Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Since you asked...


Well, you didn't ask, but another mama (with one boy, about 5) asked me the other day how I can possibly stay so calm and deal with all the things that come up in this life of ours with kids. With four children, and being a bit older than some, I guess I'm sometimes seen as some kind of expert, and since I'm not running around screaming and my kids are generally well-behaved and reasonably clean (guess they don't look close up).

My "snap" response is always "you should see my friend with 8 kids", which sounds snarky, but I do mean it with all my heart. How could four possibly be any kind of burden when there are mamas with 7 or 9 or 13 or more? Everybody's response to that one, by the way, is a little sad: "well, when you have that many, they're basically raising each other."

I hate that line, by the way. If it happens that the older kids are able to nurture the younger ones and sometimes care for them independently, well, where do you think they learned those nurturing skills? And just because those older kids spend part of their time caring for others doesn't mean they are not cared for - and cared about! - themselves. It's only in this breathtakingly indulgent era that we assume children need full-time coddling 'till the age of 18. Everybody is shocked if children have to do anything that acknowledges that the universe doesn't revolve around them. But in those families of 7 or 9 or 13, it is simply undeniable fact.

OK, end of rant.
But, since I'd hate to leave you, my theoretical audience, hanging, you may wonder what I told this mama beyond that?

I didn't. I shrugged and said I had no clue. But that seemed very unsatisfying, and glib, so I actually gave it some thought.
All I could come up with, eventually, is that I'm older now and more patient than I used to be.
I don't mind sitting down from time to time - I could never breastfeed the first two because I had to be up & running around constantly, could never slow down, even for a second.

Now, as a committed stay-home mom, whatever that means, I guess "sitting down" is basically my full-time job description. There are a few other things I have to do (oh, like dishes, laundry, whatever) to get to the sitting-down part of the job. But basically, if I sit down with the kids, listen to the kids, I am doing the job. There is nothing else I need to (or should be) doing at that particular moment.

That realization is not one I'm always comfortable with. I shouted at Ted last night because I feel trapped within a 10-foot radius of the dining room table 24 hours a day. OK, I called it "house arrest" - ugh. Because I'd been standing basically within 10 feet of the table since I woke up that morning: serving meals, taking care of kids, playing with kids, oy. Sitting down.

For sure, it makes me uneasy all the time. But when I'm with the kids, I try to BE with the kids. Not in any weird ZEN way, just in the dumb common-sense way that you can only be a teacher by, well, teaching.

So basically I told her, get older and you get better at parenting. What a lame answer, yes? But that's all I could plumb from the depths of my lame lame sleepy brain at the moment. And somehow, it also does feel a bit true.

Yet another Tuesday has gone by without going to the Riverdale Farmer's Market. Yet another day has gone by without seeing the cow-milking at Riverdale, too. What a day.

Now I'm worried about Judy. She hasn't called and Sara says she left here abruptly at 10:45. Her car hasn't been home yet either, that I can tell. I left her 2 messages... where could she have vanished to after leaving here so hurriedly? Why didn't the kids go to Mrs ViKi today? Maybe I'll find out tomorrow. I worry about every single thing these days.

Here are the SFG's!

Garden bed #1 - somewhat blighted and nitrogen-deficient... I will kelp-tea spray it tomorrow.




Garden bed #2 - leaf miner damage and all, still lovely and growing strong! (well, marginally better than last year, anyway)


<3 J
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