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Today has been a breaking point for me in my mothering.  I am not a good mother right now.  I don’t have control over our days.  I’m left feeling empty and lost.  I raise my voice at Deladis too much, and I find myself angry.  There, I’ve laid it out honest.  Both girls are at a stage where they seem to need me every waking moment of the day.  Deladis has made whining and crying a habit (part of that is my fault too for giving in to make it stop).  She doesn’t have the skills to think things through, yet wants to do things on her own.  Ivy – well she’s the dare devil that I’ve written about before and still such a baby.  When we are home they don’t seem satisfied, or maybe they seem to need me too much.

Me – I’m at a stage where I feel like I need distance.  I need time to be me.  I want to exercise (I’m interested in more solitary forms of exercise lately like kickboxing and yoga.).  I so desperately need time to write.  I want to be productive as a person alongside of my mothering.  I feel like now is the time for me to use my skills in writing for the benefit of my family and for my personal need for creating things.  I figure I need three hours of mostly uninterrupted time to accomplish those two things.  I can deal with minor interruptions during writing times.

Then, there are my other responsibilities.  We just got word that our food budget has dropped to $269 monthly for four people.  This is going to mean even more time in the kitchen for me, as even more things (like Deladis’s rice milk) will be cheaper made from scratch.  This means more dishwashing, which I do by hand.  It also means that the success of our garden is more important than ever.  So, getting it fully planted and maintained will fall mostly to me.  There is the normal housework – sweeping, laundry, dusting, and cleaning the bathroom.  Also, gathering our week’s worth of cooking/drinking water.

Organizing our cabin is a must.  Deladis’s room is nearly impassable, and she can’t clean up alone yet.  I’ve taken three boxes of toys to Goodwill and it is still too full.  I need to get clothes together to go to consignment.  We need to put our Christmas decorations in storage at my mother-in-law’s.

These are all my responsibilities.  John is too busy to help much with any of these things.  He would if he could, but an artist’s work never ends it seems.  Especially when he is a one man show running his own business.  Notice I haven’t even mentioned the responsibilities of taking care of the girls.  Diapering, bathing, nurturing, feeding, and discipline (of which I am horrible with).

Deladis is acting out more and more.  I have been planning to homeschool her until I received word that the state is reforming the standardized testing, doing away with writing portfolios.  Now, I’m seriously considering sending her to school.  Maybe she needs some time apart from me.  Time to be with children – her peers.  Maybe I need that time too.  Am I horrible for thinking it?  So, I looked into preschool, but we don’t qualify for public preschool here, and other than that the only other choice is a childcare center which I don’t want and we can’t afford.  The only other real preschool opportunity we would have is one where I would have to drive her 30 minutes there and another 30 minutes back.  It would be outside of our community.  It looks like I will be with her primarily until she goes to kindergarten, if and when she does.  That is fine.  I want to be her teacher.  I want to be her guide.  That has always been the plan.  I have to find a way to make it work for the both of us.

I’ve decided our only solution is to develop a rhythm.  I’m horrible with being spontaneous.  I awake each morning with a list of things I want to accomplish and I just go about it as quickly as I can.  No rhythm at all.  No predictability for my girls.  When we lived in Louisville, we attended a Waldorf Parent/Child Program where developing a domestic rhythm was emphasized.  The Waldorf inspiration is something of the city that I miss, and the community of mothers it created.  Our neck of the woods would benefit so much from that kind of influence.  I would still benefit from it.

The goal of the rest of the week is to plan a rhythm that is open-ended.  I want to keep all of our needs in mind.  I want our goals to be met.  Mine, my husband’s, and my girls’.  I don’t even know if it can be done, but I have to try.  It is my hope to redeem myself and my relationship with my girls.  I want to feel that my days are meaningful and not one running into the next with building frustrations.  I want to enjoy mothering.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about my developing rhythm and whether it is working for me or not.  I’m also going to be posting about working with our food budget and what that will entail as I know we are not the only ones dealing with the economic downturn.  I’m going to add a recipes page that you will find linked at the top of the main blog page where I will add recipes and other food ideas.  If all works well, I hope to post more about the progression of my writing as a career.  Today, I will be attending Evening with Poets and tomorrow workshopping with the state’s poet laureate Gurney Norman!

I have also decided to post my new blogs at night as one of my final activities of the day.  You can look for the new ones then… or the next morning. 🙂  Click by on May 2nd to find out who won the pink wool soaker by AngelLuvz.

Today’s post should have been about the beautiful Spring blooms all over the mountains around our house.  There are so many and they are unique.  I’ve really wanted to share them with others.  But, my camera is out of batteries, 2 out of 3 vehicles we have are not running, and John left for Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina in our only running vehicle yesterday.  No going out for batteries for me.  Instead, we are staying with my mother, and I am posting a blog of laments.

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary says “lament” as a transitive verb means to regret strongly.  I regret strongly – very strongly – that all of my broccoli and tomato seedlings have perished.  They got too big for my little Jiffy greenhouse and peat pots and when I moved them to plastic egg cartons and free air, they wilted and died.  Apparently, vegetable seedlings are more dainty than flowers.  I’ve planted and grew flowers every year of my mature life with great success.  This is my first time vegetable gardening on my own.  With such a rainy Spring, the ground is too wet to direct seed.  The dirt clumps.  I am beginning to think that our first attempt at a large garden to feed our family might be more of a learning experience than an experience that ends in an abundance of food.

I also believe that my cloth diapering days have come to an end in great sadness.  Yes, I’m saying this the day after Earth Day.  I regret it strongly.  After moving off grid, I have been battling ammonia stinks in my diapers.  I have boiled, boiled, and boiled them.  I have stripped, stripped, and stripped them.  I have tried countless detergents.  I have used baking soda and vinegar together and separately.  I have done multiple rinses.  Multiple hot rinses.  Switched from a pail to a wet bag and back to a pail.  The culprit is our hot water heater combined with untreated well water.  Our hot water heater is old and doesn’t get very hot without shutting itself off.  It does fine for most things like dishwashing and bathing, so we can’t justify purchasing another one just yet.  Our water is tainted with sulfur and/or iron and comes from an untreated well.  I have come to the conclusion that it will be impossible for me to rid us of the stinkies.  I have decided to boil my diapers once more and send my stash of them to a friend due soon.  I suppose I’ll be ordering 7th Generation Diapers from www.diapers.com.  I’ll be doing this despite the fact that UPS doesn’t acknowledge that our address exists, and I’ll have to have them sent to my mother’s house.  It has come to the choice of using bacteria laden diapers on my Ivy, or disposables.  It breaks my heart.  I truly enjoy using cloth.

Ivy’s first birthday is in 5 days.  I will no longer and never again be the mother of an infant.  In a way, I too, regret that strongly.  I so loved being pregnant and anticipating birth.  I so wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and a homebirth.  I relished holding a newborn.  Nursing an infant is heavenly.  Watching a baby grow from inside your womb to the outside is like watching a miracle.  Now, my baby runs.  My first born sings her ABCs and plays outside all by herself.  Soon, they will have their own pursuits independent of needing me.

Next week will be joyful.  John will be home again.  We will celebrate Ivy’s birthday.  I will get to see my writing in print as I am being published in the upcoming issue of Kudzu Magazine.  I won the 2009 Gurney Norman Prize for Short Fiction to my ultimate delight.  Gurney Norman is a writing hero of mine, and I think his short story “Fat Monroe” is one of the best ever written.  I will get to attend Evening With Poets, and get to workshop with Gurney Norman the next day.  After a week of lamenting, I am looking forward to what is ahead.

If two people got into a fight, who would win?  One person is very spiritual.  They study their theology and philosophy, feel comfortable and sure in their beliefs.  They are at peace with their existence.  One person is very physical.  They train their body and have achieved the best physical condition they can.  They are very sure of their physical capabilities.  The two prepare to face off and the bets are being placed.  Who will win?

The answer isn’t as easy as you would think.  The obvious answer is the person who is most physically strong.  We take it for granted that strength comes from physical ability.  But, the answer would be the one who was well fed.  The winner would be the one who could outlast the other.  The one who was more sure of the end and confident in his/her winning.  The one who is filled and fulfilled, not lacking in any area he/she longs for.

We see this scenario play out in many stories, legends, and slices of life.  Take for instance David and Goliath.  David knew he had the living God on his side.  With God for him, who could stand against him.  Another example is Jack and the Giant he faces in many Jack Tales.  He always outsmarts the giant who could out do him physically.  Then, from life we see this reality so often in childbirth.  A prepared and supported woman can birth successfully without pain medication in any environment she chooses barring any medically necessary procedure.  Those unprepared will almost always fail and fall prey to medical intervention.  That is a physical and mental preparation.  Aside from birth we see it in death.  Those who die “well”.  Those living with terminal illnesses and achieving more than any well person we know.

Our approach to life should not be one sided.  We should approach life holistically to achieve the best life possible.  Motherhood/Parenting should be approached the same way.  If we are not fed as the parent in our personal lives, how can we ever hope to feed and nurture our children.  In thinking about the fight, I believe it would be a toss up.  The spiritual person could be full spiritually, but weak physically because he/she has neglected to care for the vessel they were given for earthly dwelling.  The physical person could have all the strength in the world, but without spirituality will fail because they lack mental peace.  I believe as well that spirituality and physicality would look different for each of us and is dependent upon our situations.

At this moment in my life, I’m fed well physically and am fairly strong there.  Spiritually I’m lacking.  I find stress eating at me.  It in turn makes me weak physically.  In my mothering it reveals itself as impatience.  It leaves me seeking.  Without God’s (my spiritual anchor) help, I will sink and drown.  I can’t do it alone for I am only human.  I’ve been reminded of that recently.  As an Appalachian woman, it is ingrained in us to be strong and not complain when we feel weak.  We are to push through it without a fuss even if it kills us.  The duality of this quality is one that brings us great courage and a capacity to do for ourselves, but also can be detrimental to our spirit, because it can leave us feeling alone and reluctant to ask for communal help get things accomplished.

I’m hoping as mothers and parents we can remind each other that wellness is a holistic endeavor.  Our physical strength is nothing without spiritual backing and vice versa.

-Thanks to Pastor Ruby Couch for getting me thinking on that one.  It was a much needed thought.

1st flowers on the creek

1st flowers on the creek

Monday is Deladis’s procedures.  The Lord willing I’ll be back to writing and mothering two healthy little girls by Tuesday.  All who do that sort of thing, send prayer and good thoughts the way of my little one.  We’ll greatly appreciate it.  Until then, these flowers will be my words.

There are those moments in motherhood when you feel like you are standing in the middle of the river, the water is just over your head and you have to stand on your tip-toes to get air.  Not only that, but the water is running swiftly and the ground below you is soft and slick.  It is a constant struggle not to panic.  Not to lose it.

I’ve felt that way the last weeks and yesterday topped it off.  I had been thinking of Ro’s comment.  “Mommy, you’re talking nice to me.”  I’ve felt broken by that and have tried so hard to check myself and my level of stress.  Patience is my weakest area.  Young children need more patience than I’m used to giving.  That is why when I taught for four years and got my Master’s Degree I chose middle school.  There is more opportunity to talk things out at that age.

So, yesterday I decided to take Ro to the library as a treat and a break from the monotony of our recent day to day routine.  I prepare to load the girls up, and my man asks me to pick up our taxes and take them to the insurance office to make copies.  It was on my way, and eventhough I find it difficult to do multiple activities with both girls at this stage, I agree as it is on my way.  I get the girls in the truck, cross the creek, stop at the post office, get to the library and get Ro and I some awesome books.  This all goes smoothly.

Then, we struggle to get back to the truck at the far end of the parking lot with our full hands.  I set Ro’s books on top of the truck and put mine in the floorboard.  I set Plo in her carseat and she immediately begins to scream like a wild banshee.  I quickly get her strapped in and the seat buckled down.  I turn around to get Ro in the truck and she is gone.  I look out across the field next to the library and she has ran to the other end about a football field’s length away and is still running.  My heart starts racing.  I think about how we have to hurry to get back in time to cook my husband’s dinner before he has to go teach.  I yell for her to come back.  I’m upset, but I get her in the truck and take off toward the CPA’s office.

Now, can you guess what I forgot to do?  I left Ro’s books on top of the truck.  I didn’t realize this myself until I’m waiting in the CPA’s office.  By this time not only is my heart racing, but so is my mind, and I’m starting to get a headache.  I get the taxes, take them to the insurance office where the lady asks me about my man’s business being separate entities and having two Schedule Cs.  I’m thinking, it’s not my business, I didn’t do the taxes, and I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about because it’s numbers.  I do words, not numbers.

We get it straightened out only after I notice Ro has taken a pencil and marked all over the lady’s paperwork in her inbox tray.  This while Plo has started crying again.  I load the girls back up and get on the road driving slowly, looking for the books.  I make it back to the library without finding them.  I get the girls back out, go in, and ask the librarian.  She says, “Aren’t they in the parking lot?  Stranger things have happened?”  The books weren’t in the parking lot.  The girls and I set out on foot next to the busy two lane road.  We find one of the books, but I got totally uncomfortable walking the roadside with no curb and gave up finding the other two on foot.  I look again in the truck and don’t see them.  I resign myself to the fact that I may no longer be allowed to check books out after I turn this set in, and drive home.  I turn over and over in my head the fact that I’ve likely wasted money as well.  I’m thinking all this while Ro has started crying for crackers and honey.

I get home and my head is throbbing.  I’ve grouched at Ro.  I’ve stressed myself completely out and I’m on the verge of tears.  Something that I expected to be a fun trip with my girls turned into a trip in a house of mirrors.  I’m not giving my girls a good example of how to handle bad days.  I’m resorting too much to quarreling.  All around, I’m not handling things that go outside of my comfort zone well.  I want to do better.  I want to be able to take things in stride.  To realize that everything I want to get done, won’t get done, and that’s okay.  At some point the girls will be bigger and things will get done.  I’ll, then, be wondering where my babies went.

I want to be able to teach Ro about her misbehaviors instead of just grouching at her.  I’m not sure how to do this when I can’t even stop  my reactions long enough to count to ten.  How do you explain much to a three year old anyway?  Today, is going better.  At church some verses were given to us.  Matthew 6:32-33 “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”  Is that where I’m going wrong?  Are my priorities out of line and it is creating unnecessary stress?

I’m in the river, fighting the current, and thinking of the hymn.  On Christ the solid rock I stand… all other ground is sinking sand… all other ground is sinking sand.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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