Thursday, May 16, 2013

I am Not a Good Mom

Today I smashed a plastic water pitcher against the kitchen counter, breaking it into a dozen pieces, yelling "F*ck it all!" at the same time. We were out of drinking water because I hadn't filled the Berkey the night before, or earlier this morning, and Zao was thirsty and asking for a drink.

While yelling and carrying on, throwing my temper tantrum, somewhere in the midst of it I yelled "I am not a good mom!" and it was like the clouds parted to allow the sunshine through.

I am not a good mom. I have a lot of temper tantrums. I don't parent the way I know I should. To clarify: it's not that I think I am a bad mom, but rather I am not the mom I know I am supposed to be, because I have been too busy trying to "be a good mom." I have allowed the desire for the approval of other people, the desire to fit in and be part of a group, to hinder me from listening and heeding my own inner voice. That is what is keeping me from being a good mom. Does this make any sense?

The problem isn't my temper tantrums. I have the temper tantrum because I've failed my own perverse expectations, some of these expectations I adopted from other people, they aren't even things I believe at my core. Failure to meet expectations is also the reason I lose my temper with Zao. The problem is the expectations. It is expected that a three-and-a-half-year-old be potty trained. At the very least, the parent of said child should be "working" towards this "training." If not, whispers and talking behind that parent's back ensue. Jiminy Crickets, the effing gossiping has got to stop. I've heard it, I've read it, I've participated in it, it is a disgusting part of humanity. Is it so f*cking hard for us to let go and allow other people to be human? Is it so f*cking hard for us to NOT try to fix the whole damn world? What if instead we trusted that other people will find their way? Why do we feel like that way has to look like ours? What if they don't agree with "our" peaceful parenting ideals and manipulations efforts? What if they spank? What if they circumcise? What if they eat white bread, food dyes, bacon, or tofu? What if they allow their children to stay up until midnight watching tv shows you would never let your kids watch in a million years? Are they bad parents?

I am not a good mom. I have failed at peaceful parenting, zen parenting, Christian parenting, disciplined parenting, authoritarian parenting - I have failed every single parenting "stigma" in all the books on shelves and pdf files. Even if I have successfully done all those things to the letter, I am not a good mom, because I am not authentically parenting. I am not listening to my child, what my child actually needs from me to learn and grow and function in this world. I am not listening to my own heart and my own wisdom, to do all of that, either.

And what I hear from my children, what I hear from my heart, is to stop the manipulation, even if it is done peacefully. To stop the cycle of fear and anxiety, to stop propitiating the expectations of others so that we can be called "good" and receive approval for our comings and goings. And firstly it stops with myself. I have to be authentically me, and allow others, especially my children, to be authentically themselves. Even if that is ugly, broken, and whispered about when my back is turned. And to stop being disappointed with them when what they are isn't what I imagined, even if it from the safety of social networking.

Zao is still in diapers, and he doesn't speak much. He watches a lot of tv and plays with toy cars all day long. He will not be going to preschool, or kindergarten, and I don't teach him his shapes or colors or numbers here at home because he isn't interested. He plays, and is a child. He loves milk and bread and cookies and carrots and bacon, Disney movies, and playing in the dirt outside.

That's all awesome. Or it's all horrible. Maybe it's both! Or neither: It is who Zao is right now, and how he spends his time. For me to manipulate those things so that he can meet the expectations of other people who don't know or love him is a massive infringement on his personal freedom as a human being.

I am not going to do that to him anymore, and I am going to stop doing it to myself. How I spend my time, what I eat, I am so ever-loving tired of thinking of it all in terms of good or bad, and then subsequently feeling guilt or pride in myself, yet never ever feeling like ME.

I am not a good mom. I am Zao's Mom, I am Zao's Sister's Mom. That is enough.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

making butter, or "things that are easier than I imagine"

One of the benefits, in my opinion, of buying fresh, non-homogenized milk is being able to separate the cream out to make butter. I have always wanted to make my own butter, ever since I was a girl and read about the process in A Little House on the Prairie. Or Big Woods. I forget which book actually chronicled their efforts. Whichever, I am living the dream, folks!

I remember my parents making butter now and again, when I was in high school. They shook the cream by hand in glass jar with a wooden ball inside. My dad still uses, and prefers, this method. I like to use my KitchenAid. It's faster. Which is preferable when you have a crawling, teething baby whining at your feet, and a naked toddler, asking for a drink and standing at the table eating cheddar rice cakes and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (homemade, for the record...) hollering "MMMMM!!!" as loudly as humanly possible with every bite. Fast is good in this scenario. 

This morning was my second butter-making endeavor, and it turned out A LOT better than the first. ha! Regarding my first butter-making endeavor, let me summarize that it was less than textbook-perfect. ;) Experience really is my favorite and best teacher. Mistakes are not to be feared! Especially in the kitchen.

This is what happened this morning:

after "washing" the butter has come together
fresh, raw unsalted butter 
How cool is that?! As I said, living the dream folks! ;)

If you are interested in some guidelines in making your own butter, I recommend these links:

Keeper of the Home: Cultured Butter

The Healthy Home Economist: How to Make Raw Butter (video)

Don't be afraid to try it! You really can't mess it up. You don't have to use raw cream, either. Heavy cream from the supermarket will do the same thing, only without the same degree of health benefits as raw. But more on that at another time... Suffice to say, butter is easy! And butter makes everything better! ;)

desert views

I have fallen woefully off the wagon of my intent since our move to Southern Arizona. It was my desire to take a photo every day for the next year, to help me stay in the moment and appreciative of the great beauty of my daily life. Though the photos have not been taken religiously, the acknowledgement and appreciation of the beauty has definitely been present! I am happy & blessed to be living where we are, sharing this great expanse of a house with the three people I like best in the world. Joy! Contentment!

I am back in the saddle; look for more frequent, photographic postings!

Here are a few snaps taken the other day that I want to share. 

view from the top (of town) ;) 
backyard views of mesquite 
our backyard
a little bit of wilderness, just outside our door