... towards a more intentional ife
How did our family get to where we are today? We are a family of eight – Mom, Dad and six children that range from almost 2 years to almost 16 years of age.
It is a long story and it has been a long journey, one that we continue to travel. Because, isn’t that what life is ~ a journey, there really is no taa daa!, no, well, here we are! Or we did it, now we can just stop…. No, life is a journey and a truly joyful one at that.
The post that I read today at Earth Mama made me realize that I need to be more open here – to share more about where our family used to be and where we are today.
My husband and I met at college and were married 5 years later. Within two years we had our first son and then another 23 months later. Within this time we bought our first home, a fixer upper in a modest neighborhood in a small town in western Massachusetts and a new car (a brand new ford escort – remember those?).
Oh, we were so worldly back then. Talking about refinancing our home to fix it up (which we did and rolled our already way to numerous credit cards into it as well). I bought conventional food at the large grocery stores, new clothes, play pens, jumpers, and all the works for the new babies. My husband was a superintendent at the golf course in town. That is what he had gone to college to do. He made a decent salary – not sure I remember exactly but maybe $35,000 and this was back in 1994/5. I was just oh, so sure that we needed a little more income so stayed on with the company I had previously worked for in a part time capacity and even left my precious babies with a not so comfortable feeling for me, home daycare provider. This only lasted two weeks as I came to my senses.
But during this time, we started racking up the credit cards that we had paid off with our home equity once again because we surely need this and that and of course this – stuff!!
And Chinese food at least once a week with a fast food visit thrown in there as well (usually eating at the food court in the mall). (Wow, I can hardly believe I am writing this as I don’t think I have even walked into a mall for two years or more.)
We decided we truly needed a better, bigger home just another two years later and the housing market was up – so why not??
And that is just what we did. In the meantime we also bought a new mini-van – with a near $500/month payment. Sure, we could afford the payments, right? My husband had received a pay raise each year and would surely continue to do so.
Something inside me though has always felt that the mainstream way of living was the only way and that there must be another way. I had the stirrings even in college. I wasn’t hanging out with the crunchy crowds, but I did like to hang out in the natural food store and read some of the publications I would pick up there.
And I did have my first three babies with a midwife (and the next three as well). I had always felt that there was no need for a doctor, that having a baby was a natural part of living not a medical condition. I had been reading Mothering magazine nearly since our first child was born and slowly, oh so slowly I began to listen to that little voice inside me that the way of the world was not the way for me.
However, now that we had our third son in the summer of 1998, our new to us larger home with a larger payment and a brand new mini van and all of our credit card payments not to mention our student loan payments, my husband starting seeking new golf course superintendent jobs at more prestigious golf courses. Why? He just thought that was what you do – keep moving up in the professional world – more recognition, more money and we would soon learn many more headaches and time away from family.
He did land that job which brought us to eastern Massachusetts, where I grew up and this brought us closer to my family. His salary was now $75,000 in the fall of 1998 and we were in a rental home in a suburb. While we had woods behind us and the town is small, the people were so different and from the beginning I knew I didn’t fit in. I was changing (or more correctly, letting my true self come through).
Well, as we spent more money on more things and lost sight of what was important, God knew what he was doing – my husband was let go just one year after being hired. It was time for us to get real. On that following Monday we learned that I was pregnant. Mike had a bit of money from the golf course and then unemployment so we could survive for a time.
I immediately wanted to follow our dreams (I realize now as I am writing this that these dreams must have been part of me for many years, maybe since I was a child.) My idea was for us to up and move to our most favorite place in the world at that time. Why not? We had nothing to lose. Woodstock, Vermont here we come. We went up to visit, found a house to rent and found that there were jobs. (of course making a small salary compared to his old job, but there were plenty of jobs in this vibrant tourist area) I called and scheduled the moving truck and then my husband said he couldn’t do it.
We ended up moving back to western Massachusetts where he took the position of a golf course mechanic at the original golf course he started at as the assistant out of college. I think he was making maybe $15.00 an hour. We found a not very nice apartment and lived this way for a short time until we found a house to rent in a rural setting that we could not afford. However, while we lived in this rental with a beautiful setting in the woods I read Countryside Magazine, staring knitting gnomes and selling them online, and planted my first wee garden. Also, I learned about not vaccinating, eating organic, and that not everyone lived the way we had been. There were people living authentic lives doing what they chose to do and were free of excessive bills . I read and I read and I learned and I learned.
Our bills, however, piled up again! We headed back to eastern Massachusetts and lived in an apartment while my husband commuted to just south of Boston to work for a large lawn care and tree company. He made $19.00 there. Money was still tight but we worked on paying off our debts now. I realized that this was the first step to being able to live a purposeful life. At this time I was pregnant with our fifth baby, 2003. I was ready to cut costs dramatically. At this time, I started shopping consignment shops. I realized that not only was this good for the pocketbook, but it was really good for our earth. I knew more than ever that I wanted away from this suburban lifestyle where I definitely did not fit in.
My homesteading dream was evolving into more of a possibility. I would leave magazines out for my husband to read and read out loud to him if I had to. I knew that he had to believe like I did, that one could live simply without a large income, grow our own food, work with our hands, and all with reverence for the earth. I also knew that my dream would never come true unless my husband grew his faith in God. Through faith comes gratitude and the ability to be content. With faith I was able to let go of worldly ideals. With faith I knew that God would provide. We had come to believe that God would provide if we left our family size up to Him. It is amazing that with each pregnancy, as I look back, was in such perfect timing. (another post about this at another time).
That is it for today. I must do the day’s baking and homeschooling.