My New Normal – How I Survive as a Stay-at-Home Mom

11 01 2012

Ugh. It’s 5:30 at night, and I am already exhausted. Didn’t I wake up feeling exhausted, too? Yes, I did. Exhausted is my new normal. I stumble through my day, hoping to survive until bedtime, hoping I will get sleep once we lay down.

Bean is now two and a half months old, and we have what most people call a “good” baby. She doesn’t have mysterious bouts of colic, she doesn’t scream, heck, she rarely cries. When she does cry, we know exactly why she is crying. At night, she actually sleeps. Sure, it’s only in 2-3 hour stretches between breastfeeding and diaper changes, but that adds up between 10 pm and 8 am. She doesn’t sleep much during the day, naps are pretty short and infrequent, but thanks to my moby wrap (which I initially HATED) I am still able to get quite a bit done through my haze of fatigue.

Life doesn’t stop just because I have a baby or am tired. The goats still need plenty of care, as do the chickens. Laundry still needs to be washed, firewood restocked, fires made and tended to heat the house, dishes washed and I have to find things to eat during the day.

I try to get up by 6 am every day, which is a drag. I hate getting out of bed in a cold, dark room. But someone has to shut the window and get the space heater turned on. We found sleeping with no heat and extra down comforters keeps all three of us plenty warm, and the cold air on our heads… I don’t know, I just feel more refreshed in the morning. Bean sleeps between us at night, and if I worry she won’t be warm enough she gets an extra layer added in the form of a hand knit merino lap blanket I made her dad when we first met. If it weren’t for Bean sleeping in bed with us I wouldn’t get any rest all. I am already a very light sleeper, always have been. I think I won’t sleep deeply again until she is out of our bed, probably around her 5th birthday. We aren’t worried about it, we are amassing sheep fleeces so we can make our own custom-sized wool-stuff mattress for our family bed. I can’t wait to sleep on all that wool!

After I get up I get a fire started, do a round of yoga (I am using Rodney Yee’s program “Moving Toward Balance” which is a daily workout for 8 weeks. I find it gets me warmed up and I do it right in front of the fire so I can make sure it is good and hot by the time I need to feed Bean, around 7 am. If I’, lucky she falls back asleep for one more hour, which I use to shower, make breakfast and get a chore down.

My morning chore change each day, but it is usually either clean the bathroom, wash dishes, or sweep.

I use my mornings to do a self-study of gardening, cob building, green building techniques, animal care or permaculture, Pretty much whatever seems enjoyable. It is all stuff I try to learn more about and implement into our life, so I consider it important to do and take notes on.

When I have a rare bit a free time and all the chores are done, I like to knit. But as soon as I pick up my knitting, Bean knows it and will wake up or suddenly need me in one way or another. I don’t know how she does it.

I had a problem adjusting to this new pace of life. I felt like I needed to be “working,” as in doing work that results in a paycheck. It is hard to do something like mothering in a society that does not value the contributions a mother makes. We downplay parenting, substituting in machines, gadgets and gizmos to take the place of human interaction with our infants. Not because we don’t want to interact with them, but because we are already stretched so thin and stressed out so much that it just feels like one more thing is going to break us. Babies need a lot of time and attention and physical care in order to be happy and well-adjusted. Before the invention of the nuclear family and single family households, we had extended family, elders and villages of families to help off-set all the demanding work a new baby needs. It is a lot to ask of any new mother to care for herself and her family with no outside help.

I had help from friends and family for about 2 weeks after I had Bean. I was on such an emotional high that I was raring to go, I wanted to get up and get doing. But after an hour or so up and about, I realized that emotions don’t always equate to physical energy, I then I realized I was totally screwed. I didn’t have meals lined up, I didn’t have people signed up to come and help with dished or laundry or animal care. I felt lost, forgotten and neglected. NEXT TIME, I am going to can 3 months worth of soups for myself. I found soup was one of the easiest things to make, eat and reheat the first few weeks. They were extra fluid, and I could add fresh egg yolks and extra butter to hot soups for extra calories.

Here we are, with Bean now 10 weeks old, and I am slowly coming to terms with my new profession, my new pace of life, my new motherhood. I can get maybe 25% of my former workload done in a day. Things have had to just slide. I’ve had to adjust and re-prioritize. I find it is still easy to get overwhelmed if I think about all the things I am not getting done, but the I look at my baby, and remind myself that there is always tomorrow, next week, next month, next season, next year. It doesn’t matter, it will all get done eventually as long as I don’t give up. But I love how little I get done now, because when I do get it done, I’ve got Bean strapped to my chest, and she is watching, learning and growing. And it feels like I’ve done something important.


A New Year, a New Ewe

10 01 2012

So the Bean is now almost three-months old. I was originally planning on blogging about her birth, but it is just not something I am ready to write about in a public space yet. All I will say is this: her labor was hard, and long, and wonderful. My midwives were amazing, and Mr. Ewe and I welcomed her into our arms, on our own bed minutes before midnight. I can’t wait to do it again.

There have been huge adjustments in our lives to make our little family work smoothly. Adjusting to a new baby is never easy, but I would have to say that because of how much we slowed down our lives before the baby came, making that adjustment was that much easier when we had to slow down the pace of our lives even more.

Having this new person in our lives has made us so much more aware of where we are in our lives and in the world, and where we want to be headed. The last three months have involved lots of whispered, late-night conversations between Mr. Ewe and I about the path we are on.

The world seems so much scarier now than it ever was. Resources and time seem to be dwindling at an ever faster pace, and I spend a lot of time worrying about what kind of world my daughter is going to have to live in.

Mr. Ewe and I have always had what seemed like a pipe dream to buy land out in the boonies, build ourselves a small house and just try to live the best, simplest life possible. But with Lamb here now, it seems we can no longer afford for that to be a pipe dream, it is time for us to act.

The problem with acting now is that we are literally starting with almost nothing. I admit that we are quite poor, and saving anything when you find yourself poor is a huge challenge, both physically and mentally. We looked at the ledger and realized that to make a saving account grow, we are going to have to become evenmore resourceful than ever before. I am a stay at home mom, and Mr. Ewe is a full-time student. We are living off of his financial aid and the GI Bill right now. We have to find a way to turn an idea into something tangible with little to get us started. It is scary and a challenge. But here we are, ready to make the leap.

At the end of 2011 Mr. Ewe and I both turned 30 within a  month of each other. We are 30. Standing on the precipice of a third decade on this planet. It seemed like this was a lifetime away when I was turning 10, I had no idea where I was headed when I was 20, and now that I am 30 I have to wonder where I am headed to next.

But each month now we get ourelves a little more ahead than the previous month, and pretty soon I think we will be able to start putting money in savings so that we can put a down payment on land next year.

Our pipe dream of land and a small house has grown quite a bit in those late-night talks. This year we are going to start building on our rental property. I have decided that we are going to build a cob pizza oven, and then maybe a cob garden shed or milking shed. We are going to use this year to narrow down our property search, and start gaining skillz. We need cob-building skills so when we move we don’t have to live in our camper longer than we have to.

Our little house and farm on a few acres has morphed into a small eco-village, based on cob houses, earthships, and lots of permaculture. We don’t want to settle down and forget the world, we want to invite the world in, teach classes and show the world that there is a better way to live. One that does not involve a 30-year mortgage, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and fears that the bank will take back your home because you looked at a teller cross-eyed.

The ability to live in harmony with the world, and the ability to find comfort in having nothing is out there. I am redefining what comfort means to me on a daily basis. I am teaching Lamb how to live in sync with the world around her.

Turns out having a baby is the catalyst I needed to change my life for the better. :)

%d bloggers like this: