This was the first weekend.
Two days of consecutive hours where time with the kids could weave in and out of concentrated work on the house, productive time on the land and an actual visible, tangible, dent in the to-do list that could easily wallpaper our entire home.
The kids played. They hung out in their little pool, filled with water from our well. They mimicked hammering and attempted to help and read books and cooperated and barely screamed at each other. We – the two adults – could actually tackle tasks longer than five minutes.
We could work together and remember for a minute just how much fun that is.
If there’s one piece of this whole adventure that leaves me with the most mixed feelings it’s whether or not we would have been better off buying in town (which would have meant dispersing the herd and carrying on as city folk for a few years) just to get over the infant hump. The days where one – often both – needed to be carried. Where you couldn’t imagine them being “just outside” or actually, really, even enjoying each other’s company.
For reference – children younger than two years are…impossible. Glorious and adorable and magical in so many ways, but in this particular life…any task you take on, any goal you set, have about a 10% chance of happening. It’s better to set expectations as low as possible – or give up entirely – versus feeling the loop of a) hope b) frustration c) guilt because of your frustration.
For the past two years, the micro-setbacks and humbling moments where everything I set out to do in a day has to just be scrapped…has been truly awful and not at all felt like a journey or learning moment or anything that has improved who I am as a person.
But it probably has.
Just like any new parent coming to terms with flexibility and spontaneity going out the window along with days where you can just sit and be…we’ve struggled. We’ve survived. We’ve had to triage and shift gears and ask for help and on occasion quietly wish we could house a pit crew to make things like simply getting out the door more possible. Without being perpetually 10-60 minutes late to everything.
This was the first weekend I could actually say “let’s do this and this and this…then you can do that and I’ll keep plugging away at this” and it actually happened. For the most part. There are visible differences that may seem minor compared to the “massive” changes that new visitors see around this place and can appreciate for the first time. While someone is marveling at the beautiful barn at the highest point of our main clearing…I’m cringing at the piles of tarps over there, there and there. As someone else peeks in the garden and exclaims that the fig tree is going beautifully, all I can see are buckets and slash piles and spare gutters and fencing that hasn’t gone up (can’t go up yet) along with the recycling we’ve accumulated as well as the piece of red tape, scrap of plastic, bit of tar paper and bottle cap that magically found their way to random spots in the ditch by the driveway.
The big things, the small things, all of them clouding any appreciation for what we’ve done…weighing down my brain while these gloriously loving, sweet little human beings demand my attention, arm and last ounce of spare time.
It sounds so dramatic when I write it. I assure you, I feel just as indignant and pouty when I’m in the throes of this madness.
Like any home where a newborn resides, there will be extra clutter, laundry unfolded and a constant state of everything feeling slightly askew (unless you’re a better mom of a newborn than me, in which case, well…I’m happy for you?). At least to you (or me) as the mom of the household…feeling on display, vulnerable and not at your best standing within a home nowhere near as disastrous as it feels in your exhausted mind and heart. Except our home is a tent and in addition to the clutter and unfolded laundry, there are chicken waterers and lumber offcuts and wood piles, garden plastic, weeds more recycling and really adorable albeit obnoxious dogs that like to rip open garbage and drag all contents to the far corners of the front of the property.
Naturally, our feeble new parent brains forget this fun fact at least once a month.
All of these things. The lack of time, the frenzy of each day and our own self-induced overly ambitious attitude toward life…has created two years of ups and downs and heartache and triumph and the coziest of cozy moments with these three humans I love beyond all else.
Wouldn’t it be magnificent if I could wrap all this up into a sentiment about “not wanting to change a thing”? That would be too easy.
I’d change loads of things – I would do lots and lots and lots of things differently. But this is how everything has unfolded and these are the choices we’ve made. This is what we’ve accomplished and what we have yet to do. These are the things that matter and all the rest – the tarps, the buckets, the tar paper, the slash piles the endless list of to-dos not getting done – they can and will wait a bit longer.
We’re not out of triage, but we are in a place where the simple joy of sorting through lumber piles, collecting, raking up bark bits and installing windows can be appreciated more than before this property. Before kids. Before this weekend.