homegrown mama

Posts Tagged ‘family’

::On motherhood: we can’t do it all::

In family, military life on 20112011-11-14T16:02:21+00:0030 9/11 at 16:02

Being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) has been a popular topic lately. Some of my friends with babies are just beginning to go back to work, either part- or full-time. One thing I hear a lot from women who are going back to work is that they just aren’t “cut out” to be a SAHM. Some of these gals satiate their urge for adult interaction and a second income through home-based businesses, which allow them to earn money as a representative for direct sales companies (Tupperware, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, etc.). But many worked long and hard to get to a certain place in their career, and can’t bear the thought of giving that up. This is true especially if their absence from the workforce would cause them to fall back in their field while their co-workers excel.

Having been raised in a “me” society, where we all concentrate on bettering ourselves and our futures for the first 20 years of life, the sacrificial nature of motherhood seems alien, and downright self-destructive. After spending years in college, then doing the bottom-of-the-totem-pole jobs at work so we could move our way up to more influential positions, quitting to raise children doesn’t exactly make sense. After all, we were brought up to believe in ourselves, dream big, and aim for the stars! So while feminism has opened up a world of possibilities to women, the requirements of motherhood have not changed at all. And with the drive and determination we have been raised to employ, we think we can do it ALL!

Funny, before I had Heidi, I ignorantly assumed that staying home with my babies would be fun and full of laughter, and come naturally. And once she arrived, I had little energy to make myself a hot meal, let alone be concerned about how my team at work was doing without me. Besides, I was still getting paid on maternity leave, so instead of feeling stifled by my home life, I felt I was on somewhat of a sabbatical from work to spend time with my precious bundle.

But now that my position as “Domestic 9r” (as Wayne refers to me) has been secured with the arrival of bundle number two, I admit I’m getting some belated cold feet. How did I get myself into this? Didn’t we join the Forces so that our kids could have me home every day? Some women I know would kill for that opportunity! What gives?

What I’m learningvery, very slowlyis that my penchant for looking forward, making plans, and staying abreast of the industry (which, for me, is marketing and corporate communications) is drifting gradually into second place. I am beginning to understand that I am not capable of being a SAHM and keeping my brain at work. Wanting to do my best in everything means I can’t physically or emotionally give 100% to my family and 100% to the furthering of my career. So I have been forced to reevaluate my priorities, and to align my heart with my mind, so I can move forward with conviction and commitment to my chosen profession, which, right now, is motherhood. And just like the growth of my career, the successful development of my children will require almost all of me for an indefinite amount of time.

Honestly, I wonder if I would be as hesitant about mentally committing to full-time and long-term home life if we hadn’t been moved to a new province just after entering parenthood? If I had a familiar home, environment, and support system in place, would I feel such a need to go back to what I know professionally?

Not all military spouses stay at home, so not all of them feel as torn as I do. But I know my limits and I need to own them, or my family will suffer. I know this situation is exacerbated by Army life and its control over how and where we live and make a home. But either way, the sacrifices of parenthood are big. Really, really big. So if your spouse has given up more than a little to run your family, teach and lead your children, and make your house a home, give them an extra hug today and ask them how they’re feeling about it. You may not even know military life has impacted them in this way; they may not recognize it either. But approaching it together will do wonders for clarifying their role, their sense of appreciation, and your relationship.


::Are we living in Nomad’s Land?::

In military life on 20112011-11-02T09:30:41+00:0030 9/11 at 09:30

What would it take for them to be content and even grateful…? 

I recently watched a Canadian documentary called Nomad’s Land. Written and directed by Air Force wife Claire Corriveau, the 2007 film (produced by the National Film Board of Canada, and available at nfb.ca) “powerfully depicts the hard existence of military wives.”

When I first read this description, I was taken aback; I wondered what experiences Corriveau had endured to lead her so far as to create a film to bring awareness to her plight. Personally, I became a little inwardly defensive about my life as a military spouse, and hoped that this film would do it justice, especially to civilian viewers.

The film’s synopsis on the webpage reads: “Meet an Air Force wife who discovers that she married into a lifestyle she hadn’t chosen…. Isolated, often lonely, forced to move repeatedly, these women have little control over their lives…. Their unsung contributions come at a high personal price.”

Part of me reads this and acknowledges the hardships that come along with military life: semi-frequent postings; difficulty holding jobs; being a “single spouse” while struggling to maintain our relationships during separation; and dealing with the emergencies that seem to pop up during deployments. But mostly I wonder just exactly what lifestyle would be ideal for these women. What would it take for them to be content and even grateful for the benefits and opportunities the military life provides?

Nomad’s Land includes interviews with Lucie Laliberté, co-author of No Life Like It: Military Wives in Canada. She explains a great deal of how far the rights of military spouses have come, and how hard the wives of some soldiers worked to make it so. Indeed, I am grateful to those who have advocated on my behalf. But is this a life with which we will always take issue? Or can we simply acknowledge how far the CF has come in recognizing the significance of the family unit to its members?

Certainly, the ups and downs of military life affect not only the CF member, but his/her family, as well. In fact, family members may even take the brunt of the changes, at times. But that’s life, isn’t it? No matter what profession your spouse chooses, there will be repercussions when his or her company reorganizes, downsizes, or moves locations. Granted, it may not be quite as life altering or dangerous as overseas combat, but we only know what we know, right? And for us, the reality is that orders, postings and dates can change at any moment, because there is an objective beyond our personal wellbeing at stake: our soldiers protect this country, first and foremost.

So while Nomad’s Land provided some noteworthy insights into the history of Canadian families in the Army, I confess that I have never felt slighted by this life or the concerns that come with it. It has been par for the course, in my mind, and I feel blessed to enjoy the lifestyle I currently have because of what the Army provides.

::life lessons::

In family, military life on 20112011-10-28T09:30:25+00:0031 9/11 at 09:30

…the biggest (and hardest) lesson I’ve learned since being here…is contentedness

Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if Wayne hadn’t joined the Army. I’d probably be working full-time to help pay our mortgage, and we’d have only one child (because daycare for two kids on the West Coast costs more than I would make if I was working!). Plus, knowing me and my perfectionist tendencies, I’d be a stressed ball of nerves trying to balance work and family, torn by the need to work and guilt from not spending enough time at home. I’d have the luxury of family living close-by, but also a fast-paced life that affords little down time; I’m sure I’d feel obligated to “do/be/get more” all the time.

And so, the biggest (and hardest) lesson I’ve learned since being here actually has nothing to do with the military: it’s contentedness. That’s not to say I don’t become a green-eyed monster from time to time, or that I’m not tempted to whip out a credit card for something I want but don’t really need/can afford. However, it is an entirely humbling experience to be told where to live, when to arrive, and not knowing when we’ll be leaving. On top of that, I am responsible to set up my children for success by enrolling them in activities and building relationships with people who can contribute to our family, and their lives.

Thankfully, we have been so blessed in this area. I admit that when we arrived in Manitoba, I felt lost. I didn’t know how to get “my old life” back, to feel like I was home. But then I realized, this is my life, and this is our new home. Gone were the days of endless home décor options, the latest fashion trends, and the coolest car in the neighbourhood. No one here, except me, expected our active social life, meticulously decorated home, and deep-rooted friendships to suddenly ring the doorbell and join us in our new house. I found that this new life, and connecting with new people, had three simple requirements: commitment, authenticity, and a little hospitality.

I’m certain that one of the best parts of living the military life is meeting new people. In the year-and-a-half I’ve lived in Manitoba, I’ve met some amazing folks from all over this country who have ended up here in Westman, people I now consider life-long friends. Some are CF members, some are CF spouses, and some are people from church, mom’s groups, and general community life. It’s been so refreshing to hear the celebrations, and the struggles, of other families, too. And even when it feels like everyone else has life all figured out, they always seem grateful to chat about their most recent challenges and experiences when I invite them in for a cup of tea.

And what do you know? It seems like I now have more time to do just that.

::Fall fun::

In family, food, outings on 20112011-10-24T09:30:07+00:0031 9/11 at 09:30

Fall is here, fall is here!

Ah, my favourite season has arrived again and I’m enjoying these days of crisp breezes, morning frost and my favourite GAP jeans. But while my love for autumn relies heavily on fashion options, the true reason I look forward to this time of year is the FOOD! I just love that Thanksgiving in Canada is in October, not too close to Christmas, like in the U.S. All September long, I pine for turkey, cranberries, stuffing, sweet potato crisp and chewy ginger chocolate cookies (are you drooling yet?). Time to dig out my scarecrows and fall leaf garlands, toss some gourds in a decorative bowl, light an autumn spice candle, and sit on the couch with a good book and a fuzzy blanket.

Of course, it’s also time for all things pumpkin. We recently took the family to Meandher Creek Pumpkin Patch! Last year, hubby was on a course in Gagetown, N.B., from October to December, so I took H on my own for the afternoon. She was only 13 months old at the time and while she enjoyed sitting in the straw, watching the goats and piglets, and crawling on the mounds of pumpkins, she didn’t really know how to have “fun” there just yet. She did choose her own little gourds and I picked up our pumpkins for the season but other than that, it was a little anticlimactic.

This year, though, my crazy little redhead is two and she’s on the move. She had a blast running through the corn maze, climbing the hay bales, and choosing pumpkins. I was equally excited to take hubby, because dads seem to make these outings more fun for kids, don’t they?

While I was there last year, I purchased a small jar of Meandher Creek’s homemade pumpkin pie spice. It’s great stuff and while I don’t often make pumpkin pie, I do bake with pumpkin a lot in the fall and winter, so this was a yummy find. I  have taken to using it in my recipe for Starbucks Pumpkin Scones. Instead of measuring out the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, I just add 1.5 tsp. of the pumpkin pie spice in their place and it’s wonderful.

Photo by run for your life

But I also realized how expensive my Starbucks pumpkin spice latte habit was becoming last fall, so decided I would venture to make my own at home to cut costs. Needless to say, I had to buy a new jar of the spice this month at the pumpkin patch, because I just ran out.

Here is my recipe for a homemade pumpkin spice latte. Enjoy while snuggling on the couch with your honey…or babes.

Baxter-style Pumpkin Spice Latte

½-cup 2% milk (use 1% or skim if you’re watching calories)

½-cup hot brewed coffee or two shots of espresso (adjust according to your taste)

½-tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp real maple syrup

optional: whipped cream/dessert topping

Pour milk in your mug and heat in the microwave until hot but not boiling (mine has a beverage setting on it that worked well). Remove and stir in pie spice and maple syrup. Add coffee, stir, and top with whipped cream/dessert topping if you’re throwing your cares out the window. Relax, and enjoy!*

*Note: The last sip usually contains some leftover spices. It’s pretty gritty, so I’d avoid it if I were you!

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