Andy worked out of town, off the grid last week. He came home to my gimpy thumb, a sick daughter and a very messy house. He grinned through his thick auburn beard, two kids clung to his legs and told me I’d done a good job. Really, I suppose I did. The kids and animals were fed and warm. I was partially fed and warm.
He talked about the week he’d had with four other dudes at the cabin which I am pretty sure I’m not allowed to go into here. Let’s just say the whole work hard, play hard bell rung loudly, daily. He said it is always so weird to be so disconnected for days, to come back and realize how much happens in a week of our life. This led to a long conversation about plugging in and unplugging and what we want, how we want to live.
My mom bought us the Little House series for Christmas and we dove right in. We read a few chapters every night and I love this routine so much.
There’s the wonderful conversation about how it was for our great great grandparents to live – here – not so long ago. And there’s the excitement over reading, each kid wanting my arm around them. And there’s the dark cold outside, our bodies flat under down and wool, our worn book lit by the warmth of my bedside light.
Ruby falls asleep within the first two pages. Margot snuggles her cheetah and chews on every word stopping me every so often to say things like “I especially like real stories like this.” I ask why. “Because then we get to hear a cool story and also learn stuff. It’s awesome.”
It’s easy for me to imagine Andy as Charles, building our log home and telling fireside stories to our girls at night; it’s easy to imagine Margot and Ruby as Laura and Mary, fetching firewood, playing all day in a tree and milking our cow. I could have been Caroline. I would have loved it, I think. It’s easy to imagine me mending clothes, making cornbread and cheese, spending my days caring for the home and family and noticing every detail of the day’s weather, every undulation of the landscape. I know it was harder than hell. But it is oh so easy for me to romanticize pioneer life.
In our world of grocery stores, cars, instagram and running water, I am thankful for the conveniences of today. AND I want a little bit more of less. Our family unit thrives in screen-free, dirt-digging togetherness. I want to appreciate and take advantage of the benefits of technology and advancements, always with one foot in the homestead life of my ancestors. I am Ma. With a headlamp and an iphone.