So we're a few months into the new regime, of me working full-time, a couple of kilometers from home. I'm afraid to say it, but I think we all agree that life is pretty good. Of course I'm having to pick and choose how I spend my time outside work, and the kids miss spending as much time with me as they used to. But there are some very good things about life at the moment.
I swear my husband is happier. He's slower to commit to that declaration, fearing that it's just the novelty of change. But he has more energy, he laughs more easily and he snaps less at the kids. He really loves being outside for most of the day, and they've really been enjoying the summer. He and Eldest have gotten up to some really cool things. They built an insect hotel (it just needs some roofing), a rustic sailboat, and a cardboard airplane (this may still be in the works, but I think they decided it just wouldn't fly. They've bought balsa gliders and other storebought flying things. One got caught in the wind, did a 180 and landed high in some trees, irretrievable. My parents brought an awesome hawk kite home from China a couple of years ago, and we've been too afraid to fly it. But after seeing some kite flyers a few weeks ago, they were inspired to go kite flying, and the hawk kite was amazing. They've discovered the National Film Board of Canada's website and have watched a whole bunch of animations by Norman McLaren, among other nature and geography documentaries.
They all come to visit me at lunch, and I nurse Youngest and get to connect with what they've done and what they're planning for the rest of the day. I ride my bike or walk most days, or they give me a ride if I'm feeling cruddy or if the weather is cruddy. Life is much easier with Husband at home and Eldest homeschooling than when we were both working, Husband out of town, and Eldest was in daycare. In the morning, it's only me who has to get out the door at a certain time. I think this is pretty dreamy.
Husband does a lot more cooking, and we've discovered he does amazing things with meat. In late May, we got a quarter of a grassfed beef. We lost some of it in a freezer malfunction, but still have a lot left, and he's been learning to cook the new cuts with aplomb. He makes the gluten-free muffins and granola I used to make, so Youngest and I can have snacks. He hasn't yet taken over the broth-making, although we haven't done much over the summer because I haven't wanted to heat up the house. I wonder if he will in the cooler weather.
All in all, life feels pretty sweet for the most part. Of course, I could do without some of the office politics stuff, but I work with some wonderful people who make me feel like a good person, and I enjoy the thinking and writing aspect of the job. I just wish it didn't take up so much time.
I've been harbouring a farm fantasy ever since I read Radical Homemakers and realized that there could be a different way to have a farm than the way my parents did. Although I have moments where I think, maybe we could just keep things as they are, the fantasy isn't really abating. Now that Husband is experiencing the joy of life at home without a lot of external schedules (some days anyways), he's seeing the value of my vision, and I think he's finally on board with the farm fantasy. This is a very good thing.
Obviously, with us having no real skills (other than my years of horse shit-shovelling experience), it's at least a year or two out. And in the meantime, the community garden experience offers good learning. We're also going to get chickens this fall, to see how we like having them. If/when we get a farm, I think I'd like to start with chickens, provided we enjoy working with them.
I keep reading and watching memoirs and shows about urban folks moving to the country to grow their own food, and there's one major gap in their stories. Nobody talks about the money, about how you finance this dream without debt, especially when you have children you need to feed, shelter and clothe and who can't earn their keep just yet. In our area, you can't even get an acre with a house for much less than half a million dollars. So I'm pretty sure the farm dream requires moving some distance away.
I remember when we were debating whether to try homeschooling with Eldest, we noticed that it's very hard to make a decision to try something that could be better or worse, when your current situation is ok. It's much easier to try something new when everything sucks. You don't have anything to lose. But if things are ok, even nice, you stand to lose a lot. Especially if it involves moving across the province to a place where you don't know anyone.
Last fall I went to a parenting workshop with Ingrid Bauer. And she said, "This is sweet. And yet I want to reach for something sweeter." That's where I'm at, I think.
As sweet as life is at the moment, I don't want to sit at a desk for eight hours a day. I think three or maybe four hours, maybe every other day, would be perfect. I'm not the kind of person who goes outside for the sake of going outside in the winter. But if I have animals to feed, I'll enjoy it when I have to. I enjoy the forced observation of the garden and feeling my body move. I want more of all that. I'm hoping to blog more about this process of learning and transformation, but that just seems to get squeezed out. If I'm honest, it probably doesn't help that this space doesn't answer back.