A Day in the life: Unschooling Edition

Hey, spell check.  Unschooling is too a word.  So stop underlining my shit in red.  Get with it.

First of all, let me just say as an update on ovulation station, that my fertility tracking is going pretty successfully.  Translation?  We haven’t made any more babies yet, so….I must be doing something right.  Right?  Or maybe I’ve just been lucky up to this point.  Who knows?  The one snafu with the whole system, though, is that I inevitably forget my head (or the hormones highjack my brain) and start to want another baby really badly right around the time of ovulation.  Also, as one would expect, I guess, would you know that the time that I’m most in the mood would be right at the perfect time for conception as well?  Go figure.  Mother nature….you got this thing figured out pretty well, eh?  Go you.  Those two major issues aside, though, and it’s a piece of cake.

Oh yeah, that and the fact that my fertile window (time when it is possible for me to conceive based off of my longest and shortest cycle) is basically like two weeks long.  So half the month.  Cool beans.

Oh yeah, also, the hormone shifts during the days leading up to menstruation really closely mimic the symptoms of early pregnancy (did not know that before I became so in tune with my cycle) so every month, I spend a few days convinced that I’m pregnant.  So that’s a fun roller coaster ride of emotion.  Ah!  Womanhood.  It’s so fun to be a life-bearer!  Not.  (Just joking.  It really is and I actually feel totally honored with this ancient vital and sacred role.  But, you know.  Sometimes it’s tough.  Greg’s vasectomy is looking like a better option all the time).

OK.  What I really wanted to write about is our unschooling.  It’s going great also!  Except it’s confusing as hell and I have no idea what I’m even doing.  So, I’m probably on the right track.

(Wow, I’ve got this whole life thing pretty well figured out.  Yup, better just give myself a great big ole pat on the back.  Nice work, me.  Way to be winning).

Wow, I’m in a sarcastic mood today.  I guess that’s my passive aggressive way of venting.  But hey!  Just because I’m clueless doesn’t mean I should give up.  On the contrary.  I see my stumbling around blindly, feeling desperate as a good sign (really, I do).  In my experience, floating around directionless is a very difficult yet vital step to any path worth walking.  The alternative is to go with the flow (a.k.a.the road most taken or swim or even just float downstream) or just immediately commit to and cling on to one ideal before really considering all or at least more options in the name of “having it all figured out”.  Having shit figured out is, in my opinion, way overrated in our culture.  Hey guys, what’s wrong with not having shit figured out some (or all) the time?  (I know the answer to this.  Because not having shit figured out is scary!)  But listen.  Even though we’re taught from an early age in this country that being scared is unacceptable and we are encouraged to instead form all kinds of insurmountable walls of defense (against each other (see: “having shit figured out” above) and also what scares us (aging, for example)) I am here to tell you.  It’s ok to be scared.  Life can be scary.  Instead of turning and running, I think it might do us all a world of good to really sit with our fears.  To get to know them.  To be on intimate terms with them.  In my experience, we have a lot to learn from the things that scare us.

Well, that’s my arm chair philosophy for the day.

Ok, you clicked on this to read about a day in our life as unschoolers.  Or maybe you just stumbled here by mistake while you were trying to order something on amazon.  Either way, welcome to my head space.

Now I will describe to you a typical day in the life as unschoolers (or more likely an atypical day as there pretty much are no typical days).

One day last week, the grandparents carpooled out to spend the day here so that we could show them our local zoo.  The kids, high on anticipation, were up way earlier than usual begging me every five to ten minutes or so how long until the grandparents would be here.  We had cereal for breakfast, which, oddly enough, though I think tastes like cardboard, my kids love and see as an extravagant treat.  Ruth probably helped Miles get dressed as sometimes, she informs me, very seriously, that she will be his mother for the day, and then proceeds to care for all of his needs, from dressing him to buckling him into his car seat.  Joel is finally dressing himself though I am still the main hair-brusher around here.

Once the grandparents finally arrived, we drove to the zoo and I purchased us a membership so we can now go anytime!  We spent the day just walking around the zoo, looking at everything.  Ruth, who can be quite drill-sergeant-like, kept us moving at a brisk pace, anxious to show her grandparents everything there was to see, though often, we have the opportunity, because we usually have no other place to be, to take everything at a leisurely pace.  We did spend a relaxing bit of time just watching the moose who were being uncharacteristically showy and close.

It ended up being a hot day.  That combined with the stress of waiting for the grandparents’ visit proved to be a lot for the kids to handle and by the time we left, everyone was a bit sweaty and careworn.  An impromptu visit to the park just outside the zoo seemed to be the perfect balm to everyone’s tempers.  Ruth immediately shed her footwear, followed shortly thereafter by her little brothers, and was soon climbing all over the play structure amongst the crowd of preschoolers and parents who eyed her suspiciously as if to wonder, “Why isn’t this kid in school?”  I’m getting used to these looks as I watch the calculations go on behind these peoples’ eyes as assumptions are formed, watching my wild and zany daughter violate all kinds of social norms of a kid her age.

After a while, we had to leave so that I could get home and make dinner in a timely fashion (how’s that for 1950’s era family mentality?).  We drove home and the grandparents hung out with the grandkids while I cooked and, as it is on a daily basis, dinner was steaming and on the table by the time Greg stepped his foot in the back door and kissed me on the cheek, “Leave it to Beaver”-style (where the hell are my high heels, apron and pearls??)

After dinner, the grandparents left to go home and then we took a walk around our neighborhood.  We probably had our nightly herbal tea ritual (we all drink some herbal tea together) read some books and then went to bed.

Thanks for tuning in.  Join us again next time for a day in the life, unschooling edition.

 

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on learning

It doesn’t seem that learning would be a very controversial topic, does it?  I think the general consensus is that children are supposed to learn stuff.  It’s our job to teach them.  That pretty much sums up modern western philosophy regarding learning, right?  What’s controversial about that?

Delve a little deeper, though, and we can see that there are hidden, lurking assumptions about humanity just under the surface.  The first one is that kids need to be sort of coerced or forced into learning because, naturally, they have no intrinsic motivation for learning or at least not for learning the things that our society deems necessary or worthy of knowing.  This reveals, I think, a sort of negative outlook on humanity.  It reminds me of missionaries and the way they view “barbaric” religions or cultures needing saving.

Which leads me to my next assumption: that we somehow know better.  “We” being adults, the school system, the government, or, as in the case above, whatever religion or group is sending out the missionaries, supposedly “spreading understanding or enlightenment” or “showing people the “right way”” (I use a lot of italics.  I guess that means I question a lot of accepted things.  Or I’m just piss poor at writing. Shrug).

These are interesting assumptions.  And ones that, mere years ago, I would not have questioned much, despite my own experiences in my own life with learning, both inside and outside of institutions.  After all, my own experience is quite fallible, right?  Who am I to question the validity of giant educational systems that serve millions of people and that have been created by, what one would assume to be, people with knowledge and understanding of what’s best for us as a society?  No one.  A little nothing of a female human being from a lower class midwestern family of little to no consequence.  Yet, as I’ve had to learn time and time again as I’ve grown into adulthood, my perspective is valid, is legitimate, has value.

Perhaps this is something that I will never fully accept.  It seems that whenever your personal experience tells you something that goes against the grain of modern thinking you doubt yourself, though the proof is right in front of your eyes.  You still doubt.  Maybe that’s one of my biggest struggles as a homeschooler: accepting that what I’m seeing and experiencing with the kids is real and “right” (for us) and that I can let go of other ideas that I’ve grown up surrounded by and immersed in that don’t hold any truth for me or my family.

Like the way kids (and people) learn.

I embarked on this homeschooling/unschooling journey thinking some things about learning.  These were things that became clear to me upon reflection on my own education and Greg upon his.  Yet it was all just ideas: that the way I had been taught to view learning wasn’t the only way and perhaps not even the “best” way.  I had faith, or at least, I hoped, there was another way.  But I had no proof.

I read some things, blog posts, essays and books, written by other people, other parents, on the subject of unschooling, their rewarding experiences and status quo-shattering epiphanies.  But I had yet to experience anything like it in my own life, with my own children.  (Well, perhaps I had, but I just hadn’t recognized it as such as the kids were so young and were mostly just “playing”.  They hadn’t actually come up against any of the things that, our society at least sees as, “real” achievements.  The kind you can brag about to your friends and relatives or that get gold stars in school).

Thankfully, those first early days of this journey are now behind me and though I still consider us really still just starting out as homeschoolers, we’ve come a long way.  I now have a few concrete examples that I use to bolster myself when the doubt starts creeping in.

Ruth learning to ride a bike was my first example and something I still use when thinking about my role in the kids’ education.  I think there’s this idea that we have to “teach” our kids to ride a bike.  I remember my own parents jogging behind my first pink two-wheeler holding the seat and yelling directions like, “Keep pedaling!  Steer, Steer!”  Despite their best efforts, and probably much to their confusion and dismay, I was a two-wheeler failure and was one of the oldest kids around to learn to ride one, only finally learning in the 4th or 5th grade.  Many friends with 5, 6, and 7 year olds converse about whose kids are riding the coveted two wheeler yet and how to go about teaching your kids this envied skill.

Ruth on the other hand, unlike me, was an early learner, mastering the skill after only a few weeks the summer after she turned 6.  What amazed me when I approached the topic after she showed initial interest was the way in which she learned and how superfluous I really was.

The first ingredient was an interest or desire to learn.  If that’s not there, no amount of bribery, coercion or otherwise convincing was going to start the process.

The second epiphany I had was, in watching her struggle with the bike over and over again, that it was more of a mental process than a physical one.  The physical part was in fact an afterthought.  Meaning that she wasn’t just using her brain to figure out how to balance and time everything right, but that she was battling inner demons of self-doubt, questions of confidence and ability, having to cope with frustration and resilience.  More than once she flew into a rage at falling and, in her mind, failing.  I wasn’t just watching someone acquire a skill.  I was watching immense internal struggle.

Finally, she “got it”.  Her feet turned the pedals, she kept her balance and steered without falling.  Then it was a few times learning how to stop, how to start, and she was on her way.  The whole process took about three weeks from the first try through many afternoons of trying and failing and giving up to the moment when everything clicked.

In this, what I’ve come to view as a very personal trial for her, all I did was stand by, offer a few tips for getting momentum and a few words of encouragement.  In short, I didn’t do much and my greatest contribution was probably just in being supportive more than anything else.

That experience really opened up my eyes to the real nature of human learning.  It’s a very personal thing, one that we each go about at our own pace for our own reasons, filling up our own minds and hearts as we piece together our own experience, asking questions and then seeking out the answers.  It is not, as one will find in mainstream educational philosophy, something boxed, one-size fits all, impersonal and handed down from a vested authority.

Learning is, as I experienced as I watched Ruth ride a bike for the first time, nothing less than a total personal struggle and a transformation, where who you are and what you can do and what you think all comes into question, and you emerge on the other side changed.

How’s that for a positive outlook on humanity?

The Wash

Though I’m not really Amish, I do pick and choose from their way of life from time to time and try to incorporate some of those, what I consider simplistic and hard-working, values in my day to day life.  OK, maybe I fall short (really short) of this ideal much of the time but it is still something that keeps me inspired and gives me something to aim at (much of the struggle of being home with young kids comes from no pre-fabricated structure and having to sort of invent your own context.  The rest of the struggle comes from how like psychiatric health patients small children are (I could write a book on this)).  So, you pick your ideals and I’ll pick mine.

That’s at least part of the reason I don’t have a dryer.  The other part is much more feelings-based.  When I was in my twenties, I spent a few summers in various circumstances that one might choose to call “rustic” and while in these places, it was often the norm (along with peeing on the ground, cooking over propane burners, and not showering) to line dry our clothes.  I became somewhat enamored of the look of clothing flapping in the breeze on a line, the smell of sun-crisped garments and the meditative quality of the task of hanging and then taking down the clothes.  I simply love it.

In my normal adult life, modern conveniences abound and, though I enjoyed my time roughing it as a way of life and often find myself daydreaming about ways to get back to simplistic living, it’s hard to resist the magnetic pull of modernity.  That’s why I took the opportunity when moving into our new house to not buy a dryer (which had the added bonus of saving us money.  Cha-ching!)  I just didn’t buy one.  So, for seven or so months now I’ve been line-drying our clothes.  First outside in the yard in the summer, and now in our basement (which is less than ideal as our basement has a very musty-moldy odor that infuses all of our wardrobes.  Meh).

I have to say: though there are times, especially with little kids, when the ability to dry things in less time than at least a day and a half would be beneficial, mostly, I don’t miss my dryer one iota.  Not only do I not miss it, I look forward to hanging the wash as a rare moment of peace and contemplation in days that can be so messy, loud and dare I say “un-peaceful”?  I simply love the feel and smell of wet, clean clothes, the old-fashioned look of a line bursting at the seams with clothing, the quietness and simplicity of the task.

You can say what you like about the Amish, and you can scoff at my simple-minded nostalgia for a bygone era, but hang-drying clothes is where the Amish, in my opinion, got it right.

Tune in for more city Amish lifestyle changes hopefully coming soon.

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I literally just went downstairs and snapped this picture right now. This is how our basement always looks.

Illness, infection and contagions

It feels like we’ve been sick forever at this point.  I guess that’s the way it is with a family of five.  By the time your virus has finally spread to each person and run its course, two weeks or more have elapsed.  That’s half a month!  By the time you can actually come up for air and take stock, life seems to have passed us by and left us behind.  When I or the kids are sick, all bets are off.  We don’t go anywhere.  We don’t do anything.  We are home for days on the couch watching Caillou, The Cat in the Hat and all other manner of obnoxious kids programming.  All of our winter activities have been derailed.  I feel so lost.  Anyone else have this problem?  Who am I?

Luckily, we, for the most part, avoided the doctor’s office.  I mean, modern medicine is great and everything, or so they tell me, but I can’t shake the feeling that every time I walk in there, I might end up under the knife.  Is this an irrational fear?  I’m not so sure.  With the way the system works, sure they have “our best interest in mind”…but also, is it me, or has the medical field become incredibly scalpel-happy?  It is starting to feel like you could walk in there for a cold and walk out with some sutures, vicodin, and maybe a colostomy bag (ok, maybe that last thing is a bit over the top but you get the idea).  Anyone else feel this way?  Especially with my state insurance card.  It’s like I can hear the “Cha-ching!  Cha-ching!” as I walk through the door and I can actually see the dollar signs in their eyes.  No lie.  Their mouths actually water when we’re in there.  It’s like Pavlov’s dog.  Fresh meat.

We did end up having to take Ruth in for an ear infection.  Up to that point, she had been the least sick with the actual flu bug (which may not have actually been the deadly strain that both my mother and mother-in-law were crossing themselves and throwing holy water over their shoulders hoping that we didn’t contract, but if it wasn’t, it was definitely a distant cousin) but ended up with a secondary ear infection.  Blast!  So we had to turn ourselves in to the authorities at last and come under their scrutiny.  We did avoid surgery this time, but not for lack of trying as they desperately questioned Ruth for underlying symptoms and possible overlooked syndromes at large.  Sorry.  Super healthy kid here, doc.  Just write the script and we’ll be going now (nervously eyes the doorway).

At this point, we’ve lost touch with all our people.  We’ve stopped going to all our groups.  This is really why I hate getting sick.  It’s not so much the physical discomfort, fevers, barfing and whiny kids (though those things do suck ass chunks), but the way illnesses totally wreak havoc on my fragile existence: the rhythms, the sustaining framework that gives my life structure and tethers me to my days in a concrete way that I’ve worked so hard to build up at home with the kids.  It all comes crashing down around me and I’m left standing like a foreman at a building site, all that rubble piled up at my feet.  It’s enough to make you take a union coffee break and never come back, I swear.

On an even more negative note, know what’s depressing as fuck?  Doing a budget.  Yeah, all the smoke and mirrors that you’ve kept your true financial situation hidden beneath: gone.  It ain’t pretty, folks, to take a real hard look at your real fiscal limitations.  Shudder.  One of the more unpleasant tasks of adulthood, to be sure.  Like all good hard doses of reality, it’s hard to swallow, but it does a world of good.  Kind of like kale.  Yeah.  Budgets are like kale.  That’s good.  (more on this later…)

 

 

Notes from suburbia

Hello from the burbs.  I saw three swankily outfitted joggers pass my house the other day.  Two of them were simultaneously walking dogs.  Once, one caught me letting my elderly dog out in my pajamas at noon and I managed a proper neighborly wave despite my kids screaming in the background.  The guy just kept jogging.  The freakin’ burbs.  Yeah, don’t let a wave slow you down, guy.  Wouldn’t want to ruin your time. I’m telling you.

“I’ll be goddamned if Ruth grows up to be a jogger!” I said during a rant the other day to Greg.  He looked confused, like, ‘I thought we wanted our kids growing up being active and healthy?’  Yeah, but not that kind of active and healthy my eyes shot back.  ‘What’s wrong with jogging?’ his eyes asked me (that’s right, when you’re going on ten years of marriage, a lot of your communication becomes telepathic).  EVERYTHING! my eyebrows shouted as they jumped to the bottom of my hairline.

No, there’s really nothing wrong per say with jogging (I think it’s a soft j, pronounced like y).  Maybe it’s just jogging in really expensive clothes (which are made in China by underpaid minors probably just like everything else) and jogging with your hair done and jogging with your pampered pet at like 7:30 in the morning before heading off to the office.  Wow, I sound bitter.  Don’t mind me.  I knew I would have problems adjusting to life in the burbs.

In other news, we are starting to stand out as homeschoolers.  Perhaps it’s because Ruth is now clearly school-aged and is clearly not in school when she would be.  People are often very concerned (“Aren’t you worried about socialization?”  No.  “How will the kids learn to read, though?”  Shrugs shoulders.  “What about math?”  More shrugging.  “What if they want to attend college?”  Eyes glimmer with barely contained rant on how I wish I had back the money I spent on my own college degree.  Even more shrugging.  My shoulders are starting to hurt).  Or they simply admit that they could never homeschool their own kids (“You never get a break!”  Tell me about it, people.  You wanna see the state of my house half the time?)  Then I watch them observe my kids like some novel rare natural phenomenon.  “Homeschoolers….what are they like“?  It’s interesting is all I can say, to be more in the public eye as a homeschooler.  At this point anyway.  I can see though, from the monotony and superficiality of the responses that it’s gonna get boring real fast.

As a “for instance” I can describe a “day in the life” for those that are morbidly curious about what homeschooling looks like for us at the moment.  Take yesterday.  I got the kids up early in order to drive Greg to work.  Normally I never do this.  The kids usually wake up on each their own schedule (Miles first at around 7, then Joel at about 7:30, and finally Ruth at 8:30 or 9.  She’s not a morning person) but as I said, I thought Greg needed a ride which he actually turned out not to but the kids at that point were already up and dressed, ready to head out the door with shoes on and all, so I decided to take them out to breakfast for bagels and then head to the library for the storytime program.  They each got a chocolate chip bagel and we hung out in the bagel shop eating and observing the morning rush of people coming and going.  From there, we drove to the library for the storytime, which is actually for kids ages 3-5, fine for Joel and Miles, but Ruth sticks out, literally, like a sore thumb in that crowd as she is easily the tallest kid and always has the answers.  I don’t know if the other parents are amused like I am or annoyed by her overzealous helping of the librarian at these programs.  Meh.  They do the usual storytime stuff: read some books, do some dancing and movement stuff and then we go to the “maker studio” to do a craft.  Yesterday, the theme was crayons and they had a sheet of paper for the kids to color with new boxes of pristine crayolas.  You can bet those would be my kids becoming extremely frustrated because things are not going exactly as planned with their papers.  Both Ruth and Joel are lately displaying exhausting perfectionistic tendencies which gets a lot of sidewise looks, believe me.  I guess people think that because they are the oldest kids in the group, they should be the most mature.  Shrugs shoulders.  Trust me, people, many of you with laid back 1 and 2 year olds will find yourselves in similar positions come the 4 and 5 years.  Just wait for it….

After that, most of the people cleared out and we were the only ones, apparently, with no place important to be, so we just hung around in that room.  They have a bunch of legos that the kids are free to use at leisure and so, that’s what they did, for about an hour, while I talked with one of the librarians.

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After that we went home and had lunch.  It was warmish yesterday and so our yard has turned into a mud pit with a giant lake puddle at the bottom.  They pretty much spent the rest of the day tramping all over the yard, yelling, whooping and playing until dinner, getting absolutely saturated and filthy.  After dinner, because Greg wasn’t feeling well, he sat in the living room with them and watched an Elmo movie.  As a general rule, we don’t have any regular screen time for them but we do watch a select few programs now and then when people are sick or if I just really really need a break to clean or get something else done.  After the movie was over, they made a game of stripping down to their underwear and chasing each other around and around the island of our house.  Then we read some books and went to bed.

That was it.  That was the extent of our “curriculum” for that day.  Though some days I do have more structure, for Ruth anyway, in general, some variation of this is how most of our days go.

Tune in again next time for a day in the life, homeschooling addition.

 

 

 

 

Well helloooo…

It’s been a while.  The last time you heard from me I think I was on one of my woman tangents about ovulation and baby makin’, then zilch for what? Two months or something?   Blame it on all of the years watching my mom’s soap operas in the summers.  I love a good cliff hanger.  But sadly, I’m exactly where you left me, still tracking my monthly ovulation with fervor, still in fertility purgatory, constantly going back and forth with my feelings and thoughts, probably where I’ll be for the rest of my life…or at least until menopause.

Actually, you can blame the whole thing on Christmas.  Christmas these days has a way of totally throwing life off track for many weeks.  I think there was a time when I thought that having kids would bring back the joy and fun of Christmas.  Now I realize: for them it’s magic.  For me it’s shite.  Because who’s the one making all that magic?  Oh, yeah.  It’s me.  I’m the one up late trying to put together the toys so they’re user friendly on the big day, fighting with the spousal unit in whispered tones over who put the stupid allen wrench where and sweating out my credit card bill.  Um, I’m sorry.  Where the hell are Santa’s elves when you need them?

Enough Christmas bashing, though.  I could go on and on though I do have, of course, many enjoyable memories from this holiday season.  I’m not really the Grinch incarnated though I see his point.

The truth is I’ve been meaning to write a blog post for a while now but it just never seems to be a good time.  I don’t need to go into the specifics of my life as a homeschooling parent, especially for any of you other homeschoolers out there, but basically my kids are always with me.  It’s very tricky to finagle any time away from them and any time I do is usually spent in some degree of cleaning frenzy or trying desperately to take steps forward with our homeschooling “curriculum”.  Basically, reading, gathering resources, trying to make connections with people, organizations and groups, and fill up our weeks with interesting, budget friendly (a.k.a. FREE) stuff.  I can tell you that it’s a fun but daunting job and the worst part about it, that I think will probably be a constant struggle, is the self doubt and grappling with the lack of validation from society (which you’d think I’d be used to by now), especially with articles like this floating around.  (It’s a damn shame that a small percentage of the homeschooling population that uses the guise of “homeschooling” to cover up abuse and neglect can affect the public’s view of homeschooling so profoundly.  The reality is that no matter at home or within trusted organizations (the Catholic church comes to mind or this recent case that’s been hitting way too close to home lately) abuses of power and misuse of people, children being the most vulnerable, happens in our society.  If we want to help the problem, I think we should ask ourselves how our greater society perpetuates this abusive mentality.

Whew.  Heavy stuff.  Good food for thought though.  As much as I despise the news sometimes, it’s important to address societal issues and not walk around with blinders on.  A more objective view of reality is, in my opinion, severely underrated.

On to less intense subjects such as Lego club.  Have you been to a Lego club?  Great things.  Usually sponsored by libraries, Lego clubs are held once a month or so for a couple hours where you can come and just build…to your hearts’ content.  Considering how expensive Legos are, if you have a son or daughter clambering for these little plastic building blocks of desire, Lego clubs are awesome.  The best part besides your saved pocket money?  You’re not constantly stepping on them or having to clean them up in your own home.  Cha-ching.  We went to our first one yesterday and it was great.  Not just for the aforementioned reasons but it was also cool to be around other Lego fanatics and to see what all other kids could come up with and create.

Well, I’m gonna end this now.  The kids are mutinying.  Hopefully I will be able to write more soon and it won’t be another two months before another blog post.

 

Breaking news from ovulation station headquarters…

This just in: I got a freakin’ static smiley face on my ovulation predictor thingy!  For those well-versed in all things fertility, you know what that means!  My understanding, though sometimes I feel like reading those instruction sheets that come with these types of tests are like deciphering hieroglyphics, is that my LH surge has been detected, there’s a big whopping dark blue line on the test screen, and ovulation is mere hours away.  Why am I so giddy?  Probably has something to do with all of the posts I’ve been reading by people who are online trying desperately to conceive.  What can I say?  Their enthusiasm is contagious.  For me, though, the results are perhaps a bit less exciting.

Though, I did tell Greg this morning after he woke up that we should just “go for it”.  (I kind of knew going into this that part of me was going to feel like that.  It’s one thing to kind of sort of know around-ish the time you are probably fertile and then to be sort of careful and just see what happens and another to know precisely and to purposely let a month of potential pass you by).

It almost feels like too much control to the point that I’m a little uncomfortable.  To be honest, that’s part of the reason I never went back on birth control after having Ruth, besides the fact that I just didn’t like the idea of purposely altering my hormones with a daily pill.  After I realized the awesome responsibility in having a child, I knew that if I went back on birth control, I would probably never come off of it again.  I had the feeling that I would never be able to fully and confidently say “yes, I’m ready” and make that decision (kind of the same way I’m not able to make the absolute and final decision to say, “no more”.  Greg says I’m indecisive.  I prefer the term “open-minded”).  Better to leave it up to fate, or timing, or biology.

As a disclaimer, this philosophy does have an expiration date.  I have always thought that four would be the “perfect” number of children, or at least a nice full family with lots of dynamics and noise (the good kind, though I’m finding out more and more that with the good comes the bad) and that maybe there wouldn’t be so much of the “first child, middle child, youngest child” dynamics that comes with three (though I have heard from someone recently that has four and whose opinion I definitely put stock in that then you just have two middle children).   Anyways, after four, I think I would definitely without a doubt be able to call it quits.  Also, I’ve told Greg that I feel that I could be “open” to the possibility of another child for the next little while.  It’s amazing how fast your age sneaks up on you.  I was only 32 when I had Miles.  “A lot of people are only just having their first child at this age,” I reassured myself, “I’ve got loads of time to make up my mind.”  Though, my menstrual cycle vanished for almost two years after he was born.  A few months later, I turned 35.  Now I’m wondering, “Where did all the time go?”  I’ve recently begun to feel like the window for another is rapidly shrinking.  It seems tiny now.  I guess that’s why it’s on some level so difficult to purposely watch another month of possibility come and go.

Well, in any case, it’s fun to see a darkened test line on a test of some kind, even if it’s not a pregnancy test.  It’s still really interesting to know almost the exact timing of my ovulation.  Through all of this, I find myself thinking into the future with Ruth and how excited I am to be able to give her the tools to really understand her own fertility.  Though it is, of course, her decision how to go about her body and sexuality, I hope that she has a lot of information and is critical in the things she does and doesn’t do.  One of my main goals in parenting is to raise extremely critical and open-minded creative thinkers.  Though I (clearly) don’t undervalue intuition and other kinds of understanding that are important for a balanced and deeper human experience.  Sometimes you’ve got to go with your gut even when it doesn’t make sense on paper and you can’t explain yourself in words.