Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thank you! and, things are looking up

Dear Readers,
   Sometimes I think of you as friends I have not met.  Thank you for your comments and your encouraging emails, I appreciate them.

  I've been feeling a lot better these past couple of days, both in body and in mind.   I have also been feeling more content and much happier about life in general.

  So, this is just a quick post to reassure and to thank you.

All is well here at Our New Hearth.  Mothering is going fine, traditional marriage roles are working well, and my 3rd pregnancy is less taxing than it was last week!

Thanks again,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Needing Encouragement: Feeling alone in my homemaking

Alone in my homemaking.

This was how I felt recently when my sweet sister came for a week long visit.

Let me explain, and I hope that in doing so I can connect with someone who could offer some support.

In our household, we follow traditional household roles: I do the housework that is indoors and most of the child-related stuff, and my husband is the breadwinner.  He works outside the home all day from 7am-6pm, and does our yard work and takes care of the trash.

Right now I am expecting our 3rd child, and I of course mother our 1 year old and our 3 year old.

So the way I see it, both my husband and I work very hard pretty much all day long, at different tasks.

But here's what happened.

My sister is an excellent houseguest, she pitches in with whatever needs doing, cleans up after herself, is a model auntie with the toddlers, and is just all around great to have here.

However, she was ultra sensitive/aware that my husband was not helping with house stuff.  I cook every meal, change most diapers, clean up everything, do all the laundry, you know, all that stuff.

When my husband comes home, he is of course a good father to the children, but household stuff isn't part of what he does.  So I felt Very Very Awkward when my sister got fairly huffy about this.

Since I am having a somewhat taxing pregnancy and am feeling sick and exhausted all the time, things seemed even more difficult at home.

"You do everything!" she announced, fire in her eyes.  "And that is all I'm going to say," she finished, I think slamming something in the kitchen for emphasis.

It was 12 hours into a hard day of homemaking.  I had no words.  No anti-feminism philosophies to share, no reasoning to give, no explanations at all.  In fact, I felt wrong. I felt tired. I felt ill. I felt judged, I felt alone.  My sister has never made me feel alone before.  I'd never felt ashamed of my marriage before - but I felt vulnerable and exposed, I felt like a failure who had been found out.


Can anyone relate to this?

I stood by the sink and just felt like that, and thought of all the ironing, all the dishes, all the cleanup that remained.  And my husband was sitting in the next room, getting to rest because when he is at home, he is at rest. But because I am a homemaker, home is not a place of rest for me until a certain amount of work is done.

And that amount of work had not yet been reached.

I know in my head that everything is fine and that I have just been recently bullied into thinking this way - - but? Oh, I need some encouragement.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

As Knitting is to Blogging, stress parallels stress...a confession from a reluctant blogger

Hi there,
  I am blissfully domestic.  For years after leaving my parent's home - throughout college, throughout various jobs, apartments, roommates, churches, and regions I struggled to realize and accept this innate longing that I have to be a homemaker.

At age 26 I met the man who would become my husband.  About 2 and a half months after we met, we were at a point where we were both nearly sure that we were on the cusp of engagement. During that fateful (aka God-filled and God-blessed) conversation during which we discussed and explored the idea of getting married, for the first time we broached those potential deal-breaker  topics of future family size and I gently but firmly made it known that I preferred to become a full time homemaker upon getting married.

Apparently my inner struggle against society's popular norms for an American young woman was over! I came to terms with what I wanted and how God had created me to be, and I was somehow brave enough to, in a non combative way, put it out there as a must-have. This is me. Here I am, wanting a large family and the occupation of homemaker.

Miraculously, wonderfully, joyfully, it turned out that Jeff and I were on the same page.  He was thrilled that this was my desire, that I wanted this.  What a relief/shock.  It was amazing to me; there we were in Central Park in New York City, surrounded by nothing like what we had just agreed on wanting.

(What I mean is, I absolutely adored living in NYC, but no one there or anywhere else I'd lived had ever modeled this wanting-to-be-a-young-married-and-hoping-for-a-large-family homemaker idea. No one. )

It wasn't until about half a year after we got married that I stumbled upon the online homemaking community.  I was floored, completely shocked and ecstatic that there are other people like me!!!!!!!

Nobody in my life was being openly judgmental or negative about my decision to be a homemaker, but I had no support, either.  I'd moved from NYC to Ohio to marry, and friends and family seemed to assume that I was "unemployed" simply because of the relocation.  When I would explain otherwise to friends and family, they would get this patient look in their eyes, clearly humoring me and biding their time until the day I'd snap with their anticipated "boredom" and "need" to "get out the house".

People questioned how I was handling being at home after my big - time adventures of living in NYC and always being on the go and in the know and all that supposed stuff.  "Aren't you bored?" they'd curiously inquire.  My mother thought I'd gone off the deep end when I started making my own laundry detergent.  My in-laws kept gently badgering my husband with a car they wanted to give him a good deal on, most likely to try and make it possible for me to go out to work.

It was pioneer-ish and lonely, in a way, being a young homemaker with no known team of supporters beyond my husband, my grandmother and my great-aunt.

But! God blessed me with support from the Beautiful Womanhood website, the Homemaker's Mentor program, The Homemaker's Cottage, The Homespun Heart, and Lady Lydia's wise words over at Home Living.  Then Aunt Ruthie (not really my aunt, but that's how she refers to herself) came along, too. Then I found Raising Homemakers!  This online community of support is amazingly encouraging; I am not alone, I am not crazy.

I founded this blog, with the help of 2 nice friends, so I could try to be more of a participant and less of just a lurker/onlooker.  I wanted some way to have an identity here on the internet so I could in some small way "meet" other homemakers.

But!  I am so low-tech.  I just am.  This blogging thing is starting to drain on me, it doesn't come naturally, it doesn't feel fun or refreshing.  I also don't feel like I'm representing myself very well here because my low-tech-ness looks so out of date...I feel like I'm at a party dressed all wrong. My blog is so plain compared to everyone else's it seems, I'm just very discouraged.

So!  Here's my knitting analogy, in case you've been waiting for it.

Knitting is supposed to be so relaxing, etc, etc, you know?  Well, it stresses me out completely.  It is so not for me.  Give me a sewing machine and some thread any day, but those knitting needles?  Last week I packed 'em up and gave them to a good friend who is such a great knitter she even does socks.

 For pete's sake!

I kind of feel like blogging and knitting are pretty similar for me.  This blog, just sitting here on the internet looking all empty and shabby and embarrassing, is a lot like that stash of knitting needles and yarn (that sat untouched in the closet for 4 years!).  It kind of stresses me out, knowing this blog is here waiting for me to make another entry. Blogs aren't something that seem to end, they are cyclical like sweeping and then mopping the floor - it doesn't stay clean!  Though I am perhaps mixing my metaphors, I'm not sure I want yet another cyclical task on my list of things to do.

Because I loooooooove being part of the online homemaking community, I will keep my blog, be it ever so humble.   But don't expect anything flashy or high tech.  If you came over in person you could appreciate my clean floor, the nice quilts I make, a clean cup to drink water out of, nice little girls who are clean, well dressed and pretty well behaved....but here on my blog, I'm afraid not too much of that shows.

Anybody understand?  Isn't life humbling sometimes?

Friday, April 27, 2012

I want to join the D.A.R., not Facebook.

My mother is the family genealogist, and I have picked up a great deal of our family's names-and-dates type of history from her.  Many an afternoon I spent as a child wandering graveyards looking for specific relatives with my mom, clipboard in hand, ready to write down even more dates and locations.

As an adult I treasure family recipes and stories about the ancestors on the family tree, even more than I treasure the specifics of the cradle to the grave set of dates.  It is also fun to use my great grandmother's crochet pieces and teach my little girls what a doily is!

However, I have zero interest in certain other things, namely, joining Facebook. I will not do it.  I have no inclination to do so.  I am opposed to how it is changing discourse in our culture, and wastes precious minutes of people's lives.

This week my parents flew out for a visit with our family, and my mother and I did a little research after I announced:

"I don't want to join Facebook! I want to join the D.A.R.!" (Daughters of the American Revolution)

I really wanted to know, am I eligible?  After a little bit of studying the various branches of my family tree  and choosing which branch to lead us back to someone who fought in the Revolutionary War, we found it!  I am indeed eligible, as my great great great great great grandfather was John Dow, whose family had already been in the colonies for 2 generations.

Anyway, I look forward to learning more about him, and also to someday joining the D.A. R.  It is not something that is a priority to me just now during this phase of motherhood, as every ounce of my energy is put toward being a wife and mother and our first 2 children are both under age 3.  But!  I'm excited!


Life is just packed with important doings - like finding a way to do a Bible time with the little girls in the mornings (which is working out well)

and the Important Things In Disguise - like keeping house despite all the forces which conspire against that monumental task

and the Invisible-but-ever-so-real-undercurrents-of-thought - which accompany us every minute and help shape attitudes and actions.  Lately I've been full of thoughts on finding community; I struggle with feeling rooted, or not so rooted, as we know that we will be moving at some point in the future.  Whether we'll be leaving in the next month or the next couple of years depends on the vicissitudes of my husband's career.  This unsettled feeling bothers me, because I long for the peace that I imagine comes with settling someplace for good.  Of course, a hundred sermons and devotionals on dwelling in peacefulness above and despite circumstance echo in my head!  We aren't supposed to let circumstance determine how joyful or peaceful we are....

but it would still be wonderful to

-live near-ish to old established friendships and family members
-plant a garden in our own yard
-or even have a yard, I suppose
-really settle into a church, knowing that we will dwell alongside these fellow believers for years to come

oh, excuse me, am I rambling?

In the meantime, I am blooming where I'm planted (at least I hope I am) and am enjoying palm trees, wearing sandals and sundresses during all but 2 and a half months of the year, and all other good aspects of our urban desert home right now.  I've even continued to settle into our apartment: I've hung up 4 more pictures on the walls and installed even more hooks where I've needed them....all the while thinking, "Heather, should you bother installing this? are we moving next week?"

very unsettling.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Frilly tea party girls!

Hello again. My tea party-picnic habit is catching on around here!

Yesterday my girls and I did another family picnic at the park for breakfast. This time our picnic was at 8:45am - ish, well before our scheduled 10 am play date there with dear friends. While I was packing up the picnic at home Elena, age 2, suggested that we pack enough hot cross buns for our friends to have, too. I was so proud!!!

Again, it was lovely to sit in the quiet morning and have an al fresco breakfast with my little ones, with all our vintage linen and my china cup. As I poured my tea I thought of my own dear grandma, who is now in Heaven, who always packed a thermos of hot water and a tea bag to bring with her when she was going out.

After our breakfast was over and we were playing on the playground with sand toys, bubbles, a ball and the swing set, it was wonderful to watch our friends as they picnicked with the snack we'd packed them. The mother and 3 daughters made a lovely tableau - daintily eating hot cross buns while sitting on our red and white checkered picnic cloth, in the shade of an olive tree.

Then this morning, little Elena invited me to have a tea party with her on the living room floor! She had spread a baby blanket on the rug and had her china doll-sized tea set out. "Mama, come have a a tea party with me." she beckoned. "What kind of tea is it?" I humored her, wondering what sort of answer my 2 year old would come up with.

"English breakfast!" she announced cheerily, holding up her tea pot.

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather.

You can bet that I attended that tea party right away, after giving her a big hug and telling her how much I love her. Oh, I almost cried I was so happy.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tea time with our little girls

Took the sweet little girls on a picnic in the park for breakfast today! It worked beautifully, I'm so pleased. I used a real basket, along with some of my great-grandmother's crocheted table linens, a quilt I made and a red and white checkered cloth that is sooooo classically picnic-y. It was so delightful. Brought along scones, a jar of jam, fruit and yogurt, a thermos of hot tea, and a real teacup and saucer, each swathed in tea towels for safety. It all worked so well, and as it was just me and my daughters, nothing felt show-offy or awkward.

Lately I have been feeling lonely for fellow tea drinkers, nostalgic for tea times shared with good friends who understand (that is, as Anne Shirley would say, kindred spirits). Kindred spirits who do not think it pretentious or irritating to use cloth and china even on a picnic.

--in case you are new to my own story, I am new-ish to my current region and am thousands of miles away from my New England tea drinker family and friends!--

Somewhere along the line I began to feel sad about not being near those friends, and then I decided that I should just go ahead and have tea parties with my own little girls. Even if they do only drink from sippy cups, and even if we are in the hot desert where everyone seems devoted only to cold drinks.

Today I found great freedom in simply packing up our wee picnic breakfast just exactly the way I wanted to, and eating it with the girls in the park. If we had been meeting anyone on a play date I would have felt like a show-off with such a basket. But since it was simply a family affair, I didn't have to consider the perceptions or reactions of others, and I was free to do things in exactly my own way, which was an incredible relief. God makes everyone differently, of course, and I think He made me to do things with frills. For me, it isn't showing off, its just the way I am.

Madeline and Elena were blissfully unaware of any of my over-processing, and they greatly enjoyed the novelty of eating breakfast at the park.

There was a Highland Festival at the park this morning, so during our breakfast we were serenaded by distant bagpipes, and lots of kilted musicians and Scottish enthusiasts strode past us. It was marvelous.