Walking with Children

now that the weather is beginning to warm up a bit, we’ve started making a regular habit of walking with the kids.  The Squid and I often go for walks during the day, with her either in her sling or mei tai, either napping or observing.  she loves being outside.

The Wizard, on the other hand, is becoming less interested in just walking for the sake of walking, and now for him it’s all about exploring and challenging himself.  any hills or bolders we encounter he must conquer before we can move on.  and he always looks for the most complicated way to do so.

this is doing more than just getting out of the house and getting exercise.  as humans in our culture, we’ve become so accustomed to being in houses, places we seldom leave except for set activities, such as shopping or soccer games, and then we travel in a car.  we’re disconnected from the reality of the world.  we don’t think of it as a huge interconnected organism, we think of it as a number of places, conveniently attached together by roads.

getting out in the wild, exploring the world around us, gives children a sense of not just the earth, but themselves and their place in it.  that place should be a connected, living space.  a space where they’re aware that while we’re part of a much bigger picture, we contribute to it.  we’re part of it.  finding frogs and climbing trees and splashing our way through rivers and creeks, picking up contributions from beavers, we find ourselves reconnecting to the truth of what we are and what’s around us.  in lands that have no ownership, we have the same right to be there as every bird, deer or bug that crosses our path.  we are all equal and we all belong.  our heads lift, our breath becomes deeper.  when at last our bodies begin to tire and we push through, we learn of our own strength, the hidden strength within us and the power we can draw from the universe around us.

So Proud of The Husband

The Squid loves her Dad-dad.


 I don’t think I’ve mentioned The Husband much in recent posts, and there is reason for that.  there has been huge amounts of frustration and contention in our marriage, which isn’t quite even a year and a half old.  I’m not really going to go into the issues themselves here, but suffice it to say, they were things that neither of us could bend on, and we could see no resolution.

my husband has been my best friend for years.  the first time we started talking we immediately connected to eachother.  the first time I saw him, I knew we were going to end up together.  …granted, I didn’t foresee marriage and babies and life-long cohabitation, much less school for him and housewifery for me, but in my gut I knew we would fit together perfectly.

and I was right.  a few weeks ago, The Husband and I talked, and decided that we are going to put an honest effort into resolving the issues in our marriage.  which means working through our own shit, and is going to be a struggle.  really what it comes down to is setting aside all of the bitterness and frustration, and focusing on the love and friendship that we have.

I have regurgitated the words “We are an autonomous collective, not a dictatorship” so many times, but’s it’s always in reference to my kids.  being autonomous means we make our own choices, but being a collective means we need to work together.  once our choices start stepping on other peoples toes, they no longer work, and things have to change.

however, the two most important facets in being an autonomous collective are: A. equality, and B. communication.

I’ve been very frustrated with The Husband for not “taking initiative” (IE: not knowing what I want him to do.  so much for communication.), and for not “putting effort into saving our marriage” (IE: not dropping everything to do whatever it is I think we should do to resolve things, so much for equality.).  for being an anarchist, I am a horrible control freak.  I want to know what’s going to happen at all times, and if I’m not comfortable with it, I want to be able to change it.  I also tend to try and put the responsibility for my own well-being on my husband.  it all just goes back to my own insecurities, and my childhood programming of trying desperately to find someone to take care of me, and my childhood scarring of thinking if someone does not take care of me, that they don’t care about me.

what a load of crap.  and see, the great thing about The Husband, is he’s totally never let me get away with that.

I was washing dishes the other day.  alot had piled up, because The Squid was going through a weird time, and didn’t want to play or do anything but get loads of attention and affection from guess who?  yours truly.  for the whole weekend that her precious Dad-dad was at a friends house (and lord, did I run him through the ringer for not psychically knowing that would be a bad weekend).  so, at last she was napping, I was getting caught up on the dishes, and The Husband, was in the other room watching TV.  I was seething.

then, instead of going in with my usual, “I’m on strike!  someone else better do those dishes, or I’m not cooking!” or “maybe everyone should just do their own damn dishes from now on!” I just poked my head in and said, “hey, babe?  You wanna dry while I wash?”

and holy shit, man, voila.  “Yeah, sure.”  he came in, we got through every one of those damn dishes, we listened to music and talked while we worked, and lo and behold, there was the happy, helpful partner I’ve been looking for!  and all I had to do was ask.  not demand, not throw a fit, ask.  how many times have I said to my son, “calm down, use your words.  when we can talk calmly and ask for what we need, it’s way easier for us to get help.”?  and then I go and quash and quash until I explode, because I never took the time to take a deep breath and just ask for what I need.  it’s amazing how much easier it is to parent our children than ourselves.

we’ve been our new house for a little over 7 months now.  when we moved in, I had this incredible image of what I wanted our lives to be like here.  I was ready to get right on top of my housewifery, focusing on my family, my parenting and marriage, and making sure to have a positive environment that we could all live in.

and when the husband started struggling, dealing with shit that didn’t fit into my image, I started to shut him out of it.  I got angry at him, for not fitting into the ideals I had for the family.  instead of trying to help him, encourage him or support him, I pretended he wasn’t there, wasn’t needed, and just focused on everything else.

okay, but the reason that I am so incredibly proud of my husband is this:  he is examining his demons, he is facing them head-on, and he is being here, fighting for our marriage, but not sacrificing himself to do so.  he stands up for himself, he stands up to me, and he does not cave when my emotional issues rise to the surface.  he is there for me, but I am responsible for myself, my issues, and my behavior.  and I believe that we are going to work through this shit, because we are two of the most stubborn people I know, which is hell when we’re head-to-head, but powerful when we are side-by-side.

Ethan, my husband, I love you, and I am so proud of you it blows my mind.

-Domestic Anarchist

"Yay! Dad-dad!"

On The Value of Story

after following the Evelyn Evelyn controversy for a while, and venting to The Husband about it, he suggested that I write a blog.  my argument was that my blog is pretty much solely about children, culture, politics and general domestic pursuits.  however, after thinking about it, the fact that this controversy has even arisen says something about our culture, and the culture that our children will be growing up in.  so I felt I had to stand up, in defense of story.

I’ve been a Jason Webley ( www.jasonwebley.com ) fan for about 8 years now.  I’ve been a Dresden Dolls ( http://www.dresdendolls.com/main1.htm ) fan since he started touring with them and I checked them out on the theory that anyone that Jason Webley works with is badass (including the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band {http://www.bigdamnband.com/}).

so, when I heard Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer were involved in a project together, Evelyn Evelyn, I was immediately curious.  after doing some research on myspace ( www.myspace.com/evelynevelyn ) and youtube, I was incredibly entertained.  also, as a long-time Webley fan, I was cynical.  this is, after all, the man who faked his own death annually, and I witnessed it several times.  I was never emotionally distressed, though I did get emotionally involved in those shows.  however, it was always through appreciating the value of story.  he was telling an incredible story.  I never saw it as a mockery of people who had actually died, or even as insensitive.  it’s always been art, and story.

Story: “a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.”

is Jason Webley the first person to tell a story without mentioning that it was fictitious?  hell no!  telling stories this way is an age-old tradition.  C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy is a fabulous example.  so is JT LeRoy.  sometimes, that is the way to tell a story.  through a character.

Jason Webley’s tales, as painful as they have ever been, have always been lighthearted, joyful and inspirational.  so when I learned that Evelyn Evelyn had become incredibly controversial, and had offended many people, I was taken aback.  many people had become emotionally invested in Evelyn Evelyn, the tragic story of two conjoined twin girls, who had led a painful, exploited life, and started making music together.  the songs are lighthearted and humorous (in a somewhat dark sense), and The Wizard has been running around yelling “Elephant!  Elephant!” since he first heard it.  if you listen to the songs, you might notice that one of the girls does have a startlingly deep voice (a fact that Jason mentions in his blog http://www.jasonwebley.com/weblog/ , which was made solely for the purpose of confronting the drama surrounding Evelyn Evelyn).  if you watch any of the videos of Webley and Palmer discussing the project, you notice them giggling and exchanging secretive grins.  I will not say here if my opinion is whether or not I believe that Webley and Palmer ARE Evelyn and Evelyn Neville, because I have far too much respect for Story.

I’ve spoken before about the folly of excessive politically correct-ness.

all of us have pretended, as children, to be someone who we were not.  and many of the stories and games that were most empowering were the ones where we were dealing with incredible odds.  I remember after I saw “The Jewel of the Nile”, I told everyone for YEARS that I had consumption, and would be dead before the year was out.  I dare anyone to say that they did not, at some point, climb into a piece of oversized clothing with a friend or sibling and claim to be conjoined.  was this because we were heartless, insensitive children?  NO.  it’s because we knew and respected the value of story, something I feel like we are losing in this culture.

the risk of being excessively PC is the risk that we will feel the desire to compare ourselves to others.  the desire to be “more PC than thou”, is dangerous, because then we start looking for things to judge and criticize.  instead of appreciation, inspiration and awe, we feel the urge to be the critic, and start looking for problems and fallacies in the things that we see and hear.

storytelling is arguably the most ancient form of art, and often becomes the most intricate.  in the form that Webley and Palmer are working, their project involves not just storytelling, but song-writing, character development and performance.  try and find any performer who is not developing a character, or stage presence.  do we criticize them for this, or do we appreciate the entertainment and thought-provocation that they’ve gifted us with?

I told The Wizard the child-appropriate parts of the Evelyn Evelyn story, and watched him become emotionally invested in it.  and then I played a video of an Evelyn Evelyn performance for him, and watched the dawning of realization on his face.  the result?  a smile.  as we age, we must not lose our understanding of the value of story.  Einstein said “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not, who can no longer wonder, who can no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.”

We should appreciate that Evelyn Evelyn gives us the gift of the mysterious.  Their story makes us feel and imagine, and, heaven forbid, even makes us laugh.

there are many people who disagree with me.  I’m not trying to accuse them of having a drive to find fallacies in the world around them, or of being a snuffed out candle.  their views are valid, in their own right.  I’m just urging people to try to see things in a different light.  if you like, you can find an opposing view at http://disabledfeminists.com/2010/02/09/evelyn-evelyn-ableism-ableism/  it’s a well-stated blog by a woman who is offended by Evelyn Evelyn.

In closing though, I would like to say, respect story.  respect the artists who continue to give it to us in it’s truest sense.  also, go and listen to Evelyn Evelyn ( www.myspace.com/evelynevelyn ) and, if you are so inclined, buy the album.  it’s coming out March 30th, and I’m all over it, because good lord.  it’s some good shit.

-Domestic Anarchist

reactions vrs. responses

The Domestic Anarchist here!  posts have been few and far between, dealing with maternal health issues (my mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a masectomy a few weeks ago), and some marital bumps (valentines day was a complete fiasco, but we got a do-over the following weekend, hurrah for sushi!), but I’ve still been studying life and parenting as I always do, and noticing things in my interactions with my children.

so.  Reactions vrs. responses.

when our child demonstrates any kind of behavior, we can A. react to it, or B. respond to it.

to refer to my trusty dictionary.com

a reaction is:  “a reverse movement or tendency; an action in a reverse direction or manner”

alternately, a response is defined as “an answer or reply, as in words or in some action.”

we react to situations, and respond to people.   a reaction is instinctive, mechanical, immediate, based on what’s going on with us.  a response is calculated, considered and evaluated, based on what’s going on with the other person.  as examples, I give you two instances from my week.

1.  The Squid, while playing on the floor, got into clean, folded laundry, and pulled out a bunch onto the floor.  I could have

a. reacted to the situation.  I was trying to clean the house, and folding the laundry was one of the few things that had been completed.  “oh my god, what are you doing?!  get out of that!  I can’t get anything done with you getting into everything!”


b. responded to my child.  she is crawling very early, and exploring and learning.  obviously she doesn’t understand the difference between folded laundry or piled laundry, or even the difference between clean and dirty.  “oh, wow, look what you’ve found!  let’s find something else for you to explore.”

in this instance I chose b.  I responded to my child instead of reacting to the situation.  I put away my frustration at least til The Husband got home, and I could vent to him.  I made my child the priority.

responding to babies is much easier than children sometimes, since babies haven’t learned to hide their feelings.  children are already learning different ways to communicate.  The Wizard, when he feels nervous, ashamed or confronted, tends to first try and alleviate things through humor, joking and distraction.  he does realize when things are serious, he just prefers to pretend that they’re not, because it’s less stressful.

2.  I opened The Wizards backpack in the morning and realized he hadn’t done his homework while he’d been with his dad.  my choices:

a. react to the situation.  we didn’t have time do get anything done before the bus came, and I was stressed about all the extra work.  “dude!  this is rediculous.  did you do ANY of it?”


b. respond to my child.  “you’ve got extra homework.  let’s think of a way to make it fun so you don’t get frustrated with it.”

this time, sadly, I chose a.  my reaction led to a reaction from him, which was to deflect by acting like it was no big deal.   I reacted by stressing to him the importance of school, and telling him to tell his teacher he’d bring some in the next day.  he deflected by saying “if I remember”.  I took this as being a smart-ass.  and reacted with  “that’s not acceptable!  you’re going to do it if it takes all night.”  at which, he started crying, saying he didn’t want to go to school.  so once again I reacted, this time not to just the discomfort of my sons tears, but the sound of the encroaching bus, which was picking up kids one street over.  so, voila, in an effort to stop the tears, and keep my son from missing school.  “oh, I’m so sorry, it’s not your fault.  don’t worry about it.  if you go to school you can have a big bowl of ice cream when you get home!”  …oh lord.

it’s amazing the things that come out when we’re reacting to circumstance and situation, instead of responding to our kids.  during the day while he was at school, though, I did have an opportunity to think on things.  I went to our local game store, which remarkably has free three-day rentals of certain games, found one that The Wizard would like (which is amazing, and is going to make it on as my first video game review), and made up a sticker chart.  each extra piece of homework, earned him 15 mins of video game time.  I also called his teacher, forewarned her that she had a bit of an emotional crisis entering her classroom, and asked her to not mention homework to him.

so, in closing, just because we react, does not remove our ability to respond.  everyone reacts.  it’s impulsive.  it’s our ability to step back and examine the true issues, and respond to our children, which makes us good parents.

-Domestic Anarchist


you wouldn’t think “scheduling” would be such a major problem for an anarchy-loving housewife with only two children.  but holy hell!  the squid has basically gone completely nocturnal.  I have no idea how this happened.  she was doing quite awesomely, and now it seems like all day long she’s fussy and wants to sleep, and no matter how much I try to keep her up during the day, she goes to sleep about 11 or midnight and is still promptly up between 1-3am, cooing and giggling and squirming and grabbing and HOLY HELL.


the worst part is that she’s so damn cute about it I can’t even be pissed.  just tired.

actually, no, I take it back.  that is in no way the worst part.  the worst part is simply this:  after being up til between 4 and 6am, I have to get up promptly at 7.15, in order to get the Wizard breakfasted, and ready for school.  now the Wizard, is also somewhat of a night owl, in his own bizarre right.

IE: he’s not really tired in the evening.  no matter what time we put him to bed, he’s awake til between 10-10.30 (unless we actually put him to bed at 10, in which case he is awake til 11.).   however, no matter how late he stays up, he doesn’t sleep in.  except for school days.  and dragging that child out of bed to go to school… is kind of hard to do when you’re going on 2 hours of sleep yourself.  this morning I slept straight through my alarm, and fortunately the Wizard himself awakened at about 7.30, asking if he could watch cartoons.  he made it to the bus, with a couple minutes to spare, but lordy-lordy.  close call.  plus, not having a car means if he DOES miss the bus, I’ve kinda screwed the pooch.  and have to resort to calling inlaws and mooching rides which is… embarassing to say the VERY least.

also, I tend to awaken very gradually.  I need to wake up at least a couple hours before I have intentions of doing anything, so I can get myself thoroughly caffeinated and functioning.  so.  after being up til 5, waking up again at 7, staying up til 8 to get the Wizard on the bus, and then til 9 to get the Squid changed, fed, and back to sleep, and then sometimes 10 just to get myself settled and back to sleep, the odds are I’m not waking up of my own volition before 1:30.  that give me about enough time to caffeinate and shower, and then the Wizards back from school and lo and behold: I have accomplished nothing.  BLAH!

-Domestic Anarchist

Intergenerational Communcation

last night, my 5-day-old daughter had a panic attack.  I wonder how many times I’ve seen infants have panic attacks
(especially when I was working in daycare) and never realized what it was.  we just have this acceptance of “oh, babies cry!” without questioning the drive or emotion behind it.  she went from what appeared to be fairly calm (which I’m thinking now was actually attempting to shut things out) to a screaming shaking franticness, where she was acting like she wanted to nurse, but was too panicked to latch on, in a manner of minutes.

once we realized what was going on, it was something we could deal with.  I’ve had panic attacks since I was 11, and I’ve realized the best way to deal with them is just lowering the stimulation level as much as I can.  so we did the same for her.

it made me think further though, about something that has already been on my mind.  communication between grown-ups and children.

this thought process had been stimulated by two things.

one was an article in Parenting magazine (a magazine I normally despise, but peruse occassionally, and sometimes has random gems) about ‘Mommy Guilt’, which mentioned the concept of using a ‘safeword’ with kids, to let them know that you’re at the edge of your rope, and about to lose your temper.  or, alternately, if your kids catch you losing your temper, and they feel frightened or uncomfortable, they can use the safeword to remind you to… well, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

it was a fascinating concept to me, because you rarely hear people talking about how to empower children during conversations.  the majority of articles written about communication with children seem to be about… well, manipulation.  how to get your kids to do what you want them to do without them realizing it.  the idea of giving a child a tool so that they can make a choice about the emotional scaling of a conversation or situation is brilliant, especially coming from a magazine which is usually writing about how to get your kids to do what you want them to do without realizing it.

the second thing which got me thinking along the lines of communication with children is the movie Martian Child, with John Cuzack and a kid I strongly suspect is The Littlest Culkin.  there’s a couple scenes in here that are amazing grown-up/kid communication (and a few that absolutely fail on that point), but the one that really jumped out at me is where the kid is doing a series of repetitive movements (that seem mostly based on pinky fingers), and gets John Cuzack to join him, watching his movements and mimicking them, even though they don’t necessarily make sense to him.  afterwards, the kid looks up at him, grins, and says “nice talk”.

most often, when seeking “quality conversation” or “nice talks” with our kids, we are trying to have adult conversations.  we may not be asking them adult questions, but we’re trying to fit them in adult formats.  kids don’t talk the way grown-ups do.  their conversations are much more faceted, and move beyond the shallow, “how was school?” or “how was work?” where adults attempt to describe their reality.

kids worlds are not dominated by reality, so neither are their conversations.  kids converse through allegory, through fantasy, through play, through art, through tickling, through cooking.  and if you let them lead the conversations (which may or may not fit in your description of ‘conversation’), when they need to talk with you, they will come to you.

when Israel first started art therapy, I admit that I thought that they were going to be doing alot of talking.  asking about his emotional standing, his struggles at home and at school… but he was leading the conversation.  and if the conversation was “making a cake out of dried beans, paint and blue glitter”, so be it.  the conversations that children seem to get the most absorbed in are the ones they have with other kids, deep within the realms of fantasy.  they will talk at great length, about the things that frighten them, the things that empower them, what’s most important to them, who they look up to, all the things that parents try to pump them for in “nice talks”.

when we force kids to participate in parent-led conversation, we can often squeeze out the information that we’re seeking, frequently with our kid waiting patiently, ready to run off on their next adventure, which, if we knew how to listen, would tell us more than the strained “so, how was school?”  that we drug out during the dinner process.  at the end of our conversation, we release them, feeling proud for knowing where our kids are coming from, and having such positive, teaching and affirming talks together.  we love to dig for any kind of life frustration, so that we can offer them advice, and dig for any part of their character we can help make more well-rounded.  for our sake, they tolerate this pretty well, for a period of time.

eventually, they end up tired of doing their obligatory communication, and we end up with monosyllabic responses.  “Good.”  “Fine.”  “Yeah.”  “‘Guess so.”  which leaves us frustrated and wondering, “why don’t my kids want to talk to me?”  well, they tried to.  our conversational gaps are just too large.  we’re having talks that we lead, for our benefit.

when Israel comes home from his dad’s house, or from school, I’ve missed him.  often I start pumping him for information right off the bat.  “how was school today?”  “what did you learn?”  “what’s your favorite class?”  “did you have any problems with the other kids?”  the responses are often a “I don’t know”, with his eyes not connecting, one tentative buttcheek already sneaking off the couch as he inches away towards play.

while I’m digging for reality, for him that was just the obligatory part of the day.  he’s already been there, and doesn’t want to relive it, now that he can get on to the business of being a kid.  however, if I ask about the meaningful part of the day, “what did you play at recess?” the stories come pouring out.  stories about battles with knights and aliens and how he was a kitten with super-powers and a Ben-10 Omnitrix that could transform into any other creature.  cartoons, video games, stories, and his own imagination brew up powerful fantasies, in which he can be strong and powerful and decisive in a world that doesn’t hold him a back or limit him.  and my brain fogs over.  frustrated that he won’t talk to me about anything “real”.

when we learn to participate in child-led conversation, we learn to really listen to their stories and fantasies.  we can learn what it is that drives them, what’s important to them, and appreciate their imaginations and creativity.  our children feel fulfilled, because we have an interest in them, in the things that really matter to them, and not just the random factoids that surround them, and contribute so little to their actual experiences of their realities.  we accept them.  our instincts may be to still try and fit in some adult conversation, but watch how quickly your child shuts down when mid-lego or mid-teaparty you try to bust out some “so, how’s school?” or try to sneak a moral into battling pirates.

instead, we have to break out of our grown-up programming.  once we have the ability to get down, be in the moment, and lose our mindless drive to ‘accomplish’, we’ll realize that playdough, pirates, dress-up and fantasy are communicating with our kids.

the question may still remain: what in the world does this have to do with my daughters newborn anxiety?

we do the same thing with infants as we do with children.  there is this tiny little being who through their very existance recreates your universe and we are desperate for a connection with them, for acknowledgement.  very few people seem to think of the emotional needs of a newborn.

it is a transitory time.  coming from a realm where everything is muted, and gentle, the womb is very much a sensory deprivation tank, which they need, for their senses are only newly acquired.  imagine experiencing going from complete black and silence, with no feeling whatsoever, to a stimulating sensory world.  it would be virtually intolerable.  therefor, the womb functions to allow slight stimulation, as their senses develop in utero.  once they can hear, they hear muted sounds.  once they can see, they can see muted light.  once they can taste, there are diluted flavors (did you know amniotic fluid takes on the flavor of what the mother eats?  interesting fact.).  though they can feel physical sensation, they are suspended in liquid, with no direct contact to their skin, though as they grow larger they can kick and feel the uterine wall around them, and those who choose to interact with them from the outside.

then when they come out, we should let them slowly adjust from this soft, silent world, to the stimulation of lights and sounds and touch, and interaction.

…but with our need for interaction and connection, it’s easy to forget.  it’s easy to say “oh, babies just cry sometimes.”

this is why I think my 5 day old daughter had a panic attack.  she was sleeping.  Ethan got home, and my tits hurt, since she hadn’t nursed for hours.  I decided to wake her up to nurse her and change her diaper.  both of us were excited to interact with her, since she’d been sleeping, and Ethan hadn’t really seen her all day.  we pressed in, as I was changing her, talking to her and touching her face and body, laughing over her expressions and movements.  Ethan turned her, so he could see her eyes, and within moments she had a full-on baby meltdown.

I held her over my heart and rocked her until she was calm enough to latch on.  and even then she just lay in my arms, her eyes tightly closed, breathing with rapid panic breaths.  and that was when I recognized what was happening.  she’d been trying to communicate with us, trying to tell us she’d had enough, that she couldn’t deal with any more.  but we were desperate for interaction,  and didn’t notice her cues.  I went and googled “infant overstimulation signs” today, and she was using all of them.  flailing arms, looking away, rapid breathing.

when babies are born they get passed around like hot potatoes.  everyone wants a piece.  everyone wants to get to hold them, squeal at them, play with their toes and fingers.  we think about what we want.  what we need.  we don’t think of their precarious position, or their emotional needs.

even with infants, our communication should be lead by them.  when they look at us, when they make eye contact, we should respond, but we cannot force our children to communicate on our terms.  they are their own creatures, and their own entities, with their own personalities.  we must, in all stages of their lives, let them be themselves, and communicate in their own ways, according to their needs.

-Domestic Anarchist

Trying to Remember What Matters

We’ve been trying so hard to move, but it seems like anywhere that’s actually in our price range is either a slum, an  undesirable area, or is ancient, and hasn’t had lead paint testing done.

new baby + lead paint = bad combo.

it looks like I may have to accept that we’re going to be in a one bedroom apartment when Sydni’s born.  …really, at times, that doesn’t phase me at all.  it’s already kind of crowded with just the three of us, but children and parents having separate rooms is a very american mentality.

it’s cultural programming, really, that makes me uncomfortable.  trying to get outside of “what should be” and what other people think, and just accepting what is, is what it comes down to.

and what is… honestly, is pretty good.  we live in a good area, everything is easily accessible to us, we’re on the bus line for Israel’s school.  and most importantly.

I have a happy, creative, intelligent child, who is perfectly content having a bunkbed over ours, and a happy, creative, intelligent husband, who may not be completely happy with our living situation, but is always there to remind me that sometimes things just don’t work, and eventually they will, with the confidence that was part of what made me fall in love with him.  the quiet calm under his chaos.

we have a new member of our family coming.  I have never rejected someone on the basis of “not having enough room”.  nor, whenever I had someone coming to visit, especially family, have I gone, “oh god, where are we going to put them?”

we have always had the mentality that as long as there was floor space, we had room.  …not that we’re going to put a baby on the floor of course, but Israel and I, and Israel Ethan and I, have slept in a large variety of different places, without suffering any kind of damage.  it’s not like Sydni’s going to come out and be like, “well, you guys certainly didn’t plan this very well did you?”

although, I must admit, that’s probably a very common mentality around us right now.  but since when have we ever been ones to worry about what the people around us thought?

-Domestic Anarchist


the past couple days it’s becoming hard to kind of gauge and keep track of where I’m really at.  I know I need to keep writing, but I feel so scattered.  there’s alot of stress in our lives right now, we’re attempting to move, and I’m just hoping it goes through before the lovely Sydni-Fae makes her appearance.

there’s just this… edginess and exhaustion that’s setting in, that I don’t really remember in my pregnancy with Israel.  of course, that was 6 years ago.  there’s a chance I’ve just forgotten.  I’ve added dandelion tea into my daily intake, which will hopefully increase my energy levels slightly, as well as bolstering Sydni’s liver and helping prevent jaundice.

I’m reading Ishmael again.  which is always awesome, every time I go back to it, it jumps out at me.  Ethan got me my own copy this time, and I’m delighting in being able to high-light and write in the margins of my very own book.  brilliant.  I hope to pass it on to my children someday.

-Domestic Anarchist

Learning to Breathe

I am naturally an idealist and an extremist in pretty much all areas of my life.

this is just how my brain functions.  if you put any weight in palm reading, whereas most people have a line for their emotions and one for their thoughts (heart and head lines) I have just one, which carves deeply across my palm, since for me, there is no differentiation between my thoughts and my feelings.

this is, frankly, a pain in the ass.

I am VERY emotionally invested in my ideals, especailly when they involve something I feel deeply about, such as my family.  if I do not live up to my ideals of what I think I should be as a wife and mom, I immediately consider myself a failure.  but would I ever consider telling my son “wow, you are such a failure at being my kid”?  holy hell, no.  I would never tell Ethan he was a failure at being a husband either.  that word, which I use on myself over and over again, I would never use to lable anyone else.

it’s like cooking mama lives in my head.  I burn dinner, and instantly the words FAIL burn themselves across my cerebral cortex, and some little inner self of mine pops up with flaming eyeballs to declare “you’re not mine!” or whatever the hell she ACTUALLY says.

I was raised with very distinct and self-sacrificing values involving being a wife and mother.

we were taught that if you had a family, their wants and needs always came before yours.

my mother was always self-sacrificing, and she made sure we were constantly aware of it.  she at times be so exhausted after making dinner that she wouldn’t have the energy to eat it herself.  mmm… guilt-free meals.

she put so much effort into being the “self-sacrificing mother”, that she completely neglected taking care of herself.  her emotional needs were always so great that there was no room for ours.  she was so busy doing everything she needed to do to try and keep herself from feeling like a failure as a mom that she had no time to actually… be a mom.

therein lies the danger of being a self-sacrificing parent.

recently, Israel was going through a very rough time.

he was dealing w/ an event that he experienced very intensely as betrayal, and a lack of control over his life.

his method of regaining control and his power was to latently refuse everything we asked of him, and make sure we were aware he could think for himself, by arguing with absolutely everything we said.

he was also very emotionally needy, wanting attention, approval and closeness at all times.  he had to be in the same room with us, we had to acknowledge everything he did.  the only way I could accomplish ANYTHING was through involving him.

also, he had problems sleeping.  no matter what time we put him to bed, he wouldsn’t fall asleep until 11 or later.

by which time, I’d be so exhausted that I would be a crabby, rude, emotionally unavailable mom, and then once he finally fell asleep, I would turn all my frustration towards Ethan, who, to make matters even better, had been working late, sometimes not getting home until 8pm or later.

I could have set Israel up with a project to keep him busy for 20 minutes during the day, while I took a break.  I could have called any of his grandparents and had them take him out for lunch.  I could have let him go over to the neighbors house and watch cartoons and play with her baby.  but I thought, “he’s having a rough time.  he needs me right now.  he needs to know that I can be here for him.”

but the truth of the matter is that NO ONE can be there for anyone else 100% of the time.  you needs to have time to experience yourself, or you end up so drained that you can’t be there for anyone at all.

the whole week of distress he went through, which was immediately followed by three days of stomach flu as soon as he started to balance back out, I spent the day meeting the emotional needs of my son, sacrificing my own needs, and by the evening I would be a heinous bitch.

sometimes I live my life like it’s a competitive sport.

like it’s my responsibility to maintain a kickass home, supply healthy, tasty and fun meals, and have an unbored and well-adjusted family at all times.

as soon as I start doing this, pressuring myself, making everything my responsibility and getting the Cooking Mama inner voice, it’s not fun anymore.

usually, I enjoy being domestic.  that’s why this blog is called The Domestic Anarchist.  it’s me learning how to accept my domestic tendencies, my natural inclination to have fun decorating and up-keeping my house, finding and trying out new recipes, and thinking up fun shit to do with my family.

but the instant that instead of being “fun shit to do” it becomes “shit I have to do”, the martyr mentality kicks in.

if I have no downtime, I become bitter and get bitchy.  I do what I need to do, but I make sure everyone knows that I am fucking pissed about it.

and then I get more pissed that they are not appreciating the sacrifices I’m making for them!

and I always said I do things differently from my mom.

I need to relax.  ask for help when I need it.  sending my son over to the neighbors doesn’t make me a bad mom.

neither does serving scrambles eggs, ramen, or peanut-butter and jelly for dinner, on the days when that’s the most I can muster.

it’s not a competition.  there is no “pass” or “fail” or “first place”.  it’s just like any other life adventure.  it’s there to experience.

and sometimes, having scrambled eggs for dinner at 10pm and watching fraggle rock, can be an exciting experience, if you don’t fuck it up by feeling guilty.