Treska and I drove into a birth one late night this weekend. We were meeting Joan. We had already had a birth in the morning that day and were looking forward to another one. My SUV was quiet, the moon was the largest I had ever seen it. Rising above the mountains. I took photos from our driveway – but they didn’t quite turn out….so I will spare you.
Treska put on the music and we drove in through our sleepy town. Dark with sparkly lights in the plaza. The galleries were lit up to showcase our town full of art. Full of artists. Life artists too!
She looked at me, her eyes still sleepy, her scarf making her look warm and cozy. She said, “Mom, Can you believe this is what we do? We get up in the middle of the night and we drive to a birth? A birth? We’re so lucky. We really are. Can you believe we are driving in to a birth together?”
We are. So lucky.
It’s the nuttiest week of the summer. It started with two baby girls, one baby boy, the middle holds a carful (and houseful) of friends from California and one from Oregon (love, love, love this!), being on the radio, yoga, meetings, clinic, late night outdoor dinners, a photo shoot for a 13-year-old, red wine, an outdoor concert, a mini memorial, baked cakes and made pies, planning session lunches. The week will end with a Red Party and a Birthday! I haven’t integrated anything yet, just enjoying the pace…..
I’d love to share with you some interesting links I’ve enjoyed this week.
For anyone looking for reasons to homeschool, it is simply and eloquently stated here.
“Down time” is so important for a child, don’t feel guilty about not doing every activity available.
“If I should have a daughter…..” A TED talk - I wish I could watch a Ted Talk every single day.
See you soon …..
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.
This is exactly is what I love for my weekends. Lovely. After a great birthday celebration for Falko on Friday it was a sweet and slow weekend. Saturday was rainy – a special treat here in the high desert. It provokes quiet and indulgent stay-at-home projects. I was able to stay home almost all of both days. My own personal heaven. The girls had ballet Saturday morning which left me a morning in bed with coffee and my book. I haven’t had much time to read and I’ve decided to take the time again. The rest of the afternoon was consumed with Kaya’s baking projects, a deep and soaking bath, some quilting (I’m moving forward), lots of homeschooling talks as well as corrections and assignments. Both girls are moving forward nicely. In the evening, Kaya and I bundled into bed and watched “Stress” a National Geographic documentary on the neurological and physiological impacts of stress. I know it sounds geeky, but I love ANYTHING about the brain. I just bought two more books (brand-new) on the subject of neurology. I can’t help it.
Treska stayed up quite late last night working on grammar. Her english book this year is focusing on grammar a bunch. Also Poetry. So, while Kaya memorizes a Shakespearean sonnet (her second one), Treska is learning more about sonnets from other poets. Memorizing, reading and writing poetry. I love this curriculum!
Today was a slow and easy morning again. Reading and then to Yoga. Restorative yoga – which is about all I can handle at the moment. It must have been the wonky positions I found myself in at some recent births, but I’m sore. I love going to yoga with Treska. She’s so good at it and I can see that she really enjoys it. She was complimented a bunch today in class by a teacher who doesn’t usually praise. She felt good about it – I love his class. (Probably because he is always mentioning the pineal and pituitary……located in my favorite place.)
Treska and I shared a coffee and yummy sandwiches at a favorite local spot with a friend. And she drove! (More about this driving experience in another post….) Kaya went to a pumpkin carving party. I – another long soak, a bringing in of the squash, and booking of flights. (This is a tedious job, but full of anticipation! and Joy!) Squash soup for dinner! Then more corrections of grammar, with a difference of opinion regarding handwriting standards. I am a “harsh” critic. Yes. As parents we are much less lenient than a teacher. We want the best for our children. This means that no mistake goes uncorrected, no handwriting will be accepted, if it is sloppy. Throughout these discussions, Falko did Spanish homework and Kaya watched a documentary on Thomas Jefferson. This movie was her choosing and her desire. Yep. I would like to take more advantage of documentary watching. Such a fun way to learn! Since we don’t have a TV, and there is extremely minimal movie watching (about once a month due to just never having the time – not due to lack of desire), documentaries seem like a great idea! Kaya thought so.
Meanwhile, the fire was going in the wood stove the entire weekend – a backdrop of coziness. It’s beginning to get dark earlier and earlier. I love this. I really love daylight savings time. Most don’t. I like the days slowing down and I love getting home earlier, eating earlier and having quiet time in the evening. I sleep more, rest more and get more done at home. I love this fall season and am looking forward to winter. For now, we’ll stock up!
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?
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 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.
We were just babies ourselves when we decided to have our first baby! We spent some time tonight, while the teens and preteens were laughing in their bedrooms with friends and a self-proclaimed “sugar-high,” looking through the photo albums. Reminiscing. We went through our last fifteen years together – Treska’s whole life! There aren’t as many photos from before Treska as there are after Treska. I think my passion for documenting our lives (have you noticed?) began with Treksa’s birth. This photo above, was our announcement to our friends and family that we were pregnant. Above it, it said, “We are Schwanger” and below “Wir sind Pregnant” We were in Germany (My husband is East German). This is where we met, fell in love and began our family.
It’s amazing to actively remember this time in my life. Newly in love, newly married, in a foreign country – stimulated to grow in every single way! I absolutely loved being pregnant! I fantasized about my baby girl every day – all day. I dreamed of the birth, I read everything I could get my hands on – I never questioned my body. I had no fear. This was the time in my life (I was 24-25 during my pregnancy) that so many of my passions were realized. Midwifery and parenting. This was my own birth and that of my daughter’s as well.
As she grew, I grew. We grew as a family. Our plans and priorities changed. Falko encouraged me to consider becoming a midwife. We explored our possibilities, made choices that were very challenging and oh so good. After living in Germany for almost 8 years (Falko – his whole life), we decided to move to New Mexico where I could begin my education as a Midwife. We left behind an easy lifestyle, cushy jobs, and Falko’s incredible family. His parents live in Leipzig and we were (and still are) very close with them. It broke all of our hearts to leave, and Falko misses them bunches – but, still, to raise our children in this beauty we live in, has made it bearable.
Treska was born an amazing child, alert, open, loving, curious and awake. She is here in this world on two feet. She loves and is loved. I could not imagine asking for a daughter who could be anything more. I love this child/woman with my entire being and soul.
Thank you Treska for coming into our lives – for needing and wanting to be born. You have given me more than I can even convey. I love you so much.
A storm blew in and blew out. Quickly and Intensely. A pre-teen storm. A soon to be teen storm. I remember the ages when the girls were toddlers and there were quick storms. I had it down – I learned how to breathe, be calm and wait for it to pass. So I am doing that again. I have been truly spoiled. My girls are most often so easy, agreeable, helpful and willing. Not always. I’m not going to say it is always easy, but I do feel blessed by the girls. I love parenting beyond everything and because I want to do such a good job at it, I think about it non-stop. Non-stop. Almost all of my experiences I want to share with the girls. I want to teach them and love them and spend time with them. I enjoy watching them grow and expand and become more and more independent.
I think I have read every single parenting book in the world. I am learning all about teen brains right now – frontal lobe development, spontaneity, impulse control. My older daughter teases me about all the brain books I read, but honestly it makes sense to understand the neurological development of the girls. It was fascinating when they were little and it still is now.
I love how after the storm passes there is a beautiful understanding of her crazy emotions and an eagerness to resolve. I received a sweet letter of apology and an authenticity of expression. I remember when the girls were little and there would be a particularly intense time, more colic perhaps, crankiness, fussiness – I realized after these phases that there would be intense skill or cognitive development. They would have mastered something new – perhaps a new concept. (After today she will probably be able to fly!) Because, during the ages 11-13 (with room on both sides), these kiddo’s brains are developing at a rapid, and amazing rate, they are also faced with handling a lot of changes in themselves. I want to be able to help them navigate it all.
I love watching this even when it is challenging. I love my soon to be teens. I have one teen already and I will, within the next three months, have two teenage daughters. Everyone expects it to be hard. I know it will be no harder than raising a child. I look forward to it and embrace it and have deep gratitude that I am able to have these children. I am so lucky. I, like you, have the best daughters in the world.
My motto is: hike ‘em! When they are grumpy or cranky – hike ‘em. Go on a hike. Walk, move, hike. It will surely change the situation, turn it upside down. Turn it around. So we hiked!
and it worked! (Phew…. thank goodness!)