinct when you love your children. It’s not about balancing the harmony of rules vs breaking the rules. For me it was about something entirely different.

I realized what was missing from my vision of a well rounded homemaking experience was the  actual woman who makes the home.

I needed to be able to do it all, make a clean orderly home, create healthy home cooked meals, raise and educate thoughtful intelligent children, and still have the life I want for myself. A life of peonies, inspiration, scones with cream, a garden for beauty and food, lazy days to read Thomas Hardy, a comfortable, toddler friendly AND beautiful home.

The fact that I do not have these things is in direct correlation to MY CHOICES. There is no one else to look to. 

tea

Can a women really have everything she wants for herself and still meet her family’s needs?

Is it possible to not sacrifice, or at the very least know when to sacrifice so it doesn’t feel like martyrdom?

So this is the beginning of a new dream. A life where Mommy is not just a maid, cook, educator, nurse and laundress. She’s a whole being with wants and needs of her own that are every bit as important.

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I think it’s worth a try, if for no other reason it’s a path I have yet to explore.

And you know what they say about the road not taken. 

 

Don’t Even Think About That Hole

Mother-and-Child-with-a-poppy-xx-Frederick-Richard-Pickersgill

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well, matters very much.” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

When I started this blog I made the promise to myself  I would never just throw out my real life problems without first coming to a solution. I did not want my readers to feel downtrodden or in any way negative. Today I am going to break that promise and I’m sorry.

I’ve always known that homemaking was not going to be a role with which I would excel. This is why I made the declaration of “no children” before I agreed to marry. Despite declarations and preventative measures, there are two sweet souls sleeping in my bed right now who needed to exist and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.

What I would like to change is how I present Motherhood to my girls.

I want to feel like I know what I’m doing. I want to lead my children with confidence in my decisions, they deserve that kind of role model. I also don’t want my girls to see me sacrificing myself. I don’t want them to think that being a Mom means giving up everything we want for ourselves.  That will only lead to them being, well, ME.  A reluctant, overwhelmed Mother, burdened with guilt and regret.

The answer I’m searching for is not perfection, it’s balance. I don’t know when to laugh over the spilt milk or cry. They say don’t sweat the small stuff, but as a parent it’s almost always small stuff. Dozens of small things that are the sum total of our days. When do I demand that the house be cleaned and the good food be eaten and when do I say “hang it, wear what you want and let’s eat cake for lunch”.  Because let’s face it, some of our best childhood memories are those moments when our parents broke all of their own rules, just for us.

Go ahead, play it that mud puddle, I’ll even jump in and get muddy with you. Let’s stay home from school today, wear our jammies and eat jelly with a spoon.

But this can’t happen all the time, order and rules are the boundaries that make children feel safe.

I’ve met the Mom who’s home life is clean, organized and a machine, each piston firing with perfect rhythm. Their children are always well kempt, well behaved, bright and do well in school. But I didn’t see much joy in the face of the children and the Mother seemed exhausted.

I’ve met the Mom who seldom does laundry, children wear mismatched sometimes not so clean clothes. The floor is dotted with various toys, books, banana peels and day old sippy cups. The kids are unruly, don’t mind, loud, and can’t sit still for too long, but they are imaginative, sweet and full of life.

I believe that both of those Mother’s are doing their best, and quite likely their children will turn out fine, but residing somewhere between these two Moms is the harmony I am looking for.

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There should be a company, a national, fortune 500 company comprised of accomplished homemakers. Women who come to your home to consult, listen, kvetch and console. Women who’ve been there done that and know what the next step is.  I would empty my savings account for such a service. Why doesn’t this exist? If I had to venture a guess, I would say they are either too busy or they don’t exist.

The horror of parenting is seeing ourselves look back at us when we look into the face of our children. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s anguish. For me, it’s often times too much, too much responsibility and I just want to find the nearest hole, crawl in and sleep forever. I would of course never do this, I ignore that hole like the pile of laundry in my closet and I know that how ever much I experience failure, I am not the kind of parent that would ever make use of that hole. That in itself, tells me, somewhere inside of me is the ability to overcome the challenges of Motherhood.

I’m just so exhausted from the search and
that hole is getting harder to ignore.