Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pooping Unicorns

Our life is ideal, it's true.
We live on this picturesque farm, we have five amazing children, we homeschool, we share a house with my parents, we take amazing pictures, we have hardwood floors, one of our children actually has a stuffed unicorn, and there's poop (not from the unicorn). What more could you want?!
Sometimes I feel like I have to do it all on my own. This is exactly what I wanted in life! So I need to clean up that poop with a big grin, I need to let the child throw the unicorn in my giggling face, I need to make sure the hardwood floors are always spotless, I need to take amazing pictures, I need to do my very best to make my parents' lives as easy as possible, I need to create beautiful nature based experiences for our children that compel them to be interested, I need to ensure that all children are happy and healthy and polite at all times -but especially in public, I need to make sure the farm remains beautiful and picturesque.
And I need to do it all! All by myself!
If I ask for help, I'm imposing my dream on others and showing that it's too hard.

Here's the thing: there's a pro and con to every decision.
And I actually don't poop unicorns.
Our farm is beautiful but it's also a ton of long days and broken window frames that need repairing. It's a loan we've been waiting for for 2 long years (although the application is supposed to be presented to the powers that be on Monday, according to our person at the farm-lending-agency!). It's early mornings and frozen water buckets. It's connecting with like-minded customers who become friends. It's putting yourself out there to be judged and "bought" or not. It's sweating more than you thought possible, and breathing warm breath in to cold hair wrapped around your face to keep warm - turning your hair to ice.

We have five children who we think are amazing - there's really nothing negative to say about them. I always wanted a big family. Always. But being one of four is way different than parenting those four (or more) and it's constant toys-all-over-the-place-despite-my-best-efforts. It's spilled milk and poop on the floor. It's multiple wake-ups from a deep warm sleep. It's realizing your throat hurts because you may have yelled too much at bedtime. It's worry - worry about the day to day and the long term.

I can't imagine NOT homeschooling. It means a close-knit community of family friends. It means days when the only grownups you see are those that live with you. It's worry that you aren't doing too much and worry that you're pushing too hard. It's day-in-and-day-out with kids you sometimes want to take some space from. It's freedom to take a trip in the middle of the week and to stay up late, not worrying about the kid you have to wake up "in time" tomorrow morning. It doesn't mean our life will always be our own, but for now it is. School routines and restrictions will meld into our lives over time - if nothing else because Child F. is in preschool now full time and will start K at the local public school next year.

Getting this farm with my parents made the most sense and we were very excited to start this with them. It means things moved and having to ask 3 grownups if they've seen what you're looking for. It means having someone who folds your last load of laundry. It means a full dinner table and not always having to cook that dinner. It means extra love and support in the day to day not only for yourself but also for your kids. It means an immediate sounding board. It means more dishes, mess, and food to cook.

Photography is such an incredible creative outlet and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be included in people's lives - entrusted to capture never-to-be-repeated moments and also the everyday. It means keeping books and finding childcare. It means marketing and research. It means stunning images on our wall in our home. It means creating an irreplaceable gift for clients. It means knowing that you need to capture the important and the everyday because one day pictures is all you'll have of that memory - a memory that would disappear without those images to remind you of that moment - however huge or insignificant it was at that moment.

I love our wide planked hardwood floors. It was one of the things that drew me to this house. It means character. It means nothing to absorb every.little.crumb.and.speck.of.sand that gets tracked into the house. It means knowing what's on your floors. It means knowing what's on your floors. It means know muffling of the creaks and hard falls. It means knowing your floors are clean (when you clean them).

So this may be my dream life, but it's not perfect. Because it's life. And fortunately there's all these crazy people in my life who are all about supporting this dream as I support theirs. That's life too. The thoughtful person who offers to babysit - just because - and also the people who babysit when we need someone (usually to go take those awesome pictures ;) ). The friend who comments on how great the kids look. The brother who is a sounding board. The parent who encourages us when we're feeling discouraged. The kid who holds us in a tight hug. And we don't have to do it all on our own - and we aren't. And it doesn't have to be perfect. Thank goodness!
So for full disclosure: there's no unicorns (besides the stuffed one that actually drives me crazy because Child D. makes the horn on this thing crinkle as she's falling asleep when I just want Child D. to chill and stop moving!). But there's poop. Lots of it. From cows and dogs and pigs and sheep and birds and babies. And every once in a while there's a rainbow - literally, and lots of rainbows figuratively. But not too many! I don't want you to go and start assuming things about pooping unicorns again. We're not perfect. Just doing the best we can with what we've been given and we're conscious of our choices, always trying to step lightly and live fully.

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