Friday, December 20, 2013

Questions















Although there is no snow, everything is gilded with ice. The frozen ground crunches under foot and the tree tops are frosted white.

I took my camera on a walk along my favorite new forest path, which leads to a grassy open area, all the shades of camel, sand, chestnut, and pale wheat. It is so beautiful there right now. Tranquil, completely silent except for the chirping of birds who swoop from branch to blackberry cane. The mist is so heavy that it is hard to tell where the trees end and the sky begins. I couldn't stop taking photographs.

I wanted to tell you about the combination of things which have made daily living in it's current state a bit difficult: since winter is here, and it is bitterly cold, Rafael doesn't want to stay in the forest very long in the mornings. He also has stopped taking naps at midday. And he also has found it hard lately to play on his own, which he used to do for long periods of time. This means that we have a ton of time indoors where he is dissatisfied. His friends are all in daycare or kindergarten, and he is starting to get antsy and bored with me as a play mate. I am really beginning to realize how unnatural it is for a child and a mother to be alone for such long periods of time. I don't think it is good for him, or for me. He needs the company of other children. And I need to talk about something other than firemen, and need to do something other than desperately try to come up with something to keep my son busy and happy. 

My husband's work year has come to a close and it has been refreshing to have more time for myself while he goes on little day trips to the zoo or museums with Rafael. While they strengthen their bond, I am quieting down and getting to know myself as a whole person, aside from my role as a mother. These quiet hours to myself, either at home or in the woods, give me the possibility to reflect on what I want. What is working in my life, and what could use improvement. Which areas need a little fixing, and which areas need a big renovation.

Questions I am asking myself lately: When this new year begins, what do I want to change about our daily rhythm? Should Rafael spend more time with other children in a childcare setting? Would it be better for him, and for myself, to have some space, and to have experiences with other children and people? Am I holding him back by keeping him at home? Or am I pushing him to early if I send him to daycare or kindergarten? If Rafael starts going to kindergarten or daycare a few mornings a week, how am I going to use my time alone? Should I do something creative? Something that earns money? Something creative that earns money would be great...but is that realistic? Should I instead use the time alone to get housework done so I can focus on Raffi when he's home? Or....should he stay home longer, as originally planned, and I just need to structure our at-home time better, and begin teaching him things at home myself? Will staying home make me bitter? Or do I just need a different approach?

I still have not found the answers to these questions. I am hoping things will evolve and form naturally, that answers will present themselves, that things will flow easily and I will make changes and decisions lovingly and with a happy heart. 

What I know for sure is that I must make some changes.

I feel pressure, in the time I have to myself, to be especially productive; to do or make something creative. I ask myself: is there really room, time, space, for me to just be for a little bit? Can I allow myself that? Today I finally let myself sit in bed for a while, looking out the window at bare branches and sky, even dozing off. I am so used to functioning day in and day out, and using every spare minute productively. After all, friends and family ask: "So, what did you do with your free time?" I always feel like I should have these great things to report. 

Just being along, doing nothing for a little while, felt like the biggest luxury imaginable. 

xoxoxo




72 comments:

  1. As a Momma to a 15 year old and 12 year old also loving in a more rural setting I can can relate to your words. Before my kids were born I was creative and out going. But having my children was every thing to me yet I felt as you that something had to change. As my children grew and started school I became involved with them at school and volunteered in every way possible at school with art. Is there any way that you could put your son in a school and yet volunteer? I to would be asked what do you do? It was also very hurtful and painful. My local church had a group that met once a week called " MOPS" I was able to meet other Mom's and my daughter was in a classroom setting for 3 hours. The Mom's that I met all those years ago are still my friends. Remembering the time away from your son will make you a better Mother but balancing that too is hard. I have felt that the years that I had with my children when they were under 5 went by so fast . I so enjoy your beautiful photography maybe you could find another way of sharing it that would bring you a bit of an income? stay strong and know that you are walking the path that so many of us do.. but yours is your own I just know that you will find just the right one! Hugs, Cathie Camano Island, Washington USA

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cathie, thank you for your insight and for sharing your experiences here. I do love taking photos but I'm not a professional photographer. I'm not sure if I am prepared or able to pursue a 'career' in photography, though the dream has taken root in my mind. Thanks so much for reading and taking part in the conversation!

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  2. Hello Dawn,
    long time lurker, first time poster. I love watching your pictures of landscapes.
    I'm thinking myself about improving my photography skills. Can you tell me what camera you use ?
    Bises,
    Maddy, France.

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  3. Hi Maddy, I use a Canon EOS M, fitted with an adaptor ring, and a Macro 100mm lense. Thanks for reading!

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  4. Ignore people who ask what you do with your free time. If you feel like lazing a day away in your warm jammies in bed, do it. I am not saying every day, but once in a while, You deserve that. I had my son home until he was 3 and then he went to preschool where I volunteered. They loved me so much they hired me! Some people have their kids go 3 days a week for a few hours each day. If you have a friend/mother who lives nearby, maybe you could do an exchange a couple days a well--one week she takes Raffi for a few hours a couple days so mommy has time to do whatever she wants, the next week you take her child, and so on. When I was a young mother, I was very much in to arts and crafts and books and nature. I would get books from the library to help with crafting ideas. My son loved the activities. We would have outings around the area. Sometimes they were "themed"--find 10 different kinds of leaves, find 10 different bugs and photograph them to try to identify later, find 10 different rocks, etc. There were a couple shows I liked him to see (and may be watchable on the internet now): Reading Rainbow and Bill Nye The Science Guy. My son was mesmerized by the shows and learned at the same time. Books were a big part as he loved to hear them read. Many trips to the library were done. My son would sometimes plan "a party"--he would set up a game to play, an art area for us to draw what he wanted us to draw, a party snack (usually crackers, cheese and a cookie), etc. He would draw an invitation each time and give it to me! We sang songs often, too.
    I was always doing crafts and he would love to do some on his own. I did needlepoint, painting birdhouses, making ornaments, etc. and created a way for him to do them as well.
    He also was good about entertaining himself, sometimes sitting in front of my cheval mirror with toys and books and talk to the "little boy: in the mirror and playing with him. So cute and creative, You are such a creative woman I am sure you will come up with ideas that will suit your son and you.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for these great ideas Rose! And for the encouragment. I do a child swap with my sister two mornings a week, once she takes Raffi, once I take her son. It's great.

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  5. When I first retired from teaching, people would ask me, "What are you going to do with your time?" And my favorite response to being put on the spot....as if I needed their approval....was, "Whatever I want to do!" You don't own anyone an explanation. Since you do spend so much time with Raffi, it seems entirely healthy to me that you allow him to become involved in some sort of pre-kindergarten setting. He'll find new stimulation from the teacher and other children, and you'll have time to re-group and replenish your soul. I remember what it felt like to struggle with 'the right decision' for changes when my son was young. You're such a thoughtful, conscientious mother, Dawn, that I'm sure you'll find the right balance. Oh, one more thought....I still wish you'd put together a collection of your photos for a calendar. I'd buy one in a heart-beat! xxxJudy

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Judy, you always have kind, encouraging words. I am too late for a 2014 calender though, right? It's a great idea..I think of making one every year for friends and family. Selling them is a cool idea!

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    2. Even if it weren't ready until February, I'd STILL buy one....and every year thereafter! Wall calendar, desk calendar, a diary, whatever... I'd take one of each. Hope that someday you'll have them for sale! xxxj

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  6. new to your blog~ a friend just recommended it to me and I'm so glad she did...... I think your photos are amazing, my favorites here are the top 2 in the 4-photo collage, and the one of the forest below that. just beautiful and so lovely- amazing colors. certainly look professional to me! and good luck on finding your right groove with your son~ I've got a nearly 4 year old daughter and I've been thinking about structuring our time at home a bit more too in the new year. always that search for the sweet spot, right?
    cheers from NC

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda! Thanks so much, it's so encouraging to get feedback on my photos. Yeah, I do feel that with parenting, I need to constantly reevluate what is working, what my morals and beliefs are, and to pay close attention to my son's current phase and needs. There is no book of answers for this stuff!

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  7. Follow your heart, choose what gives you peace within. Your loving presence in your son's daily life is more valuable than you possibly realize. I remember all the doubts and worries I struggled with as a young mother, but now that my children are young adults I see what I couldn't see then, that remaining home with them gave them a stability that they could rely on. And now as I look back I wish I hadn't listened to all the other voices and fretted so much. A quote that may help...“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. i'll always be with you.” A.A Milne

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    Replies
    1. Kerrie, this is a very touching and inspiring quote. Thank you!

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    2. That quote made me cry! So very sweet.

      Elise

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  8. Your photos are just gorgeous. So serene and lovely. I know JUST how you feel, as I came to that same situation with my daughter. I was home to BE WITH her, yet I felt like we were both getting frustrated with each other after a while. I ended up sending her to 'preschool' for a couple of days a week and it was a God-send in more ways than one. For one, it led us to a wonderful church home. And it also prepared her for a classroom setting that made going to 'real school' so much easier. And as an only child, she learned a little about 'not being the center of attention all the time.' She also made some great friends, and as a result, I think enjoys school and being social much more than if she'd been thrown into a school setting cold turkey. As moms we need to realize that looking after ourselves and our happiness isnt selfish. In fact, making a healthy happy mama makes for a healthy happy family. Take care of yourself!~!

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  9. I love that you use your blog to think aloud...and I hope that you find something helpful or inspirational in the thoughts that others share with you :) I think there is an opportunity out there for you to share your writing and photographs. You are so very talented and have much to share that will touch others!

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  10. From reading your blog, I know Raffi is a very smart boy. At his age, my niece started learning her letters and then reading Bob books. she really loved it. Nothing stressful or having to sit still for too long, but adding more learning to his routine might help. They are just sponges and it is amazing what they can do.


    Merry Christmas,
    Elise

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  11. Raffi might need a few mornings a week to just be with other children. You will never be a horrible mother if you decide to that, and it might help you truly cherish the time you do spend together. I would also recommend you just take that time to "breathe" a little, and do some house chores...that way, you do give him 100% of your time when you are together. I hope you are able to come up with a decision, I know from experience that this topic is stressful.

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  12. Merry Christmas, Dawn!

    Raquel

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  13. I can only recommend to send Raffi to a Kindergarten or Kita, Dawn! Our little girl is about the same age (2 days younger) than your precious boy and she's in a Kita since she's 11 months. It's actually much harder for the mommy than for the kiddo to "let go", but since I experience she's having so much fun there interacting with kids and others, finding their first fellows to play with etc., I don't feel like a "bad mother" anymore (you'll have that feeling at the beginning, too, but ALL mothers experience that. It's totally okay). All my other mummy friends (even the ones who are blessed to stay at home for more than just a year) started to give their kids to Kitas, full- or part-time. The little ones can profit so much, and you both will be way more balanced (mind-wise), I'm sure about this. Imagine you pick up Raffi from there and he starts to excitingly telling you about what he's done, what they ate etc. It's awesome. What about starting with just a couple of days per week? Or just the mornings until noon?! It'll help you to find new inspiration! And pleeeease allow yourself to just "waste" a couple of days in bed or cuddled up on the sofa with your laptop or TV... And give yourself time in finding something you really would love to do (if it's photography, painting, blogging, reanimate your etsy engagements, whatever...). Take your time, and take it for yourself! You'll see that it will be a benefit for the entire family. And you have a wonderful one!!! ;-)

    Love and hugs from Germany!
    Nadine

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for these supportive words! I am navigating my way through all the options. I know I will find what is right for us all.

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