On summer, motherhood, dreams, and being seen.

I wrote this post several months ago, but failed to publish it. So much has changed in our life since last summer, but still, this holds a part of my story and heart and as I read this post it seemed as if I was transported back to the space where I felt these thoughts deep enough to actually write them down.


 

 

There is a leaning, a gentle swaying and arch of my body and emotions that happens when I just stop.

Stop my whining and dragging of feet and annoyance and let my step become lighter and open my eyes wider so light and love can enter.

When I see my children clearly for who they are and the needs they have and stop rushing and criticizing and reminding them of their shortcomings.

There is always so much.  So much I want to accomplish and balance. So much attention I need to give. And in the “so much” I miss out on being available.

Available to sit and snuggle and make space to listen to their hopes, dreams, desires, interests; to feel their body against mine and allow our rhythms to align.

The summer goes by without rhythm. We wake up, eat breakfast, and mostly have no plans for the day. Maybe we will go to the beach or a park, or just stay home and sit in underwear all day. We just see. I have stopped being a homeschooler who tricks my kids into home schooling in the summer.  We read books, but no intentional science experiments or “strewing” has taken place. We aren’t practicing our alphabet or letter sounds. We are being bored and finding things to do or people to engage with (or poke). An endless vacation.

Some days it makes me feel like I am accomplishing nothing in all this nothingness.

Laundry may be caught up and the kitchen clean by the end of the day, but in all of the housework and cooking and cleaning and taking care of the baby and mopping up water and dirt tracked in from happy sprinkler feet, it is never finished and I rarely get to the deeper things I ache to do.

Music has lost its presence and I as I type this I feel a physical ache in my heart. Piano is a balm for my soul. When I sit and play, I instantly feel a melting inside, like broken jagged bits softening and solidifying together again.  I am whole.

Music shakes my insides like nothing else can and loosens things in me. Playing guitar and singing with all my being reconciles worlds to me.  This has been my lifetime therapy. And I miss it. It is something I do alone, mostly.  I sing strong when no one is listening to me.

Because when no one is listening or looking I am free to express myself however I choose. No criticism. No applause. No attention. I am a wildflower, able to bloom whatever way I am meant to and not hide my brilliance or dullness out of obligation.

It is harder when there is an audience, an expectation. I go rigid. I feel like I don’t belong here. Like I am not good enough to be in front of anyone doing anything. I feel this way about everything.

Sharing my words? Not good enough. Sharing my art? My photographs and videos and songs and creations? Who cares?

I share it, anyway, because I believe in doing things that scare and stretch me.

But then, anxiety. Why does it matter?  Why does it stop me?  Why do I worry about the attention? I become overwhelmed and step back from it all and lean into silence again. Lean into my own world.  I devote myself to making kombucha and not eating sugar and keeping the floors cleaned. I find contentment in simplicity. Which is good, but it is also an excuse.

An excuse to keep from being seen.

Some people know this about me, but I occasionally worked as a fine art model for a couple of years. And I was seen by the eyes of artists. They all interpreted my body differently and it was fascinating to see the variance in shape and size and angles and curves.

When you put yourself out there and allow your heart to be seen, everyone will see it differently. You can never be everything to everyone and you will always be too much or too little to someone.

But for now, I am wading through the simplicity and the tasks summer presents for mothers of young children. I am keeping my longings and plans tucked neatly against my chest as a secret. My mind is never at rest and all day I compile and organize lists and dreams.

The song, Dream by Patricia Ahn has been resonating with me and makes me burst with the desire to dream like a child again and think things are more possible than my grown-up mind would like to believe.

How I hope my children will always believe in their dreams. How I hope I will lean into my own and have the strength and confidence to be me.

 

 

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Motherhood: Striking a Balance

oregonmem024.jpgFinding the center. Give and take. Sow and reap. Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. Striking balance.

Easy to think about, but more difficult to execute.

“If I just eat a little less…move my body a little more…”

“If I spend a little less time doing this…I’ll have more time to do that…”

“If I can just be a little less [fill in the blank].”

There is always something that I can do a little more or a little less.  There is always a place where growth can happen.

It takes noticing.

Something has to catch my attention for me to see that I need to start working on that part of me. We become so accustomed to the way things are, the way we are. We even say it to ourselves and others (or about others), “that’s just the way I am”. It is easier to shield our eyes and not look. It takes courage to turn and face the things that feel ugly. It takes even more to decide that there is no ugly too ugly to change, so that we don’t just glance, but rather stare and soften and have compassion toward ourselves and others so growth can happen.

Sometimes it is hard to see change or commit to change, because there are others we have to sacrifice our own “self-improvement” for.

My life right now is motherhood. Three young kids, a small home in a beachside town, a very modest one-income family. And, really, most of the time, I love every bit of it. There is little stress. Summer really feels like a vacation when we stay up late making fires and playing on the beach almost daily and roll out of bed late in the morning, drink coffee and sit around the kitchen table together. What we don’t have in money we make up for in time together. My kids have a pretty incredible childhood home and that makes me happy.

But

there are still the nights where I lay in bed, baby suckling on my milk filled breasts and I dream and list the things I want to do, to change. Projects and trips and desires I don’t dare speak, because maybe if I say them, the dream will die and they won’t happen. So I close my eyes again and save them wrapped up tight in my chest, where my heart is burning with fire and remind myself that this little soft and fleshy version of us – myself and the man I share a bed and family with – won’t always be so little and vulnerable and needy.

And being a mother may be the most important thing I do, because while dreams are meaningful and working with our hands and minds are good for the soul and the world, caring for the humans who will inherit that world should be ranked so much higher on the list of “valuable things to do with your life”than it is.

So, for now, I sacrifice a little for something I know will pass by quickly, and really, I believe I’ll be better for it – not missing out on something.  My husband shared a piece he was reading the other day, and I don’t remember anything about it other than the words, “having kids may be more for our formation than their own.”

These years are precious, because I won’t be who I am going to become one day without them, and the more I lean into it and try to live a graceful life, the more we will all benefit. Motherhood begins to feel less like a sacrifice and more like an investment, where I am choosing each day and moment how much I am willing to give.

-b.e.

 

 

 

words again

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This past season has not been one of words.

I have had thoughts and questions and deep feelings of dissonance, but no words to describe or make sense of any of it.

I have witnessed events and taken pictures and seen with eyes, but haven’t been able to expound on what they mean to me verbally.

In a dark bedroom, as I lay exhausted after another day of sameness – wake up tired still, make breakfast, clean breakfast, occupy children, clean house, work out, pick up from school, get through the afternoon, make dinner, read books, send littles to bed, finally collapse with a cup of tea – my husband commented that lately, we have given up our hopes and dreams and traded them in for just going through the motions of a normal life.  We have settled, just like “everyone else”.  I thought this is what I always wanted – continuity, sameness, being grounded.

The good is I love experiencing community and being dedicated to the place I live, but there is always the feeling that there must be something more – I am not truly engaged.

And it is numbing.

I used to believe that I was “meant for something big”, that this was some sort of life calling that I would champion something and make a difference.  How many people from my generation feel that way?  Now I say, “…that is just an illusion I believed, ‘confirmed’ by coincidences and pride.  Now I’m just trying to figure out the simple small thing I can do that makes an impact somewhere.”

Even when numb, I can feel that sting.

It is not that I want to be some big incredible awesome thing, but rather that I want to be working toward something meaningful and who says that it cannot be big or make a big impact, just because it seems prideful or unreasonable or I’m really not that great?  Amazing things that happen aren’t always the result of an amazing person, but rather an ordinary person who has stepped up at the right time around the right people and done something right and beautiful and that contributes to something BIGGER and more AMAZING than themselves.

I long to dream again and connect all these passions and concerns that feel disjointed and like they have been a little snuffed out.

As things settle – finals over, holiday projects done with, time slowing down again – I am feeling the urge to think and write and actually wrestle in a more productive way over these things close to my chest, in a way that brings about a more concrete resolution – even if I don’t come to a complete answer

I just want to dream again.

– b.e.

dreams

When was the last time you had something to dream deeply about?

Where your heart burns with excitement as you think about the possibilities and re-imagine your life in a way you never thought could truly be a reality?

Even simple dreams.

Maybe just a small shift of perspective in your life.

One habit to replace.

Or a new found passion to embrace.

Last summer, I began to devour books on simplicity, nutrition and homesteading.  All at once it seemed as if I could not get enough and was overwhelmed with all that I did not know (and thought I knew).  As I began to picture our family adopting a similar lifestyle, I had a dream and began to make plans and changes based upon it.  Then came a time where I didn’t completely lose interest, but I needed a break from the information.  A time for it to seep into who we are and see how it manifests in our lives.  A winter in which I could lay dormant until spring.  The passion may have come back from time to time, but mostly, I did things out of newly formed routines, and even with some things I went back to old habits, because the drive I once had was not there as fully as before.

My dream was still there, but I was no longer dreaming about it.

It had faded as real life settled in around me.

It seems that often our dreams tend to fade away with time.  As we grow, our pursuits and desires change; circumstances in life may be different.

How many of us grow up to be who we dream of as a young child?

And what happens when a dream hinges upon someone who is no longer there for one reason or another?

We may mourn the loss of that dream, and I believe it is good to do so.  Because the maybes and could-have-been’s will weigh us down so heavily that we may never be able to get up to see past them.

But then what?

If our dreams may never happen, does that mean we should no longer dream?

Some times the very dreams we think will never happen are just lingering in the background, waiting for us to be ready to pursue them.  And just maybe we actually have been pursuing them all the while, because the very reason we dream of them is that they are so intricately a part of who we are.

Very recently, my husband inspired me toward an old dream that had only ever seemed like maybe it could  perhaps happen, but much later on in life.  One of those, “Oh that would be amazing, but I could never do it” type of dreams.

Some times I would trick myself into believing it could be a part of who I am, so I would allow myself to learn more and feel passionate about it to an extent, but always left it at a very far off and safe place in the distance.

It has had a long winter to seep deep within my being.

And I can now see how it fits in with who we are becoming.  It is one of those possibilities that makes you feel alive and full when you think about it.  Something that now I think, “Why couldn’t I do it?  What is stopping me?” and suddenly the hard work and time that I will have to put into it seems feasible, because maybe this is who I am and the dream has not fully faded.

It could “come to nothing”, or at least, not what I am hoping for at the moment.

But.

I feel warmth.  Spring is coming.  And I am dreaming again.

How about you?

-b.e.