Saturday, February 20, 2016
What makes a home?
Are the days of staying in one's hometown for a lifetime, long gone? It seems that the more we move, the more I meet other families who have also moved a lot and aren't living near any extended family members. With modern transportation and technology, has the world become so accessible and small, that we are all becoming global citizens, thus making it simpler to make a home anywhere we'd like, and leaving behind the notion of "settling down" for the rest of our lives?
When you've moved to four different states in 6 years, as we have, you get many questions from people like, "Why have you moved so much?" or "What is the appeal of moving around?" And honestly, our only answer is that we like moving and exploring, and it has just worked out this way with jobs, so we've gone with the flow of whatever has felt right at any given time. It has worked out so far that every two years, we uproot and move to a new state. Before she was born, my husband and I moved from Boston to Tampa, Florida. After 2 years there, the month of kiddo's first birthday, we moved to Santa Cruz, California and 2 years later, the same month, we moved to Brooklyn, New York. Then 2 years later, we moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Now as our 2 year mark once again approaches, we feel a sense of change in the air and an urge to move along. It has felt this way each time, like an inner-knowing for both of us that something is about to happen and we are eager and excited for it, waiting for the next step "to reveal itself", almost as if we have no say in what is occurring. We never know quite how it will work out, or where we are going to live exactly, except in Cambridge, where we were able to find a place before we moved. But each other place, we went with no home set up in advance. We just sort of winged it and dealt with house-hunting when we arrived. I also had never even visited Santa Cruz before we moved there, and had only been to Brooklyn once, so it was all new to me, learning how to get around and trying to make friends and integrate into some sense of community.
Looking back now, it definitely hasn't been easy becoming part of any of these communities or making all of these transitions, although I can say that Santa Cruz was the most welcoming for me, having joined a band, singing with the locals and also having the best neighbors move in next door, one month after us. Having a child next door who was the same age as ours and her wonderful, hospitable parents who were always inviting us for dinners and cookouts and passing cake over the fence... it made that town become home so much faster than any other place has. It was also the place that truly sparked my desire to learn more about holistic health, nutrition and sustainable living, with so much emphasis on these things in the local community. Yet, no matter where we have gone, just being together, exploring and creating a homey space in each of our dwellings, has made each place a little haven for us to call home and welcome others into. I'm realizing that, for me, relationships are a huge part of what make a place feel most like home- inviting others in.
Also, recently learning more deeply that being at home within myself is what gives me a greater sense of belonging, comfort and peace, no matter where I am or what is happening around me. Knowing myself is home. When sitting alone, facing myself- flaws and all, becoming more mindful of the things that I'd like to accept or change and finding deeper awareness about who I am without a specific place, group of people or role that I fill in life. Just me on my own, in silence, at home with who I am, even my wonky or weak parts.
After our circuitous route around the country with our now almost 7 year old child, I'm still not quite sure when you "know" that you've found the "right" spot to raise your kids and create a home that you decide to stay in forever. What I do know is that we've been able to incorporate parts of our journey into various aspects of our lives, while learning a lot about ourselves and how to function smoothly as a family unit anywhere we go, making for a somewhat adventurous, bohemian lifestyle, which I am certainly okay with.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
We want to keep our children innocent and bright-eyed for as long as possible. We want them to truly enjoy childhood before they have to grow up and learn all of the pains and sorrows of this world and all of human history. We want to protect and shield them from such atrocities and not let the hurt and bitterness of the world, of adults, of politics, of corporate greed, of class war, religious war, race war, drug war and climate war to impinge upon their joy and freedom to just be children and bask in the wonder and bliss of youth. Some kids are in schools that teach about war, slavery, assassination, hatred, fear and the like at a very young age, muddying their perception of the beauty of life and human existence in order to help them to "not repeat the past." Others are taught at home or private schools so that their curriculum is catered to what parents believe is best for them to know. Some pay loads of cash to educate their kids (We've researched private elementary tuitions and they're often equal to university.) Some have no choice or time to teach their kids themselves, as they work hard to make ends meet. Some may simply choose not to engage in teaching their children very much at all.
We are all raised so differently with so many types of education, so much ancestral background and genetic disposition in place, influencing how we, in turn, raise our kids. We are raised with the memories, stories and scars of our family history and ancestral experience. We are taught to perceive the world and other people/ races/ cultures in specific ways by those before us. We are shown how to react and interact with other "types" of people. We are taught to judge certain people in certain ways. We learn a lot at a young age and now I watch my child slowly integrating what she learns at school and at home into her own mind and life. It is a strange thing for me to watch; to see how brick upon brick is laid as the foundation for her entire existence and knowledge of life on this planet. To watch each new word incorporated into her vocabulary and sense of reality. It takes me back in time to my childhood, recalling what and how I was taught. It makes me question everything even more, as I have always attempted to do. I have taught my child to question everything as well (with respect), to the point that she questions us constantly, which can either push our buttons or teach us how to rearrange our views of the world and dig deeper for answers. It also causes me to work on breaking ideas down to simplify in a way that makes sense to a child, which helps to simplify and clarify my own thought processes as well. Tonight she said, "But it's good to question..." as I asked her to stop questioning me (debating) about something.
Our child has become a great teacher for us, as we grow as parents and humans. As she is quite the little philosopher (lover of knowledge) and very insightful for a 6 year old, I find myself constantly needing to recalibrate my perception and beliefs. As I teach her to question everything, I see that it can cause problems at school, since there are societal rules, time limits, and curriculum in place which do not fully embrace the "questioning of authority", philosophical meanderings, or of looking beyond what we are taught. When we do things differently at home and school teaches otherwise, and I go in and talk to the teacher about our views, and she is nice about it, and says "You've given me a lot to think about." ... I guess that's all I can do, while continuing to support my child in the way that I see fit. --To raise her into a thoughtful, caring, emotionally intelligent, upstanding citizen who stands on her own two feet with a deep knowledge of the world in all of its complexity and isn't afraid to question anyone or anything if she so chooses. It's my biggest job. It's my best job. It's a tough job.
(All photos Copyright Deer Drifter Photography)