I need to start this post by sending out lots of love and thanks and hugs and did I say thanks? Because thank you! After my last post I received so many lovely responses from people that had either gone through what I was going through or who simply wanted to send their love and encouragement. It filled me with so much warmth and inspiration. So how about an update?
Winter here, simply put, has been long. It rained every day in January. Driving home from a New Year’s Eve party at 6am on the 1st, the rain fell sideways and my windshield wipers raced to keep up. So that pretty much set the tone for the January weather status quo. The problem with wet winters here is that there are days when you feel as though you will never be completely dry or warm again. It is a cold that seeps and soaks. Everything is humid and you can not leave your house without traversing puddles of browns and grays or side-stepping mud six inches deep.
Lucky for me there were two major things to break up the wintery monotony. My sister arrived on New Year’s day for a two-and-a-half week long visit and the two of us road tripped across France with Lewis so that I could attend a week-long cheese-making course. Nights ended with the two of us perched on the squeaky fold-out bed playing cards. There were heart-to-hearts, Spongebob quotes, multiple bowls of popcorn, and Goodnight Moon readings with Lewis on repeat. For nine months I had imagined what it would be like to have my sisters nearby to help me with Lewis. For those two weeks my daydreaming became reality and I felt more like myself than I had in a long time! Sisters are magic.
The cheese-making course was terrific and I wish I could have stayed longer for the other classes they offer. Mine was an introductory course which was very broad but packed with information. We covered everything from Blue Cheese to Mozarella. Saint-Nectaire to Morbier to Comté. We spent time making yogurt, butter, cream, and rice pudding as well. If milk was involved we probably made it or at least theorized about how one goes about making it. The instructors were passionate about what they do. I have never met two people so inspired by cheese so that by the end I, too, considered cheese to be a living being and the process of making it an intricate dance of temperature changes, cutting techniques, air circulation, and aging. I can not wait to begin the dance myself here at the farm.
Another great thing about this class is that nearly all of the particpants were women. And among those women were several mothers. I finally got the chance to speak with other moms who are raising their kids while working on a farm. Something I have to come to realize about motherhood is that it is a constant back and forth of second guessing yoruself. Should I be doing it this way? Or that way? Will letting him cry for a few minutes while I finish milking cows cause lasting damage? What would people think? Would it be better for him to be at daycare from sun up to sun down? Are the customers at the market going to think it negligent of me to have him tag along all morning while I work selling bunches of carrots and kilos of beets? And the biggest question of all, that inevitabely follows all the others, why do I keep worrying about what others think?
During the class I got the chance to speak to the other farm mamas about how they balance work and motherhood. And what I discovered reassured and calmed me. Each mama does it differently. There is no one size fits all to figuring out what works best for your family. One mom started by keeping the kids at home with her (or the grandparents) but ultimately decided daycare was the best option to maintain healthy extended family relationships. This is important when living and working with multiple generations in the family as well as aunts and uncles in close quarters. Another mom more or less quit working at the farm those first years when the kids were young and did not start up again until they went off to school. By the end of our chats I realized I was not judging them for their choices so why would others judge me for mine? Lewis is happy and healthy, we are happy and continue to be able to get work done (if not quite at the same pace as before), so why question everything?
So I have decided that instead of resolutions and “I will do this more” to start off the new year I am just going to seek balance. Balance in motherhood. And balance in work. Lewis will try out some occasional daycare and I will not feel guilty about it. Balance between home and work and play when the three seem to be so closely intertwined. Now that the rain is finally calming and the sun has burst forth from its wintery hiding place that balance feels all the more attainable.
More updates coming soon!