My husband, my sweet Tommy, Mister teacher man, big beardy, he’s running for school board. Tommy and I have been in major discussion mode, for months now. There’s been this big churning feeling of change in the air around our house.
I turned 30 last year…so maybe that’s why. I barely noticed my milestone birthday come or go. We were just so engrossed in the work of suddenly being a family of six with two small infants. I felt like we barely talked to one another in the early part of last year. We passed each other in the evenings corralling, and aiding one another. Then it was time to wolf down dinner, put the girls to bed, and then get the boys ready for bed. And then we would try to lay down by 9:30 so that we could read for a couple minutes before handing babies back and forth in the sleepy grog of darkness.
In the beginning days we considered it a great night of sleep if Tommy only had to get up once or twice and I nursed nonstop through the night, but didn’t have to nurse both babies at once. Even a one hour stretch of sleep felt like luxury. So now that I get 2-3 hour stretches at night, and I am not holding a baby sometimes…and many times I’m only holding one….this weird thing is happening. It’s a fire. A fire, to reach my potential. A fire to achieve goals without giving up our family time.
Laugh if you must, but I feel this calling to just try things. I think author Seth Godin might call it a desire to “poke the box”. This is a scary calling for me. I’m somewhat introverted. I’m very social and I can talk your ear off, and keep a conversation going, but I’m definitely not what one would describe as the life of the party….and if I ever am, it’s because I’m channeling someone else for a few fleeting moments. Sometimes even this blog is a bit much for me. I don’t know if you know this, but when you guys leave really nice comments, I physically have to get up and walk around for a little while. Taking it in is difficult for me, and I don’t quite know how to respond. Usually I just blush.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. In the middle of last year when Tommy was reading Cheaper by the Dozen. He was telling me all about the quirks of this dad with a dozen children and about how this guy considered himself to be an efficiency expert and he would do experiments to save precious moments of time, like seeing what order getting ready in the morning was most efficient…That really got me thinking. Where are my untapped moments of time that I could be utilizing to their full effect. I had been gardening all summer, and I was amazed at how much food I was able to grow in the 32 square feet of garden space that I had (two 4×4 beds), without even planting all of the squares at all times, and without doing much work at all. I kept expanding my garden to have things to do each evening when I would work on the garden.
Then I started this blog as my garden was starting to wind down. I’ve been reading and reading and reading about business. And when I don’t have time to read I listen to podcasts about business. I love it. The psychology of business. The possibilities of business. I’ve never been able to have hobbies that I don’t consider to be extremely useful, or fulfill a need. For example, I’m a knitter, but I will only make things that I need or someone else needs…although I use the term need a bit loosely when it comes to things like knitting toys. Knitting is hard when you have two babies on your lap. The needles seem a little too pointy. The yarn and things are just cumbersome to maneuver around both of them. Typing/researching is a little easier. So researching business has been my new hobby…well that, and writing.
I posted on Facebook a bit prematurely a few weeks ago about thinking about opening a lactation business. I’m not ready yet. My baby bubs need my presence so much still. Funny how a lactation consulting business can help so many women be closer to their babies, but would require that I leave mine with someone else…it’s the way of so many things. And so I’m left with my writing. I’ve been continuing work on the children’s gardening book with Mama. She and I have stutters and starts on this project.
I’ve also been working on a solo book writing project. I’m not quite sure what it is yet. I know it’s a compilation of all of my pregnancy and birth stories, and the transformative power of birth…but I’ll let you know more as I continue :ahem: giving birth to this project.
With all of this percolating, we got the opportunity to spend some time with some dear friends who were in town last week. My friend Suzy and I have joked for years now that she and I have lived parallel lives. We are from the same town, but went to rival high schools. We went to the same college, and had the same major, but didn’t meet till senior year. We both married during college. We both have an interest in breastfeeding and natural birth. And both of our mothers had those same interests. The list goes actually much deeper than this, but I wouldn’t want to share details that were too personal about her without permission.
Suzy, Greg, and their beautiful children now live in Germany. I’m amazed by their bravery to just pack up and move to a foreign country….but that’s essentially what they did. Well, she had a job there, but still. It was quite a leap. This was the first time we’d seen them in two years. It was one of those visits where you just talk and talk, trying to absorb the other’s experience through conversation. Suzy and Greg are (about) my age, and Tommy is the old man of the bunch (sorry sweetie). We talked about all that led them to move abroad, and all of the things that were different for them there than here.
Apparently, German culture is very logical. So many of the things that are hot button issues here just aren’t there. I was particularly drawn to the descriptions of the walkability of the town that they live in. The understanding that their society has about the need for a living wage, sustainable environmental practices, and time with family.
It left Tommy and I reflecting a lot on our life here. As I mentioned, we’ve already been in discussion mode, but it’s felt disjointed. One day last week, I was staring out the window looking at the road in front of our house thinking about a more walkable neighborhood for my children, a closer knit community, a thriving and vibrance.
We live in an inner ring suburb. We’re about 15 minutes from many of the dining, shopping, and cultural sites in the city, and about 15 minutes from some larger more affluent suburbs. Our suburb is a small city, and it doesn’t have room to grow its borders because it’s completely bordered by other cities. In high school, adults sounded a little wistful when they talked about that. But as I thought about that fact the other day looking out the window, my city all of a sudden seemed the perfect size. It’s a small town right outside a largish city, perfect driving distance to anything.
It doesn’t cost a whole lot to live here. We have space for businesses to grow, if people were to invest in this community (in fact there are way too many empty buildings). However, our city has an image problem. People sometimes will make snide comments about it. Saying how the schools used to be great, but have gone “downhill”. Once, a woman actually told me that our community was a lot “darker” than it used to be. I’m sure you can guess what they are getting at. I’m not okay with this not so subtle type of racism, and don’t want to attract those sorts of viewpoints back to our city.
What I see when I walk into my daughter’s school is a place where children from many different backgrounds, races and ethnicities are growing, learning, and playing together. This makes me ecstatic.
In my reverie, I realized that we need a ground swell to help change the buzz around our community. We need more families to move here. More businesses. More places to walk to, and more space to walk on. And we need it here. All of our months of discussion seemed to come in focus for a moment. I’m not sure exactly what we’re going to accomplish. Tommy has big ideas for his run for school board. One thing I do know is that we’re starting right here. Right where we live.