It was nearly midnight, and my children would not stop laughing. I barely even minded that I was the source of their laughter because the stories they were telling were so darn funny (even if not entirely accurate.)
The three of us cackled to the point of teary eyed delirium as they described their versions of childhood memories.
“Remember when the biggest threat ever was that we’d have to go to school?”
They launch into a tale of me pretending to call the local elementary school to inquire about enrolling my Boy Child while they cried “No, please, Noooooooooooo!”
I don’t exactly remember this instance, although I do recall driving by the aforementioned school very, very slowly while staring at it as the two little voices in the carseats behind me quivered“What are you doing?”.
“Just... thinking……” I left a dramatic pause at the end for effect, and it worked.
“We’ll be good Mama! We promise! We don’t want to go to school!”
Maybe I’m horrible, but I still crack up just thinking about it.
Now I never told these kids that school was a bad place. They did however notice the school bus on the road at nearly 3 pm.
“Are those kids just getting home from school?!?!”
“When did they get there?”
“Before you woke up.”
They had woken up when they were ready, as they did most days, climbed into a nest of cozy blankets and listened to stories read aloud until we were hungry.
After eating, they spent their day on family projects, learning about and caring for animals, and followed their own interests any number of ways; building forts and fairy houses, writing elaborate stories, making up worlds, inventing things, playing games, creating art, exploring nature in our woods and creek, and pursuing knowledge in whatever they were curious about at the time. They were often in pajamas, or just as likely in a cape or costume.
It really was an awesome childhood. They knew it then, and I’m so thankful that even as teenagers, they know and appreciate it now.
But lately I’ve found myself not only nostalgic, but lamenting the loss of those days. It isn’t so much that time has passed, although looking at them, it is clear that they are no longer children, but big teenagers getting ready to make their own ways in the world.
Knowing that they are in their last years of preparation before they fly free in the world is definitely a big thing to swallow, but even harder is the seeming lack of time and mental energy that I feel I have to spend with them now in the limited years we have left.
Thankfully, I became a single mom when they were at ages that were fairly self sufficient, but still….They may not have needed me to make them sandwiches or read them stories anymore, but I was used to being a really involved homeschool madre.
Now that I work so many hours to keep the ship afloat, I don’t have nearly as much left to come up with, let alone execute the awesome things we used to do together. I have a great job, but it takes a LOT of mental energy, and my brain feels pretty maxed out some days, and other days, it's straight up mush.
Thankfully, my offspring are surrounded by a community of awesome peeps, because that also makes life so much easier and richer, but still….I miss having the mental fortitude to come up with a bazillion project, field trip and other fun life learning ideas, not to mention the physical energy to build, craft and create all the time.
I actually started to write a post about what I missed most about homeschooling days past, but luckily, before I even got a paragraph in, I realized that I needed to tell myself to shut my own pie hole.
I’ve still got a really good deal going as far as life, and I’ve seen more and more in the last few years, that what I focus on is what grows. Instead of listing the top 10 things that are really hard about homeschooling as a single mom, or writing about how much I miss those happy days of playing, I know that I’ll probably be a lot happier if I put that energy into finding things that will work for us with the situation we now have on hand.
This morning, my giant teenagers climbed on my bed and we looked at amazing images of animals in utero on my laptop, and then a collection of before and after photos of caterpillars and moths. We were eating peanut brittle the whole time, and it led to a query on how we could make walnut brittle with our latest harvest. Yes. We’re still homeschooling.
I’ve also remembered that we have a few science kits just waiting to be opened~ why not invite some friends over to mix chemicals?
We can also plan some adventures to museums, historical spots, or even cheesy tourist traps near our out of town family and friends during our time free from classes and work around the holidays.
We have art supplies galore and a kitchen full of food~ all sorts of ingredients for exploring and playing together.
It feels a lot better and makes me a lot happier to be scheming than lamenting, that’s for sure. And I think we will all benefit from that.
Not to mention how many more fun things we’ll be likely to do if we’re focused in that direction.
Even if I don’t have as much free time or energy to put into our happy homeschool as I once did, I do still have plenty of ideas. So do my kids, and between us, we can be pretty darn creative about figuring out how to make stuff happen.
My kids are learning in all sorts of places and from all sorts of people these days, but heck yeah, we’re still homeschooling. I really wouldn't want it any other way.
While perusing the oddities and treasures at a little local bead store, and finding all kinds of hippy woo woo delights, I came across a box of cute little bands made of hematite, each one costing less than a cup of coffee.
My partner picked one out of the box and handed it to me, and it fit the first finger I put it on.
It was shiny and pretty, and made me smile, like sparkly things often do. But, I hesitated to buy it, not because I was worried it would turn my finger green, but because I vaguely recalled about 20 years ago when I was attempting to sell my creations in a hippy store, and a strange woman told me something about hematite having some bad mojo thing about it.
How the words of some woman whose name I don’t even know that I met one time over 2 decades ago are still in my head, I don’t know, but they are. Even at the time, I got the impression that she was a bit on the wacky side, but still….her words made think.
I didn’t want an oddball half memory to make me miss out on something shiny any more than I wanted bad mojo, so I decided to text a non wacky and more trustworthy friend who makes beautiful jewelry with stones in her business.
She gets back to me later in the day and tells me that there’s no inherent bad mojo with hematite, that actually, it’s helpful for grounding. This seems like a good thing to me.
As a woman whose brain (and possibly her mood) is sort of semi occasionally on the verge of spinning out of control, a little grounding and stability sounds nice.
Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this peaceful thought for even two minutes before I started to backtrack.
Doesn’t being grounded also imply being tethered, stuck to the ground, and not going anywhere?
Faulty airplanes get grounded. Misbehaving children get grounded.
Why would I want that?
My online dictionary confirms the suspected dual meaning.
While I’ve never actually used grounding as a disciplinary technique on my own kids, they, like everyone else who is under the age of 18, know that it is an unpleasant thing to be avoided. It means you’re busted and being punished by being trapped and unable to do what one normally would want to.
I want to soar, not be held back.
Having recently been freed from of a number of big and difficult entrapments, I have no desire to feel that weight again.
I like flying. I just don’t want to spin off out of control.
So, I found myself in a self created conundrum on the meaning of being grounded and the symbolism in this cheap little ring.
I already had it on my finger, because I had impatiently bought it before hearing back from my friend, but I wondered if I really wanted to wear something grounding.
It came off and was abandoned for a few days in a drawer while I pondered. But when I saw it next, I was drawn again to the dark shine and the cool smoothness that caught my eye in the first place.
Today, I put the ring on as a conscious reminder to stay strongly rooted and focused on the things that are important to me~ an attempt to keep my mind from being distracted and flittering about in a million directions, or worse, whirling into a storm .
The main this is, a ring isn’t keeping me stuck or holding me back and more than a word is.
Maybe grounded isn’t the right word to describe what I really want anyway?
I just know that I want to soar freely and smoothly, enjoying the adventure. And I also want to keep my connections alive so I have a steady and stable base as my safe place to land. Being rooted sounds a lot better than being tethered.
I started writing this post over the summer, and actually finished in Sept. Then, somehow, I deleted the whole thing, which I found ironic since I was writing about abundance.
It began on a hot summer afternoon, as I knelt down in the orchard of the property I was preparing to move to, looking at literally dozens of apricots that had fallen to the ground. All around me was the color green~ leaves, grass, bushes, trees~ all so alive and healthy and such a contrast from the browns and yellows of the dry land I was leaving.
This new landscape was so much easier on my eyeballs than the much harsher beauty of the foothills I had lived in for over a decade~ so much so, that almost overwhelmed me.
Little things, like knowing I would have enough water for the whole family to take showers AND to run a load of laundry ALL IN THE SAME MORNING. I could even run the dishwasher the same day and still be OK. Like knowing I could buy plants if I wanted to and actually put them in the ground because there was real soil that actually contained dirt and not just rocks that bend and break metal tools, and yeah, there was WATER to keep them alive.
And being only 5 minutes from a coffee shop or a store~ many, if not most Americans probably take these things for granted, but I had been without them for so long, that I actually felt weepy with joy about it all.
As I sat there looking around, pondering my blessings, and wondering when I had become such a sentimental and emotional person, it hit me.
Literally…. Like, “BONK!” I actually got conked in the head.
It was a peach that fell from the tree and hit me right on the noggin.
The actual hit to the head came with what I guess would be called a simultaneous epiphany. Just a single word came to mind.
That was my word for 2014~ That was how I most wanted to feel, and that was definitely what I had all around me.
Before I could relish too deeply in this thought, I noticed something mildly disturbing. A rodent~ some sort of mole, vole, mouse like creature. Something other than a rat, and it was lying in the hot sun in my yard, looking for all purposes, dead.
I began thinking of all the reasons (fears) of why there would be a dead rodent lying there in my perfectly lovely orchard. What if the lawn mowing guys had used some sort of poison that could be a potential danger to my dogs and cats? What if it had a hideous, painful and contagious disease? What if it was a trick and it was going to jump up and bite me in the face? Then, I noticed a twinkle in the rodent’s eye.
Not a mischievous or playful twinkle or even a menacing one. Nothing like that~ just an indicator that it might, in fact, have a bit of life left in it, but not much.
As a liker of animals of all kinds, even rodents, even if they do sometimes carry hideous diseases and plagues, I couldn’t just let the poor thing wither in the sun and die.
But, as much as I wanted to help, I certainly wasn’t going to touch the mystery rodent. So, I picked up a peach from the ground next to me and threw it toward the creature to see if it would move.
I didn’t think I would actually hit it, but I did, and it did a sort of writhing wiggle which made me jump and flail about in shock, doing my own sort of writhing wiggle thing.
Once I caught my breath, I noticed that the little creature appeared to have its’ two right legs stuck under a peach (not the peach I had thrown, but yet another one~ they were all over the place~ seriously, I’m not kidding with the abundance)
The poor thing was trapped. I still wasn’t going to touch it, so I got a stick, and poked the peach until it rolled off and the second it was free, that half dead looking rodent sprung up, dug a hole and disappeared faster than I could even blink, let alone speak (and that’s fast!)
I gave a verbal warning / request to the ground he disappeared into, asking him to move on to different pastures before I moved my cats and dogs in with their sharp teeth and love of shaking things, and lesser appreciation for the life of a rodent.
So, there I was, left there alone with the fruit falling in this wonderful new yard that surrounded the home I would soon occupy. It was a real, grown up house~ surely the nicest thing I had lived in since I moved out from under my parents’ roof. The street was paved, and flat and there was good internet. I was home.
As I contemplated how wonderful all of this abundance was, and how miraculous that my word for the year was once again coming to fruition (literally) I couldn’t help but think of the little rodent and wonder if there wasn’t some metaphorical symbolism in all that. (My mind just works that way. I can’t help it.)
That little creature was also surrounded by abundance, but it seems he’d been trapped by it, and nearly smothered under the weight of it. Theoretically, he could have tried to eat his way out, which I like to think I would have done in his place. Unlike the rock climber who had to saw his own arm off, or the Donner Party, it was a peach, so it would have been pleasant, albeit overwhelming since it was almost the same size as he was.
Anyhoo, I think there must be some lesson on paying attention and not getting stuck or being creative or maybe all of those things. In any case, abundance in the form of fruit trees, ability to do laundry and proximity to coffee isn’t going to solve all of life’s problems, but it sure is more than enough to be grateful for. And I am so very grateful.
Life is good, indeed. In fact, it’s down right abundant.
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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