I have one hour to rest. So what am I doing on the internet? I don't know... Sometimes I think I get more from writing out my thoughts than from sleeping. No. I love sleeping. But by the time I settle in and start drifting off, one of my kids will wake up. It's one of Murphy's laws.
So while I have you, I thought I would tell you a little bit about what it's been like at Farm Shmarm. It's beautiful. Lonely. Scary. Serene. Boring. Exciting. Intense. And at times, a bit dull. Yep. It is beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful. The sky stretches out so far and fills with popcorn clouds and passing storms. It doesn't just go gray during a storm. It gets dark. Then a bright patch of blue appears. Then a downpour. Followed by the most refreshing mist. It's intoxicating. The air, oh you get drunk on the air. Fresh and crisp. Then warm and full of spring and distant cows. There is a never ending chorus of birds serenading us. So many different sounds. Bull frogs and chirping bugs. Wind. Wind blowing grass. Wind blowing trees. Moos. Whinnies. I love it!
And there is so much to discover. Birds with babies hatching from their eggs. Tadpoles bobbing for bugs. Fish that are easy to catch and yummy to eat. Wild flowers... So many different flowers. Spit bugs. Crazy dragonflies.
But I'm pretty sure you guys don't read my blog to fulfill your nature quota. No, this is about my experience of life. So here's the rest. My baby still doesn't sleep through the night and I am EXHAUSTED! We have no routine, so we end up spending much of our days in pajamas and eating breakfast like foods four or five times a day. My oldest son is still pushing all my buttons. When he isn't fishing, he wants me to entertain him. When I want a little help trying to set up our house, I get a firm, NO. Between six, when my kids wake up, and around nine, when I finally get the last one to bed, I am on. Always on. If I'm not changing a diaper, nursing, or pulling the next choking hazard out of my baby's mouth, I am trying to get my oldest to stop climbing on the unpacked boxes and crushing the contents inside. Meanwhile, my toddler daughter is getting ignored and into all kinds of trouble.
Did I mention that I don't really get cellular service? I can't call anyone when I just need an adult to talk to. But more importantly, I can't call the poison control center when she eats I don't know how much fluoride toothpaste. Since there is a quite a lot smeared in hair, and more in the bathtub with the fish my son caught and didn't throw back, I can only hope it wasn't too much. In moment of panic, I ran into my room to get a head covering so I could throw all my kids in the car (sleeping baby included) and drive to a place with a signal. G-d really took care of me in that moment, because when I grabbed my phone, a signal appeared and held just long enough for me to call my father, the M.D., and learn that a glass of milk will work. Thank you G-d, (and Dad) for sparing the pain of driving to the hospital and insisting they pump my two-year-old's stomach!
I'm starting to get used to the bugs. Okay, no I'm not. I look down before I sit, and every time I feel a little tickle on my leg, I jump. I don't actually mind bugs. Or to be more specific, I don't mind insects. But arachnids creep the hell out of me, and they are plentiful!
Out there by myself, I feel how vulnerable I am. I have been with my husband since I was 16. In fact, here's a little back story for you...
I went to an alternative hippie democratic school called Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, MA. One day my husband shows up to check the school out. He steps out of his yellow VW bus, wearing light blue cords, a baseball cap, with beautiful brown curls, down to his shoulders, bouncing behind him. I took one look at him and said, "I want to marry that guy." And so I did.
Anyway, though I give him a hard time for many things, not romancing me, not getting my ridiculously funny sense of humor, never learning to cook anything besides scrambled eggs... I don't give him enough credit for how amazingly safe I feel with him. Always have. And out on the farm, without phone service, or a neighbor to run to, I feel so vulnerable.
One night, after the kids went to bed, I sat on the back porch and looked out over the cow ranch next door. It's a hundred acres, and the house is too far away to see the people living in it. But since it was dark I could make out a fire and something putting out a lot of sparks. They either had sparklers going or were welding something. At first I just enjoy the sight. And then irrational fear creeps over me and I start imagining that they discovered a family of Jews moved next door and they are building a furnace to continue the Final Solution.
So I start making escape plans, wondering how, if my children are all asleep, I am going to carry them away to safety before the mob with pitchforks breaks through our crappy windows. Yes, I know that this is not going to happen. And I am telling myself that there are probably little innocent children dancing on a warm spring night, with sparklers. And yet the anxiety won't disappear. I am an inadequate mother. I cannot protect my children.
Which leads me to my children, my faith, myself. Because I often feel I am an inadequate mother in so many ways, and because my faith in G-d is not nearly as strong as I wish, and because my faith in my children is shamefully low, I worry. I worry that I will make a fatal mistake, turn around for too long, and find one dead, G-d forbid. I worry that if I don't give them good middot now (attributes) they will grow up to be sociopaths. I worry that if they don't turn out perfect, everyone will point at me and say, "This was all your fault. You really should have..."
And so instead of leaving them in the hands of a community, school, family and friends, I bring them up to a farm, in the middle of nowhere, and try desperately to give them a good life. Am I swimming against the tide? If I doubt what I'm doing, and don't walk around with all the conviction in the world that what I am doing is absolutely right, will everyone stop having faith in me? Will I stop having faith in me?
Tomorrow night is Shavout. Lately I have felt that I don't relate to the Torah as handed to me by the OU. I don't connect with the outer expression of halacha, when I feel the inner is oft overlooked and ignored. I want to receive the Torah as Hashem is giving it to me. I want to let go of my preconceived ideas of what Torah is, and experience it anew. While I will still hold to halacha, I let go of the premise that a good Jew dresses modestly and raises her children to be talmedei chachmim. No, There is not one definition of a good Jew. Because Hashem wants something very specific from me. And I am going to try and silence all the judgment voices in my head, so I can actually hear what that is.
Starting today, I am going to try to reach out to Hashem. I want to talk to Him more often. I want to hand my worries and anxieties to Him, and relax in the safety of being a child of G-d. I want to use my energy to love with joy, not fear. It takes so much energy to be afraid all the time. And one thing G-d didn't give me was a lot of energy. So my new mantra will now be, Relax into Love. Relax into Love. Relax into Love.
1. No spiders near my bed tonight
2. Going to see my husband tonight!
3. This beautiful Pittsburgh community
5. Going back to the farm relaxed in Love