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Ladye of the House: an “easy” day as a stay at home mother.

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The good news is that today is blocked to be free of specific chores outside of daily maintenance. My floors and bathrooms are clean and my shelves don’t need dusted. I could clean the ceiling fans, but that would involve some height and I don’t think my Lord Husband would be too happy with me for putting myself at risk, in my condition, while he’s not home. 

The realistic news is that, even though today represents another “light day” for me, I’m a far cry from lounging on the couch with a box of bon bons and soap operas. For a strange reason, people who are unaccustomed to the “phenomenon” of a stay-at-home mother, seem to think that’s what I do all day. I’ll never forget the disdain with which someone on Facebook implied that I was simply pampered by My Lord Husband early in my motherhood and the sense of stigma and judgement has stuck with me ever since.  

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While I shouldn’t have to defend my contribution to my own household and marriage as a stay at home mother, I hope that this example of what an easy day is like helps to shed some light on reality before others dismiss women like me as simply lazy or spoiled.

On any given day, I am the housekeeper, head chef, scullery maid, valet, laundress, nanny, governess, chauffeur, and administrator of my household. I organize not only the maintenance of the home, but household spending to ensure that our needs are met while still having funds in saving. In addition to fulfilling this role, I also have to keep an active toddler stimulated, cared for, and educated. (Which is my favorite part.)

(On an unrelated note, said toddler has disappeared upstairs to play with his toys twice today rather than throw tantrums at me for leaving the television off. The de-cluttering is working!)

To be clear, until August 15th of this year, I was actually a work-from-home mother, not a stay-at-home mother. Unfortunately, due to budgeting issues, I was let go; however, as someone about to give birth any day, the loss of employment was less of a blow since I had anticipated a slow return to my usual cash flow with two children instead of one. Also, I loved the work I did and still love the people I with whom worked, so I have no hard feelings. I even retained my bosses’ numbers because I know they’ll want to see pictures of my babies. 

That said, being a stay-at-home Mother is a 24/7 job unto itself without the added pressure of fulfilling outside obligations.  Furthermore, I’m sorry to report that there isn’t a bon bon in sight, because I could use some chocolate right now…

Today began at 5:45am with Himself coming into our room and climbing into bed with us. I played Daniel Tiger on AmazonPrime to occupy him and had to diffuse a meltdown because I picked the wrong episode, then another because the volume on the television was too low. Now, I love my morning snuggles with my little love, but my Braxton Hicks are the worst when I wake up and, exacerbated by a full bladder, a wonderful experience can easily become painful.

After I waddled to and from the privy with tingling feet and achy joints, we went downstairs and I made oatmeal for Himself, after switching televisions and containing yet another meltdown over the volume. 

Before 7:30am, I had cleaned and mopped the floor because the dog had peed on it, then set to doing my “routine” maintenance and had it completed by 8:26am. Of course, these tasks documented below don’t include wiping down surfaces and appliances, changing, dressing, and grooming my toddler, or handling nearly a dozen tantrums between my son’s waking up and finally being able to lay my pregnant body down and get some much needed rest. (By the way, the general chores recur throughout the day so I’m not done working, even on a “light” day.)

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This

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Honestly, I blame June Cleaver for the stigma surrounding stay-at-home moms. Wearing pearls while vacuuming sends a message that a mother’s work is “just so easy.” In reality, cleaning burns a ton of calories and sometimes creates need for an extra shower. This doesn’t include the mental, physical, and emotional fatigue of raising, caring for, and teaching a small person. 

No wonder I’m bone tired!

Ultimately, my Lord Husband and I made the decision for me to stay home with our children very early in our relationship. (One week into officially dating, in fact.) We both knew how beneficial it would be to our offspring and we don’t regret it. Also, and unfortunately, if I were to work outside of the home, we realize that, with my earning potential, the bulk of my income would simply go towards childcare and towards services that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill as a working mom. For us, it was an even trade-off financially and knowing our children were always with one of us is important to us emotionally. (A juggling act that I fully understand is more difficult and complicated for other families.)

In truth, I actually have very strong opinions about the condition of a modern workforce, confined to an arbitrary 9am-5pm schedule in a world where a click of a mouse can connect you to anyone on the globe, but that’s another article and I have things to do…

Maybe I can sweet talk my beloved into bringing me some chocolate later. 😉

UPDATE: My sweet Lord Husband always comes through for me! ❤️

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The Random Ramblings of a Lady Mother: Cleaning, Nesting, Decluttering, and Hygge

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I don’t have to do chores today! 

Tuesday’s and Fridays are the days I have blocked for dusting and cleaning bathrooms, but since I decluttered, my house doesn’t need to be dusted as often and extenuating circumstances resulted in me cleaning bathrooms over the weekend. As a result, my day is free outside of my daily tasks like dishes, making beds, cooking dinner, and general tidying. 

The feeling is honestly wonderful because, even though My Lord Husband was working from home and helped me out quite a bit, I still pulled through yesterday by the skin of my teeth. 

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There isn’t enough space in my planner to add all the chores or spur of the moment things I do throughout the day. For example, yesterday, I had to do some redecorating in order to position the humidifiers closet to the beds. Then, in the middle of the night, I had to move Himself’s mattress onto the floor in an attempt to get him to spend the night in his bed. Ultimately my Lord Husband saw me lying on the floor next to him and said, “You’re pregnant, I’ll do that.” 

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Even though yesterday started with the blessing of a couple hours extra sleep from my concerned beloved (after a very turbulent night with Himself who was dealing with allergies and, I assume, sore muscles from playing so hard the day before) after getting the groceries, putting them away, rearranging both bedrooms, general tidying, then vacuuming and mopping main floor, I could hardly stand. I wanted nothing more than to claim “pregnant lady” and go back to bed, but dinner needed to be made. So, my beloved chopped the vegetables, I ate half a bag of sweet potato crackers for energy, and got to work. While the meatloaf baked, I cleaned the upstairs toilet, vacuumed the carpeted second floor and stair case, and brought the laundry upstairs. It wasn’t until after dinner, that I was able to lie down on the sofa until story and bed time. 

I wish I could attribute yesterday’s productiveness to the bursts of energy associated with nesting instincts, but the reality is that I was working on sheer willpower. My floor and toilet were too dirty to ignore, my family needed groceries, my son and I needed to have humidifiers near our sleeping areas, and my family needed dinner. 

That isn’t to say that nesting had nothing to do with my accomplishments because I was sorely tempted to look at the things that needed done and put them off. However, when you know that your baby may come at anytime, you don’t want to worry about the house not being comfortable when you return home with a newborn and so I trudged on.

But, my meatloaf was perfect and that’s something of which to be proud. 

In other news: decluttering keeps proving itself to be an amazing solution. My house is easier to clean, I feel less overwhelmed (unless I’m doing donkey work like mopping floors), and, best of all, there is more structure for my son to actually play and explore. 

On Sunday, my lord husband took our son to his lady mother’s house and I used the opportunity to do some more decluttering. I singled out a few toys with which he still hasn’t played, he’s outgrown, or they’re too ratty, and packed them up for donations. It helped me to see that the toys I keep downstairs for him were beneath his current activity level and move things around. As result, he came home and immediately played with toys instead of wanting to watch television. 

Yesterday, he even chose playing trains with daddy over cartoons. 

Finally, I really need to take time for Hygge. I would occasionally sit down with tea and knitting over the weekend, but I haven’t done yoga since, at least Friday, and, yesterday, I didn’t sit down for a single cuppa or have time to sit and snuggle with my boy-oh. 

This may sound a little flaky… it certainly reads that way to me because I’m far from “namaste” crunchy; nonetheless, when you live with an autoimmune disease, you eventually become more aware of the needs of your body and soul. You have to pace yourself for the sake of your health or you may find yourself trying to get up the proverbial creek.

I ended yesterday nauseated with dry heaves because I overworked myself. My son hasn’t been sleeping well and is obsessed with “Mama’s bed” (when he has always slept well in his room) because he hasn’t gotten the cuddle and close time with me. 

Jesus said that the sabbath was made to benefit man. Finding time to recharge, spend time with the Lord, and spend time truly resting are important for us as humans. Perhaps that’s why I find Hygge so attractive? 

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Priorities: The Key to Balance

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As I write this, I’m sitting in my nursing chair with my feet propped on the ottoman and a cup of hot chocolate beside me. Why? Because my energy reserves are even more tenuous than usual and I need to pace myself if I don’t want to be crying on My Lord Husband’s chest when he gets home or testy with Himself all day. 

The Baby could really come any day now, so I’ve been very anxious about completing a handful of nesting/preparatory tasks beforehand. Thankfully,  my friend Judith came over to help with some of them on Wednesday so now I know that my children won’t be inhaling dust from dirty blinds. Unfortunately, I’m also finding even the regular chores to be taxing at times. 

Following Wednesday’s cleaning session, I inflamed my autoimmune on Thursday morning and had to sleep off a nausea spell. This morning, I had to sleep off a bout of fatigue. And yet, my house looks much the same as when I last photographed it. 

When you have a chronic illness (even a temporary one like pregnancy), you have to learn to prioritize due to limited energy. It’s much like prioritizing your expenses after receiving a paycheck: you put the most important things on the top and determine what you can live without should you have to. 

Today’s to-do list is not necessarily short, but I’ve already looked over it and decided what I can live without:

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I can move cleaning the basement and garage to tomorrow if I don’t get a second wind this evening. I can live without the container until my own lady mother returns. I can simply set cleaning the stroller as a “sometime this weekend” task. However, I can’t put off dusting any longer (at least not certain areas) and, while my upstairs bathroom is most presentable, my guest bathroom (which has been used to contain the yucky dog) needs a deep clean so it can once again be utilized by guests. 

After all, if I’m going to make everyone wash their hands before touching my baby from now to March, I should provide an easily accessed sink in which to do so, preferably not my kitchen sink…

Ultimately, though narrows the “must do” chores to three. 

Of course, those are rotating chores, not daily ones. In order to maintain my sanity and my restful abode, I still have to make sure daily tasks are fulfilled as needed. In order to avoid throwing myself completely off and feeling as though my whole day had been wasted, I made sure that the dishes were clean, the beds were made, my son was dressed, and I was showered and groomed before retiring to my couch and the sweet cuddles of my toddler. 

Another reason that I make it a point to fulfill the daily tasks even on days when I need to go slower is that, if I don’t, those chores will only build up and create rather arduous tasks for me later on, which could even trigger another autoimmune spell and create a vicious circle. In general, it’s easier to clean as you go than to clean all at once. Washing the dishes, making beds, putting clothes away, and tidying up sooner rather than later have proven to free up a lot more time in the long run. 

On “take it easy” days, I try to strike a balance between comfort and personal style because I know that if I look in the mirror later and feel discouraged by my reflection, it won’t help my mood, which won’t help my health. 

Today’s ensemble is a nursing tank, sweat pants, Ugg slippers, a headband that I’ve been told looks dumb but I like a lot, and my new favorite dressing gown. If I do find the energy or discover a need to go out, I’ll swap the sweat pants for a maxi skirt and the dressing gown for a cute cardigan. 

Usually, the only variation to this outfit has been to wear an oversized top vs the tank and gown, since both are new acquisitions which were made following a purge of clothes I don’t need or wear. (In all, I’ve only added four nursing tops, four nursing bras, two nursing nightgowns, and the dressing gown pictured after giving two bags of clothes to goodwill.) I like this look much better because I feel less frumpy, but totally pampered. It’s helped motivate me to get on my yoga mat and helped me feel more confident that my Lord Husband isn’t coming home to a haggard housewife. 

I always roll my eyes at the anti-sweats, anti-leggings Mommy Bloggers, but I think part of it is that, as an ex dancer, I’ve a decided preference to wear pants I can move in at home when I know I’m going to be cleaning or spending time on the couch. This predilection towards movable clothing as only affirmed in the year I spent studying acting in college because all my classes were movement based and forbade jeans. Learning how to make leggings and jazz pants look cute between classes was how I spent the better part of fifteen years. In my opinion, comfortable clothing doesn’t have to be frumpy any more than dressing up has to be uncomfortable. 

Now, I’ve already done lessons and story time with Himself. My next priority, even before cleaning, is going to be doing my yoga. As I’ve said in previous posts, it helps me to feel better, keeps me toned, and it has proven itself as the best low-impact exercise to meet my needs during this time in my life. Walking is very difficult at this stage of pregnancy when the added weight hurts my feet and I always have to pee. Also, I may waddle like an inebriated duck, but I can still lift my leg to here: 

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This photo is nearly two weeks old. I’m now past 37 weeks, but I can still get my leg that high. 😉

I feel much better about facing childbirth in this pregnancy than I did during my first, which I feel is in no small part to the preparation yoga has given me. It’s how I take care of myself so I can take care of the baby growing in my womb and the baby taking a much need nap upstairs. 

The decided difference between this summer and last summer, however, is not so much that I’m expecting, but that I’ve decluttered. Life is so much easier when every cupboard or closet isn’t a carefully constructed jenga attempt. Dust accumulates much slower and tidying up goes so much faster. I spend less time cleaning and more with my boys. What Lady Mother and wife could ask for more? 

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The Vertu of Honestie: Staying in the SCA when the going gets rough and standing up to bigotry even when it’s uncomfortable.

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“Why do you stay in the SCA? Everyone there is so mean to you.” 

I couldn’t tell you how many times my own lady mother has asked me that question. My reason has always been that I have some very good friends who love me and treat me with so much warmth, so her generalization is not exactly accurate.

That said, my own lady mother also raises a valid point: there is a great deal of cliquish and “mean girl” behavior both among fighters and non-fighters in our society. My Lord Husband and I have both dealt with backstabbing and outright lies during our time with the society, and that’s just in the past year.

Over the course of our respective careers, we’ve witnessed people use their titles to bully others into silence. We’ve watched royal peers scare away newbies by aggressively pursuing them sexually and fall back on their title when confronted with their behavior. We’ve watched people taut chivalry and honor on Facebook and in their next post silence and gaslight victims of assault. We have seen people dissuaded by others from seeking remedies using the civic rights afforded them (ie, calling the police and pressing charges) in favor of dealing with the issue “in house,” which usually means sweeping it under the rug.

Truthfully, taking all that into consideration, even I have to see the merit in my own lady mother’s query. However, these instances are also few and far between (at least in my neck of the woods) and the importance of our friendships and the fulfillment we’ve found in our hobby generally outweighs the nasty stuff. Moreover, our true friends and new friends have always unwittingly revived and rejuvenated our love for the SCA and kept us coming back… because we both see that the SCA can be and is a source of good both in our lives and the world and giving it up because of a few people behave badly feels cowardly.  It’s a few bad apples, after all. 

That said, one should also refrain from being dismissive of the “few bad apples.” Unfortunately, that phrase has come to mean that one should simply overlook the behavior or character of the sort of people mentioned above because the rest of the group is nice. However, the full proverb states that, “A few bad apples can rot the barrel.” That’s why when you buy a bag of fruit from the market, you throw away the fruit that has gone off. You don’t shrug and ignore the rotting fruit because you know that it can and will corrupt the rest, wasting your money and perfectly good food. The same is true of people: rotten people influence others to behave badly. Rather than bring out the best traits in others, they bring out the worst. This badness can range from the annoyance of a cliquey barony to full on racist fraternities. When it comes to the society we live in (both in the real world and the SCA), I believe we should be more vigilant in situations regarding the safety and dignity of others, especially the vulnerable, in our group than we are about persevering a bag of apples. 

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This is isn’t to say that I believe people should be rounded up and summarily run out of town on a rail. (Although, there are some, like those Nazis in Caid and the current, racist king in Trimaris, who should be unequivocally be revoked and denied membership.) For the most part, I believe that some people continue to behave badly simply because their friends care more about preserving the image of their hobby than they do about being a good friend and calling them on their behavior to help them improve themselves. 

Behaviors that should be driven out of the society: 

1.) Physical harm: including rape, child molestation, physical assault, etc. (And victims should call the police, not expect the nearest knight or the senseschal to deal with it. Unless you want the incident swept under the rug, that is.) 

2.) Theft. 

3.) Bigotry: overt cruelty and unkindness to anyone based on gender, race, religion, or sexuality. 

Behaviors that can be corrected:

1.) Lechery. (But if said lecher will not mend their ways, they can and should be disinvited.)

2.) Bullying. (Many people don’t seem to realize that they’re doing it. Interventions should be held, don’t just brush it off.)

3.) Lying. 

What would you add to the list? How might you cull the bad apples in your group or help them cut off the yucky bits in time to make a delicious tart? 

There are of course some people who have perfected the art of rectal millinery to the point where it doesn’t matter if God Himself comes down and gives them an earful, they’ll just remain stuck in their attitude. The Proverbs say that the wise love correction, however, and there are people who are simply faltering because they don’t know they’ve stepped on the wrong path and no one cares enough to tell them. I find that people either want to pretend that their friend is perfectly in the right or deny their faults. I think that, subconsciously, they’re afraid that admitting fault will make them guilty by association. In other instances, they turn a blind eye because they would rather not make waves. 

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One problem I’ve noticed in my kingdom is that peer-like qualities have, erroneously, become synonymous with being liked by everyone. I’ve said before that it is impossible for everyone to like everyone. Some gentles may dislike peaches, but that doesn’t diminish a peach’s worth, nor does it validate raising a campaign to ban peaches from being raised, harvested, and sold. However, it often happens that persons are blocked from advancement simply because someone dislikes them and gets their group of friends to agree with them in order meetings. (These people are unable to accept that, just because they don’t like peaches, doesn’t make peaches a bad thing.) As a result, the mentality that peer-like behavior means being well-liked, has resulted in a culture of people who are so afraid of causing offense that they avoid confrontation to the point where they fail to speak out against bad behavior or stand up for what’s right. 

I’m equally guilty of this. I cannot count the times I have refrained from speaking out for fear that I’ll find myself not only forever blocked from advancement, but also ostracized from my social group. Many people feel this way, even the most brazen of us, but courage, after all, is not the absence of fear. 

Virtue may look pretty in children’s stories, but the reality is that it often makes other people very angry. History shows us that people who stand up for what’s right rarely make it to their graves old and, even if they can manage that, their lives are not without adversity. Joan of Arc didn’t stay home and avoid drama. Thomas Becket didn’t refrain from making waves. Even venerated pacifists like Thomas More had scruples they could not yield. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most beloved presidents in American history, but, in his own time, he was hated and reviled, and not just by John Wilkes Booth. 

I know for some, the recent incidents of open anti-semitism and the elevation of open racists represent the proverbial straw on the camel’s back. It might even be tempting to free yourself of the negativity of association, but how does it make anything better for good people to cede ground and leave the Society to the bigots?

This is where the party ends…

Hopefully this will be my last heavy post for a while. I have three weeks left before I’m cradling sweetness in my arms and watching my firstborn declare to the rest of our family that they can’t have “his baby.” (He already hugs my belly and informs my own lady mother that it’s his baby and she can’t have it whenever she mentions it.) That said, I want to make the world my babies grow up in a better one. Even the tiny corners of the SCA. 

Until then, I plan to talk a lot more about de-cluttering and nesting. 😊

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Cleanliness and Peace: My Lady Mother’s Mix Of Minimalism and Hygge

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This post is not necessarily medieval, but it does relate to life as a reenactor (because I am a reenactor) and themes that our medieval counterparts would have grappled with. In the clothing alone, we see a conflict between excess and frugality, much as we do today, highlighting that many of the struggles we continue to face are timeless. While I approach them using a modern lense, I find it gratifying to realize that we still have much to learn from history and that there is much with which we can empathize.

My lady grandmother, whom I miss every day, used to say to me, “We used to love people and use things, now we love things and use people.” 

Perhaps it was having that thought drilled into my psyche from age nine to age nineteen, or perhaps it was spending years living close to and even living with hoarders that has made minimalism so attractive to me. More likely, the latter affirmed the truth of the former. 

That isn’t to say that the hoarders in my life use people, but they don’t own their things, their things own them. I’ve seen homes taken over by books, tchotchkes, and even unneeded furniture to the point where they are unlivable for the occupants who can barely move, much less find a place to sit or even sleep. (I’m fairly certain one of my friends hasn’t been able to sleep in her bed since 2004.) 

Seeing what that sort of life, being overwhelmed by items, becomes certainly motivated me to address my own pack-rat tendencies. For example, before my family moved into our current home, I could have held onto books and DVDs to the grave, but the frustration of moving had put the value of those things into perspective. However, even after letting go of several banker boxes of unneeded/unread/unwatched literature and media, to the tune of $110 from Half Price Books, I still had my demons to battle.

 

For the most part, I had found a home on my shelf and storage in my cupboards, closets, or basement for the majority of my things, but the reality was, that even “tucked away” they were cumbersome. The keepsakes stored under my bed were magnets for dust. When I became pregnant, I had no idea what I had in the way of baby clothes and accessories because they were all just stuffed into totes in Himself’s closet. When my own lady mother came to visit, I would make her wait for me to bring the car around to the front rather than have her walk through my cluttered basement and filthy garage. 

Keeping a clean home is important to me. After all, our medieval counterparts would happily remind us that cleanliness is next to godliness and my own lady mother is holier than most in that regard. I definitely inherited her mindset, yet, despite all the effort I put into keeping my home clean, the task felt like battling a hydra. The kind of physical activity required to maintain a clean and tidy home (especially singlehandedly since Himself is a toddler and my beloved Lord Husband does not share my love for neatness), can often be too much for someone with an autoimmune disease. After all, on top of housework, I have a toddler to chase after and educate, and I’m currently growing a whole human which is no small fete. 

The nesting instincts of the final months of pregnancy have certainly motivated me to find ways to keep my house cleaner for the newborn whose immune system will not be as robust as my toddler’s. These methods would have to be self-fulfilling because the last time I gave birth, it took me six to eight weeks to regain my strength and, even after I’ve recovered, I’ll have two children to tend to instead of one. This lead to a merciless purge of belongings, including furniture, keepsakes, and tchotchkes, which were unused and unnecessary… I felt amazing. 

I always thought I would miss some things, or feel guilty for giving them up,  but the reality has been the opposite. We sold the giant leather chair for $220 (which paid for much needed nursing bras and nursing clothing), and gave old tables that my parents had given us to charity. My hutch is almost completely cleaned out and my “keepsakes” have been reduced to a J Crew bootbox full of memorabilia, photos, and cards. My house is cleaner, less cluttered, and the space is more open and enjoyable. 

Vacuuming was an annoying task because the vacuum was stored in the basement and lugging it upstairs during an autoimmune flare up, or late pregnancy when walking unburdened up the stairs can make one short of breath, can prove to be a cumbersome task. Since I reduced my fabric stash to a single tote that’s stored in the basement, I now have room to keep my vacuum in the hall closet where I used to keep half my fabric. 

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Two bags of garb and one tote of fabric for gold key. (It’s a loaner/start up service that local SCA groups offer to newcomers.)

This is the part that’s hard for medieval reenactors to consider: reducing items that are associated with their past time. Academic people in general have a tendency towards hoarding books and papers (another thing I had to purge), but when you’re a reenactor, it becomes easy to accumulate a lot of materials that “fuel” the hobby. Before my last move, I had totes of medieval books and ultimately reduced my collection to a banker box of books I actually need. (As opposed to books on medieval architecture that I’m never going to use because I’m a clothier.) The reality is that I was never going to use the fabric I gave away, it was just getting in the away of other projects: living rent-free in my house, if you will. Also, since I donated the fabric to gold key, someone who needs it can use it whereas keeping it for myself in the idea that I might need it was simply selfish. As for the books, well, some of the reference books in print, especially the older ones, can contain information that is out of date, so it’s often better to rely on resources like inter library loans, jstor etc, rather than spending quite large sums of money for books that can misinform you if you’re not careful. Furthermore, if you’ve never carved wood in the entire half decade or more that you’ve been a reenactor, perhaps it would be better to donate the books accumulated on the subject so that someone who would benefit from them can either acquire them for free or purchase them at a discounted rate. 

Once I freed myself from the “but I might need that,” mentality and started being honest with myself, (ie “I haven’t used it in five years, why would I start now,”) it became much easier to say goodbye to things that were just languishing away in storage or things that were only creating clutter for dust to accumulate around and hide behind. 

I thought that decluttering would make my cleaning life simpler by reducing the things I cleaned or had to move in order to clean the surface they were resting on, but the reality is that my house is less dirty as a result. I’ve put dusting on my to-do list twice in as many weeks and have found myself shrugging and finding something else to do because my shelves are less dusty with less clutter. The same goes for my floors. I thought I would need to clean them more with less rugs, but they’ve bothered me much less, even to the point that I’ve been able to run the vacuum without compulsively mopping afterward. (Something which I had never been able to do before.) 

 

The ability to feel that my house is in order even when I haven’t “deep cleaned” it is essential for someone like me who is chronically ill and needs tranquility to rest. (I’m the sort of person who can’t rest when my house is dirty. The dirtier my house gets, the more stressed and depressed I get.) It takes the away the guilt that comes with finishing a day having only done half the things on my to-do list, or laying down to sleep with Himself cuddled up next to me even though I had planned to clean the bathroom. 

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Since posting this article, I eliminated my rather gross rug and I love how open it makes the small space. Plus, vacuuming and mopping was so much easier today!

Never fear, however! I’m very much a Hygge-Minimalist. I like a cozy space and pretty colors, so I haven’t thrown a beige cover over my tartan sofa or redecorated my room in grays. (Not me at all!) I still have extra pillows in my living room for lumbar support and a throw-blanket for nap time and cuddling with Himself. I’ve simply let go of things that I realized aren’t really me after all, which is what minimalism is really about: reducing the excess in order to live authentically. 

The truth is, I love having a clean house, but I would much rather sit with a book (or my own writing project) and a cup of tea than clean. (Always have, always will.) Minimizing my possessions allows me to do that, which is where the Hygge-stuff comes in. I can’t sew in a dirty house. My floors have to be clean before I will iron fabric that will inevitably come in contact with it. Part of the reason I haven’t pulled out my sewing machine since Lilies (aside from having a bad bout of anemia and being more concerned about my baby coming than the SCA) is that I haven’t felt my staging area was set up. Now it will be much easier. 

 

Minimalism is also good for my family. Himself had dozens of toys he never played with and dozens more he rarely played with. I went through them and (irrespective of who bought them) I bagged up the unplayed-with or forgotten toys, and took them to the Goodwill. As a result, he plays with the toys he has more, probably because he no longer feels overwhelmed by the immense quantity. 

It’s also helped me as a Lady Mother because I no longer find myself being frustrated with toys being all over the floor and, for the most part, he can easily clean up after himself. This has really built his confidence and independence. He loves for things to be tidy and he likes to do it on his own if he can, although he’ll ask me for help if the job feels too big (or too complicated) for him. The fact that I have confidence in him to fulfill a task has built his sense that I trust him which has made our bond even stronger and reciprocally increased his trust in me.

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Big brother, bonding with baby.

 

Hygge is also important for a family because it requires a conscious effort to resist outside obligations or excessive distractions from time together. Our activities and busy social lives can clutter up our lives too.

Moreover, hygge has been extremely beneficial in that it has given me permission to sit down and have a cup of tea or even take a nap when I would normally feel like I need to keep working despite what my body is telling me. When I’m insufficiently rested and recharged, I tend to be more irritable with my family, including my beloved son. When I take the time to take care of myself in addition to Himself, we both have a better day. He laughs with me more than ever these days and I have much more patience with his toddler-ness because my nerves aren’t frayed due to lack of sleep.

Make no mistake, I’m still his Lady Mother and he’s still my son: I take care of him, not the other way around, but he’s learning to be caring and considerate (which I pray for every night) and when I need rest, he generally finds his own entertainment in the living room where I’m laying down or he cuddles with me on the sofa. Many of my naps are interjected with sweet kisses on my cheeks and hugs and I wake up often with a start, anxiously calling for him only to receive his patient reply from beside me. 

Finally, I wish to point out that I’m not trying to tout minimalism and Hygge as solutions to one’s problems. I understand that many people have looked to both as a means of filling internal voids or bringing about inner peace. I think that minimalism and Hygge are beneficial when they come as the result of eliminating the things that distract us from inner peace, but they’re not capable of being the source of inner peace. True peace only comes from God. (I don’t mince it, you know that about me.)

The acquirement and maintenance of material goods requires constant worry. (Worry for what? Keeping up with the Joneses?) The Bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear (which is the extreme of worry), but of peace and sound mind. Jesus also said not to store up treasures on earth, but to store up treasures in heaven. It’s difficult to do the latter, when our focus is on the former. 

My children are my heavenly treasures:  if I can’t give them what they need to store them up because material and outside things are distracting me, then those things need to go. 

 

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Shamless Ladye Moder

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I am a shameless Lady Mother. My son is probably my favorite thing to talk about and, like most parents that millennials and op ed writers can’t seem to stand, I think my child is brilliant and am so proud of the person I see him blossoming into, to see his potential come to the surface. Thankfully, my introverted nature means that the only people with whom I communicate with any regularity are family members or friends who are close enough to find my youngster equally lovable. 

Even so, I still find myself on the receiving end of “mom-shaming,” more frequently than you’d expect, and not, as one is given to believe, from strangers on the street. When I was breast feeding, I was constantly told by one person to cover up despite the fact that Himself would always pull off any cover, even as a newborn, because his little head would get too warm. (Honestly, would you like eating under a blanket?) That person also likened the occasional glimpse of nipple during transition to seeing a penis in the midst of urination, which is the most erroneous and weak comparison used to deride breastfeeding in the world. Then there was the constant pressure to get Himself on a “schedule” when I didn’t live in my own house at the time and could barely establish a routine, much less a schedule. (We did the best we could and he outperformed his peers throughout his first two years of development and continues to do so, so I must have done something right.) 

In the SCA, my Lord Husband and I have both been critiqued for not bringing our son to events (despite the fact that he was miserable at them and made us miserable too), or for avoiding mundane gatherings with his household where virtually everyone reported themselves to be sick.

I have avoided it due to my child being too young as well as not participatory in the SCA, but many other Lady Mother’s have been shamed for not letting their children have enough fun or for not keeping them on a leash at all times. I’ve seen mothers criticized for not continuing in the SCA due to difficulty after their children are born or, conversely, for assuming that, because raising children in the SCA was easy for them, other mothers are just not doing it right.

In reality, I think mom-shaming, like all the other forms of female shaming, is simply something you face as part of the feminine experience. Someday, it would be very interesting to have a conversation with Lord Fathers about how often they have to account for their parenting to people to whom they are not related.

Lately, the mom-shaming, for me,  comes in the form of criticisms. Early this year, I was criticized for not enrolling him in things like swimming lessons even though we simply don’t have room in the budget right now. (Sorry: it’s just not feasible as much as I would like it to be.) I’m also criticized for things we physically don’t have: like a back yard for him to play in because we live in an apartment. Amusingly, I’ve also been asked why haven’t I put a television in my three year old’s bedroom. (Hmmm… Because he’s three and I didn’t have a tv in my room when I was 20, perhaps?) 

I think, though, my favorite instance of mom-shaming was being told, “I expect him to be potty trained the next time I see him.” 

I beg your pardon?

Just so the circumstances are clear, I am his Lady Mother, not a nursemaid hired to raise him according to someone else’s standards and expectations. I’m not someone to be ordered about and certainly not by someone who isn’t my co-parent. (And My Lord Husband knows better.) 

I honestly wouldn’t mind being asked, “Is he potty trained yet?” or, “Is he being a stubborn potty trainer? I’ve heard boys are.” Whereas some independent writers for Popsugar would call this mom-shaming, but I would consider such queries merely concerned curiosity, unless the asker was clearly looking for a dig. However, being ordered to have my son potty trained on someone else’s timeline is too far. As his Lady Mother, I strive to do what is best for him at all times and neither of us need an arbitrary time-frame to meet a developmental milestone. 

Yes, I’ll grant three is a little old and this was not part of my original plan when I was a new mother and thought I could potty train a baby by nine months. That said, Himself has only been three for a month and everything I’ve read has advised putting off potty training when a new sibling is on the way. The reason for this advice is that, as soon as the baby comes home and is changed by Mama (along with everything else little babies need), the older sibling is going to want the same attention and regress. I have a potty and we’ve been going at his pace, but juggling late pregnancy has proven difficult, especially since anemia has put me on the couch for over a week now. He’ll go potty in the toilet if I ask him to, but he’s scared of going number two at this point. When I change him for number two, I drop the contents in the commode and allow Himself to flush so that he learns that all his waste goes there. If he asks me to put on his pull ups, I do. If he insists on his diaper, I tease him that diapers are for babies, but comply. After all, come September, I’ll most likely have to start potty training all over again because he’ll want the same attention I give to his brother.

My goal, not that anyone cared to ask before ordering me about like I’m a Nanny, is to build on the foundations laid over the summer and make Potty Training something special for him to do as a big brother. As I mentioned, I’m not worried that my son is behind developmentally. He can count to ten, recognize all the letters of the alphabet, and can name animals I didn’t even realize he knew. He’s becoming a huge help at home with putting his toys away or sweetly tucking me in when I have to lay down on the sofa. (That’s all him!) When I pick him up from the nursery at church on Sunday, they gush over how well behaved he was and I often find him helping to put toys away. 

I’m not a very indulgent parent: he isn’t allowed to talk back or be rude. I require him to say, “Yes, ma’am,” “Yes, please,” and “Thank you,” whining is never rewarded, and he is absolutely not allowed to deliberately make a mess. (Accidents are fine, but deliberately throwing food on the floor is verboten.) If he doesn’t obey, I tell him he will have to go to bed. It’s been a summer of change and Himself has shown me (for instance with talking) that when he’s ready, he’s ready, and, when he’s not, he’s not. 

He certainly didn’t  talk on my schedule, but once he was ready, he did… and he hasn’t stopped since.

Also, I’m the only person who changes his diapers making me the only one affected by this delayed mile stone. Where his development relates to other people, (ie kindness, manners, and attitude) he’s come leaps and bounds this summer, especially since I cut gluten from his diet. 

Other people can mind their own affairs. 

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Motherhoode, Brotherhoode

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Going to the Labor and Delivery Unit when you’re not set for either is either a huge worry or a huge let-down. Thankfully, for me, it was the latter. Watching mothers being wheeled past with their newborns made me so anxious to hold my own little one. 

It is, however, far too early for my comfort, and I am content to wait another six weeks or so. Himself, on the other hand, was so sweetly elated when I told him we had to go to the hospital and so adorably disappointed when I explained that his baby brother would not be coming home with us. 

In regards to the dissatisfaction of coming home empty handed, it certainly wasn’t helpful for this Lady Mother that people would look at my fecund state and assume I was going for delivery. (I carry out. Five weeks after conception, out pops my baby bump and it simply grows from there.) Alternatively, it was nice that people still assume I’m carrying my first when I’m not with Himself. (At least I look young!)

I hope that Himself instinctually knows how important he is to me, that having another baby simply compounds my love for him as well. Every appointment, I think I find myself talking as much about my first pregnancy as I do this one: the differences, the similarities. 

Himself will be a wonderful big brother: he loves babies and he loves to make others laugh. I think those are the two most important qualities for a brother to have. Moreover, there’s a nurturing side to Himself that I look forward to seeing cultivated by the presence of someone smaller after whom he can look. (He takes care of me when he can, sweet lad!) 

I can’t wait to hold both my babies in my arms again. 

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A Motheres Cares

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed that (aside from discussing health issues), I tend to focus on the positive. It’s not that I delude myself for one minute that I’m a perfect Lady Mother, I just have never felt the need to publicly discuss Himself’s temper tantrums, the fact that it has not escaped my notice that the one friend who asked repeatedly to babysit him has never offered again (not that I blamed her), or the fact that I’m married to Günther Klaus von Stuttgart and every so often I feel an irrepressible urge to pummel him with pillows. 

I put on my clothes one item and appropriate appendage at a time, the same as the next Lady Mother, and I face my own challenges, just as we all do.  I have lost my temper with Himself, I miss the signs that he’s overwhelmed and put him in situations where he’s bound for a meltdown, and there have been times when I know I’ve been too strict with him.

This happens to all of us. Thankfully, if we learn from our mistakes, so will our children and the bond grows stronger. 

Lately, though, I’ve felt overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy as a mother. The projects that I wanted to have completed by now have not even begun and it frustrates me that the funds aren’t there to meet the needs of my unborn baby, much less my own needs. A couple months ago, I started a chart of how many hours I needed to work to pay for the remaining big ticket items on my baby list and each time I would achieve a tally mark, my paycheck, which is supposed to be for miscellaneous spending has had to be used to pay for necessities like groceries.

This is the sort of thing that utterly deflates a mother, especially one who is pregnant. The deep-seeded need to create a nest for her little one is strong and having her object thwarted is crushing. It makes one doubt herself as a parent and provider. 

The sheer weight of it has made me, personally, want to sell anything of value in order to be able to provide for Baby Sunflower, but I know it’s a cheap fix that will do little to fix the long term problem. My mother went without a wedding ring for years because it went to pay bills and we still continued to struggle. The only thing selling it did was assuage the guilt of having a nice piece of jewelry when the electricity was being turned off. —Once the jewelry was gone, the electricity would still be threatened a month later and there would be nothing left to sell to bandage the problem. 

Motherhood is hard. Adulthood is hard. Pregnancy is hard. It was never my intention to give the perception that it was anything else, I just never felt that harping on the negative was worthwhile… but there are times when the negative just becomes crushing. That’s life and the hormones do not help. 

The truly important I know that my little one is healthy and, aside from some anemia and a lot of stress, so am I. Himself seems to lack for nothing and constantly amazes me with his growth and maturation. My children are my treasures and, if Himself taught me anything, it’s that all he needs is Mama to hold him. 

In the mean time, it’s just going to take a lot of prayer to muddle through. 

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More Nesting…

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I really should stop moving large pieces of furniture by myself,  but My Lord Husband will be working from home for two days a week starting Monday and he needs a space for a desk where Himself can’t come torment him.

(Yes, I know: I’ve been working from home for nearly three years in kitchens and living rooms, but I’m a Lady Mother and my threshold is much higher than my distractable beloved. I also work with fellow-recluses who rarely have conference calls and who like Himself far more than they like me, so they don’t mind hearing my toddler in the back ground when we do have brief phone calls. —I really do love my colleagues.)

The red chair will have to be put in storage and the table will need to be relocated,  but I was able to push the dresser around the room, I’m not foolish enough to carry anything down two flights of stairs. (One maybe…)

My next step will be moving the bedside table on the left of the bed down stairs to serve as a new coffee table, put the bedside table on the right of the bed at the foot of the bed (which will make my own Lady Mother will cringe), and shift the whole bed to the left to make room for the crib.

I don’t recall having the nesting urge like this with Himself,  but it was my first pregnancy and I think I was more afraid than anything.

 

 

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Nesting Mothere Byrde…

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This afternoon in a fit a pique, I decided to rearrange my living room all by myself to make a space for the Baby who has not yet earned a cheeky nick-name like Himself. Why I decided to move practically every piece of furniture in my living room singlehandedly is beyond me as I sit writing and trying to recover my energy, but I feel satisfied to be a step closer to having my home ready to welcome a new baby. (Nesting is a real thing!)

Since this isn’t my first tournament (although the second foray is not without surprises!), I know that practically every room of the house is a Baby’s room, not just the nursery. That’s why instead of a stationary swing, I’ve put a portable, battery operated swing that can be moved to any room and even traveled with on my Baby Wish List on Amazon. It’s also why I plan to get a glider rocker for the living room as well as my bedroom, and why I have a pack’n’play set up in the living room. 

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Himself came downstairs from his nap and exclaimed, “You got the Baby!!!” I, once again, had to explain to him that the Baby is still growing in Mama’s yummy.

The one problem? 

Well, it’s not so much of a problem as it is a preference. I mentioned in my last post that I don’t like taking pack’n’plays to Reenacting events because they’re so glaringly modern. On that same note, when I look at the pack’n’play in the corner, I just feel it’s not the least bit homey or welcoming.

As previously stated, I’m working out how to make an SCA-friendly cover for pack’n’plays, but, I think I will also have to make a more modern cover to make it look more like a bassinet in my living room, rather than a mesh cage. Unfortunately, I have to wait for payday before I got to the fabric store.

When Himself wasn’t co-sleeping, (my Lord Husband and I are proud co-sleepers), he slept in the pack’n’play pictured. At the time, I didn’t have room for the crib my co-workers bought me, so I exchanged it and bought lots of other baby stuff (including a blanket he still uses) and utilized the pack’n’play. My lady cousin, who has three children, has sworn off cribs as a waste of money and only uses pack’n’plays for her babies. I see her point, but I’m in nesting-mode and there is little stopping me from getting the Hensvik crib from IKEA that I’ve been yearning for for months. (Especially since I discovered that you can leave off one side of the crib and zip tie it to your bed for a long term co-sleeper!) That said, pack’n’plays are an economical, one-stop choice for the minimalist parent and there are plenty ways to make them more inviting and beneficial for the long term.

Get an extra pad for comfort. Would you like to sleep on half an inch of padding? Exactly. Mine came with two fitted sheets and I supplemented by fitting a blanket around the sides for extra comfort. I also believe strongly in the use of sheepskin for babies, but I recognize I’m in the minority. 

Also, like any crib, your pack’n’play should be stripped of anything that baby can get in his or her face and block air flow. There are, however, other ways to liven things up: the addition of a mobile or arch you can hang soft, baby safe toys from is a welcome stimulant for baby as he or she plays. You can also tape art to the wall at Baby’s eye level. 

(My pack’n’play came with an arch that had hearts and stars that attached with Velcro. When Himself was little, I removed them and hung Winnie the Pooh characters with bells inside that were meant to be hung from car-seat handles.) 

Finally, stay tuned for my notes on how to make a pack’n’play cover that will (hopefully) get your Lady Mother off your back about getting a crib. 😉