realistic expectations @ on a little ledge by my ferns – stl.

oh hey – long time, no talk. or – no write. what’s up?

to those i know in real life, in person: here we go. a life update of intricate sorts.

to those i read and who read me online: a deeper thought, a perspective.

since the last time i recall writing, the seasons have changed and two puppies have joined the mix. my oldest turns 16 on wednesday, the middle blended daughter turns 12 on tuesday – amazon delivered a couple of *i really want to tell you* today and the sun is shining. it has been a wet couple of days but, today? it’s glorious. sunny, cool in shade, warm in patches of daylight.

my heart has been leaping all morning at our dream and our vision. two adult dogs walking on taylor dock in bellingham, when we finally get to a milky chance concert, the next time we buy fresh flowers at pike’s, the sound of seattle… the coffee.. my mountain view.

my greenhouse. my rosebush. my rosemary. the deer. the neighborhood. the inspiring corner kitchen garden and the desire to be family friends with the people with banana trees and tire swings.

birch bay. foggy mornings. (did i say coffee) and the kayaks. enter back the dogs. the moss. the green. the ferns.

which brings me back to where i started (in my title) – by my ferns here in stl.

the ferns are getting there. (the puppies have not been especially helpful in this regard, but we are learning and i am praying my hostas’ safety and well being each day. MAN they like to rumble and wrestle in them leaves!) the greens of the green thanks to the rain are like fairy dust in this midwest spring. pnw vibes all the way and it’s like being plugged into a little electric socket.

on the homefront: it is a switch day which means i wind down my me time and personal growth and match it up to the needs of the collective, the behavior i want to see more of from my daughters and the way the house needs to run for my sanity and everybody’s health and comforts to be somewhat met.

regarding the publishing project: it has hatched and is a duckling sitting in a sweet little egg. designers are working on statement of work. village books and i are in a pending contract. and my list of people to send invitations to this summer is coming up daily along with the right hue of yarrow golden yellow for the stationary. sigh. my creative baby infant child. my first published work. an apple off my apple tree. <pulse>

oh, how much more i could write right now.

ideas for the future. on my love for my children.

my gratitude. my husband.

// a song we wrote. //

what i have learned in the past two days, what i really truly feel deeply now and my active intentions for the next twenty four hours…

for the next week.

the house.

The summer.

It all.

But, realistically? It is all so actively underway that it simply can only be expected that we all just live it out and report in on the big stuff.

Love live and in living color.

Ok. Peppers. Gear change. Till next time…. erin

about raising kids. @ study. listening to britney.

Yes, Baby One More Time is on my airpods right now. But right before it was Hard Way Home by Brandi Carlile.

I just had the most fantastic daydream (David calls them “thought experiments”) imagining Ellen leading a musical interpretation of a favorite song in a manner which involved key musical family members and influencers. It’s always when I imagine her paternal grandpa (Richard Dempsey) and the spirit of her maternal grandpa (Terry K. Dittmer) that I get choked up. Even more so when I imagine my brother and my husband completely threading together some absolutely magical acoustic guitar – even more when I imagine the voices: mine, Lucy’s, my nieces, my friends, my mom, my sisters, my neighborhood. Put a bonfire right in the middle and some Christmas lights on top? That literally is my daydream come true.

Which brings me to realize this seemingly emerging truth about parenting: that you raise your kids in a fashion that embodies your dreams and the qualities that bring it to life. This makes the daydream as good as the real thing, the real things as fanciful as the daydream.

It also seems to give incredible opportunity to considering what you put in place for their optimal living.

For most American parents, the notion that you can shift from the American Dream to your individual one is enough to cause some sort of social re-thrival.

Ok – vanille fraise just came on *which if you know, you know.

The voice is continuing to break open here on the blog. So much gratitude to Delene for her encouragement. All my friends. The ones I FaceTimed with. So good. Miss my coworkers. Praying for their brains. For their leadership and for their communications.

I’m opting to stay put on this Director gig in Webster. I need to be something else first. But I fully intend on knowing who gets the gig. :)

tenderness & evolution @ big table while one teen is studying

I mentioned to David last night that we somehow leveled up in the parenting world. Language has settled in, values have taken root… These things have produced consistent messages to the kids that are starting to see anchors like time around the table and nods of agreement.

There was a while where one of us would process a kid and the other would get defensive. I bet that is common in blending families. If I zoom’d in on one of his biologicals, it would naturally feel like it was in comparison to one of my biologicals. At this point, if I am correct, we have both bitched enough about all five kids and praised enough about each of the five kids to have balanced out and earned each other’s trust that it is not like we were determining who are our “project children”.

Truly – they are all projects.

In my retirement, my bandwidth can get quickly sucked up in the parenting world and what all we need to address. It results, as mentioned before, in a lot of conversation with David about ideas and what we should try and what I envision for us in a year. It also results in a lot of hands on deep diving with each kid. And it is really not efficient to live like that.

Not only do I believe in the fact that at some point you have to stop talking about it and just do the things you think are so important. But it really isn’t practical to coach each kid one on one. Teachers, sports coaches, music teachers and therapists are – for example – great ways to outsource this, even if you don’t have a bajillion kids like we do. Said another way….

I remember thinking I broke Ellen at some point when she was 7 or 8. That somehow my parenting or her dad’s was so screwed up that we had turned this wonderful sweet adventurous girl into a headstrong pain in the ass.

In my regular bemoaning that I ruined my child and now had this selfish, pre-occupied, non-empathetic little girl, I conveniently recognized all of those same traits in myself. :-/

OH. How helpful, I realized in my yoga, we are able to recognize things in others because they are in us.

OH. How helpful, I can’t open Ellen’s brain and re-wire and jump into her memories and change however or wherever she learned this behavior.

I can. I can. I can model and reinforce. Model. Model. Model.

I am going through notebooks (which is literally and figuratively the story of my life) and it has been pretty wild to read entries from 2019: gearing up toward engagement, gearing up toward 2020, so blind to the reality the world can change dramatically. Amongst all the plans and lists and travel notes was this entry of 6 bullet points I had written as advice for myself:

  • Stand openly
  • Hide nothing
  • Refuse to defend oneself
  • Feel their pain
  • Understand needs
  • Vulnerability brings healing

In this season of motherhood, I find this list perfect.

One of the prayers I have for the kids is that they all let down their defenses. Not necessarily with each other as there is not any fighting in the house or anything like that. But there is a general guard up that quickly interprets “direction” into “discipline” or interprets guidance as limitation. It’s kind of interesting. They feel in trouble or stuck and excuse themselves, make shit up and or quickly interject what they want before hearing what they want was already on the way. Like. They are “jumpy”.

I think, for me, I have to remember the change they all went through and the ways they are growing and being stretched academically and socially during the pandemic. That’s hard stuff.

I think, for me, remembering to get on eye level and inquire lovingly to their real need is essential to continually grow the trust we all have in each other. I don’t need to explain they didn’t need to explain it. I just listen, reassure and follow through. Take it on the chin. Let them think it was their idea in a way.

Living with nothing to hide – being an honest, friendly expression – makes us safe as parents. Not explaining things or offering reasons, just “Yes, and I love you” and “No, and I love you” will suffice.

And even “standing openly” is applicable now as I see my motherhood as an act of generosity. Giving and being compassionate and patient and helpful. Letting the “work” of it all be a side note and letting the “service” of it all be a lifestyle and a calling.

And with all of this, like I was saying to a friend today regarding marriage, being subtle and letting body language and tone of voice be warm and safe is clutch. Building people up and encouraging them, knowing what it feels like to not be having a great day and so therefore not being a contributing factor to theirs.

Using a calming touch and stepping aside for time for yourself are as powerful as being the non critical recipient of another’s vulnerability.

“Blessed be the know it all” is not in scripture anywhere. Man, how I hope we all stop having reasons for everything.

I am not going to spend a lot of time proofing or editing this post. I just wanted to offer an entry real quick as I read through this notebook and find this 2019 advice super relevant to my current day.

Every day I remember I am the Queen and that I make the rules for my life, I grow more something (nicer? compassionate? gentler?) towards the grind of the day, towards the expectant demands of children.

It’s not that it is easy and it is not that I have been nailing it. (Hence why I welcomed these 6 bullets into my flow….) But I do recognize a difference in mothering over time and it has something to do with these things. For sure.