So much time has passed, and so much has happened. In the months since I’ve written, we have taken trips to Mexico, Massachusetts, Seattle, and the Oregon Coast. Seasons have passed, and major parenting hurdles have been cleard. The boys have learned so much, and my role has shifted from being a constant mediator and distractor to a more comfortable one of facilitator and guide – age three was great, but now that they are four, I feel a real groove coming on. Ted and I got married. We are coming through a ridiculous lawsuit. S had surgery, I have had some health scares, and we are climbing up the thorny cliff of building a thriving business with limited resources.
All this major work has felt burdensome, and mostly not suffused with joy, interest, or gratitude. It has been a very hard year for all five of us, and frankly, I haven’t wanted to write it down in blog, facebook, text, or on paper. Have you ever had such a long time when the lessons you were learning in life just seemed so impossibly hard, and even humiliating, that you couldn’t bear the thought of putting it out there? I’m pretty good at finding the silver lining, but sometimes being real means that there is only darkness visible. In the past two years, I have really isolated myself within the burden of my own challenge, convincing myself that no one really wants to hear yet another stress or challenge we are facing.
Now, though, I find myself wanting to record our days again, but it feels strangely selfish to record it publically. I am doing a lot of work with the boys, as we have had to reduce their school hours pretty dramatically. I’ve been reading all kinds of blogs about learning at home with preschoolers. I have been posting pictures for the grandparents to enjoy, but haven’t really wanted to flood my facebook page with photo after photo of our projects. It just seems self-congratulatory or something. Plus, does the world really need another blog posting the same playdough recipe as the other 550 that come up in a search? Sometimes it all seems banal to write out my own life this way.
This has sparked a thought… many of us encounter some pretty loud inner voices when we see these catalogues of the myriad amazing, creative, highly-educated, talented writer and photographer mamas who generously share their time, ideas and endeavors with the world… that moment of thinking WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE and HOW DO THEY DO IT WHEN I STRUGGLE TO JUST GET THE DISHES WASHED? The story I want my boys to hear from me isn’t only a record of cool projects we tried. It’s not just about that special thrill I get as a mama when I see them dive headlong into their latest interest – be it sitting in a corner with headphones, listening to a single song for an hour as he tries to absorb every note and word, or sit at the table using page after page of paper to draw that figure to his satisfaction – it’s easy to simplify the moment in a snapshot and have them understand later that my pride in them is about what they are DOing.
Instead, the reason I am taking our family’s precious resources of attention, strained financial resources, and time away from the housework, is that they give us (me) the opportunity to focus on being.
When Ted and I got married just a couple of months ago, we decided to choose a surname for our family that would stand for our values as a couple. Sarvata is a Sanskrit word that means integrity, and it is the name we have chosen as our mission. It’s a standard by which to test my daily decisions and actions when I remember to do so, and it reminds me that I am, and our family is, whole just where we are. Our messes, our trying, our straining and striving, our cracking and our laughter, our choice to let go of what we want with our animal brains and choose something higher… all of it is perfect and whole. Certitude and integrity are about not trying to convince ourselves that there is a higher standard of perfection – it’s the knowing that we are, in the moment, all we can possibly be. Strive, yes. Reach, and use the resources that we can access for our growth. But it is the being in life that matters (to me), not the doing.
So, i’ll try to be in this story. This story is of a new family, evolving through change, love, hard decisions, and work. This is my story of figuring out (still) how to be my best mama-self, my best wife, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, and in-my-own-skin self. What does educating my children mean to me? Where do my deepest values lie?