Saturday, January 31, 2015

Working, homesteading, and full-time parenting

Last week I wrote a post about teaching the kids at home, which would be impossible if Eug wasn't spending half the day with the kids. It vaguely works because we split household tasks pretty evenly. Which is great. I think part of me is an evangelist for this kind of life, where we eschew cars and a rushed lifestyle, raise our kids together without institutions where possible, do meaningful work, and grow a lot of our own food in some idyllic future. I believe this stuff in a very deep way. But it's actually hard and full of contradictions, and one (I) can get caught up in the idea of it rather than the living of it.

I've recently been transitioning from being a PhD student to being a post-doc researcher. And it's really, really good. I have a badge that says Dr. on it. But I was sharing with friends recently that really, it's not super different from being a PhD student, because as a researcher-- but also just as a human-- I just tend to take on things until I reach that baseline level of stress, not unlike the stress of the PhD. It's been a bit startling to realise that, and seems to involve endlessly delaying gratification, to the point where I can't exactly remember what gratification looks like.

So my current take on How-To-Make-Your-Life-Work-Perfectly-In-the-Far-Distant-Future: DON'T TRY!!! Ok, I sortof take that back. I'm all for minimalism and early retirement and healthy food and doing good work, but those things can become pretty God-like and all consuming, and there's no way they can deliver on their promises, nor should they.

A lot of great blogs write about a version of life that makes me feel: Oh! One Day!! When the fruit trees are budding and the bees are buzzing and the chickens are clucking, then will I sit down and chill with my children, who will be playing [*cough* violin*] or building [*cough* tiny house]. IT WILL BE AWESOME. But that tends to undermine my experience of life in the present. Worse, when I'm after a lifestyle that I think I can carefully curate into reality, it's hard to be gracious or kind or generous.

I struggle with the urge to fix stuff that's difficult and genuinely needs attention ("how do we eat enough to have energy to ride two kids around the city!!??" or "Where should we live in April?!!, "how do we stop Eli from throwing stuff at Noah's head?!") and the reality that there will always be more stuff to fix. My task in this season of our lives is to recognize that probably there will always be bits of my life that will be a mess, but that mess does not demand all of my attention all of the time. So that's a long way of saying, Yay for goals (see previous post)!! But also, Yay for holding goals lightly, as we live beyond the mundane messes.

1 comment:

leah said...

As someone who has chickens, I can tell you there are moments where the sun is shining and the children are chasing around the hens and it IS beautiful and idilic. But then it rains and you still have to do the same chores, and there are moments when you would rather be paying attention to your kids, in fact your kids are SCREAMING from lack of attention and you're like THE CHICKENS HAVE A RIGHT TO FRESH WATER, I'M JUST BRINGING THEM WATER I'LL BE RIGHT BACK STOP SCREAMING. Because to make an idilic moment you maybe have to put in five times as many minutes of extra labor, which is time away from your kids if you're kids are not helping and let's face it they're cute when they ask to help but they're not really helping. I'm speaking from my own farming experience not yours, you will fare better and without snow that kills all your bees.