Thanksgiving Day Camp - complete with camp nature table
As families gather together I usually get sucked into contemplating about my childhood and about the past. When we made the choice to move to California in order for the children to attend an accredited and established Waldorf school, we also made the choice to leave behind my mother, father, brother, sister-in-law and young niece. This decision brought a lot of guilt even though in my heart I knew that my own two children are the main focus of my life. Practically every thing that we have done since they were infants has been for the benefit of the children. I sacrificed our bed to co-sleeping, suffered the initial pain of breastfeeding to giving them the best milk possible, practiced intentional parenting and worked extremely hard to give them an upbringing that would nourish their bodies and minds. One of the most negative aspects of attachment parenting can be the relationship between the parents. A child is either in the bed or nursing most of the time during the first few years. We rarely used a babysitter which meant that dates included children (anniversaries too). There were some very difficult days when we used to question if what we were doing was right. As time unfolds and they grow older I can start to really see the results of our parenting. And let me tell you it is so beautiful.
My own parents grew up in the Bay Area and soon after they married in 1961 they made the choice to leave the city to raise their children in the country. They wanted to give their children a different childhood to the one that they both experienced. They drove up to Tehama County in Northern California and bought 40 acres that included an overgrown olive orchard. The town we grew up in had a mere 2,500 people when I was a young child. For a spirited and somewhat creative child this town was not beneficial to me. My energy and spirit both were crushed on many occasions. I had only a few teachers in my 12 years of being educated in this small town that really understood me and liked me. When I graduated from this school (that focused mainly on sports), I had no direction in life at all. I didn't know who I was, what I wanted to do or how to erase the angst of my childhood education. I was broken, hurt and for the next six years I wandered around aimlessly without a clue of what to do.
My past is partly why I am dedicating such a large part of my life to help my children. I want them to graduate from high school with confidence and direction. I don't have any expectation for them for college or anything, I just want them to do something that feeds their passion. I had so much passion inside me but it was pounded away for 12 years that I didn't know how to deal with it. When it would arise as a young adult I would be cautious because I didn't want to be berated or teased.
Facebook is guilty of bringing back lots of childhood memories. I've been tagged in a few photos, ones that make me literally cringe. I was so uncomfortable in my childhood body. I see comments by school mates about high school being the time of their life. Their beautiful photos express this clearly. They looked fabulous, confident and above all, they looked happy. A part of me is jealous when I curiously have to look at their photos. I was so miserable in high school, always dressing the wrong way, saying inappropriate things, trying to make people laugh at their expense (or mine) and just begging for some attention. I was desperate on the best of days.
Yet I can't hold my parents blame for the choices they made. They were working hard to give us a childhood that was better than theirs. They felt that the country was the answer. Even though as an adult I secretly crave the thought of being raised in Berkeley in the 70's. I hope that one day my brother can understand why I left Seattle. Maybe conversation between the two of us can be comfortable again rather than awkward. He chose to leave the Bay Area to be close to my parents and us. I encouraged the move not realizing that we would be taking our family in the opposite direction only two years later.
My mother is sick with cancer which adds to my guilt. And I think for the rest of my life I will have a sad place in my heart that I made the decision to move our family to California instead of staying up with her. It wasn't an easy decision because there were so many complicated emotions with it. Yet I have to focus on the future and that future consists of Cerys and Keiran and their education. And being the dreamer that I have always been, I want the best for them. I want them at the best Waldorf school in an area rich with opportunity. Anything less would feel like a betrayal to them.
Maybe I am sharing too much here. I have these swirling emotions after a rocky Thanksgiving and I have this pressure in my chest to write down my thoughts. As I have shared thoughts like this in the past about my childhood, I recall that many of you have experienced similar ones. As adults so many of us are all still healing and striving to correct the past.