Woke up on time, awake and ready to go yesterday morning. But somehow couldn’t bring myself to slip out of bed, to leave the warmth of Dory’s little body, not so little now, her slim, long body curled up against mine, her head tucked so perfectly under my chin. Instead, stayed in bed, arms wrapped around her, and for two hours lost myself in family and farm fantasies, imagining a farm, some land and a house for us, imagining our chickens, imagining our dairy cow and our beef cow, imagining our garden, tilled right into the soil, imagining all kinds of things, giving classes in our home on cheesemaking, canning, Dory, a little older, whirling into the kitchen, with Matthew on her heels, the feeling of us being together as a family throughout the day.
We all want this. She loves Matthew as she loves me, she thrives best when we stay together as a family unit. For so long now, forever, Matthew has said, when we three are together,' this is what matters, this is all I want.' And for some time I’ve rolled my eyes and basically thought, enjoy it until real life sets back in.
I have a new idea of what I want real life to look like. Maybe real life isn’t work, cars, bills, with snippets of family love and magic fit in around it. Maybe life could BE family, could be togetherness, could be relationship, with work, cars, and bills fit in around THAT.
There’s no point agonizing over time lost or not knowing these things before. But now that this realization begins to dawn, I wonder what other possibilities are out there? What would it be like to have that, that bit of land, our chickens, our cows, to leave your place only once a week, to find your food there, where you grow it, to find our joy there, being together...
I think, more than ever, the path opens up in front of me... read this book, find this suggestion, get out in the ground, and do this work. Last night, we came together after being gone all day at work and we stayed outside, watering our garden, playing in the grass, sipping cool beverages, feeling the first suggestion of heat and summer on our arms and faces. Matthew said, even as the clock said 6:30, ‘let’s stay outside all day!’ almost giddy with the joy of being with his daughter and wife again. Maybe these times aren’t meant to be fitted in around ‘everything else.’ Maybe THIS is meant to be the time.
I don’t want to rush this or try to make it happen now. I’m a good one for either forcing something to work that isn’t ready yet and so often breaking it, or for staying sick with longing and desire, letting it eat at me until the dream is simply twisted into something that hurts instead of inspires.
I’m not going to do this here. Right now, this is our life. I work as a nanny, I am so fortunate to provide an income to my family, while being with my daughter all day, while taking care of her mostly as I always intended to. Matthew follows this teaching dream, in school on weekends, and working around that. We live in a house we love, in a great neighborhood, we are close to family, we have many dear friends. There is a smoothing to life’s rough edges these days and Matthew and I often marvel that, on a third of the money that he used to make on his own, we live far better now than before. We better understand living within our means, quality over quantity and what, to us, now truly matters, these ties that don’t bind but envelope and hold us together.
We carve out that other life, that life of possibility, in small ways right now. There are three vegetable beds in our backyard, there are little damp seed trays in our windows, there are pots on the front porch that will hopefully become basil, cilantro, dill, and other herbs. Books are scattered through the house with titles like “Radical Homemakers” and “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens.” There are bonds we make and strengthen, finding a way to eat locally, to buy quality, humanely tended meat, thoughtfully produced produce, shopping at our local co-op for the needs in between. We drive less and less, the miles on the car Dory and I share racking up maybe a dozen a week. We receive from our family, who offer us a car so we don’t overextend, who slip us $30 here or a pair of shoes for Dory there and we appreciate the generosity, try to return the gift by excepting graciously and with good humor.
All these little steps and yet steps go by fast, they take you where you want to go, so often, more quickly than you expect. That’s what I think. And sometimes its worth giving up all the little to-do’s of the morning, to lay next to a sleeping child, that little body that grows so quickly and seems to stay warm with love, hope, and optimism, just to be close to her and dream for a few minutes of what might someday, a few months or maybe a few short years, come to be. What if...?