I dream about the day I'll have an old farmhouse on a piece of land where our kids can run around, we can have chickens roaming free, laundry drying on a clothesline in the warm, summer, sun, and where each morning I can shuffle into the kitchen, brew the coffee, and make fried eggs with gifts bestowed to us from our very own pretty hens. I have every intention of being a homesteader: learning how to sew (more than a simple pillowcase or Christmas stocking), how to can and preserve my own foods (grown by me, of course!), even learn how to milk my own cows and goats, pluck and cook my own chicken, and how to knit, among other farmy domestic affairs. The thought of bright early mornings, roosters crowing, warm wool sweaters, and duties around the home and garden that keep us happily busy from sun-up till sun-down makes my heart pound. I just love the very thought of it.
But for now...we live in a 3 bedroom house, in a cookie-cutter neighborhood, with houses on each side, so close, I'm pretty sure our neighbors can hear not only what we're saying, but even what we're thinking. I also find myself routinely embarrassed when I haphazardly stumble to my kitchen window half asleep and realize I've left my nursing tank open or when I pass by my bedroom window while getting ready for bed and realize I have no pants on and my "bedroom-side" neighbor (a young single lady, thankfully) is sitting in her living room having to see me - yet again - practically naked. Actually, she's probably seen me completely naked. Oh, hello neighbor! Poor gal. I just don't think about these things when I'm (breast)feeding babies and chasing toddlers and trying to get a million things done at once. See - a house on my own land with no neighbors in earshot (or sight) would benefit quite a few people actually! Our yard is nice; we've made quite a few improvements over the years that have really made it feel more comfortable including a bigger deck, raised garden beds (that my loving husband built himself), a taller, nicer fence to give us more privacy, and this year we added a huge patio umbrella and a covered patio swing to give us shade so we could enjoy eating all of our summer dinners outside. It helps, but it doesn't change the fact that our yard is a rather small square of grass, bordered by an alleyway and lots and lots of other houses. Standing on my back deck I can literally see into about 4 or 5 other people's homes. And when they're out in their garages, I can also hear almost every single word they say. Again, my apologies to my neighbors for the squealing, screaming, and dog barking that must seem to be on constant surround sound from our yard.
My husband and I are both only children (I have a few step-siblings, but they were older teenagers when our parents married, and not really living at home). We both grew up eating out a lot, shopping a lot, traveling a lot, and just generally doing a lot of life away from home. As adults, those have been hard habits to break. Even having triplets didn't slow us down! We boat, we fly, we camp, we road-trip. We shop and eat out way too much. Basically, we've been trying to maintain a lifestyle that just isn't really practical with four young children. It's "do-able", but it's hard. And people get grumpy. And everyone gets tired. So Robert and I started talking about it and we realized that it's really hard to parent well on-the-go. Nap times get missed, children get in trouble for doing things that aren't really "wrong" just socially unacceptable in the grown-up situation we've forced them into or from the fact that they've been in a car too long or on a plane too long, or are just generally tired of having to act like little adults seated quietly at a restaurant table rather than being able to just run around or make a little noise! I'm not saying it's wrong to teach children how to behave well in these situations (ours are surprisingly well-trained and practically bred for such events - ha!), but that maybe these situations shouldn't be the norm of their lives. At least that's what we've decided for us. And because we are hoping the Lord chooses to bless us with more children, it's probably better that we begin to accept and embrace this reality before even more little people are added to the brood!
Surprisingly, though, I feel a sense of calm and even excitement about spending more time at home. It doesn't mean we won't ever travel or eat out, but that the majority of our life, our free-time, our meal times, will be spent together...at home. Where the kids can run and play and be kids, and where rather than trying to parent in difficult, shifting situations, there will be a certain consistency to our schedules and routines. We have chosen to home-school our children, and even that is better done when our lives are lived, you guessed it: at home rather than constantly "busy" with too many activities here and there, too many errands, too many nights out. Only by establishing a norm of "home-ness" can we really commit to setting aside the proper time and attention to sitting down and learning our lessons. I've spent my whole life filling my days with activities and errands and "doing, doing, doing" and now I feel like I'm at a place in my life that I just want to be home. Slow mornings, time to deep clean different parts of the house. Time to swing on our new patio swing with the kids and enjoy the few months of warm sunshine we enjoy each year here in the high desert. Time to snuggle each child, share a conversation or a story. Less rush. Less stuff. Less "doing" and more living. I want to cultivate in our children a love for the simple things, things that honor God and build relationship: a walk to the park, tending the garden, visiting an elderly neighbor, spending time singing songs together as a family. It's a new pace for us, and I'm excited about its possibilities.
I hope that one day our homesteading will be in the more traditional sense, on land, living a more self-sustainable lifestyle with room to romp and roam. But for now, I will be content with our tiny yard, our (super) close neighbors, and our gaggle of giggling children...right here...at home.
(This post is part of the Wise Woman link-up!)
(This post is part of the Wise Woman link-up!)