Category: parenting

destination: San Diego KOA campground 

Camping, lifestyle, Outdoors, parenting, travel October 17, 2015

  KOAs are not primitive camping (or ‘camping’ as I was raised with). They are more like RV parks with tenting capabilities. Generally speaking I prefer solitude to amenities, but when traveling on the cheap and with children, these really are great.  For $30-$45 a night you have a spot to park your tent and cook your meals and a convenient starting point for enjoying the lovely city of San Diego and surround areas for example.   The KOA in Chula Vista has a play ground, a pool, a cafe, quad cycles that you can rent, jumping pillows, a climbing wall, and best of all- trees and grass. The kids thought they were at an amusement park.  Showers and restrooms really aren’t awful to have access to either. Also, there are sweet little cabins available if you feel like a little luxury. 

We paid extra to have a more out of the way site without any neighbors (it also happened to have electricity and water), but there were various tent camping spots available. Our site has wood chips, the other tent sites have grass. 

The next morning we woke up and packed up right away. It took us 15 minutes to get to the San Diego zoo, and we even beat the crowds to a choice parking spot near the entrance. 

 

When you are traveling on the cheap and trying to cover many miles, taking the time to pick out the perfect campground in an unfamiliar wilderness (or city) doesn’t really make sense. Pulling over at the nearest safe spot so you can eat and sleep and the kids can burn off some steam does. I will also add that both of the KOAs we visited on this trip were extremely quiet. It seems that quiet hours are either strictly enforced or respected or both.  I am so pleased to have discovered such a convenient and affordable way to have room and board on the road and on the fly.  

 

destination: south carlsbad state beach 

Camping, lifestyle, Outdoors, parenting, travel October 14, 2015

This state park is 1.5 hours south of LA and 30 minutes north of San Diego. It is busy, and reservations must be made well in advance of your visit. We reserved our spot in May for this October visit. You want a spot overlooking the beach and not one of the spots sandwiched between the other campers and the road.  But once you have carefully studied the campground map, looked at campsitephotos.com (that’s what I do anyway), and made your reservation (around $40 a night), here’s what you can expect. 

These spots are pretty tight and some have trees/shrubs separating them from the others, some not so much. We had 163 near the end of the park. It faced the road on one side (rather than other campers) and the beach on the other. Next time I’ll book earlier and get one with shrubs on both sides, probably the one right in between the bathroom and the path down to the beach in the 160s. 

Our neighbors were a very large crowd of many families. People stuffing as many of themselves and their stuff into one spot seemed to be pretty common.  The good news about this is that with the sound of the ocean, you actually don’t hear too much from your neighbors unless they are very close by.   I am an extremely light sleeper, and I faired just fine and better in this busy campground thanks to the endless crashing of the waves. Get a nice awning with a side wall, and you can pretend you are alone on the bluff with the Pacific Ocean.  

These spots are perched high above the beach, and it is truly a lovely the view marred only by a utilitarian chain link fence. Perhaps California can spring for something more attractive someday.  The sites each had a picnic table and fire ring. We spent three days and two nights and will be returning.    

 The walk down to the beach was 5 minutes for us. Once there, the crowds were minimal.  The water was perfect for the heatwave.  My skin is still tingling with the memory and my mind’s eye occupied with my boys’ faces as they played in the waves. 

There were restrooms that were cleanish, most lacking hand soap so bring your own. The showers required quarters so we skipped them. The laundry facility has three small machines which we eagerly out to use. There were periodic spigots for rinsing off sand. There was a little camp store with the expected t shirts and souvenirs, but also and more importantly they had ice. 

A final perk is the accessibility to Carlsbad. There are many restaurants very nearby if you are tired of camp cooking. We checked out Pizza Port on the recommendation of my sister. The place was massive with rows of shared picnic tables and semi frenzied guests acting a little lord of the flies-ish in acquiring spots. Many families, much stimulation, and children everywhere. The good news about that was that no one cared when my travel weary children forgot their table manners. My 1 year old actually was involved in a minor baby brawl (he lost) with a larger baby wearing only pajama bottoms. 

 

road trip: 966 miles and back again 

Camping, Gear, lifestyle, Outdoors, parenting, travel October 14, 2015

  

Does the U.S. love road trips?  Yes it does! Our country is large. Our terrain and culture is varied. Our parks are many. We love automobiles. And it is the ultimate in democratic travel. Everyone with a road worthy vehicle can partake. Gas is currently way more affordable than plane tickets for a family of four. And I like to think that some of the mythological American still exists. The rugged individualism, the ‘go west and find prosperity and adventure’ the fierce independence of what we thought we once were. But I digress.

Trailer packed. Roof top tent mounted on trailer. Futon in Subaru. Our two-bedroom-road-trip-camparu was ready. Both kids had runny noses, one had a cough. Just under 1,000 miles of road, most of it the long dry desolate desert of Arizona lay ahead of us. We would be enjoying many climates, from cold mountain air, to desert heat, to sandy beach humidity. And we set off on the adventure. 

Things I have learned since leaving three days ago:

1.  Yes. It is a long haul with small children. 

2.  Yes. It is worth it. 

3.  KOA campsites are your friend.  They are everywhere. (Middle of nowhere, middle of city). They are easy to access from the highway. They are cheap. They are quiet. They have bathrooms and playgrounds. 

4.  Do not try to make good time on such a road trip. Plan for many stops and long stays so the kids enjoy themselves and don’t make you pay from their car seats. 

5.  Whatever your set up, if you decide the next campground you see is the one you want to sleep at, and your kids are asleep in their car seats- you will want to be able to set up beds quickly.  Lightning fast.  Our first night, we stopped driving around 9:30.  By 9:45, both boys were asleep in their respective beds and J and I were enjoying a beer under the starry desert night of AZ.  (This involved futon in the Outback and a roof top tent on a trailer). An airstream would be easier. But we can’t tow one with our 4 cylinder outback and we can’t afford one/ don’t have time to renovate one we can afford. 

5.  Absolutely indespensable items:

  • A good attitude and flexibility. 
  • Organizational skills. Do not bring anything that you can’t keep organized. Three camp meals a day with two little ones, and getting everyone dressed will make you crazy unless you run a tight ship. (Or it does me). 

6. Things I didn’t think I really needed until I used them on this trip:

  • An awning.  We have th REI Alcove and it is great. Shade is obviously important.  The optional side wall gave us privacy in the crowded campground. We backed the car right up to it, shading the car and providing a living room of sorts for the car bed.  I stretched the sidewall over our car windows at night for added privacy.    
  • Our berkey go water filter. We can fill our plastic 3 gallon water can up at any campground faucet and have plenty of  clean and safe water to drink. Keeping hydrated is so important, this keeps the cost and waste down of endless plastic water bottles 
  • The out sunny aluminum folding table. (Pictured above) It is tiny, and it is a tad shaky at times, but we ate every meal there.  It’s big enough for my 6’1″ husband and small enough for our one year old.  It folds in a flash and is lightweight. We actually never even brought our camp chairs out.
  • A fan.  Yes we froze in the high desert at night, but once we reached the coast, California was in the middle of a heatwave. A car at night can get stuffy under the best of circumstances. Our little fan powered by an incredible 8 D batteries kept the air moving just enough to make the paltry breeze moving through the two  open windows feel good. 

All in all the trip has been wonderful. We are already planning another even longer trip next summer. The kids are absolute troopers and watching them experience the ocean for the first time has been amazing. We our leaving our beach campsite and heading to the city next.  The world is wide and time is short. I’m so pleased to be able to introduce the joys of travel to these boys and not have to wait until we can afford it. 

the roof top tent: james baroud horizon

Camping, Gear, lifestyle, Outdoors, parenting, travel August 31, 2015

After much anticipation, we finally got to try out the new tent this weekend.  First of all, the boys loved it.  What three year old doesn’t love ladders and forts?  It is essentially a treehouse that we take with us. Indeed, my son would climb ceaselessly up and down the ladder if we did not put it away.  Being a source of excitement to the children aside, (but not to be underestimated in terms of importance) the tent has many things we  enjoy:

  1.  Easy set up and take down.   This is one of the chief conveniences and reason for our purchase of this tent. J has it down to 7 minutes to break down, and far less than that for set up.  Our bedding is in it, park the car and we are haflway there.  This tent is supposed to facilitate easy road tripping and quick weekend trips. I am confident that it will serve these purposes nicely. 
  2. It is comfortable.  We are using full size pillows, plus camp pillows, a sheet set, and a comforter.  It is every bit as comfortable as the shikibutons we sleep on at home.  Perhaps more so.  There are many windows and the tent feels quite spacious for one adult plus one child (with one more of each inside the van). 
  3. The novelty and aesthetics for us adults is not to be underestimated either.  It is fun to lounge around up high.  We parked by the stream and amongst the trees and it was all really lovely. The interior is airy with many windows, and the silver color is pleasing compared to the often garish oranges or cave- like greens and browns that often grace similar tents. 
  4. Amazingly, it hasn’t touched our gas mileage. This tent is somewhere around 100lbs, and it’s light weight is one of the chief reasons we chose it. The Yakima roof rack itself bumped us down a couple miles per gallon, but not the tent itself.
  5. More room in the car! So much so that we are now fantasizing about trading in the minivan for a less thirsty, more off-road capable Subaru Outback or 4 door Toyota Tacoma once the boys are out of their gargantuan car seats.  (Though I have to say, the awd minivan gets us down some fairly ugly forest service roads to some beautiful and private spots)
  6. The fold over design creates a small ‘porch’ outside the door to our van. Next time, I’m going to rig up a sheet or shower curtain to enclose it, giving us a small changing room. 

 

Now for the short list of cons:

  1. We don’t have a dedicated camping/ travel vehicle, which means it sits on top of my daily driver.  We like to do quick weekend trips on a whim, so it must stay there to minimize the work needed to satisfy these whims. However since our gas mileage isn’t really touched, this is  more of a cosmetic issue as well as perhaps likely to shorten the life of the cover.  
  2. We sleep two in the van and two in the roof top tent. This led to some serious jostling throughout the night. This wasn’t really an issue for anyone but me, the super light sleeper that I am. 

After some thought both of these issues will be solved with a trailer, like these from Dinoot.  When it comes time to trade in the minivan, we will buy a lightweight, off-road capable trailer to install the tent on. Then we will leave that packed full of our gear and toys in the carport. Our sleeping platform will be unencumbered by gear and jostling in the back of the Outback/Tacoma, and the effort needed to get outside and get set up will be decreased even more.  This is all in the 5 year plan. Le sigh. 

All in all, the whole family is thrilled with the tent, and our next weekend getaway is already in the works as is a long trip to the coast for some fall beach camping.  Both Craig  Davidson at  James Baroud USA, and our local distributor, owner Walt WagnerTAV Expedition Outfitters were awesome and communicative. And we got free shipping.   

    the poor man’s (kind of) vanagon

    Camping, parenting, travel May 15, 2015

    The Euro Van is the most recent incarnation of the Westfalia (available in the U.S. atleast, there is a cruelly named ‘California’ available in Europe). And they are sweet. They represent freedom. They capture the spirit of the adventurous American, our grand National Parks, and long highways. You can picture one adorned with surfboards and bicycles and parked on a beach, I’m sure of it. If not, see Pinterest. My stepmother still speaks wistfully about the Westfalia she had when her boys were young, her eyes lose focus as they follow memories of rising early and driving off down empty roads to new adventures. She also remembers it as her mobile office, a private retreat reserved for her dissertation away from the hubbub of motherhood. The only problem with Westfalias is that they are old, some show their age better than others, and they are expensive because of the demand. She also tells me that they’ll break your heart when they break down as hers inevitably would. Eurovans went out of production more recently, and are in better shape but that comes with a price. Repairs can be costly, and for my family atleast, having a vehicle (expensive or not) expressly dedicated to camping is out of our budget. We are trying to make do as is with one family car and one work truck. There has to be another way.

    And there is I think.

    We went for it and bought a Toyota Sienna minivan. It is not hip like a Westfalia. Understatement, I know. It is reasonably fuel efficient, has all wheel drive, and has a spacious interior. As a daily driver with camper tendencies, is actually affordable. Ever since we got it I have been busy trying to transform it into my version of a camper van for some epic road trips that I have planned. We do face the issue of having two small children and therefore cannot remove all the seats (plus it being a daily driver is what makes it affordable). Additionally, we need to keep enough room to have two huge ass car seats as well as enough sleeping space for 4 people. I also must have the pull over and be asleep in minutes effect of the euro van/ Westfalia. No pitching tents. No leveling trailers, just sleep. So, while my plan isn’t exactly revolutionary, it is precise and I think I’ve worked out all of the details. Here they are:

    Priority: ready made bedding for four and easy food prep.

    Need:

    1xToyota Sienna, 2011 and up has sliding captains seats which is crucial to my plan of keeping our car seats latched in at night. (I also considered the Chevy Astro, but didn’t find a suitable one in our area, consequently I am unsure as to how the measurements break down.)
    ***you may be questioning the expense of a relatively new Sienna vs. a Westfalia, but think of this: gas mileage, dependability, comfort of interior for long distances of travel (the Sienna seats are spacious and comfortable, the captains chairs even have retractable foot rests), AWD, and the fact that a Sienna is a daily driver. Also, the beds on this set up are more roomy than those in the Westfalia.

    1 cooler

    1 Camp Chef Sherpa containing camp kitchen supplies (including small camp stove)

    1 Nemo Helio camp shower, and some sort of sink vessel (we have the fold up backpacking type). The Helio provides pressurized warm water. I will be writing a separate review of it in a camp kitchen post, because it is awesome.

    1 roof top tent (James Baroud or Autohome due to fastest set up) I like the James Baroud Horizon as written up here by expedition portal. It is light, low profile, pretty large, and less expensive than the other quick set up tents. They are available on adventure-ready.com

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    It would be awesome to have a hitch mounted stow away cargo rack to hold the camp chef Sherpa and cooler (they fit perfectly, I measured) for an easy access kitchen and making room for the bedding the van. But, that may come in a couple of seasons. In the meantime we will move the Sherpa and cooler to front seat for nights. Also, you may want to reserve the hitch mount for a bike rack.

    So, roof top tent goes on top of course with bedding. The captain seats remain in the car with the car seats. When they are pushed forward as far as they go, you have a full 72 inches in the back for sleeping (with bench seat folded down, obviously). The back holds one partially inflated sleeping pad and one cot already assembled (because that’s what we have, but a folded futon could work too) and bedding, folded in half, as well as the cooler, Sherpa, the water, our clothes and the toilet. Pull over, pop roof top tent, slide seats forward, flatten out the van bedding, throw the cooking stuff in the front seat, and sleep.
    Here is the bedding, assembled for travel and with ample room for the rest of our gear as well as the full extension of leg room for passenger seating.

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    Here is all the bedding and tent that we will no longer need to pack:

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    Here is the assembled bed, after a couple of minutes setup.

    Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThe cot fits my 6’1” husband comfortably, and the slightly folded sleeping mat will be perfect for one of the boys for many years to come. Without car seats, this could comfortably accommodate two adults around 6 feet.

    All we need now is the roof top tent and a road map.

    babies love tents

    Gear, parenting, travel April 27, 2015

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    Alright, we did it. We survived our first camping trip with a 7 month old baby and a two and a half year old toddler. Here are some thoughts on what worked and what didn’t work.

    sleep

    First and foremost, I was concerned about sleep (as are most parents of infants in general, most likely). Let me just say right off the bat that it was completely painless. In fact, the little one slept better than he had been at home recently and the toddler slept in until 7am (usually a 5:30, 6 am type of a guy). Both inspite of loud music from the neighboring camp until around 2am! Yes, I was the one who called the ranger. That’s just rude.

    I fretted all winter over what type of baby bed system would be best. Pack n play, travel crib, cot, baby sleeping bag, bunting suit. I just couldn’t figure it out and didn’t want to experiment with hundreds of dollars of equipment. As it happens, we ended up using a leaky sleeping pad folded in half with a crib sheet and topped with a sheep skin. I just put that next to my sleeping pad and we slept together under my unzipped down bag. The baby had warm pajamas and a wool sleep sack and a hat. He was cozy and barely stirred. Amazing. All that worry for nothing.

    The toddler slept in one of our full sized mummy sleeping bags on a full size pad. (A thin backpacking one was sufficient for his tiny self). We didn’t want to spend more money on kid sized stuff, and I can’t see a reason why. He slept great, slid around a little but we just scooted him right back into the pad. We also brought a battery powered sound machine from home to bring in a familiar element to bed time and just followed our routine as usual. The scary specter of sleepless nights in a tent vanished and I couldn’t be happier. I am buying a portable fan for naptime since it is during the hottest part of the day.

    I also think think that having a large tent made a difference. There was plenty of room for us all to spread out in. It is canvas, so pretty warm for a huge tent, and I was grateful for it when the wind picked up because it was quite quiet. So there it is. Sleep.

    eating and play

    As for the rest of the trip, our tent has a large door that essentially makes the tent an open shaded living area for daytime. The baby enjoyed army crawling about in there throughout the day, no pack n play needed. He tended to want to eat the sand so I had to watch him when he got off the blankets/ out of the tent.

    Instead of buying a portable highchair, we brought our baby back pack with stand and he chilled in there while we all sat in chairs. And as for the toddler, we use low to the ground camp chairs that also fit inside the tent. That way buying a special child sized chair isn’t necessary. He loves his camp chairs.

    This was primitive camping, so no picnic table, we just used a small GSI folding table. This was also good at night time to keep in the tent to keep our diaper changing items organized. It is also perfect for dining with the low chairs.

    Don’t forget an assortment of toys from home. I think I’ll be picking up a backpacking bocce ball set.

    organization

    Little kids require a lot of stuff and a lot of time and attention. Organization and streamlining packing makes this kind of venture so much easier to attempt. To that end, I’ll just go ahead and mention that a mountainsmith gear hauler is genius for families. We each get a ‘cube’ and it requires only one trip to load and unload for all four of us. It kept our tent organized, and the mesh bag that holds the folded up unit for storage doubled as a laundry bag. I keep trying to find an excuse to buy a second one, it is so useful.

    Also, those huge blue bags from ikea that cost a couple of bucks each are super useful. One had all of our bedding and another held all of our furniture. I want one more for odds and ends like the solar shower (pressurized by foot pump by Nemo, and excellent for rinsing dishes and sandy feet) and the portable potty (never thought I’d get one, but they are awesome, ours is from cleanwaste.)

    It is unrelated to children per se, but if you are looking to organize a camp kitchen, the Camp Chef Sherpa is great. Everything is in one place, it is compact, and no set up or take down. You can have pb and j made in a jiffy.

    Finally, I will be picking up a sand mat for the front of the tent. It turns out that toddlers run in and out of tents all day and don’t brush off their feet or remove their shoes. Lots of shaking sand out of everything.

    What else is there? Good clean family fun enjoying the great outdoors. It is such a great way to focus us on the basics and spend time as a family. Once your gear is put together, it is inexpensive as well. Happy camping.

    lullaby

    lifestyle, parenting, Uncategorized December 9, 2014

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    I sing my boys to sleep every night. The little one lights up when he hears a song, and the older one is starting to sing along. This holiday season I’ll try to remember the real gifts we give, and this one is a love of music. Here are my favorites.

    The Book of Love, Magnetic Fields
    – so simple, I have long loved this song

    Stewball, Perer Paul and Mary
    – my late stepmother used to sing this, it makes me feel like I am giving them something of her

    The Parting Glass, old Irish song
    – my dad introduced me to it through the Wailing Jennys version

    Turn Around, as sung by Nanci Griffith
    – can’t not cry while singing this to a newborn

    Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby, Emmylou Harris, Alison Kraus, Gilliam Welch.
    – what a round up

    Where Have All the Flowers Gone, as sung by Peter, Paul and Mary
    – my little one likes the high notes

    Boots of Spanish Leather, Bob Dylan
    – I have just always loved this song and so my kids must as well

    This Land is Your Land, Woodie Guthrie
    – because my dad used to sing it and all I want to do is go road trip/camping with these little guys.

    500 Miles, Rosanne Cash put this on an album called The List, based off a list of songs that her dad compiled as the most important songs in American music. Who am I to argue with Johnny Cash?

    Happy Holidays.

    Minimalist bed: shikibuton and tatami mats

    green living, lifestyle, minimalism, parenting November 22, 2014

    Found this post from when I was pregnant:

    We are expecting another baby. As with my first, I have already begun the process of trying to purify the world my baby will be born into. This time around, my sights have settled on our huge, expensive, and chemical laden tempurpedic mattresses. With my first, I scoured the internet for a truly non- toxic crib mattress and I found one with a hefty price tag. He sleeps on this, but with another coming, there will be some shifting and another bed will become necessary. Also, being pregnant and sleeping on my fire retardant mattress raises concern. So I decided to take the next logical step: sit my husband down and have him watch the documentary ‘Toxic Hot Seat’ in order to persuade him to get on board with selling the tempurpedics and buying something made of natural materials. 94 minutes later and he was purging the house of foam containing baby accoutrements and begrudgingly listening to my research on alternative bedding. Here is what I found:

    There are any number of beautiful natural latex mattresses, but they are expensive! So, my next move was to futons. A little cheaper, but still very pricey. Additionally, we’d have to buy beds because futons need circulating air in order to be properly maintained. Finally, I found a truly minimalist option: the shikibuton mat placed on top of a tatami mat.

    The shiki butons are nearly half the price of same quality organic futons. They are very thin, so easily fold up during the day when not in use and allowing air to circulate (eliminating the need for a bed frame). Because of the thinness, however, a tatami mat seems necessary. These are still a little pricey, but I love the idea of folding our beds up during the day and having the tatami as a floor space. (Think Murphy bed but way cheaper). This will also be great when two kids are sharing a room- it’ll keep it tidy and spacious for play.

    Also, if we end up missing a little height to our beds, there are many beautiful platform beds out there that will easily hold the tatami/shikibuton combo. There are even beds made specifically for tatami mats. The mats are compact and can be used for travel! Multipurpose really gives you that extra bang for a minimalist buck. The aesthetic is also attractively clean and simple.

    All in all, I think this the most financially feasible way to have truly chemical free bedding.

    making time

    lifestyle, parenting, Uncategorized November 21, 2014

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    I have failed to write for a long time. Being pregnant with a toddler to watch over took it out of me, and now caring for a newborn as well as a toddler has me running. I never have a moment with two hands and a laptop, so I have resolved to just go ahead and write with one hand while I nurse the newborn and the toddler sleeps. These moments are few and far between, but it is not nothing! Now I have to gather some thoughts that reach beyond the mundanity in theSisyphus like tasks of stay at home motherhood. The laundry, the spit up, the diapers, the naps, the feedings, the endless cleaning. These can overwhelm, but they are not interesting and are not all of who I am or what is important in this stage of life.

    What is important, what I want to remember are these first smiles and the gradual awakening of my child to the world. His eyes see more every day, and I see more of who he is. His fat little body gradually gaining muscle and coordination. And the way my toddler wraps his arms around me and says ‘luf you’. How everyday is a new lesson in the lightning speed of his development. His vocabulary expanding every moment as he soaks up the world we show him. How my heart hurts because I can’t give each of them all of me, and how proud I am of how much I do give them. I want to remember this time when my body is slowly becoming my own again, and how I know right now that I will never give it up again to the complete tyranny of carrying a child in my womb. How I am teaching it to be one again as it recovers slowly from being two. I cry because I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror, but celebrate the new strength I am gaining daily. I want to remember the pain that I felt bringing our second and final child into the world.

    And it is important to stop and feel how our family is now complete. I get to watch my boys become brothers and hopefully enjoy eachother as they become life long friends. Now my husband and I will slowly find our way back to one another through the separation of pregnancy and early sleepless months with a newborn and the wreckage of my body. I will find my way back to my work and pursuits as an individual rather than a mother as my children grow up and away from me, the separation that begins the moment they are born. How we, all four of us are building and growing and becoming more our family.

    It is hard to find moments to recognize these things in the sleepless flurry of tasks, but I must. It goes by in a heartbeat, the moments are long and the years are short. It is precious and grueling. I feel bludgeoned on some days and blessed on the same. I am watching through tired eyes as these early moments as parents of young children swirl around us and pass in a flash.

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    mother’s day

    parenting, Uncategorized May 12, 2014

    When I entered college I took my education seriously, throwing myself headlong into a search for the truth. I wanted to know what it meant, I wanted order, and I wanted answers. Jesus comforted me and the Jewish God pulled me because of the blood in my veins. I was more able to let my reason wrangle with some Eastern doctrines, but I was never able to believe. Nietzsche scared me and I searched St. Augustine’s confessions trying to find his gateway to enlightenment in the orchard so that I might follow. Shakespeare, Aristotle, Plato, Emerson, Heidegger, Chaucer and on and on. All beautiful all persuasive no answers. More questions.

    So I traveled to see if the world itself held answers. What I saw was a world so vast and so beautiful so complex so full of suffering and so beyond me. I resolved to abandon a search for meaning and truth in favor of service in an effort to gain some control and attempt to help to alleviate what suffering I could. This led me back home and to law school. All jokes aside, I entered and graduated with the earnest desire to help and a belief that it was possible.

    After a little over one year, toiling in the public sector of criminal justice, I became pregnant. I watched helplessly as battered women returned to their abusers. I read police report after police report detailing the sordid details of the day to day suffering and abuses of my fellow citizens. I saw poverty and education and addiction and circumstance after circumstance that led people to these painful points, sitting before a judge, in cop car, on the run. As my belly grew, so did my fear that I was not actually contributing what I had hoped. That my hands were tied by a vast web of facts and circumstances and cynicism crept in sooner than I would have expected.

    Then I gave birth.

    It all melted away into the eyes of my child and he became the world. Meaning or truth were nothing to what I felt and I no longer needed them. My fervor to help my fellow men and women drained into the duty of caring for this one human. My restlessness, searching, angst, all were gone and I now spend most my time in the sweet exhaustion of motherhood. I still care about the world and it’s occupants, and and philosophy still move me, but none of it matters when he laughs and cries and sleeps and eats. And when I feel the stir of new life inside my once again growing belly.

    I know it isn’t very modern of me. I do love being a mother and am so surprised and quietly joyful that it has brought me so much peace. Happy Mother’s Day.