I was laughing to myself this evening as I reread the blog posts I had written when I was pregnant and again when Lincoln was 7 weeks old. I remember thinking that Lincoln was going to sit quietly and play outdoors while I worked, putting pretty little check marks next to all the tasks on my never ending list. Wow, I was delusional. Or maybe sleep deprived? I felt as though I wanted to hold onto my past life, before motherhood, while embracing the 360 degree change that encompasses becoming a new mother. But, Linc was hard. He cried or was fussy almost all the time, never wanted me to put him down, or go with papa. Having my sister on the farm is amazing, but she has her own little, six months younger then Lincoln so I felt bad asking her for help and family lives far away. The isolation from living in a new place, far from others and the feeling of spiraling out of control got to me. I realized that I had postpartum depression and it was effecting our entire family. I was always grumpy, quick to anger, and perpetually stressed.
Today, I am a much happier person. With the help of my family, I started talking about what was happening to me, how I was feeling, and brainstorming ways to bring us out of the black hole it felt like we were in. My older sister, a psychologist, helped me get back on track. I started pouring on the self-love. I started taking 'me' time everyday and communicating to my husband how important to me it was to have this time, every. single. day; I got outdoors and went on a walk every evening with Lincoln, Cardon, Alanna, and Luci; and I moved my bedtime to 830pm every night to ensure that I got a good rest. I started reading parenting books and discovered Dr. Laura Markham's Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids. The main three concepts in her book are emotional self-regulation, connection before correction, and coaching not controlling. Stating it simply, she encouraged parents to meditate every day and stop, drop your agenda, and breathe when you felt out of control with emotions. I started trying to put the concepts to practice in my daily life. It was the hardest thing I had ever done, but I began to notice that I was more calm and things that seemed like life or death before seemed so trivial.
I had finally realized how important the work of being a mother truly is. If you looked on my to-do list a year ago, there would have been no time allotted for just being completely present with Lincoln, with Dan, with my sister and Luci, with my dog, or even with myself. All day I was multitasking and trying to live up to this crazy standard that I had imposed on myself. I felt as though if I sat still and just delighted in my son or took the time to cuddle with my husband or walk my dog that I was being lazy, shirking my tasks of the day. But being present is not laziness, it is an investment in the future of my son and my family. I want my son to grow up knowing that he was truly listened to, that he was accepted exactly how he is-inconvenient emotions and all, that he was respected and that he was loved. And all those things take time. Time is all he wants and needs.
Lincoln is now almost 17 months old and he is much easier. We communicate well-he signs and speaks a little now-and he walks and plays independently much more than last farming season. But I think that the best thing that has come from this whole motherhood thing is my shift in perspective. To learn how to stop my agenda, appreciate the moment, appreciate my family and everything we are doing on the farm. I wake up everyday now, energized and excited, but moving at a pace that is immensely slower. I roll with the ebb and flow of the day instead of forcing control. I can only control my own thoughts, my own words, and my own actions. What a gift that this little person has given me-patience, gratitude, empathy, and knowing that I am capable of unconditional love.
Here is a glimpse into what my day looks like now, being a farming mother:
0600-wake up, family cuddle time
0630-papa makes breakfast while Lincoln and I read, watch a show together, or play
0730-get dressed and Lincoln goes outside with papa for an hour or hour and a half. I meditate and stretch, then tidy the house, do dishes, laundry, and any office work that needs to be completed or an outdoor activity that I can't do when I'm watching Lincoln such as rototilling or weed whacking
0900-Lincoln comes back to me and we work outside together. Sometimes he plays independently or other times he plays with his cousin or helps me in the garden
1230-lunch time together as a family (most days)
1330-laundry then back outside to work in the garden
1500-we usually take a break and play together for 1/2 hour where I give Lincoln my full attention and he decides what we do and where we do it!
1630-walk for 20 minutes, close up the chickens and greenhouse for the night
1700-make and eat dinner, bath time, and read books