I Wanna Be a Farmer

It’s true. I always thought I wanted to be an Alaskan bush homesteader, but turns out, I wanna be a farmer. This realization has been sinking in for a few years now.

My Man and I joke about it, I’ve even considered a blog called The Farmer and The Lawyer. Because, in the family/culture I grew up in, lawyers were the absolute bottom of the barrel. Worse maybe than politicians. Scum of the earth, and all that. Never, never in a million years would I have believed I would marry one! And of course, the lawyering surfaced after the marrying.

My Man, for his part, grew into a similar feeling about farmers, though certainly not as vehement. He is of the Earth First! wilderness lover variety. For those of you unawares, the unspoken ideology includes the basic belief that everything humans do is kind of fucked. Farming is slavery, and requires oppression of the Earth and her (previously) wild creatures.

He did not knowingly marry a farmer either. I was a woods living, hunting fishing gathering girl when we met. He was a woods living, tipi building, candle light EIS (Environmental Impact Survey) reader. Both of us ought to have seen the signs. But love includes blinders.

So here we are. He in law school, and me ravenous for the archives of my latest blog crush, Farmama, and making lists of ways to further farmify our home place in Cordova when we return.

My Man was lamenting last night how little time we have to spend together lately. I thought for a moment, then said, “Well, we have at least 30 more years to spend together…” And it’s a quiet excitement. All those years rolled out before us. I think I’m over the hump of the 30’s where you think it’s all almost over, and into the realization that there’s so much more in store for us. Rather than being pissed that my Tipi Man turned Lawyer Man, I feel a sweet sense of wonder at what other surprises await.

Hopefully there will be something like a farm in there somewhere.

Putting the Wife Back in Housewifery

Since I pretty much just chewed him out in front of the wide world with that last post, I thought now might be a good time to introduce My Man. Wonderful, loving husband. Fantastic, devoted father.

A few months ago, a friend pointed out a conspicuous lack of mention, throughout my blog, of My Man. I had to go back through all my old posts myself, and yup, hardly a word about him. Huh. Really?

First I’d like to say that I am, in fact, happily married. I feel 100% confident that my husband would say the same. And we are not, as you might have noticed about me, the types to gloss over, or rosy-glowify. We love each other, and even more than that, we both still love being married.

I truly believe in marriage, the old fashioned ’till death do us part’ kind. That is one of the main reasons I fell for my husband in the first place. It’s rare to find someone with the unique combination of old fashioned and radical progressive values that I have. But, there he was, dropped right into my lap.

So why then, I asked myself, is there a Husband shaped hole in my blog?

How could I be leaving the wife out of housewifery?

Well, for one thing, kids take over everything. EVERYthing. There just isn’t much room left for us grown ups. I know this will get better. This first year with two, in a new city to boot, is just bound to be one of our roughest.

And, I actually never meant for this blog to be as personal as it has become. The mama-desperation has just pushed it’s way out by sheer force. I guess when your marriage is good, there’s not all that much to talk about. Not so many giant piles of confusing tangled tortured emotions like motherhood.

But, there is another reason, and I’m a bit ashamed of this one. Marriage is not a popular subject. At least among the crowd I tend to run with. Like housewifery, doing your best to be a good wife has gotten a bad name. Even just the words– it took me over a year to get comfortable saying ‘husband,’ ‘wife’ and ‘married.’

Nevertheless, renegade that I am, feminist housewife, hippie armpit shaver, rule breaker, shouldn’t I step forth to take back marriage? Shouldn’t I stick my neck out there and champion the cause? Is there any issue more central to being able to work in your home and mama your own babies than a loving and supportive partner?

So now that I’ve explained why there’s a husband-shaped hole, I’d better fill it! Let me introduce My Man.

My Man is a monkey wrencher. He’s a thorn in the side of Progress, and I’m very proud. Since he’s very brain-oriented, he’s doing what he can to Fuck Shit Up (a favorite family term) on the paperwork end. Hence the lawyering.

When I met him, he was living in a tipi/shack of his own device, in the woods near our tiny Alaskan town. He drove an SUV, sued the Forest Service over timber sales from his a laptop, rarely washed his clothes, had long hair, a beard, a photo of his mom on his homemade scrap plywood desk, and a shameless love of Pop-Tarts. I always do fall for complex people.

Love is itself a complex thing. And as mentioned, I’m a nix on the rosy-glow girl.

Joining your life with someone else’s involves compromise. And here’s where marriage gets unpopular. We as a culture do not respect compromise. We think it’s weak. Feminism has, in my opinion, taken this male-made idea and run with it. We say ‘oh yeah, compromise, gotta do it,’ but secretly, when it comes time, we think compromising is losing.

After a few years with My Man his parents offered to give us the down-payment on a house, and he was excited. I was horrified. I was going to live in the woods. I’d been planning it since I was 12. I’d been living in the woods for several years already, and loved it, thank you very much. There was no way I was going to move into a house. In town. With sheetrock.

Of course, I did. And I find it very hard to talk about. Town friends just think I’m a crazy ungrateful witch. Woods friends think I gave up My Vision. I myself wobble between the two, and have a hard time giving myself the credit I think (with some part of myself) that I deserve for surrendering to compromise.

My Man is my partner. We share a common goal and we’re both working toward it, each in our own way. We have the same core values, but like any two people have different ways of translating them into our daily life. This seems absolutely essential to marriage, in my mind. Both those things– the shared values, and the struggle to synthesize two different translations into one life together. Compromise has come to mean losing a battle, settling for less. But the need to compromise makes us better humans! When we have to balance our own desires and opinions with someone else’s we learn humility, compassion, flexibility and true tolerance. Have you ever known any real hermits? They may have stayed absolutely true to their code of conduct, but they’re not particularly fun to be around. The life lesson of compromise has passed them by.

My Man does lots of things that drive me nuts. He doesn’t think twice about buying something made in China with half a pound of packaging. He drinks energy drinks, when he isn’t drinking Coke. He watches the NBA with rapture. He doesn’t do nearly his share of housework. He spends most of most days in front of a computer. He gives our daughter a pile of candy first thing in the morning on Easter Sunday.

But he’s also so fantastically wonderful that I chose to spend the rest of my livelong days with him. He’s that great. He has an incredibly strong sense of commitment, unusual these days. He is a devoted husband, and I don’t mean that as a cliche. He believes in ’till death do us part,’ and more importantly he’s not afraid of the hard work involved. He’s tenacious like you wouldn’t believe. He is cocky like any man, but also humble in the long run. We communicate, which is not to be understated! He loves the woods, and wild things. He even fights for them, hard. He believes (more than me really) in the possibility of true change. He gives me hope for the world.

The first time I saw him with kids, it was all over. I had already determined his excellent husband qualities (I was a calculating and analytical mate-hunter), but seeing how good he was with kids tipped me. He adores them, but more than that he’s good with them. Receptive, creative, gentle, playful and genuinely kind. He talks straight to them and listens no less than if they were adults. He follows their lead, and honestly enjoys it.

In her book Radical Homemakers, Shannon Hayes stresses that the decision to make a radical home must be made by both parents. It is so true. When my friend called attention to the Husband Deficit months ago, she asked how he felt about all my revolutionary housewifery. Was he supportive?

I can only say, if he wasn’t I sure as hell wouldn’t have time to write a blog about it! He helps with cleaning less than I’d like, as I probably mentioned. But he’s all in with the kids. He works hard to balance law school with being a Papa. And always errs toward Papa-ing. I manage to get a few things done while he’s gone, but really if he didn’t spend significant time with the kiddlets every day, I wouldn’t get anywhere! [Furthermore, I’d be in the crazy-house.] Home stuff isn’t really his thing, but he loves that I do it, and helps whenever I ask. He supports my work with his mind, heart and hands.

He’s My Man, what else can I say?

Holidays=Compromise, A Rant

I think I might be gearing up to hate holidays. And that is so, so sad, because really I love holidays. But, pretty much every holiday since the Toddler was born has just brought me angst. My Man and I have the same argument every time, where we both want to provide her with the experience we remember and cherish, each obviously thinking our way is best.

It pretty much comes down to candy and cheap plastic toys. I hate both. I mean, true secretly I have a junk food tooth, but it’s certainly not something I want to encourage in my own kiddos. And c’mon! For breakfast?! Are you kidding me?

My little girl has had nothing, almost literally, but pure sugar in the past 24 hours. We went to an Easter party last night and she had a massive candy eating episode, then of course, My Man couldn’t resist seven different kinds of candy for her Easter morning. I’m sorry, I just can’t believe that’s okay, any day of the year.

And the cheap plastic toys. Why do they plague me so? Or, better said, why don’t they plague everyone else?

To me, Easter means dying eggs, and then hunting for them Easter morning. I seem to remember we would each get like one chocolate bunny or something. I don’t remember us having these plastic eggs filled with more and more and more candy. And we would each get maybe one stuffed animal or toy. I’m cool with that, I can ride that wave. But a glut of toys and candy equaling a holiday sits like a rock in my stomach.

I guess this cuts to very heart of marriage. A subject I have been trying to find the right angle to approach on this blog for some time now. Marriage is the twining and fusing of two (usually disparate) family traditions, expectations, and general style. It gets messy.

As humans we are attached to our own way, which we always assume to be the right way.

This subject is never tackled in parenting books.

So, assume you’ve thought and thought and read and read and talked to everyone with any opinion, and finally sussed out your own idea of How Best to Raise Your Children.

Ooops. They’re not your children. Assuming there was a consenting partner, you then have to figure out how to balance what you believe to be right, with what they believe is right. Goddamn it.

And, get this. If you respect, admire and love your partner, which since they are the father/mother of your child, you’d really better consider, you have to give at least some credence to the idea that they might be right as well, or even (yeep!) instead.

Of course, in this particular case, I am right. Right?