You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Motherhood’ category.

Fourth day home with sick kid, who—although she is grouchy and has mood swings—is mostly fun to be with. Unless I’m exhausted, then life is bubbling lava. But this morning she’s up for anything pretty much, and it’s warm enough to bundle up and go to the playground. I know because I’m bundled up and sitting outside while she watches Tumble Leaf inside on the couch.

I would have to expend a lot of calories and brain waves to get her out here with me, since she’s still in pajamas and god knows where her shoes or socks are, plus she likes TV. But I have days (like this one) where I can’t stay inside another minute. And if I have to let her watch TV while I spend a vast, bigger-on-the-inside 20 minutes alone outside, then, that’s awesome. I set that up like I was making some kind of sacrifice, ha. The chill I love; the bright, thin, winter morning sun I love; the absurdly long shadows cast by grass and brown, curled-up leaves, even at noon, I love; the songbirds who seem to feel no cold, no worry, no shame, no inhibition I love; the breaths of wind that stir the tips of the grass I love; the bareness of everything I love, I love, I love.

Lately it feels like I’ll be overcome by growth, by long long summers of fruit and greengrowth and weeds taller than me, taller than anyone. There’s no time to do anything but what must necessarily be done; what is necessary but can’t be gotten to must fall by the wayside and we grieve little losses. What we could have accomplished, but what we have no time for. I’m already 32. My days are so long, working and then picking up the toddler and cleaning messes and feeding everyone and thinking longingly of the eternities I spent outside when I was in college, walking (because no car, because new city, because I knew no one, because I was strong and my curiosity was fields & fields wide). I walked miles everyday, I walked from little city to little city, and thought about every house I passed, every ditch. They all glittered. Time was overabundant, and I swam in it.

How to make a hollow in my family life, without using too much TV, so I can walk away into a well of time? I can’t write, it seems, unless there is a closed door between me and the people who need me…or the people I feel I need to be hanging over with all my brooms and snacks and consolations.

So many growing & fruiting things in my life right now. Too many? But I still feel scarcity.  Probably because I consume, but don’t create. That makes me feel shrunk & shriveled. I think parenthood must just be like this. I think this must be why so many mothers I have known have abandoned extra-familial pursuits in favor of children/family life being their Big Offering to the World. At least for a decade.

Eavan Boland wrote at her desk at home while her children played in the next room. HOW? She’s still alive…I can ask her.

Advertisements
  1. First I have to mention that Roy Moore lost his senate race. I don’t know anything about him, except that he didn’t even go to the trouble to deny all the allegations, that the allegations appear founded on some sort of really problematic issues, and that Republicans who believe that “abortion” is the only reason to vote for or against anyone would have had to turn off the same large parts of their brains to vote for him that they turned off to vote for Trump. And Moore still lost. A tiny win for decency that may turn out to be the beginning of the end for Trump—one can only hope. And I do!! I am feeling hope this morning, after having prepared myself for him to win.
  2. Roughly 97% of black female Alabama voters voted for Doug Jones, and as they made up 18% of the voter turnout, they basically pushed Moore out of office. Black women of Alabama, you turned up, and turned a douchebag out. Get it.
  3. If you’re still reading, welcome to the real beginning of my list. I started this list because—after repeated attempts and failures to go to bed early and then get up early, Marshall and I have decided to MAKE IT HAPPEN. And the only way to make it happen is to go the fuck to bed at night! No more of this watching-New-Girl-and-eating-popcorn till 11:00 and then getting in bed at 11:30 and deciding we feel sexy. This is crazy, and terrible, and—most importantly—over. Last night we got in bed to read our books at 9:30, read till 10:30, and then went to sleep. OK???? Ok. So of course I woke up this morning at 6:00 or 6:30, not sure which, got up, and then Mary got up earlier than usual.
  4. That last sentence—now, this is the REASON I have thrown in the towel on getting up early several times. Somehow……she knows. And as every parent knows, if a kid knows you’re trying to have solitude, s/he will find it personally offensive, file long complaints, win. This morning, instead of trying to read and meditate/pray, I just pulled out my seed catalogs and laptop so I could tippity-type away, regardless of whether she was up stomping around. I’ll get back into the truly solitary morning pursuits……when I figure out how to. For now, seeds!
  5. In the perennial herb garden, I’ll replace calendula (annual) with existing perennial herbs, spacing out the thyme, sage, echinacea, yarrow, and comfrey that got bunched up this year. Calendula will get more space, but in the main (annual) garden. Those flowers are gold.
  6. I want spring and fall beets next year, and a red or orange Swiss chard. Was bamboozled by Care of the Earth’s orange chard this season—and it’s slow-growing enough that I’ll be able to eat it AND the greens we get with our CSA box. And if not, then it’s ornamental! Ha. All plants in the “goosefoot” family I tried to grow last year were eaten by rabbits. So, fence.
  7. Want to nix Greek Sweet Red winter squash (unless it turns out to be amazing, haven’t tried it yet) and add a bumpy Asian moschata winter squash, like Yokohama, Kogigu, or Futsu Kurokawa. The photo in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog of this last one is definitely rusty-tan, but the description calls it both “dusty green” and “almost black”—? Mostly I want a bumpy, old squash next year with non-tan skin. Tan is great and all. But.
  8. This year’s sweet and hot peppers were so successful that I want to expand—I’d love a long red hot pepper for drying, a thick-walled oxheart red pepper for roasting, and more Wenk’s Yellow Hots for pickling. Roasted red peppers is one of my culinary epiphanies from 2017. And grocery store “red bell peppers” paled—PALED—in comparison with my California Wonders.
  9. For Mary: I grew a garden for myself this year, which was wonderful. Next year, though, I want to grow stuff Mary can eat right out of the garden, and at this point that is: peas and carrots. Yeah, she eats raw carrots now. I know. Amazing. Knock on wood! So I want to try peas (not getting hopes up, since East Tennessee springs have gotten sooooo short and hot), and carrots. I would love to try purple, orange, and Dragon-type carrots. If my soil isn’t any lighter than it was last spring, I’ll add some round/stubby carrots in there too. Also, strawberries?
  10. Onions. This is one of the few vegetables that I buy at the store anymore. Our farmers do the literal best that any southeastern organic (EU organic, specifically, so they don’t even use “organic” pesticides or fungicides) (tooting their horn, here, since I’m about to follow it with a sad face), diversified vegetable farm can do with onions, but I need more. :(  I need onions all year round. Onions are “light/day-sensitive” crops, meaning that they will only “bulb” if they receive a certain number of hours of daylight, and that fact plus our hot springs, hot summers, and hot falls means that not a lot of onions will grow well (organically) here. And the ones that grow ok often don’t store that long. Anyways, I’m going to try to baby some onions in 2018. We’ll see how that goes.
  11. I’m going to *think* about growing arugula, because arugula pesto is the best ever, and I can just make it and freeze it, and in the summer (when it’s too hot for arugula and the basil is dying of downy mildew) I can have tasty pesto pizza, which is my fave. Like, omg.
  12. Tennessee Red Cob dent corn produced so well that I can’t not grow it again, and I’m going to give the rare Cherokee White Eagle purple corn (flour) another try since I set it up for failure this year and want to make it work. Since we eat so much popcorn, I’m gonna try that next year for the first time. This will likely be the only hybrid (organic if I can find one, non-organic if not) I grow, since Marshall likes the big, light, crunchy popcorn, and I can respect that. Heirloom popcorns tend to be flavorful but small, and sometimes a little dense. This is a lot of corn for a small garden. :|
  13. Dry beans: I think my dry bean woes this year were largely due to me not trellising them. Maybe. I’m going to try a cranberry bean again, and Tiger Eye, just to see if I can do those better on a second try. I might add another one in lieu of the Whippoorwill pea I grew this year? Maybe?
  14. Tomatoes: Principe Borghese was a delightful triumph. Have so many oven-dried Principe in the freezer right now, pulling them out for arugula pesto pizzas, etc. Matt’s Wild was a similar success, and I think I could freeze a lot more of them than I did. My paste tomatoes were hit-or-miss, mostly miss. I think fertilization could help, but I’ll probably try different varieties regardless. Striped Roman failed to impress, San Marzano impressed for a brief window, and Opalka for a few brief minutes. Maybe time to give more space to Italian Heirloom or a dense oxheart. As far as slicers/beefsteak, I might try to grow some bright colors, so we can try to re-create Marshall’s favorite heirloom tomato salad from The Plaid Apron.
  15. That’s all I got. Happy Wednesday.
  1. Go ahead and make that thing for dinner, even though everything’s just going to hell-n-a-handbasket regardless of whether good food is made or not. It’s now an hour later, and it smells and looks amazing, and you have been hungry all day without actually *feeling* hungry. What the hell is that.
  2. Since the husband has finally got his sorry ass home, and is wrestling the Terrible Child on the couch, go ahead and do the dishes because this pig sty of a house is ridiculous and a shame to your mother and a blight on the face of America.
  3. Since the dishes are done and the thing is bubbling and smellicious and almost done, go ahead and have the dregs of malbec from the old box of wine in the Liquor Cabinet (now that I have one I’m sure as hell capitalizing it because do you have one? I thought not. *sniff*). Turns out there’s no sediment or sand or gravel or bad flavors. Some things still work in this broken-down excuse for a fancy rich country.
  4. Since you made chicken broth today for the express purpose of making chicken pot pie and it all turned out well, shocker, just turn your gaze upon those quart jars of brown liquid and toasted-herby-marrowish sediment. Good job on that. Ok. That was good.
  5. Since you’re beginning to believe that your life has some goodness to it and that not everything you did today was shite and pointless and swallowed by the vast monster of Thankless Child-Rearing, go a little further. Think about how most writers and artists etc. who were mothers got their work done somehow but at an older age than 31. Don’t think about how most writers are men who either abandon their families or don’t have them.
  6. Since you’re easing onto a park-bench-of-the-mind with a cigarette and watching the kids skate on the iced-over pond, bring yourself back to reality, end the weird thing you’re writing, and eat food.

Title are literally the worst.

So I felt 1. proud that I’ve somehow been able to follow through on this vow to do a Saturday poetry series here, but 2. irritated that now my blog just looks like a string of poims that are not even that good. So here’s some large blocks of text to break up the monotony.

Life continues to be garbage and pretty good at the same time (like always). Since Mary’s due to wake at any moment, this will actually take the form of a list instead of the aforementioned large blocks of text.

  • I’m seeing a therapist, and it feels v. v. excellent. Partly, this guy is clearly just good at what he does, and it’s been productive, considering that I’ve only been twice. But partly, it just feels good to be doing something proactive for my own health. After trying and failing multiple times to help people I love, I’m finally learning that I’m the only one I can truly help, in a real and uncomplicated way. So, let’s get TF on that.
  • Organizing the house and the house’s numerous and complex projects is overwhelming, even though we have slogged and argued through initial first steps, including but not limited to ordering and receiving $3K’s worth of cabinets.
  • It’s fall, and somehow still super hot.
  • The garden is a bright spot: I still have to weigh (and finish harvesting) the winter squash and the dent corn, but it’s gorgeous and exciting. Peppers and cherry tomatoes are still coming in.
  • Mary is still refusing to toilet-train, which is fine with me, because I can afford pull-ups and so far no-one has suggested that I should be getting on it. I mean, I suggest to Mary that she should be getting on it, but so far that has only resulted in her trying to sit on her baby potty *after* she has already pooped in her pull-up and getting poop smeared on stuff. That was ONE GARBAGE DAY. And I probably shamed her and I’m … still trying to deal with that
  • I don’t have anything to say about politics at this time.
  • Back to Mary: I had a few hours of work to make up on Friday and couldn’t find a babysitter, so, she came to work with me. I feel like I’ve joined some ranks. So many ranks to join. So many of them are garbage. However, this day turned out to not be garbage—it was actually really, really fun and wonderful—due to the fact that my bosses are laid-back and I think they really love and care about me. They didn’t mind me bringing my toddler to work, and my co-worker Jessica got pretty excited about it and at one point put Mary in the truck and drove her across a field to go see the chicks. I can’t describe the cuteness of Mary’s tiny red head barely showing at the bottom of the front passenger window as they drove away. (Very safe, if you were wondering. As you were, if you were a mom.) Mary helped pick green beans, and stepped on several bugs as I weighed and bagged greens.
  • Also, Mary has somehow weaseled her way from her bed (napping) to the couch next to papa (watching sportsingball on TV) to my lap with my arms around her as I type on this laptop. Pretty cute man. She likes what she likes. And I do encourage that, no matter how much I vent about it on social media.
  • We went to Kyle Carver Orchards this a.m. so I could get some fall frenzy going on. I wanted a bushel of apples, but Marshall talked me out of it. Possibly he was right. So we just got 1.5 pecks of Arkansas Black, Mountain York, and Carousel, and a pint each of the apple butter and sorghum they make. Yeah I instagrammed it. The fact that I just spent 30 seconds trying to figure out if I should be defensive about that or just straight apologize should remind you that I’m in therapy. But it was a most excellent morning.
  • Pizza for dinner, dough is rising while I daydream about food. God I love food. This should be its own bullet:
  • God I love food. Since I seem to have grown 50-70 lbs of winter squash, I am going to have to get creative about eating it, and these are my thoughts so far: pumpkin streusel crumbcake; pumpkin-ricotta ravioli (huge batch, freeze half) ; enormous vats of butternut soup for dinner party; vegetarian pumpkin chili; pumpkin cheesecake; cauliflower-pumpkin enchiladas; pumpkin layer cake with cardamom-cream cheese icing. AAAAA. I love food so much.

When our daughter was new we slept apart,
he on the couch and I on the bed
with her, bouncing her to sleep on a spring and I
awake again with every chirp and squeak and cry.
Then, god, honestly I don’t want to
remember. But his Meniere’s Disease was progressing
and he had 3 hours of vertigo and vomiting
and loud moaning with his head perfectly still
over the toilet, retching after moaning,
moaning after retching, small times of quiet groaning
but then I could hear the waves ratcheting up again and here
is the retching again and I was pacing the house
with my 2 month old baby. I couldn’t believe
that I, who had driven myself to morning
every day with cozy dreams of helping those I loved,
couldn’t help any of us and the waves broke
over us all over and over. I left him in the bathroom
to breastfeed my daughter and I did not believe
that even milk was coming out of me.
I wished, dry-mouthed, for her
not to starve at my breast.

Megan_SheaShea_Eila
Jessica got photos of Eila Lucia, born on the farm a few weeks ago. Jessica is our super fab intern who is also a great photographer.

CareoftheEarth_Fall_AnnaLaura_beans
And of me tossing some bean pods onto the compost pile.

 

I wait for signs,
as I have always waited for signs, leaning
out of windows
or walking.

As the mystics said, as they did,
waiting for the present moment
to reveal itself, for
the ever-present God.

And so,
I am walking a field of grass,
ironweed, and goldenrod,
a cloud of signs wrapping my head—

great bees and dragonflies,
barn and tree swallows, martins,
the sound of weight
moving through lightness,

my baby heavy in my long body.
She waits for signs, or not;
I wake her one night
with my crying.

She turns in me one morning
like someone drying a glass,
dishtowel stuffed inside
and twisting.

pp2

It’s going to be some real shit for a while, maybe I’ll get good again…we’ll see. I was going to make a comment about “baby steps,” but it just struck me that babies and young kids are the ones taking really huge developmental leaps. We adults tend to regress or barely hold our ground or make progress against headwinds at a rate of two-steps-forward-one-step-back. Small steps, small victories, belong to adults. Kids are whizzing forward. In a sense I can cling to my daughter’s coattails.

After discovering that my sister in Iowa HAS BEEN BLOGGING WITHOUT ME (i.e., resurrecting her blog and posting frequently all of a sudden without telling me—or at least without reminding me often enough), I have decided to quit with all the angst that blogging has become fraught with, for me, over the past year. During which I have received several intense and negative messages about individual posts. It put me off blogging, partly because I barely had time to do it in the first place, but mostly—if I’m honest—and I am—because I’m a people-pleaser and want people to like me and find it difficult when they don’t. But growing up includes finding one’s way and learning not to worry much about other people’s opinions about one’s way. So: I’m beginning. I will blog, like I did in the beginning (my first blog was created while away from friends & fam at college, in 2004): I will blog to relate personal thoughts and events to faraway friends & fam.

Social media makes things feel so complicated—so being off facebook but still blogging feels like a return to a more natural way of communicating. I am still on instagram, because I couldn’t quit social media cold-turkey, but the day may come when I quit it, too. If I do you will certainly read about it here.

A significant thought: being at the brink of the grave, as I am, at 31.75, and with the amount of “free time” that being a working mother has robbed me of, I have been recently reminded that I should make a list of things I want. A friend told me she had written such a list, and proceeded to read me the best and most inspiring list; it had things she wanted out of her career, concrete things she wanted to do, larger-scale things she wanted to own/create, and some desires about her creative life. I was amazed that she could make such a thoughtful list after just giving birth to her first baby only a few weeks before—but of course, it’s not that strange. Becoming a mother, and realizing how stapled-down your actual body is to the ground of the world, is sobering. I wasn’t that emotionally healthy at 2 months out, postpartum: I was reading facebook comments sections.

So she said I should write one for myself. And after thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I finally wrote one. I’ll combine it in some way with this blog’s “short-term goals” and long-term goals” pages, but it’s already 2 minutes past my bedtime, and I haven’t even finished the ice cream that’s melting in a bowl beside me. Here is my list:

  • Publish more poems in litmags (original said “publish poems in litmags” but I had to insert “more” so you will know I’m already famous published writer-type person
  • Write a postpartum essay collection
  • Find a writing group
  • Make my house beautiful
    • Renovate dismal kitchen
    • Figure out confusing curtain situation
    • Area rug for living-room
    • Finish painting house
  • Get/rent a writing studio
  • Establish incredible herb/flower gardens (well on my way tbh)
  • Get comfortable with high-pressure canning
  • Create small seed library for self
  • Create tiny improv quilts that are beautiful
  • Establish home yoga practice and/or take regular classes
  • Get nice croquet set
  • Get nice badminton set (fill in holes in lawn concurrently)
  • Turn out low-key book comments (too lazy to write “reviews” at moment) on the regular
  • Write a kids’ book for Carla to illustrate
  • Build pergola
  • Build tiny greenhouse
  • Get a woodstove
  • Trip to Vienna and/or Scotland
  • Host annual friendsgiving or other fall/winter feast
  • Become independent Mary-Poppins-type woman who don’t need no man, but with heart of gold and committed (unlike Poppins who left family in a cloud)
  • Fix up the shed as a chicken coop
  • Butcher or trade roosters

So that’s what I came up with a while back—would really like to expand on this list and make some additions about spiritual life and marriage and daughter and reading. Will soon.