Mint

Feeling a little like this wild mint today. It’s ready to grow…as long as it has some cover. Ready to send shoots up as long as the warm sun bounces off the house. Mint is always early at my house. Cropping up between driveway cracks and near the sidewalk. Anything growing yet where you are today?

It is Time.. .

It is time my friends.

Time for roaming to begin again.

Time for paths to be wandered.

Time for trails to be followed.

Time for roads to be rambled.

Spring is here and I am lost to the sunshine.

The ache of my heart is being stilled on bike rides and long ranging walks with my loves.

The longing of my soul is refreshed on the breezes of March. The wind blows and my mind clears out the cobwebs.

The season of adventures is upon me and I simply must go.

Get outside my friends. Light a fire, gaze after the moon, squish boots into the mud, breathe deep the clean air of a fresh season. Your very soul will thank you.

Surviving

the sun shines in my soul

the fire burns in the peace

The rum quiets the world

Today’s joy turned up in 27 degree weather while children were let back in the front door and I stood, eyes closed, face turned toward the light near a fire that will get me through the week.

Praying peace over y’all as I send this out…

The Seeking of Quiet in the Midst of Loud

Quiet is important to me. Having my own space to be alone so that I can think, holds value to me. I also really love being surrounded by my people. Having them near me, in the same room, while they do their own thing helps me feel the love we have for each other. As I was making dinner last night it struck me how independent my kids are, yet how much they want to be together. These three are still young. I know their desire for space and privacy will increase in the coming years, but I am very grateful for how much time we spend together.

The two of them, always right here.
Ignoring the world.
What we do while momma reads aloud.

If you’re new here you should know that we unschool our youngest three kids; this means that I spend every waking hour (and a lot of the ones when we should be sleeping too) with my kids. I read this stat recently that sort of blew my mind. In the article I’ve linked from the Washington Post they are discussing how quality time with your kids is better than the quantity of time spent with your kids. The fact that jumped out at me though was that the average mother spends 13.7 hours per week with her child. That’s not even two hours per day!

I know that some of you who read here don’t homeschool your kids and I know that the opinions I throw out here randomly have a tendency to irritate. This is just one chart after all, is there any truth behind it? A simple Google search will answer that question for you, probably in the exact way that you’d like the question answered too. The data field is filled with so much information that it is overwhelming. I am certain that there are a lot of parents who work outside of the home and who traditionally school their children who spend more than two hours per day with their kids. I’m not here judging any individual, rather America as a whole. Why is raising up children in the way they should go so seemingly, unimportant? Do we simply believe that someone else can do a better job growing our kids? Do we lack trust in ourselves? This is such a mystery to me.

The number got me wondering though. My kids are home, in my care all of the time. So I tried to add it all up and here’s my number of hours spent with at least one of my children per day: 13.5 . While I didn’t subtract out the occasional Sunday afternoon where I sneak out to write or read a book in complete,utter, and blessed silence. Or the hour I get on Monday mornings when I head over to pick up my girl. I also didn’t add in the multiple middle of the night wakings, the mornings when my teeny is awake at five AM or the evenings when I read to my kids until 9:30. So in case you didn’t see that number, I spend the average American mother’s weekly amount of time caring for her children in one day. That means I spend 94.5 hours with my kids every week.

As my boy used to say, Holy Maca-Roni!

I would argue that stat again here, stating that there is no way that the amount of time I spend with my kids does not influence them at least as much as the quality of our time together. When you give all of your waking hours to your little people there are going to be great, enriching, educational times. They are going to learn who they are and who they want to grow into. They will learn your values, morals, standards and decide if they want to internalize those same ideals or not simply because they are in your presence. They will also be bored. They will feel that things are not fair. They will always want more even when you believe you have poured out every, single last drop from your own pitcher.

Even now, before six AM, my teeny has come to snuggle in next to me. Stealing my time with her sweet little wants and needs. Of course, you’d be right in arguing that all of those 94 hours are not spent specifically on the caring-for of children. At least you’d not be entirely wrong. I have a friend who says; “It doesn’t matter that the kids are off playing on their own and I’m washing the dishes. I’m still “on”, still listening to them play, noticing the cues, realizing they’ll want a snack soon…”. I would describe my mothering as exactly this; giving my kids the freedom to seek God’s will for their lives while I am “on” at a distance. I’m here, all of the times they need or want me, but I send them out to be themselves as much as possible. It’s important to me to note that I have also spent a lot of hours guiding my kids in being independent, or, maybe, allowing independence to be the result of our activities, is a better way of putting it.

In this intense amount of time that I spend with my kids I have worked hard to teach them to be quiet. Not just for my own sanity, but for theirs. I feel like so many kids in this time really have no idea how to be alone with their own thoughts, how to sit with their own boredom and search out their own hearts. I spent a lot of mornings teaching my little boy that first thing in the morning we grab a blanket and a water bottle and snuggle into a chair with a good book. Now he does this throughout the day as he recognizes his own need for a little down time. I am grateful for the time I sacrificed to teach him this skill.

My oldest little frequently slips headphones over her ears and tears through the pages of a novel. She has discovered the need of silence on her own. Living in the middle of bigs and littles I suppose one should expect that. Now that my teeny is four I have been working to lead her to the want of quiet. She is currently resisting in a way only she can. She starts talking three minutes after she wakes and she is loud and opinionated for all of the minutes after that, right up until falls asleep next to me. If she is not vocally loud, she is desiring of all of my attention in other ways that cause me to be constantly aware of her presence. This is not a quiet child. Not yet.

I will continue to coax her toward her own space, her own time. I will invest in this because I see the value of it. When my older kids sit down alone with books or games or Legos in the afternoon, I know they are resetting for the rest of the day. They are giving themselves a bit of peace in a world that has devalued this. We try not to use the quiet time up with screens, though it does happen occasionally, because the nearly 100 awake hours in our week offer up plenty of time for that. I try to remind myself that in teaching them to be still and quiet I am giving them a gift to carry with them always. Because we practice this regularly, I trust that they will feel the value of silence even after they have followed their own paths away from me. They will seek it out, fight for it.

There are times I feel like my house is so loud. That I must escape the constant clamoring for my attention. When I am aware though, and not completely overwhelmed, I see each of them sit quietly for a few minutes throughout the day. I see the peace wash over them as they do this. I am able to soak a little of that peace up myself and I am glad. For them and for me. After all, let’s be honest here; Momma’s really do just need the quiet.

Peace to each of you this day. May you seek it out. May it make it’s home in you.

Growing Up

I’ve been watching my little girl become more grown up lately. She is moving at least as fast as I did, maybe even edging toward “grown” a little quicker. This has brought a lot of emotion from both of us. Really what has brought the emotion are the hormonal flares we have both been prone to these past months. Is it fair to her that I expect her to control her emotions when her hormones are pushing her into this strange and uncomfortable place…no. No it’s not. It seems my mantra over her has been something like “feel all of the feelings, but, to the best of your ability, be in control of them.”. This is a hard lesson to learn at age ten. It is a hard lesson to practice a couple of decades later as well.

I see me in her, I wonder if she does too?

I try, every damn day to let her grow into who she was created to be. My jaw cracks sometimes from all of the clenching of it I’ve done as I’ve bit my tongue and swallowed words, and prayed for the correct ones to come out. It is a fine line to walk when you know the mistakes that lay in wait for your child. A harder walk to take when you parent a “stubborn” child, one who wants to learn all of the things in the most experiential way allowed that she can create for herself. I have done my very best to not over-protect her from her young life, some would be justified in saying that I’ve really thrust her into a few hard things myself. When I look at this girl I see the fire burning behind a thin film of uncertainty.

Do all parents feel this for or about their kids?

When you have a smart kid, a girl who knows enough to know that life is going to be hard, at ten years old, but still chooses to see all of the joy? This is a gift. I’ve often wondered over how quickly children can forgive and forget, but for her to see my continued failings, to see my mistakes, my short-comings and for her to still count her life as joy? That is not from me to be sure. I have to work every day to find the joy, I write it down in my notebook, numbering the little things that make me smile. Sometimes listing things that simply didn’t make me scream or cry. She has it in her. That notebook is in her head, and she seems to instantly count off the good, good gifts that she is given each day. I admire this in her so much. I pray that she holds this inside of her heart as she grows, that this gift isn’t pushed out by all that life will try to fill her with.

When this same girl puts herself out there again and again, when she is bold and quiet, silly and sweet, peace and the storm…It is good to sit and reflect over her childhood as she moves, almost visibly, into the next phase of life. I have no rose-colored glasses over how her early teens will proceed. I feel like I only just exited this stage of life, I remember all too well how hard I was for my own mother. I am cautiously optimistic that I will give her the freedom she needs to grow into who she is while keeping any really negative things from falling in her path. I have no actual idea as to how I will do this, I’m sure I’ll mess it up a few times.

What she really needs though?

I think I know what she really needs. I know because I know what I lacked, what I had in abundance, and what I deeply wanted. While her needs and her life are (quite) different from mine I don’t doubt a bit that I know what I need to do for her. The question is if I will be able to do what needs doing. In providing stability and security and safety I hope to create in her a sense of trust. Trust in her own ability, in me always being there for her, in the circle she creates for herself. In allowing her to make choices for her own future I hope she sees that I trust her as well and that she will grow more confident because of that feeling.

In homeschooling this child I can see that I have given her more of what she needs. With the blended up family we have there have been hard days, difficult siblings, sadnesses that she really shouldn’t have had to deal with. By keeping her home and doing life with her every day-or at least most of them- I feel like we are able to manage all of these things together. We have worked to grow our community of people who love her, people who help her learn and deal with it all and become herself. We spend less time apart so we know each other well, we don’t have too many secrets and I hope that continues to be the case as she gets herself into more and more situations that she may want to hold close.

I did not intend to write about my girl today.

Some days when the weight of all that I let pile on my momma shoulders is just too much, I suppose it is natural to think back to where it began, or rather at who started me on this mothering journey. She is not the cause of my stress, don’t misunderstand, rather she is the reason I so willingly endure it. The tiny girl who surprised me with early signing, early walking, early talking, she taught me that I was absolutely not in control of what would come next or when it would come. When I look back I see that I have learned more from her about who I am and who I want to be than I have probably taught her so far. Perhaps in her teens that will shift and I can actually teach her a little about life…I have a feeling not though. She continues to teach me about how I parent and about what is good, and right, and holy.

I am lighter as I reach this final paragraph. My heart has been overfull with mothering the past few weeks, and it has been good to reflect a little here. It is good to stop and remember your “why” from time to time I suppose. She is my first “why”, I’ve been given four more since her, I do not take that responsibility lightly. I also don’t take my importance in this too seriously. She (they) will all do just what she needs to do in this life. After all they were not created in my image, but God’s, His path for them isn’t lit all the way to the end, there are plenty of twists and turns ahead. Places she (they) will stumble, valleys where I can stoop low and hold out an experienced hand. Darknesses where I can murmur that I’ve been there or simply sit with them in that place of uncertainty. My life, my place in her life is simple; I will walk beside, as quietly as I can be, supporting and guiding as she needs or allows. The roots of the tree of her.

And that? That is just enough.

I am hopeful that you got just what you needed from the rambling today. It seems those of you who need it usually do. Peace in where you are today.

I’ve Done it Again

So, I’ve done it again. Waited too long to take a step back. I felt it building today as I tried to convince a teeny to eat some teensy bit of good food.

I lost it with her and we laid down for a nap together instead of carrying on.

I got out this afternoon, thanks to God and a sweet husband. What this means to all of you dear people who continue to follow my ramblings is that there should be a bit of my story in your inbox tomorrow morning.

I’ll be thinking of each of you and the story I continue to tell each time I get to sit with my laptop and cuppa. That it’ll reach you, that it means something, that you know who’s you are.

Heading back home able to breathe a little easier, with less weight on my shoulders. I hope this same feeling for all y’all this night as well.