Being Attached in a Detatched World Revisited

Eight years ago I wrote a post on this here blog in it’s pre-system-crashed-everything-deleted version about being invited to stand up in a close friend’s wedding halfway across the country. At the time, Alina was eight months-old and she was exclusively breastfed. Moreover, despite ultimately being the longest-standing and most committed nursling of my three children, she also was the most challenging baby with whom to establish a comfortable nursing relationship, and she was never willing or able to take breast milk that had been expressed. Never. Not once. Not even a little bit. Of course, this meant that if I was going to be flying over a thousand miles and standing up for my friend of thirty-plus years, Alina was going to be joining me.

For a variety of reasons, not the least of which being financial, Rich and Eva were staying home and I was heading out on this journey alone with my little babe. The reception was adults only, so this also meant that I would need to hire some unknown babysitter to stay in the hotel room with Alina while I shuttled back and forth between the room and the reception downstairs throughout the night (half of you are aghast at this notion, and would have told the bride, “baby or nothing!”). It probably goes without saying that this sweet baby who refused to take a bottle also had limited experience with babysitters, and by that I mean that she had none (half of you are aghast at this notion and are cursing me for coddling my child and not making adult time a priority). I was a stay-at-home mama and she was a stay-at-home baby, so we’d pretty much been a matched set up to that point.

It didn’t go well. Alina cried and cried the entire time that I was away from the room. She refused to sleep and was generally miserable. When I finally returned to the room for the night, hours ahead of the other guests, the babysitter handed her off to me sheepishly and in her broken English informed me, “She is not good baby” before making her exit. I wrestled with that declaration for a while. It really rubbed me the wrong way because she absolutely was a good baby. She was smiley and friendly, with bright shining eyes and a clear ability to communicate her needs and desires. When she was upset, she let you know why, and when you met those needs, she was mollified and content. She wanted to be with her mama. She was attached to me and it was deeply unsettling to her to be in a strange place with a strange person and without her touchstone. She was a good baby, but the idea of an eight month-old baby being so firmly attached to her mother that she could not be left home for a weekend of travel or with a babysitter for a night of adult-only celebration seemed to be generally frowned-upon and viewed as dysfunctional.

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Now, I’ve mentioned here a bunch of times that I am actively trying to make self-care a higher priority in my life, basically because I am really horrible at it. Like many parents I am always so focused on my kids’ seemingly more immediate and important needs, and day after day runs out of hours before I dig out from under all of the kid stuff and remember that there is another person here with needs of her own. My cancer diagnosis four years ago was the Universe grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me with a very stern lecture about putting on my own oxygen mask first. It was my wake-up call that I can’t habitually neglect myself in the name of good parenting because that isn’t being a good parent (or a good human) and I may never get to that “someday” list that I always put my own needs on. I keep saying that I will join a gym again or start attending yoga classes at the cancer wellness center again, or make time to spend with friends, but somehow months go by and it just doesn’t happen. So, I decided that until I get better at the routine self-care I will go for the occasional grand gesture; a carpe diem experience every now and again to give myself a shot in the arm.

In celebration of my recent birthday, I planned a grand gesture. I had seen a highly esteemed herbalist offering a small-group, four-day class on essential oil making and learning about medicinal plants of the Southwest. It would include herbal walks, wildcrafting, and hands-on workshops and demonstrations in and around a secluded hot springs campground. The class was to be held in Arizona and I would be joined by a good friend of mine who is crunchy-oriented as well. It would be an experience unlike any that I had ever had; the first “girl” trip with a friend that I have taken since college. I was amazed and excited as it started to come together as a reality.

As my reality began to come together, my children began to voice their upset about me leaving. The kids are used to Rich being out of town for work (they don’t like it, but they are used to it). The idea of me not being home is a whole different matter altogether. It just doesn’t fit with their experience of of the world, and they were really struggling.

Alina was once again shaken and insecure to know that I would not be here. We talked about the trip a lot. Rich would be taking time off of work to be home during the school days to shuttle kids to and from school and appointments, to make dinner, to tuck them into bed. My parents, with whom we currently live, would be home to help as needed. I would be leaving on a Friday morning and retuning on Tuesday afternoon, so technically there would only be three days when we would not see each other. She wasn’t moved by my efforts to comfort her. She alternated between desperate, angry, and just plain sad in the days working up to the trip. The morning I was set to go, I tiptoed into the girls’ room at 6:15 am to kiss Alina and Eva goodbye before jumping in the cab. I found Alina lying in her bed looking forlorn with tears streaming down her cheeks. She wanted to be with her mama, or at least know that her mama would be home whenever she checked in throughout her days of school and playing.

As I rode in the cab to the airport my heart was heavy having left such a sad girl behind. Alina is still a happy girl with bright, shining eyes. She is smiley and friendly, thoughtful and very kind and nurturing to others. She is generally easygoing and the first to go without so that someone else’s needs can be met, but she craves her security and at the core of it all, that is me. I must admit that although my heart ached for my tearful babe, I was aware of feelings of irritation as well. Why must it be so hard? After all, she is not eight months old any more, she’s eight years old. Why is it that the rest of the free world can seemingly go to work, or on a date, or on a trip and their children seem to take it in stride, yet mine protest for days and leave puddles of tears in their wake? I need to put on my own oxygen mask sometimes. I need to be able to get away and nurture myself once in a while. Why must it be so hard?

I kept thinking back to Ainsworth’s Attachment Styles (all of those years of psychology school keep those ideas very close in my mind). Securely attached, isn’t that what I’m wanting here? Shouldn’t we have reached the point by now in which she is secure in the the idea of knowing that her mother is a safe base in a theoretical sense? Can’t this allow for more extended explorations out into the world by now, for her and for me?

I sat and pondered and ruminated a bit. I fiddled with my phone as the cab driver brought me farther from home and closer to adventure. Then I saw it, a message from my former graduate school. The director of one of my PhD. programs was retiring. He had been my dissertation advisor, and had instructed me in several of my classes. I liked him a great deal, and he had taught me a lot. He had an easygoing nature that was comforting in the context of the stress of graduate school, and he had provided positive feedback and words of encouragement when they were very much needed. He had mentored me and helped me find direction when I was struggling with decisions about my educational and career future. He watched with baited breath along with the rest of my committee as I presented the defense of my dissertation. I was nine months pregnant with Alina at the time, and ready to burst. He had been the first to shake my hand and call me “Doctor” when it was successfully completed. His was among the first emails that I had sent in the days that followed to explain that I was a bit delayed in making the suggested edits to my dissertation because I had gone into labor that night after completing the defense. He hooded me at the commencement ceremony several months later, and I pointed out my two girls in the stadium crowd to him before ducking out to nurse my baby girl while donning my full regalia. He was leaving.

Mind you it had been many years since I had seen or spoken with my advisor, but as I read that message in the cab, it didn’t matter. There had been a security in knowing that he was there, always where I expected him to be just in case I needed him. The reality is that I still might need him. It has been highly unusual for me to have taken this career break. I suspect that it is not the traditional path to complete one’s PhD. and then opt to be a stay-at-home parent for years before entering the workforce, but that’s the road that I have traveled. When it comes time for me to revisit my career, I will need letters of recommendation from those who can speak to the quality of my work, my mind, my training, and they’re all going away. Retirement, health challenges, moving elsewhere and losing touch….my advisor was the last of the core group of faculty who really knew me and my work.

Here I was, a forty year-old woman in the back of a cab having heart palpitations because my advisor was going away and I might really miss him. I might need him and he wouldn’t be there. The irony of my situation was not lost on me. Perhaps eight years is not too old to be rattled when your security walks out the door. Maybe forty isn’t either.

I continue to struggle with finding my place and finding a place for my family in a society that seems to emphasize independence for young children and career advancement for adults as much as ours does. I am not sure that I understand how to reconcile those goals with the needs of my kids. I’m not sure which side of the independence/attachment coin to favor; when to gently push for one, and when to patiently nurture the other. I took my trip and had an amazing time. She missed me a lot. The days passed and I came home. Now I am going to write a letter expressing my gratitude to my advisor and wish him well in his retirement. I may add a request for a letter of recommendation in there too, just in case I need it someday.

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Reducing Plastic Toy Waste in Landfills

As a general rule, we have avoided plastic toys for out kids. Our primary motivation has been health related, both for our children and for the planet. It is easier to look for toys made from wood, silk, cotton, wool, and other natural materials that will provide hours of safe play and ultimately biodegrade than to worry about the known and unknown ill-effects of PVCs, phthlates, and other hormone disrupters, carcinogens, etc. in plastics. That said, plastic toys are difficult to avoid completely, and unlike toys made of natural materials, plastic toys seem to be more prone to breakage due to an ill-timed footstep or from more complex mechanical workings ceasing to function.

All things being equal, I think that if a toy of any material is simply outgrown and it can still be enjoyed by others, it is best to find it a new home where it will be appreciated and reused. Nevertheless, there will still always be plastic toys that have been broken beyond repair or are otherwise no longer usable. All too often these toys are destined for the trash heap where they may wreak havoc on our planet and its inhabitants for centuries. To address this problem, Tom’s of Maine is currently offering a plastic toy recycling program in partnership with Terracycle.

Throughout Earth Month (the month of April), parents can request to be sent a free toy recycling box to help children gather up all of their plastic toys that have become broken beyond repair or are not good candidates for donating (while supplies last). Once boxes are filled, toys can be sent back with the pre-paid return shipping label to be recycled into useful items such as park benches. See the recycling program link above for a complete listing of eligible toys.

Sounds to me like a great activity to raise consciousness not only about stewardship for our planet, but also to increase awareness about what happens to plastic once it gets tossed in the trash. What do you think, are you signing up for one?

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On Birthdays, the Rainbow Bridge, and Feelings of Inadequacy

Preparing to cross the Rainbow Bridge

Preparing to cross the Rainbow Bridge

As spring begins to threaten the mounds of snow in our neck of the Midwest, so starts birthday season in our household. All three kids turn another year older between the end of February and the beginning on May (and I do too).

When the girls were young they attended Waldorf parent-child and early childhood programs (known as kindergartens in Waldorf schools). It was in that context that I was introduced to the idea of celebrating the anniversary of a child’s birth with a fairytale hybrid version of their birth story. In the Waldorf tradition this is referred to as the Rainbow Bridge story. I have heard many iterations of this story; it’s length and complexity varying to some degree based on the age of the child and the preferences and characteristics of the story teller, but with the key themes remaining the same. As I think back, I have heard at least five different early childhood teachers tell a version of the Rainbow Bridge story to one of my children. Traditionally, the teacher sits in front of the group of classroom children with a small table on which sits a photo of the birthday child and fragrant beeswax candles to mark off the years of his or her life. A long silk in rainbow colors stretches out a path across the floor, at the end of which sits the child’s parents. Siblings are often present as well if they should happen to be available to join in for the story telling. The child is usually dressed in a special angelic outfit and listens to the telling of his or her story, which culminates with the child running across the Rainbow Bridge and into their parents’ arms, signifying the moment of their welcome to Earth and to their family.

six years

six years

This year is different. This past fall we sold the home where Rich and I had moved just months after we married. The home where all of our children were brought to when they were born. The home located within close proximity to the Waldorf school where I first felt a true sense of belonging and community when I was searching for connection to a like-minded group of parents, having felt like a misfit or a novelty at times amongst the parents in park district kiddie classes.

The reasons for the move were many. Too much in our life had shifted; our family had grown and our house had not, our school programming, its administration, and its financial health no longer resembled what it once had when we had started there, and our own finances had been put to the test through multiple medical challenges, extended unemployment, and other unexpected hiccups. We wanted to move closer to family and social support, but this also meant saying a final goodbye to formal Waldorf education for any of our children. I don’t regret the decision, it was overdue to be honest. We were in need of shaking off the bad juju that had seemed to have settled into our life and to make a fresh start.

Things are still up in the air in many aspects of our new chapter, and at times we cannot resist pining away for the old and familiar. That is where I found myself on a recent morning as I drove home from Asher’s birthday celebration at his new preschool class. He had donned a special paper birthday crown in pink, his favorite color. I had come and read a story to the class and had brought some gluten free pretzels to share. The children sang him the Happy Birthday song. It was a nice celebration and he had felt special. As I drove the car though it was nagging at me that this was a very different experience from what I had come to expect for my young children’s school birthdays. What struck me most was that he hadn’t heard his Rainbow Bridge story. He hadn’t run across a path on the floor marked out by a rainbow playsilk and jumped into my arms to celebrate the moment when I first held him; the moment when he was born into our family. I was missing it hard. I started to think about some way that I could recreate the experience for him, casually testing the waters by chatting with him in the backseat as we drove, “Hey Buddy, when your sisters were your age they were told a story about being born to celebrate their birthdays. What do you think about that idea?” After an unexpected discussion about what a birthday might possibly have to do with being born (I forget sometimes that the concept is not intuitive to young children), he seemed intrigued.

We got home and I immediately tried to conjure up some way to recreate the ethereal and magical Waldorf Rainbow Bridge experience, but every thought that I had was instantly met with the reality of our current situation; we do not yet have our own house. We are living with my parents at the moment while we try desperately to find a home for our family, a task that is proving to be a difficult one within the constraints of our family size and budget combined with the much higher home values in our new suburb relative to our old one. In the meantime, all of the play silks, the dress up clothes, the play arch, the toys, the birthday crowns, the beeswax candles, everything lives far away in storage. We live tucked in the spaces available with our necessities stored in bins and boxes. The mommy guilt hit and threatened to take over.

I had a thought, one of Rich’s white t-shirts could stand in for the angelic robe that the children often wore, and maybe I could find a belt or sash or something. For a fleeting moment I considered the plastic fireman’s hat that he had received on a school field trip as a suitable crown substitute. Asher however, was not impressed with my ingenuity.

not feeling it

not feeling it

He didn’t want to wear the shirt or the hat. He didn’t care that his sisters had worn robes or wings or crowns like little birthday angels. His enthusiasm was waning. The moment was slipping away. I stopped. It didn’t need to look like the vision that I had in my head. His birth story was his own unique moment to celebrate. It didn’t need to be anything more than that. I sat down on the couch and pulled him onto my lap and began his Rainbow Bridge story as best as I could remember hearing one be told….

Some time ago up high in the clouds, a little angel laughed and danced and played. The little angel loved to pretend that he was a rescuer, helping out with any troubles way up in the sky. The little angel liked to bounce on the fluffy clouds and look down onto the Earth below. The little angel watched the fish swim in the seas and the birds sing in the skies. One day the little angel peered down to Earth and saw other children as they laughed and played together. Two little girls caught the angel’s attention as the little angel watched them run through the grass, picking flowers together and balancing carefully as they walked across fallen trees in the forest. The little angel heard a woman’s voice call out, “Eva, Alina….” (“That’s my sisters! But where is me?” “Hold on Buddy, we’re not there yet.”)

The little angel turned to some of the bigger angels and said, “I want to go there, to join those girls on Earth,” but the big angels said that it was not yet time. The little angel returned to his play, forgetting about the Earth down below. One day while running through the clouds, the little angel tripped and fell, nearly slipping down through the clouds, but the big angels helped him up and watched over him closely through the autumn, the winter, and into the spring. One day the clouds parted and the little angel could peek below once more. He saw his two girls cuddled up in bed close to a woman with a big, round belly. A man sat nearby reading the girls a story. The little angel asked again, “Can I go to them now?” and the big angels said that it was time. They hugged the little angel close, kissed his cheeks, and sent him down through the clouds across a bridge of rainbows to join his new family. His mother and father held him and gave to him his first ever gift, his name Asher Miles, which means lucky, blessed, and happy because they felt so lucky and blessed to have him come to complete their family, and because they wished for him a happy life.

In his first year Asher grew and discovered so much about the world. He said his first words, and crawled, stood up all on his own, and laughed at his silly sisters.

In Asher’s second year he learned to walk and climb, always curious to see how things worked. He loved to sit on Daddy’s lap when he would make work calls, and even set up his own “office” in the play arch, taking phone calls and working hard on his play computer.

In Asher’s third year he started parent-child class and explored the woods and the classroom. He loved to dig in the sand and see his sisters at school. He flew on an airplane for the first time, visiting his Gram and Gramps in Arizona.

In Asher’s fourth year he learned to ride a tricycle and had so much fun riding around outside. He began a new adventure, moving with his family to a new home, and starting at a new school. Asher made many friends.

Now Asher begins his fifth year, which we know will be filled with more growing, and learning, and discoveries. We love you very much sweet boy, and we are so lucky, blessed, and happy that you chose our family. Happy birthday, my sweet angel.

I knew that the story was not as refined or magical as the ones that his sisters had been told, but it was a moment for me to soak up my son’s five years and consider who he is and who he has grown to be as a part of our family. I am glad that I didn’t get completely stopped by the disconnect between how I wanted things to be and the reality of how things are at the moment. We will never again have the opportunity to celebrate Asher’s five circles around the sun, and I am glad that I took the time to reflect along with him.

If you are interested in other, more classic, examples of the telling of the Rainbow Bridge birthday story in the Waldorf school tradition, here are a few:

The Rainbow Bridge
Waldorf birthday story
Waldorf inspired birthday traditions
Teddy’s birthday story

How has the Rainbow Bridge story been used to celebrate the children in your life? What other birthday traditions are special to your family?

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So What is a Crunchy Parent?

Me, a little Alina, and Peggy O'Mara, Mothering Magazine's former Editor and Publisher at the La Leche League 50th Anniversary Conference in 2008.

Me, a little Alina, and Peggy O’Mara, Mothering Magazine’s former Editor and Publisher at the La Leche League 50th Anniversary Conference in 2007.

When this blog was initially conceived 8+ years ago in its original version (read more about that here), we were trying to come up with something to call it. I knew that many of the parenting choices that we had made up to that point were different from those of most of our peers who had started having children around the same time. It had become increasingly clear that some of the notions that we had with respect to parenting were non-mainstream, at least in our culture. Finding a community to toss around these ideas or share these experiences was something that we were mostly able to do online. That was what we wanted to share and do through the blog. One day it just struck me and I called my husband, Rich at work, “They call them crunchy,” I said. “What?” was his very well-articulated reply. “Parents like us. They call them crunchy.” And so it was that CrunchyParent.com was born.

This of course begs the question as to why parents, or people, like us are called crunchy. Although I cannot provide any official insight into the etymology of the term, it is my understanding that the “crunchy” reference is a throwback to the idea of granola and its association with the non-mainstream, nature-loving, hippie culture of yesteryear. For this reason the term crunchy parent can evoke patchouli-scented visions of Birkenstock-clad, long-haired, treehuggers espousing the benefits of raw foods as they gently shift the baby and toddler wrapped to their torso to allow for free access to the tandem-nursing experience. This could very well match the image of a given crunchy parent, but it is equally likely that it will not even bear a resemblance. Just as there are countless varieties of actual granola, there are endless iterations of crunchy parents.

In my head, the crunch in crunchy is not one that I associate with granola, rather it is the sound of the Earth beneath one’s feet when he or she deviates from the well-traveled path trodden by the masses. It is the snap of twigs and the crumble of brittle leaves when we venture off in a slightly divergent direction because we are called to explore something a little different than the road that has been carved out right before us.

One of the things that I find most interesting about this non-mainstream “crunchy” idea is the extent to which it is an ever-shifting definition. I was a huge admirer of Mothering Magazine after discovering it in the early 2000s, a bit prior to embarking on my own parenting journey. For those unfamiliar, the magazine was founded in 1976 as a natural parenting resource. It was in my opinion, an amazing publication that brought together previously marginalized parents to discuss the thoughts and ideas of what has historically been a counter-culture of people embracing naturally-based parenting choices that may have been atypical amongst their peers. I was a longtime subscriber to the magazine, from the time that I discovered it until they ceased production in 2011. I also was quite obsessed for a while with the idea of amassing every back issue of the magazine that I possibly could and devouring the contents, not only as a way to continue to shape my beliefs, but also as a fascinating glimpse into what it looked like to be a “crunchy parent” in the recent history of Western cultures.

I remember being struck by one topic of discussion in particular because it so perfectly illustrated to me how mainstream versus counter-cultures evolve with time. As I recall (and you’ll forgive my inability to reference accurately as all of my treasured Mothering magazines are currently in storage as we wait to move into our new home, and I can’t look at them) in the 70s or 80s there were passionate movements in the United States natural-parenting community to allow for children to sleep in cotton pajamas. At that time, cotton pajamas for children were banned from sale in the U.S. because they were believed to present a fire safety hazard. Only synthetic pajamas that had been treated with flame-retardant chemicals were permissible as children’s sleepwear. Concerns were voiced among Mothering’s readership that flame retardant chemically treated pajamas might not be healthy for their children to wear, and may in fact have ill-effects over time. Thus, they were motivated to find alternatives (They may have been onto something, and sometime I will tell you my very sad tale of how I was slated to be a participant in that landmark study but had to withdraw due to the extremely unusual circumstances of my first birth, but that is for another day).

In response to this perceived problem there were discussions about how to get ahold of untreated 100% cotton pajamas from other countries where they were legal or how to sew pajamas for your children at home out of natural fabrics. To me, a parent in a new millennium who could buy her children (snug-fitting) untreated, 100% cotton pajamas at just about any big box or children’s clothing store in the nation, the whole conversation seemed amusingly absurd but also incredibly enlightening. Sometimes, being a crunchy parent at one moment in our history just means that you are clearing a new path that others will come to follow in droves when the larger society shifts to embrace the same school of thought. Other times, you may just be out merrily traveling along with your like-minded tribe on an issue that the mainstream culture may never come to accept.

In my opinion, it is not an all-or-nothing proposition, nor is it constant. I, like most parents, am always learning new things and contemplating how to best support the health and wellness of my family. My children and family are always changing as are their needs and our resources to meet those needs. Sometimes choices that I make or things that I do may seem uber-crunchy, and sometimes they may seem crunchy-light. The eye of the beholder will influence this perception as well.

I hope that the people (parents or otherwise) who make their way to this blog will find a connection to some aspect of my life; a life that as a whole I think fits within the crunchy label, even though individual parts of it may be interesting to those who do not feel a relationship to that term. You do not need to be crunchy to enjoy crafts or simplicity, to prepare foods at home with an eye on food allergies or sensitivities, to seek out organic or non-GMO foods, or to desire effective cosmetic, skincare, or household products without toxic ingredients. In fact, many of these choices have become increasingly mainstream since I started parenting twelve years ago. Of course, once you travel the road not taken, it is less intimidating to trust your own compass and continue to venture out, so I think that you will see the ongoing evolution of my interests into avenues that are still off the beaten paths of today. One day, perhaps when they are navigating the world of parenting, I hope that my children will look back at some of the things that we did as parents and view us more as trailblazers and visionaries and less as quaint, but misguided odd-balls. I suppose that only time will tell.

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The Return of the Crunchy Parent

***Surprise!!!!*** Well, probably not much of a surprise to most of you who are new around these parts, but just in case there’s someone out there who had a magical feed reader that held on to this little page waiting and wondering for the last six years whatever happened to that woman whose family you used to know a little about, I’ll take a moment to catch you up….I started this blog back when my two girls were teeny bits. One was watching the world unfold in gauzy magical colors at her Waldorf preschool and in our backyard. The other spent most of her time smiling at life from her perch, usually snuggled in her Maya Wrap close to my chest. I was transitioning to the role of full-time, stay-at-home parent after many years in graduate school completing PhD programs in both clinical psychology and school psychology, and trying to figure out how all of the training that I had received fit with these two little beings who had not necessarily read the same books or followed the same syllabi that I had. My husband and I were trying to approach our role as parents mindfully, with a strong focus on preserving childhood as a time of exploration, wonder, and creativity, and making thoughtful decisions that we hoped would support the emotional and physical health and well-being of our children. I’m the first to admit that our aspirational path was not an easy road for us to walk, and sometimes we had to settle for doing the best that we could in a given moment or circumstance even if that was not the same as what we wished we could do in the moment or in hindsight.  That is where my blog took a sabbatical.

In the summer of 2008, my husband sustained a significant back injury and took an extended leave from work to recover. I attempted to balance the child care, the diaper washing and round-the-clock nursing, the food prep, the transportation, laundry, groceries, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, the CSA pickup, the chiropractor appointments and doctor visits, caring for him as he was mostly bedridden, and trying to maintain my blog. Something had to give. The blog seemed like the appropriate choice, so it sat gathering dust and waiting for life to settle down a bit.

Thankfully life did begin a return to normal, enough to consider that third baby that we had wanted but had also put on hold in light of the chaos. We were lucky enough to be blessed with a third pregnancy, but our joy did not last long before it became overshadowed by complications. When I was 8 weeks pregnant I began to experience significant bleeding, and 15 weeks into my pregnancy I was on complete bed rest with a diagnosis of subchorionic hemorrhages. Now it was my husband’s turn to be the full-time house manager, child care provider, and breadwinner as we tried to maintain a challenged pregnancy over many months and still meet the needs of our girls. It was during this time that we also discovered that a deadline had been missed, a subscription had gone unpaid, and my blog and all of its content had been lost. It was too low on our priority list at the time, and it seemed that the Universe was telling me to just let some things go. The days and weeks crawled along, and despite odds that seemed unthinkable at times, I gave birth at full term to my beautiful son.

Recovery from almost six months of immobility was difficult and involved a great deal of physical therapy, but I began to improve. An area on my leg that I had noticed as seeming different and restricted during the pregnancy never really got better despite my increased strength and decreased pain elsewhere. In the end it turned out that it was cancer, and that was a whole other journey.

I am excited to say that I am four years cancer-free this month. Our little crunchy family has weathered many challenges over the past six years; too many to list, but not enough to have completely derailed us from our crunchy path. I continue to be excited by learning new things; by crafting, cooking, and creating, by supporting health and well-being in holistic ways, and by attempting to glean the best from mainstream and non-mainstream approaches while keeping an open mind that today’s best choice for our family may not be the same as tomorrow’s, and certainly may not be the same as another family’s best choice. I am also mindfully choosing to place a greater emphasis on self-care. Like many parents I tend to fall into the habit of pouring every ounce into my children without taking time to refill my own cup. That is simply not sustainable or beneficial for the family as a whole, so I am trying to make new choices in that area of my life to support continued health and well-being. This blog is self-care for me. It gives me permission and time to express myself, to explore my interests, and to engage in a community that teaches me endlessly.

There have been so many times over the years that I have learned something or done something and wished that I could share it on my blog, only to have a melancholy moment thinking that the blog had been just one more casualty of those rather difficult years. My oldest child recently turned twelve and in poking around online found the three Crunchy Parent videos that I had put up on You Tube all those years ago. She pointed to the page views and to the followers, “Mom, people are still interested,” she said, “You should bring Crunchy Parent back.” If I am going to believe that the Universe may have cued me to let go when I needed my focus to be elsewhere, I am going to be open to the idea that it may be nudging me to return. So, I’m back. No promises and no apologies, but I hope you’ll be happy to see me again, and many of you for the very first time.

As I mentioned above, I love to learn new things and I find it exciting to share what I know with others. If you have an interest or a question, let me know and I will possibly have the information for you, or you can be the inspiration for me figuring it out. Thank you for hanging on or checking back after all these years. I hope that you will be glad that you did. If we are crossing paths for the first time, I assume that there must be a good reason. Please make yourself at home and I hope that you find something that enriches you for the experience.

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