This is for all the mamas out there farming and doing your best to raise a kid with all the modern expectations of child-rearing layered over the increasing clarity you get from every day pursuing a more simple life. You feel torn because you are torn. And you are not alone. All of your efforts towards finding a place to stand between the world you were given and the one your heart longs to create will amount to something, and with the abundance of God’s grace your kids will learn from you to also find a place to stand in truth and love, straddling the world that is crumbling and, with better skills than you had because you taught them by doing, a place of more solid footing.
This is my proud-mama post. Pregnant with the idea of this farm and Vivian at the same time, I learned to milk a cow with her in my belly. I carried her as an infant everywhere for five months on my chest (it’s like being pregnant for 14 straight months…), until one day I threw the guidebooks and modern caution to the wind and realized that if indigenous peoples carried babies on the backs from birth, I could certainly learn to do it at 5 months.
That’s when I got my chest and arms back and could really work again (but that’s also when she figured out she had her own hands, and grabbed branches and gates and animals everywhere we went). Despite 11 months of being attached to her, I still needed to put her down sometimes, and my mom made it all possible with her devotion to me and to Viv.
Having a baby and birthing a farm: twins!
Having a baby and birthing a farm together was like having twins, and the farm often stole my attention and time because its demands are always immediate and the bedtime stories and meals together often had to wait indefinitely. If I didn’t tend to the newborn lamb, it may die of hypothermia. Bedtime stories are important, but they are also too easily put off. Vivian learned an important lesson early — she’s not the center of the universe. None of us are. That’s one of the core deceptions that modern conveniences allow us to harbor: if I need/want it right now, and I get it right now, if my desires for comfort and ease can be met, I must be really important.
Life in the dirt teaches otherwise. But the historically abnormal practice of putting children in the center of our worlds is pervasive in our culture and I often had deep pain that I somehow wasn’t giving her enough of my attention.
From one working mama to another, if you are feeling that guilt, let it go. It’s going to be okay. You’re giving your kids the gift of observing you do something hard and worth doing, and doing it anyway, even when you don’t feel like it.
Grit meets grit
On her own a couple of months ago, Vivian decided that our 25-yo horse needed more care than she was getting, so she set up a feed room, begged for a way to have a sliding door that she could operate to get Shauna in/out on her own, and set her alarm for 6a every day to go feed her before school. She isn’t a morning person. It’s often cold and wet and unpleasant at that hour. Still, she does it, and again after school, without prompting. Kids see your grit and meet it. Keep going. They are expectantly observing and readying themselves for their own purpose-filled life.