Growing Flowers

catching babies, raising daughters in the high desert……

Category: Raising Daughters

I forgot for a minute…..

Today at the Farmer’s Market I went straight for the book table. The library has a table there with excellent books for perfect prices. Stacked up, in three rows on many tables. I browsed and avoided all the people…love the Farmer’s Market, don’t love the intensely social experience…..Just want some greens please!

Anyhow….

Browsed the books. My eye always gravitates towards the parenting books. I love them. I picked one up, put it in my pile. Then I remembered.

I am kinda done parenting in that way. Three more weeks. Oh gosh.

subaru

Sisters

It has been phenomenal to watch these two daughters become friends….closer and closer. Image

Growing Up

It is astounding how quickly children grow up. Even when I just began this blog, no where in my consciousness did I think about sending them off to college or not having them in my home, underfoot, with me at all times. I pictured them small at all times. They are not. They are both way taller than I am – and so much more than I ever was at their age. It is banal – cliché. But wild. And new for me.

Here they go. We head East next week to do Treska’s first college interview. Our Common App will be submitted today.  Kaya really wants to apply to a boarding school for the arts and begin next year. I’m leaving that on the back burner, but already she is working on her audition. My small home will be large. Quiet. I don’t even know how to prepare. Guess I’ll get a stack of “Empty Nest” books.

It is such a delicate balance at this teen age. Freedom and rules. I love these years.  Hardly an issue at all. Just check in with me….let me know the plan. Keep me in the loop. They are both very grounded and focused. Inspired and busy.

Kaya has ballet every single day. No – not on Sundays. She is now in the local Ballet Company. She does her work in the morning. She sits in the sunroom, among the tomatoes and basil, the full length windows with views of the mountains. The dogs are with her, her headphones are on listening to her teen music. She works through her list. Math every day. Civics videos and abstracts. We’ve been following the election very closely, so debates are watched and main points are listed. She reads the articles and writes abstracts. She is well-informed.   She reads in her German book every day and writes in German – short summaries of what she has read. An hour outdoors every day – at the very least. A dog walk. Reading the classics.

Treska is only taking one UNM course this semester. Lots of SAT prep and college application essay writing. She is still in the OR with our beloved OB/GYN. (Two c/s yesterday.) Still on-call for births with us. Literature reading…  It is a lot at the moment. She is busy. Truly slammed. Today she is taking the SAT again.

It’s our life. I wouldn’t change much.

Infusions

 

I’m so glad we homeschool, because these years are going so fast. Before we know it, they will be off into the world. Independent. They are well on their way, already. Homeschooling allows so much time together. I can soak them up and we can be there for them when they  need that from us.   So…. I am grateful for these late night, exhausting, emotional conversations.

I wish I could infuse any or all of my experience directly into the tea that they drink. I love you Kaya.

Preparations

Getting ready for the big day! Two young women growing up!

Love them both so much!

Making plans……

Storytelling

Unintentionally, this trip has clearly become about roots and story telling. Leipzig is where Falko was born and raised. He became  man when the wall was still up, when it was impossible to leave the east.  I met Falko only a few years after the wall came down” and realize over and over again how little I understood what that meant. This trip has become about explaining this to the girls. We’ve gone to a museum depicting the “change.” And we’ve had long discussions in the evenings, sometimes with the intention of explaining the beginnings of East Germany and the reunification of Germany. Often the discussions, around the table, are memories. Falko grew up in a world I’ll never know and only barely understand. Communist East Germany is often discussed and it is praised and criticized. So the girls are becoming familiar with the land their father came from and rediscovering where they come from.

We spend our days visiting the places we remember.

“This is where we lived, Treska, when you were just a baby…..” “Kaya – we lived here when I was pregnant with you.” “This is where we ate brunch on Sundays.” “This was our favorite bakery.” “This was our neighborhood.” “Here I would park the stroller and sit – while you ate ice-cream, ran around and played in the fountain.” “That’s the tree you ate that berry from and we had to take you into the hospital to make sure it wasn’t poisonous.”

We visit the friends we spent our time with when our children were toddlers. I feel drawn to all the women carrying their babies in “tragetuecher.” I was one of them here in Leipzig. Here is where I became a mother.

We have been telling the girls stories every day. Every day we tell stories of their childhood, of our lives. The same stories have been told again and again.  In Regensburg, we sat at a Biergarten on the Danube and told the story of how we met. The girls were fascinated. We reminisced and laughed and told stories that I am sure surprised the girls. We went to the WG (Wohngeminschaft – or large apartment with lots of students living in it) that we met in and lived in. We saw that it is still a WG – we walked the hallway. They saw the door that I fumbled for my key at – just mere seconds before meeting their father. We showed them where we ate dinner together. We walked the streets of the tiny little city of Regensburg and told story after story.

I love this part of this trip. I love the firm roots the girls are getting. This is where they come from. This is their family. They have been spending every day with their Oma and Opa. Anne and Gregor (cousins) have come to spend time with them and they all hit it off wildly. Anne and Treska (both 15) walked hand in hand everywhere. Kaya and Gregor (almost 13 too) surprised Oma by shooing her out of the kitchen and cleaning it up.  My daughters can see where they come from and can see how they are different and how they are the same.

Cousins

And, of course, I love the rapidly expanding German vocabulary that is happening here. Both girls have always been fluent – but the improvement is lovely.  It’s amazing how quickly one switches into the other language. My conversations with Falko, even when we are alone, have reverted to German.  Treska noted, incredulously, that she almost feels like a different person in German.  She says that her voice is higher and her inflection is different. It’s true. When she speaks English, she is American. When she speaks German, she is German. It’s a clear difference in her personality – almost. I see this in Falko. I met Falko in German, we only spoke German for the first, let’s say, 7 years of our relationship. Five years in to our marriage, we moved to America and slowly he began to speak English well enough to carry on conversations with us – even at home. Now, of course, his English is almost perfect!  But he is different in German. It’s interesting. I see it as being truly bi-cultural. These children, with two languages, are sometimes bi-lingual, but sometimes they are not only bi-lingual, they are bi-cultural. I am curious to think about this more. What a gift these children from two cultures have. They not only can speak two languages they are capable of moving back and forth, easily, in two cultures – two different ways of interpreting the world.

It’s a trip to remember. I’ve taken millions of photos and the amount of learning happening on this trip is wild. It’s penetrated many layers. Being out of my comfort zone and living with extended family for weeks at a time is holding a mirror up to myself and testing my core beliefs about myself.

A no-good, horrible, rotten, day. Almost!

A man representing a fatherhood initiative came as a visitor to our childbirth education class today. He’s a smaller man, attractive, round, hip glasses and a vibe about him that feels kind, open and sweet. He began talking about what it means to be a father. He didn’t mince his words. He described truthfully how it is to have a new baby in the home. He talked about the intense challenges all these parents-to-be would face. He discussed and described the desperation felt between two sleep-deprived adults and a crying baby. He discussed how intense it is to father a newborn, a toddler.  He said, “Life as you know it is over!”

It was definitely a bit of a shocker for some of the dads. They were curious, interested but also shocked. But, you know, it’s true. This man didn’t forget to talk about the beauty or the realization that you would never have it any other way. I talked about children as an enhancement. They make the joy brighter and the challenges even more difficult. They add a superlative to the quality of life. It’s hard for these glowing mamas to register the reality of what is like to have a newborn. There is an idealization that happens as you prepare to be parents. I really appreciated his words and his honesty – the authenticity of his experiences.

We all know those days. THOSE days where you do everything in your power to deflect and deflate situations and they just seem to get worse and grumpier. My gosh. Oh my gosh. It is hard to not get sucked into a day when you have a beyond cranky child. A horribly sullen face that is unhappy with every option. These are the days that happen sometimes. They seem to happen more and more seldom as the children get older, but when they happen – boy do they HAPPEN! For gosh sakes we all have cantankerous days. I know I have days where I am more sensitive to other people’s energy than usual. Days where I haven’t slept all night and can’t discuss, for the 27th time, why the dishwasher needs to be turned on every single night. (My favorite is when my daughter says, 27 times in a row, “Oh really? Do you want me to turn it on at night? You never told me that.”)

(No joke, as I was writing that very last sentence, Falko says – look the dishwasher isn’t on again! I had to read that passage aloud. The daughter found that funny!)

It can be exasperating this job of being a parent. It is the hardest job I will ever do. (And I tell you I come up against some difficult stuff in my line of work!) I want to do this so well, so perfectly and find it hard to find myself very much less than perfect.  And we learn and we get better and better at it. For example, today. Often I will sink into the mood created by others around me. If a girl is having a hard time with her day, unhappy about doing homeschooling, annoyed at having to clean up something, not wanting to take the dogs on a walk or any of a plethora of options, I often feel it acutely. It can really affect my own state of being. I feel like I must be able to “make it better” and when I can’t, I feel like a failure!  And today – I was able to only let if affect me superficially. I listened, I was empathetic, I discussed strategies, I offered assistance and allowed myself to enter deeper and deeper into a state of desperate organizing. I went through the mail basket, paid bills, cleaned out our spare room, threw heaps and heaps of old and useless papers away. I immersed myself in productivity and checked in every once in awhile with the grumpiness. And then I went and taught childbirth ed class and this insightful man talked about the joy and challenge of raising these little beings. He said, “My wife and I always thought we were the only people on the planet with these issues.” And everyone laughed. What a great reminder. We are all in this together. Getting better all the time!

This is what I came home to. One of my lovely daughters made dinner and a cake. And, once again, it all balances out.

 

She put Magic in Treska’s Hands!

Robin said to me, as I gave her a tour of the Birth Center, “Don’t you just want to drop down and kiss the earth for this incredible gift?” She was referring to the fact that she had met Treska and knew she wanted to become a midwife. My daughter wants to be a midwife. It’s a dream. She loves birth, and attended her first birth at age 5. She craves it, and just loves it. She reads everything she can get her hands on about birth and just recently, she has taken to following me around the house or climbing into bed with me with a written list of questions. “So mom, do you use the modified Brandt-Anders Method or the plain Brandt-Anders? Have you ever seen a marginal insertion? Don’t mal-presentations scare you? And……and…..and…..” I love it. After a birth she wants to process as much as I do! Now there lives someone, in my own house, who wants to talk birth as much and sometimes even MORE than I do!

Treska wants to catch babies. Today, Robin Lim, one of the most famous and incredible midwives blessed Treska’s hands and “put magic in them.”  She told Treska that she would be an incredible midwife one day and “catch lots of babies.” Robin Lim has been on tour with her movie, Guerilla Midwife for three weeks in the US. She is trying to raise money and support  for her birth centers in Bali and Sumatra.

A most worthy cause. I felt happy to be able to donate. One always thinks one doesn’t have money, but when you watch movies like this and hear Robin talk about the circumstances she witnesses every day, I am reminded of my wealth.

Our Birth Center was brimming with enthusiastic and warm women who had come to hear Robin talk. Our back-up OB/GYNcame as well with her beautiful and radiant smile. Midwives from Espanola and surrounding areas attended. We hosted doulas, aspiring midwives, apprentices and children….even Kaya came out and sat with us. Robin singled her out to tell a story of placenta previa. Kaya’s red crocheted hat reminded her of a birth she had where the baby of the laboring mama came to her in a dream. The baby was wearing a red cap and was urgently trying to convey a message. Robin woke from her nap and ran to the center where the baby and  mother were in acute danger due to a previa. The red cap was the baby’s placenta – Kaya’s red cap! Kaya was amused. She grinned.

We drank tea and ate our lunches while Robin talked. She sat cross-legged on our wooden bench and told story after story. She told stories of births and families in Bali. She talked about the Tsunami in Indonesia and their relief efforts. She described the malnutrition and the tearing of the perineum so common there. She described the flowers blooming on the streets and the petals in the water of the birthing tub and placenta bowl. She told of hardships and joys. Of birth and death.  She spoke about the placenta and the importance of the organ as well as delayed cord clamping. She promotes lotus birth and  believes in leaving the placenta on as long as possible – until it falls off on its own.  I am looking forward to  reading her newest book on the Placenta.We have done lotus births at the center when requested. We have, also, cooked, fried and pureed placentas for mamas to eat. Normally we allow the cord to stop pulsing before cutting, often we deliver the placenta before cutting the cord. The only time we cut any earlier is with hemorrhage or fear of hemorrhage – an indication of sorts.

My beeper is next to me here, quiet as can be. My phone is still – but I am just hoping that a new baby will arrive in the wee hours tonight, while Robin Lim’s presence can still be felt in our Birth Center. I am inspired. Again.

And so is Treska!

Homeschooling

Here we are again. We are beginning our new curriculum – (Oak Meadow of course!) Oh we have a lot to do. Tons. I wonder how it is in other households. Are there others out there that homeschool their teens? I am so curious. What is it like over here? What have we been up to? This will be one of my homeschool update blog entries. I like to keep track here of what we have been doing for future reference.  Both girls finished their curriculum from last year in its entirety. Done. They did really well and learned a ton. I did too. I love reading and learning about the subjects they are reading and learning.  We do lots of enhancement exercises as well. For example – Kaya studied Ancient Civilizations. This means she had lots of lessons on different world religions. We watched The Buddha and The Story of India (The entire 6 hours!) to go along with it. Documentaries are fun to use, but hard to find the time.

So what have we been up to?

  • math, math and more math with Kaya
  • Treska finished up her curriculum by doing her Physics. Wow. Hard stuff and good stuff.
  • Attended a Seed Savers Workshop in Dixon with guest speakers from Guatemala
  • As usual, incredible amounts of reading!
  • saving seeds from our own garden
  • ballet class 2-3 times a week
  • beginning piano again – practicing almost every day (Kaya)
  • Kaya has begun writing a book. A fantastic one at that!
  • Treska learned how to make pasta and has made some incredible dinners and lunches
  • Photography art opening of a friend
  • Kaya is taking a youth acting workshop once a week for 2 hours!
  • Kaya started an internship/volunteer opportunity for 2 hours each week at a Pet grooming and training center. (This entailed phone calls, writing a resume, follow-up for an interview and an interview! All done completely on her own!
  • Sewing class (for Kaya) once a week
  • along with their assigned curriculum each week they are both reading German books as well.
  • Math games on the computer
  • Treska does Yoga at least 2 times a week with me
  • Attended San Geronimo day at the Pueblo – Kaya researched it and wrote a paragraph about it.  She then presented it to the apprentices as we drove there.
  • Farmer’s Market every Saturday

Oh and I’m sure there has been so much more. I’m sure. Each time we start a new year of the curriculum I vow to be incredibly organized. I’ve figured out some great systems. We write our assignments on the white board in the kitchen.  This not only reminds them of their curriculum/homeschooling responsibilities it reminds me. Kaya loves it that way – she’s a methodical worker and loves lists. Treska uses her own system and keeps track with her notebooks, so her list on the white board is really best for me to remember exactly where she is.  I’m a bit compulsive and so while many people never finish their curriculum work and pick and choose what they feel to be most important, I feel like we absolutely have to do it all. I know that the school systems never finish each year. But we do. The kids are really learning a lot of things that they wouldn’t normally come across in their daily life.  One thing I really love is how much the girls already know.

It’s hard to find a book that Kaya hasn’t read. This means all  (yes ALL) of the assigned books have already been read by Kaya. Another example: This week Kaya has to memorize one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. She already has memorized one – so now she will memorize two. I’m not writing this here to brag about the girls – or try to convince you that we are academically superior – not at ALL. I just love reading these posts later when I wonder how we are doing (feeling a little desperate and maybe behind) and remembering and seeing what we have accomplished and why I LOVE homeschooling my girls. We have so many opportunities and I feel like their lives are full of real interactions with real people in real situations. My girls have many friends their own age and many, many friends in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and one really good friend in her 60s! This enables them to interact on so many different levels. They strive to emulate the people they see and admire. These aren’t usually their peers. They have more time to be in the world – yet they are still doing much book learning and spending time doing things their friends are doing. Treska even went to a homecoming football game!

And now the question of college begins. Treska has been researching different colleges and locations that she would like to attend and my job (hers too) is to determine what the requirements are in place  for homeschoolers. Many of the universities that she is interested in are in Europe. (She is passionate about learning languages!) We need to figure out exactly what the reciprocity of different diplomas are. What is possible and what needs to be done to comply. I love being so intimately involved in the girls’ education. I know what they know and what they don’t. I know what needs to get done and where they are strong and what their weaknesses are.

Anyhow!  It’s a bit of a ramble –  probably due to my quiet day at home. Usually I talk all day and have no desire to expound in the evening. Today, after spending the night at the Birth Center, being spoiled by Kaya, taking a long epsom salt bath with yummy essential oil, organizing the new curriculum, giving assignments, overseeing math work, listening and talking with my extremely chatty 15 year old (I love how she tells me everything! Feel honored too!) and cleaning my house – laundry and all, I feel ready to chat!  Our wood stove is burning – the first time this year, my girls are at ballet and I get to relax!

I Hope the Memories will be Amusing!

I wonder what it is like to be the daughter of a midwife. Sometimes I hear statements like, “My home away from home is the Birth Center.” Yesterday after a long night and an early morning, Kaya was dropped off at 8ish at a homebirth. After that we went to the Birth Center, she came with me, book in hand. She called down the hall, “Mom – how long will we be here, aren’t you off today?” I said, “I’m just going to settle this mama in, and do one appointment.” Kaya laughed – or was it a snort? Joan said, “Well a midwife’s daughter knows what that means!” I guess that means, “Who knows? I have no idea how long we will be here. Things change every minute!” As Kaya left, she said to our receptionist, “Well! I’m sure I’ll see you later!”

She does well – that Kaya! I can’t be upset with her. Out of 402 births, she only resisted once! Yesterday there was a lot of running around. To a homebirth, to the birth center, home – oh God! Run back, “She’s going fast!!!” Yesterday was the first time, really, that Kaya couldn’t make up her mind of what to do. Usually the plan is in place, and yesterday in my moment of running out the door. (When that phone call comes, I have to speed. It can be intense! A drop everything and run type of deal.) Kaya couldn’t decide whether she should come or stay with our neighbor and make pesto. In her frozen moment, I made the decision for her, brought her and it worked well. But I panicked. I have never seen that reticence. It was different yesterday since it was a homebirth. Usually, if there is no other plan in place, the girls will come to the birth center, settle in, do homeschooling or, if we have a low number of apprentices, help in the birth room. (This only happens if you are Treska and LOVE birth.) Homebirths are trickier. Sadly, we only do about 10 percent homebirths. These last two months, however, the majority of our births were homebirths – and so the surprise calls that happen when Falko isn’t home can be more challenging in regards to the kids.

It worked out well with Kaya yesterday. She had a good book and the home happened to have an 8 week old puppy that needed entertainment. The day was beautiful, crisp, sunny. She sat outside in the courtyard, with the smell of fallen leaves, and an adorable puppy sleeping at her feet while she read. She could hear the familiar birth sounds, the friends and family coming in and leaving the house. The sisters of the mama, who were younger than Kaya, came out and played with the puppy intermittently. She was content, and I was relieved!

Treska loves the excitement of birth, loves the surprise and is always hopeful that she may be able to be helpful in some way. She likes the energy of the birth room, loves the singularity of birth and is happy to sit in the kitchen with the birth bustling around her.  Kaya would rather not. She will immerse herself in a book as far away from the birth activity as possible. “It’s not my calling, mom.” She doesn’t like the disturbance and the unpredictability. She likes more routine and structure and I have to really, really hand it to her – because she does so well with the spontaneity of birth. (401 out of the 402 times!) She mentions often, how strange it must be for other kids looking into her life. “My life is very different from that of my peers, mom.” Just the other day she said, “It’s just normal, mom, that you get up and leave a dinner quickly. It’s normal that my mom is on call, but that wouldn’t be normal for other kids. Their moms don’t get up and leave for the night!”  I think she is just realizing that this is unique to her family.  She’s grown up with birth, being on call, surrounded by midwives and apprentices, and pregnant bellies. Her second home is the birth center.  I started my first internship when she was 5 months old and still nursing. Every time there was a birth my milk would come in and flood the front of my pink scrubs (in Germany we wore scrubs). The oxytocin was stimulated by the cry of the newborn.   Kaya has truly grown up immersed in birth. It’s the most natural thing in the world for her!

It has been a particularly busy week. And we only have two midwives until November. That means we are on call 24/7 for until then! We’ve only had two births this week, but it has felt like we have had 5. I’ve been gone for a part of many nights this week. Today will be a day of recovery. (I think.) I hope. Yesterday’s (literal) speeding around all day and high emotion stimulated by the pressure of having to move fast, plans almost falling through (don’t even mention the Ski Swap around here….), guilt about not helping with pesto, and tears of JOY when the baby was finally born to a little mama that I had grown very, very fond of. I so wish I could write my birth stories up here and somehow it wouldn’t be a breach of confidentiality. I am privy to amazing stories: Beautiful, heartbreaking, intense, joyous, terrifying, funny, intimate and authentic. I do write them down (sometimes) to tell later. I’d love to write a “Baby Catcher”  (by Peggy Vincent) type book when I retire. Oh, well – in my 80s or something. I never want to retire, never want to stop being allowed to be with woman while they birth!

I hope my children will remember:

speeding down dirt roads to the sound of Joan’s voice on the speaker phone saying, “Hurry, she’s WILD!” and packing random food items in a basket to sustain the long nights, the phone ringing in the middle of the night, the automatic check to see if my car is there in the morning, the “where will I be today?” question always posed, the moans and groans of labor, the cries of the newborn, the patience and long hours of crocheting, knitting and embroidery, the nap in the middle of the day, reading outside of someone’s homebirth and the constant hellos my children receive at the Farmer’s Market and Cids by women with big ol’ bellies or little newborns, the gory details overheard in the car or at the table, (Moooooom! Not at the table!) the stack of midwifery and birthing books everywhere in the house, the exhausted mama in bed sipping coffee, the long conversations with my partners discussing all the details of a birth or the clinic day, the ever-changing apprentices

as rich and beautiful.  I love this life – I’ll take the high emotion and roller coaster timelines any day over the consistency of a life without birth. I am hoping my daughters will look back and tell the story of their childhood with love, amusement and happiness. Gosh, I hope so!

In the middle of it all – we will harvest our gardens and move forward, enjoy our lives and the excitement of what it brings us every single day.

 

 

Yesterday's Harvest

 

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