Essays on Motherhood: Reconciling The Magic & The Madness While Moving With Small Children
Real Stories About Real Motherhood
Introducing Part One of our motherhood series exploring real stories about motherhood and conscious living.
Navigating motherhood with social values and environmental consciousness demands flexibility and forgiveness—as could be said of all things parenting. From the products we bring into our home to the nutrition we offer and the habits we establish, raising our little ones to be responsible and compassionate stewards of this planet requires a daily balance of lofty standards and realistic expectations. This is a glimpse inside one mother’s attempt—and often hysterical failure—to keep all those balls in the air.
Moving Provides Space For New Growth
It’s all so much, moving.
The sheer number of cardboard boxes, not to mention the newspapers crinkled and the packing tape applied somewhat hastily with cardboard clenched between your legs and a marker between your teeth. The scrubbing. And hauling. And hoarding. The number of trash bags disposed of and purchases made. Purging only to fill anew. It’s all so much.
In the madness of moving, though, we can find a chance to take inventory. Slowing down, taking stock, assessing values. Motherhood hasn’t always come with the daily dose of perspective that I was always hoping for. Most of my day is too deep in the details, the diapers, the trucks and trains, to take notice and make the calm and conscious choices I so value. Motherhood is magical—but it is also madness. The same could be said of moving, but it is at least a chance to simplify and prioritize and purge.
We really outdid ourselves this time: two trips to see family on opposite coasts, an international vacation with my in-laws, a first birthday, teething, weaning, eight flights, innumerable boxes, and finally moving into our very first overpriced-but-little-piece-of-paradise century-old home. We were three weeks into our personal month of madness, in our seventh bed in about seven days when our otherwise very resilient one year old decided to put his foot down. Or in this case his fork. He put his fork down.
Twelve months old with a passion for protest well beyond his years, he had rolled with it all so well. Until he didn’t. Finally he would try to take back what little control he had in the form of the food he was willing to eat. The list was short—milk in the morning, a banana as he would wake up, and then blueberries. Nothing but blueberries. He would pop them in our laps, in his chair, in a bowl on the floor, in his stroller on a walk. Nothing but blueberries.
12 hours … 24 hours … 36 hours in and I knew it was too much. The amount of fruit he was consuming wouldn’t be without consequence, but I couldn’t help but oblige his small sweet protest to all the transition.
And then it happened. He was scooting around our new-to-us century-old hardwood floors when I noticed a suspicious spot on his shorts. “Is that blueberry?” I asked, jumping to logical—albeit optimistic—assumptions. My brave husband crouched to within wafting distance and confirmed. Still nothing. “Yep, blueberry darling.” He wasn’t exactly wrong, but I never could trust his sense of smell. We went back to cooking. It was a few more scoots and an ominous odor later before we realized what had happened.
Balancing motherhood with my desire for clean spaces and blank canvases hasn’t always been easy so as we moved we purged, and scrubbed, and simplified as best we could. I could hardly hold it against my son for having done the same. He had simplified (blueberries) and now he was, well, purging.
The floor needed scrubbing. The high chair had to be poured out and those shorts will never be recovered. We dripped our way to the kitchen sink where we proceeded to hose him off. The cleaning. The wiping. The diapers. The stank. The sheer volume of mess made by such a small being. The price paid for a month of excess, met only by the power of something simple to clean it all up.
A Strategy For Mindful Moving
keeping a family peaceful during times of transition
The upside to upheaval is the that it presents a perfect opportunity to take notice. When the dust settles and the boxes are passed off, you can look into the nooks and crannies of your new space and create something from scratch. Here’s what we did to make the transition as easeful as possible:
We kept only the things we loved, the things that lasted. The less we had to move in, the easier the move itself and the more creativity we could have in this new space.
We started fresh with clean products—cleaning agents, paints, etc—to create the safest space possible. And then of course we baby proofed everything. We wanted to know he was truly safe before we brought him home there.
We kept our son’s experience as consistent as possible throughout our month of madness. The same sheets no matter the bed, the same toys around, the same blanket always on hand.
We spent a lot of time in his new room, building trains and reading books and looking out the big new window until he felt comfortable in a space that was just his own.
We kept those sacred routines—the ones around sleep specifically—exactly the same at our new home. The same bath, book, bedtime rituals provided some sense of normalcy for him.
We explored all of the nooks and crannies together, getting excited by the new porch where he could play in the sunshine, the alley where he could climb in our truck out back. We highlighted the novelty as best we could and he rolled with it all so well.
Then of course we offered with extra snuggles—and mustered extra patience—as we started in this new space together. Settled. It may still smell a bit like blueberries, but it is our blank canvas.
Kassia Binkowski is a Contributing Editor at The Good Trade and the Founder of One K Creative. She grew up in Madison, WI and traveled her way around the world to Boulder, CO which she now calls home. Nestled against the Rocky Mountains, Kassia supports innovative organizations from Colorado to Kathmandu tell their stories of social change through writing, photography, and design. Kassia is an eternal optimist and forever a backroad wanderer.