Bumpy roads

Yesterday we started out our day at home, like usual, but things didn’t go as planned. Against my better judgement, my teen had been out late three nights in a row, which meant he was exhausted. This led to an atypical morning and I accepted that he likely wouldn’t be getting any school work done before we had to run off to play practice at 11:30. When the time came to leave, I’d finished my first grader’s work but not yet main lesson for my fourth grader. I saw it was a gorgeous sunny day, so we packed up our things and took to the park.

We are in the middle of a Norse mythology block. Yesterday we discussed Loki’s story and painted from it.

This morning I managed to quietly get out of bed before the toddler and had the house to myself while I did a quick tabata. I took the trash out to the curb and got to see the full moon and the sunrise.

When I woke at 4 am this morning, I woke with a sudden word in my head: control. This is the problem for my teen. He feels like I’m trying to control him. We’ve been having huge struggles with him lately. I mean, to keep it in context, I know it isn’t that bad. He still wakes up every morning and comes to me for a hug; he’s not drinking or doing drugs; he’s not sneaking out at night, etc. But we’ve been having big struggles with finding balance between freedom and responsibility. He’s such a different person that I am, that I find it leads me to loose my patience with him and fall into old habits of exerting control, which in turn just make him buck more wildly.

So, back to this word that came to me. I realized suddenly that I need to stop trying to exert my force on him, because when he feels like he isn’t in control of his own life, it just makes things worse.

Parenting pushes and stretches me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I know people think I have it all together but I mess up so often. I suppose that’s all we can do. Mess up, dust off, make amends and go forward.

Enduring

Sometimes the path is hard. It feels hard to put one foot in front of the other. The bushes along the path scratch up your arms and legs. You stumble and trip on the rocks on the path. You fall down and cry. You sit in the middle of the path, sobbing.

You also know that you must go on. You know that the path won’t always be so difficult and you must put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, even if you don’t progress for a while because you keep backtracking to see what exactly led you to this hard path. In the end, you’ll get there.

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My planning is done. Everything is tidy. Our first day of school begins today. Grades 1, 4, and 10.

Last night was very hard. Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart. My first reaction is to cancel today and feel angry and sad about my plans being derailed. But I know my other children would be so upset to not begin, they are so looking forward to today. And I don’t want to wear the martyr hat. So, I remember I’m the captain of the boat and I put one foot in front of the other and navigate into unknown territory. I let go of expectations and just jump in and see where it goes.

I’m sure tonight I’ll post plenty of pretty pictures that will make some out there feel less-than or jealous that I have it all together. This is why I’m sharing this blog post. I think sharing our struggles, the truth behind the pretty pictures, is a gift to others. We are all human. We all have our struggles and fall down on our face sometimes. It’s easy to pretend it’s all roses with the internet. But the truth is: life is hard sometimes. Parenting is hard sometimes. Mothering can sometimes makes you feel like your heart has been ripped out. We must endure and push forward. Feel it all, give ourselves a hug and keep putting our feet down for the next step. That’s all there is to do.

Winter Solstice

The darkest day of the year has passed. This turning of the wheel is such a special time. It feels so different than the summer solstice. Each year that we celebrate, it feels calmer and more reverent.

We made sun bread to start the day.

We also made pizza, which I like to make on the solstice as it is big and round like the sun.

As the sun began setting, we went outside to build a fire. We kept it burning while we ate dinner (inside, as it’s very cold out!). We then headed out to burn our Yule log after dinner.

Every year, we get a log of wood and wind cotton string all around it. We then sit and discuss what intentions we want for ourselves in the new year and we write it on small bits of paper. These papers get tucked into the string and the log then gets placed into the fire. Last night, the moon was very full and the sky was clear. It was a perfect night for a solstice fire!

Tonight was our spiral walk with our co-op. There was rain forecasted, so we set it up inside. It was lovely!

And so, winter is here again!

A time of reflection

I haven’t blogged in nearly two months. It has been a time of adjustment and reflection. There have been some bumpy days (weeks?) and I’ve had to do lots of inner work and refining my own habits to find a sweet spot again. I’m getting there.

I’ve joked half seriously that I should start a blog called ‘Things My Kids Tell Me’. Not with the purpose of complaining or making jokes, but so that other moms out there don’t feel alone in their struggles. It can feel so isolating and depressing to think to yourself that the (unkind) things your child says couldn’t possibly be said by other kids, because no one you know has ever shared such things. I mean, we don’t really talk about it. Social media is full of the edited happy moments and lots of happy faces. But that’s not real life. And no matter how amazing you are as a mother, it is no insurance against your child saying hurtful things to you. Because what comes out of their mouth is a reflection about what is going on within them. I’ve found again and again how powerful it is to speak up and share with friends what happens within my house. It is sure scary to be vulnerable in that way, but I’ve found again and again that it not only is healing and helpful for me to share but that other mothers then feel less alone. Mothers then open up to me about the things that go on in their homes and how they’ve struggled. Our culture doesn’t do vulnerability very well. So, it takes intention and practice.

In our house, we’ve been in the thick of the 9 year change. I think we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that light is still a far way off yet, truth be told. I’m remembering how absolutely vital the inner work piece is and how making time for mediation and mindfulness and fun are is not optional. It is necessity. I’m reminded again and again that the only thing I can be in control of is how I react. So, I’m in charge of me, and that’s my main job as a parent.

I have taken some photos here and there of our homeschooling and life. Things are moving along nicely and we are settling into a workable rhythm. Lots of grace is given, daily. Grace, flexibility and self-compassion. Those are my tools lately.

What a summer

I always have this idea that summer will be a time to laze around and watch the flowers grow. And I know I’ve had summer like that in the recent past, but I think as my children get bigger, our summers get busier.

Don’t take me wrong. We have plenty of empty days with nothing planned, but for an introvert like me, the down days aren’t nearly enough lately in the summertime. I know that part of the busyness stems from chasing after a baby right now. He keeps our days very busy. But for the past month we’ve had so many happenings.

First, we went to the coast for a few nights to celebrate my second son turning nine. It was a lovely trip and really filled us up.

Four days after we got home from that trip, we left for 5 days at fiddle camp. This was our third year in a row attending and my kids loved every second of it. It was great. I was thoroughly exhausted when i got home and it took a good 3 days to feel back to normal. Camping with a mobile baby as a solo parent is no walk in the park! I’m so glad we went, though.

We had a full week to recover from fiddle camp before it was time to pack up and head out for the day for a fiddle contest about an hour away. Third year attending it as well. My second son competed and did great. My oldest only brought along his guitar to back up others, and then regretted not bringing his fiddle along and entering. Next year.

The following week brings us to the present. This is fair week. When you are in the 4H program, that makes 5 days of driving back and forth to the county fair, sometimes multiple times. Thank goodness for carpooling. The animals must be cared for and checked each morning before 8, so we head out by 7am. Today my oldest was at the fair for nearly 14 hours! It’s exhausting but fun. I’m sorely looking forward to the rest of August being a bit empty. But then again, I just received an invite from a fiddling family to attend a kids fiddle camp out at the end of the month. Three hours away. I think it’s a testament to my love of the music and watching my kids play that I’m seriously considering attending.

Our day in pictures

(This isn’t our cat but we saw him on our walk, and he is blind. I had to take a picture of him enjoying the sun.)

Of course, there was much much more to our day. Lots of meals and talking and fighting and crying and dishes and playing and laughing. Life is never dull.

What a WEEK

I think I’m feeling the rumblings of summer and the changing of the seasons. I am ready for a BREAK. Ideally, I’d just press pause and take a long out breath. But, life keeps moving.

Every day, I’ve felt like my feet have hit the ground running, from the time I’ve woken up.

We had to bury a hummingbird that flew into our window and broke its neck. (On Mother’s Day, no less).

My glasses broke. I have a backup pair until my new ones arrive. I was ready for something new, anyhow.

My baby has decided that 5:30 am is the best time to wake up and greet the new day. We’ve even had two days this week when he’s woken in the middle of the night to start happily babbling and talking.

I’m wrapping up 2nd grade. We have one more week of lessons for him. And I’m really digging into planning our next year.

On days like these, when I feel like the tasks ahead of me are never ending and overwhelming, I remember a saying from the Tao Te Ching that I learned about from Dr Wayne Dyer. (I was lucky enough to get to attend his talk in person just months before he passed on from this life.)

I’m paraphrasing here: “I do nothing and nothing goes undone.”

This brings me a calm that I can’t even describe. For me, that means I don’t sit and DO nothing, literally. But that I am being swept along this river of life and everything that needs doing will be done, I need only to do what my task at hand is, in this moment.