Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You may have noticed I have become quiet again.

I have been attempting to find balance in so many areas of our life; financially, emotionally, socially, and nutritionally.  The humidity mixed with 31 weeks of pregnancy forced me to take refuge inside the house with many fans blowing against the relentless heat while I entertained Poppy, read books, websites, and blogs and watched too many free episodes of Till Debt Do Us Part online.

All of this came after another disappointing day at the Farmers' Market.  I made two sales.  Twenty three dollars.  Our tent, which has only been used 5 times, is broken in 3 different places and nearly impossible to put up.  On the drive home we discussed our next step while covered in dust, raspberry juice, and sweat.  We thought we had realistic hopes for the Market bringing in a little extra each month for emergencies and savings, but it is proving otherwise.

It has brought me to the proverbial fork in the road.  Do I continue fussing and stressing over this tiny little business of craft in a feeble attempt to make more money?  Or, do I put my energy into making our home and budget a more sustainable one?  I often wish I could just enjoy being home with Poppy rather than stressing and fussing and becoming impatient as I try to make it all work.  It all seems to defeat the purpose of me being a stay at home mama when I feel so unavailable.  I love baking and knitting and making gifts and ruffling our little nest.  I would be happy to make bread and homemade pasta and every meal from scratch if it meant I could stop worrying about making more money.  As trite as it may sound, I am a homemaker, mama, and wife at heart.  It is my one true calling.  Anything else is unfulfilling and annoying.

We live a very simple sort of life.  We have no cable or cell phones.  We have one tiny 2002 car which is paid for and decent on gas.  All our furniture is second hand.  Our wedding cost about $1000 and our honeymoon was a couple of nights spent in Ottawa.  Our most extravagant trip was a road trip to Newfoundland 5 years ago where we were able to stay with Mike's mom for two weeks.  We are not incurring any further debt and have very good interest rates on our remaining {though significant] student loans.  Our credit card is the lowest limit we could get and pay it off the day we use it.  Mike has an hour-long commute each way to work which eats gas money and puts a lot on our aging car, but we won't be able to move for at least another 2 years.  If I go anywhere, I walk.  I make most of our meals (all since we implemented the meal plan of course).  We are bargain shoppers and love a good yard sale.

As you can see, we have very little fat to trim, but we do have some.  I went through our online banking statements with a fine tooth comb and got to work on our first real budget and meal plan just over a week ago.  July is a rough month as it has lined up with many extra bills and expenses while we are still recovering from the $1200 surprise car repair last month.  The dogs need their shots.  The tri-monthly water heater rental.  The tri-monthly hydro.  The tri-monthly utilities bill.  Not to mention the extra half {$600} mortgage payment we agreed to pay in order to switch to a more manageable semi-monthly payment plan.  A rough month indeed, but we are determined to stay on track.

We don't have extravagant tastes, but we tend to nickel and dime ourselves a bit.  We don't go out for fancy food, but we spend tiny amounts here and there on forgettable food that adds up to much more than a nice dinner out.  We don't buy expensive clothes, but we buy things we don't always love at the local thrift shops.  I am a firm believer that your don't need things to make you happy and we live in a crazy world of over-spending and too much stuff, but I do love to shop.

This brings me to my next lesson in balance.  Since we are recording and categorizing every penny we spend in a log book it makes one think about everything she buys or wants to buy.  I am still in the stage of the budget implementation where I feel a little sorry for myself.  I feel like I will never buy anything frivolous or beautiful again.  It is becoming clear to me that eating and shopping have filled some sort of void in my life.  I know, I know, so cliche right?  But it is true.  I am going through some sort of crazy withdrawal this week and I didn't even know it until I wrote that sentence.  I have been bitchy, irritable, anxious, impatient, and obsessive all week.  I feel all twisted and contorted inside and I am scrambling to find peace and steady ground again.  All I can do now is ride it out, wave after wave, until my irrational brain catches up with my rational brain and realizes less is more.  That there is much to be said about planning and waiting for those things we want.  That spending unnecessarily is the cause of my stress not of my peace.  That by living without some of these things allows me to be home.

So we are thinking about ways to save.  I have decided to stop pouring any new money into the crafting, but have signed up for three local craft shows over for this month and next.  We are giving the Market a couple more weekends and, depending, we may give it up altogether or drop our commitment to only 1 weekend per month.  We are looking into free things to do on weekends and planning on more hiking and outdoor activities for the future.  We take snacks where ever we go and eat before leaving the house.  We're doing it together and both feel hopeful.

I have no idea why I am being so candid, but I think I am tired of reading perfectly glossy blogs with the happy stay at home mama and homeschooled/unschooled babes.  They are popular and inspiring, but sometimes it is all a bit too much good and not enough real.  I am happy and I hold strong to my ideals, but it isn't easy.  Sometimes it would be nice to see the real side of things.  The struggles.  The blood and sweat that makes those households float.  How to find community when it seems there isn't one.  How to teach yourself to let go of perfection.  What drives you crazy.

The online world of natural, attachment parenting mamas seems to want to uphold this image of perfection.  Sewing by candlelight and having it all together.  Never losing patience with the constant demands and movement of children.  Happily washing smelly cloth diapers every second day and never admitting to want to use disposables.  I have found myself feeling more and more trapped by this image on a totally subconscious level.  I think that is why I have gone quiet and begun writing privately again.  I can't keep up appearances. 

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't give up being home with Poppy for one second.  I am utterly blessed that I get to stay home with her.  I am committed to our ideals and visions 100%.  That being said, it isn't always easy.  Being home requires that we give up many of the tiny extravagances we had.  I feel like tearing my hair out and have been known to cry along side her some days.  Despite constant cleaning, the house is a mess.  Despite our simple tastes we have limited money.  We live in a town that seems to be void of many kindred spirits.  The only fabric shop and yarn store in town closed this summer.  I hate our neighbours.  Our garden is a weedy mess.  The local library system has none of the books I am yearning to read for inspiration and tips on living sustainably and frugally.  I can't seem to find any non-religious unschooling groups in the area.  I am tired and sore and can't sleep because of the pain in my hips and the heartburn.  I swear too much and can't seem to find the patience to stop myself.  I spend too much time with myself, but ironically have no time for myself.  I want to do some freelance writing and have sent in a couple of submissions, but can't seem to find the right words or topics.  None of my clothes fit.  I feel like a beached whale.

I am not seeking an escape.
I am seeking balance.
I am seeking candid truth from other mamas.
I am seeking community.
I am seeking self-acceptance.



  1. You said what I have thought many a time. Glossy blogs are no fun...neither is running a household and trying to make each penny count. It sucks that homemade costs alot, both in money and time.

    Dont give up, you will find your niche. I'm much more at peace in my new more candid, real blog and you should be too. I find setting limits on my art spending has helped...and remember nothing is don' know what promotions or job op's might be in store.

    I always tell my mister, slow and steady wins the race. Nice to see you! And feel good!

  2. hey you -
    I love your candidness. You are totally correct that too many blogs have a candy-coated sheen on reality. Sometimes when I read my favourite blogs I feel like a bit of a lazy failure (but too tired to do anything about it). However, I also know they are only showing their "front yards." Walk around to the back and I am sure they have weedy gardens ;)
    Keep on truckin!

  3. Bravo for this post... that took courage to open yourself up like that and put it out in to the blogosphere. You are not alone.

    The blogs I read are beautiful and lovely and inspiring but also can make me feel like an utter failure at the same time. I long to be able to be a stay at home mama and take care of our nest and daughter. But I can't, I have to work part time in a job I absolutely DON'T love but suck it up because I have to, my house is ALWAYS a mess despite always feeling like my spare time is taken up by cleaning up, the more I work, the less time I have for cooked from scratch meals, I have no leisure time for myself and if I do take a half hour or hour here and there, I feel guilty because there is always a 'to do' list a mile long, my partner has a long commute and a hard job so I often find myself trying to pick up the slack at home so he doesn't have to worry about stuff when he gets home, we are always penny pinching and sacrificing and worrying about money... I could go on but I won't. Just know you aren't alone. And that you are doing the best you can and that Poppy and your new one are and will be happy because you guys love them and they don't care about all the other stuff. You are human, even the supermoms out there, I am sure must have some hidden misery somewhere... they must.

    Thanks for keeping it real and take care.

  4. I scream, I yell, sometimes I want to runaway. At the very same time I LOVE my kids and my life. I wouldn't change it. But there are times when I wish I didn't have to teach another pottery lesson and could just focus on making bread. Instead I am rushing dinner so that I can get it all done and one the table before rushing to the studio. I want the kids to do better, do faster, do quieter just so that it can be easier for me. How is that fair. I need to let go, stop, slow down and breathe.

    I understand the money and art. I always feel like I need to be making something to be making money. The more I make then the more I am helping and then it is "O.K" for me to be at home. Then I can say see I contribute money.

    When I read others blogs I try and remember that what you see if not what it may look like. A Mom in one of my groups always looked like she had it together, baking, making, creating and never getting upset. I later found out from someone else that she has a part time nanny, a cleaning lady and her husband works from home! I could look like I had it all together as well if I had that much help!! Never assume.

    Check out this online mag. Get Born. Read the Ugly Truth article. Made me feel like I was not alone in my thinking and that it was o.k. for me to be real. Many others out there are.

  5. My God, I love you. I love you because you have exactly the same light and beauty in spades as all of those perfect granola crunchy I'm-a-fucking-saint-all-the-time blogs but without the cherry-picking or fake factor. Bring it on, sister. Those who don't love you at your worst don't deserve you.

  6. You are so great for being so honest. I've been feeling a lot of this lately. I see a lot of ideal lifestyles in the blogging world. On one hand it's encouraging because it inspires me. But on the other it is discouraging because I feel like I'm the only one who struggles.

    Right down to the cloth diapers and wishing I could do disposables and worrying about the budget and all of it. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones too? I mean, I'm almost 38 weeks along and exhausted and just don't want to think about everything so much anymore.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know you aren't alone.

  7. Oh how I know and understand your words, your emotions, your desires put forth in this post. I have been at home with family for over a decade now and still struggle with much of what you describe here. Would love to write more, but alas, the family calls. Your bravery and honesty is brilliant!
    Love Nutmeg's reply! Well said!

  8. Have so much to say but yet I cant seem to find the words. Everything you said connected with me, and made me feel a little less lonely tonight because someone else too is going through much the same as I am. Your honesty is much appreciated.

  9. I have always loved your candidness, ever since I found you on xanga. I was pretty candid on my blog last year. If you go there hit the archives from May 5, 2009 and read from there. I scared the crap out of some of my friends,but you know what? It was how I felt then and that is my space to express how I feel. This is your space and you don't have to sugar coat anything. I am totally empathize(sp?) with you on everything you listed. With 5girls at home and a small business that is at a stand still with just a few dollars in the bank life it can cause some big emotions. I'm trying to stay positive but there are moments that just doesn't happen. You are authentic Erin and that is refreshing. :)

  10. But friends, we must remember why we started blogging and reading bloggs in the first place; to be inspired + to inspire others. To connect with like minded souls. As Morrissey once said, "we hate it when our friends are successful"...lets be happy for those who are happy and keep truckin in our own boots. You are great Erin and will find your way.

  11. I feel like I'm right alongside you for this one, friend.

    It's not easy. I'm home with G, and though I also work from home, I feel torn between the things I want to do, the things I have to do & the things I should be doing.

    There's a lot of guilt involved and I'm trying to whittle it down.

    I wish we lived closer -- could commiserate and sit back to have a tea together. One thing I've found lately is how incredibly LONELY I am. I've been having a rough couple of weeks. I thank you for your honest in this post. I think it's just what I needed to read.


  12. Oh my god we are the same person right now. I am 36 weeks pregnant and on a major emotional rollar coaster. The other day I had a huge break down about our budget or lack there of and my husband's denial about how we should be living versus how he wants to live based on our income. We all have our off days and of course none of it is ever easy. I really don't mind washing cloth nappies (although I may feel different when I have two sets in a few weeks), but I despise FOLDING. Day in and day out folding. When I do raise my voice or lose my temper I catch myself and rethink and then re-react in the situation. I think living and be inspired by the ideals is important as long as you are aware that no one is perfect all the time. I hope my space doesn't seem to fake or superficial. I try to keep it an uplifting space while also showing a real side. My yogi gurus (Sharon Gannon and David Life) say you should reflect on the past but never regret anything because in every moment you are doing the best you can possibly do in that moment based on everything else you have experienced up to that point. This was a real ramble with not a lot of structure or flow but it's what I felt like saying right now... xx Lots of love to you and your growing and uncomfortable tummy! Soon you'll be so busy and overwhelmed with balancing POppy and your new bub you won't have time to analyze anything... at least that's how I feel! xo m.

  13. Are you considering etsy again? The things you make are so beautiful, I think you need a wide audience! And with facebook, you can ask people to re-post. :) The necklace I bought is so lovely and I wear it often. You are very talented.

  14. i. love. you.

    i feel like i am reading my diary when i read your blog.

    my first was 20 months old when i had my second 5 months ago. i'm a mess. i have terrible internal monolouges with myself. yet i love what i do and love when the joy comes in the morning. let's continue on this journey together.

  15. Do you know how great this is for me and so many others to read?
    I am not a mama... not yet anyway. I am really looking forward to motherhood and read all the mama blogs.
    I understand bogs often show the happy side of life and sometimes I think "So, if I have kids life will be perfect"? I know this is not true. For the short time I have read your blog (7 months or so) I have teared up with understanding and a thankful feeling in my heart several times.
    I live in the city, kindred spirits are hard to come by. Local farmers are no wear to be seen and don't even get me started on the meat and dairy we have available. I feel lost at times. not myself. My friends I have made in this town don't talk about this stuff. The blogs I read are candy coated.
    You, on many occasions, have let me see life for what it really is. A REAL look at it and I have felt more at ease.
    Thanks mama!

  16. Just catching up with my google reader (avoiding writing a new blog post...maybe later) and enjoying your honesty yet again. First off I want to remind you to add "pregnant" to your list. Pregnancy does strange things to me emotionally. I know it's not like that for everyone. Thank the gods, right? But, that's why I can't handle being pregnant again. Our third child was born just a few months ago...and although I'm addicted to his rolls, his smile, his laugh, his little personality--I suck as a Mama while pregnant. Everything is a worry. I'm constantly an unstable mess. And pregnancy feels like an eternity. Kind of. And this time, it was all too evident to me on a daily basis. People said, "Cut yourself slack. You're pregnant." But it didn't make me feel any better about it.
    Erin, you really are an artist. Perhaps taking a break from your art and returning to it again when you feel it burning at your fingertips. Life changes so quickly and yet so slowly. Sometimes we each have to sacrifice a few of our lifestyle ideals to get a handle on the other ones. We all have to do this.
    Heck, we've been fretting over what to cut in our non-existent budget for the past three years now. Cutting back on everything all the way down to the organics that are so incredibly important to us. It sucks. But, as others are chiming in here, you're not alone.
    I'm glad you're taking the breaks you need. I know I'll be keeping your blog in my reader despite whatever breaks you need to take. You are on the winding road right now being pregnant with an adorable toddler and babe in belly. Hold on tight and things will calm down again soon. :)

  17. Well, I found you through Kelly. I appreciate your honesty. I too feel like I have to be perfect too just reading all the perfect blogs out there. Too much perfection! I do love to be happy and I am happy but I think that there are a lot of bloggers out there that just need attention and so they feel like they have to be perfect to get it. I love seeing piles of dishes and snot nosed kids on blogs. It makes me feel right with the world. :) Three cheers for the real world!

  18. I just found your blog through Misadventures of Kelly and Kelly and I am adding yours to my reader. I could have written it, right down to the husband named Mike (although I am not 31 weeks pregnant!)
    You might like the steps toward balance I have been blogging about. We are quite frugal as well and live simply and I sometimes get frustrated at how expensive everything seems to be and how much we spend when we do with so much less than peers. Truly, in the end, we have so much more than many. I get down and then try and life myself up by remembering that.
    So glad to find you and loved that you shared.
    Warmly, Nicola

  19. Just wanted to thank you for your bravery and honesty in writing. The community of mamas-in-need is out there and we always tend to find each other at just the right time.

    Hang in there, Mama. Finding the balance of life will always be worth it in the end. But, all the same, here's to the hard days!

  20. so glad to have found your blog...your honesty is inspiring and refreshing....thank you!

  21. rambled over here from rhythm of the home & read back to this post.
    your honesty is real & it is refreshing.
    I know you are 24 hours from welcoming your baby home, so you might not see this for a while, but thanks for being real.
    I am a little beyond you; five kids 15,13,11,7,5. But when # 1,2 &3 were itty bitty, I was washing cloth diapers & trying to live simply on not enough money & trying to find balance in the culture & always wondering wondering....where is the truth here? what can I let go of?
    This did include (transparency here) a season of buying disp. diapers & not making every loaf of bread from scratch just because I was not going to lose my momma brain just for the diapers...
    Looking back on 15 yrs of motherhood, there is calmness in breathing in & out & finding the balance at every season.
    The answers will come.
    Struggle is not without strength.

  22. hello,

    my name is mary and i found your blog by following a trail of links from there to here. reading this post was so refreshing, and like many other people have commented, your experience hits home and is so like my own. i have a 1 year old daughter, we have a zero $ budget, i drive myself crazy trying to be "good enough" in the crafting world so that i can sell my wares, but each new attempt brings more dissapointment and not that extra money i had hoped. i too am a homemaker at heart and if it wasn't for the fact that we are drowning in student loan debt and live in the most expensive city in the states, i would feel no need to do anything else. as well, i'll spend 1/2 hour looking at the glossy blogs, of families living lives i wish were mine, i think could and should be mine and instead of feeling inspired, i log off feeling depressed. all this to say, thank you so much for candidness, and i would like to start following your blog.

    and finally...congratulations on your new baby boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Thanks for sharing your feelings so openly. It's so easy to get caught up in that perfect image that is presented and feel like the only mama in the world who struggles. I feel the same way many times...thanks for helping me feel less alone today!

  24. I just discovered your blog recently, and have been enjoying reading through your archives. :)
    I admire and appreciate your honesty. This post, in particular, spoke to me.
    I, too, am a married mama of two little people. I am a certified family (ie: parent) educator - this is what I do professionally - who most days feels like it is me who could use the education!
    Please keep writing and sharing your experiences and realities. I will definitely keep reading!
    Thanks so much!

  25. I just discovered your blog and this post. Thank you! It is great!


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