motherhood

RAIN USHERS SPRING + MOTHERING TWO

 
blooming crocuses in springtime by samantha spigos
purple walled room with children bookcase filled with colorful toys and books by samantha spigos

The crocuses bloomed in our front flower bed, and Mark reports seeing red-winged blackbirds in the fields. These are the surest signs of spring I know of and, gah-lee, are they a gift. The purples, greens, and yellows — every shade of the oncoming season — is electric. Delicate and mighty; not unlike how I want to be. Crocuses are particularly enchanting, and if it weren’t such an ugly word, I might name our next child Crocus. (Cute nicknames, though, am I right? . . . little Croc-y, baby Cus Cus.) In Ohio we’ll soon be getting fragrance drunk on lilac, encouraging the peony ants, and cutting the Easter lilies. Mark and I have Big Plans including but not limited to two apple trees and a lilac bush. But first, the rain.

“If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose,

spring would lose its loveliness.”

— St. Thérèse of Lisieux

mother and child resting on a couch by samantha spigos

I stepped away from social media again, and if this last year of being back on Instagram after 2+ years away has shown me something, it is that I am not well suited to it. Our feed looks nice. I try to engage rather than scroll. I enjoy the visually pleasing content of others, and certainly the users we follow have helped to educate me. Yet, over and over and over, I am left with a hunger that Instagram will never sate. To be sure, it never claimed to, but there are those who seek to assign meaning to most things in life (hi!) for whom social media cannot live up to expectation. A connection chimera. Being removed from such a fast-paced, condensed world is like breathing new air. That, and the crocuses. In the brain and time space that has opened up since, I have become more familiar to myself. Like, hey girl, there you are. Certainly there remains a bit of agitation — part and parcel with any practice in detachment. When I cast aside my fear of stepping away (I will never be known! Our farm that we don’t have will never prosper! I will be forgotten!), I found that fear is nothing more than an invasive weed, stealing the sunlight from the tender, sprouting seeds below. But seeds are tenacious, and need only a bit of sunlight to begin to sprout. Sunlight, and the rain.

Oh, and another thing . . .

pregnant woman stands in front of two sourdough bread loaves by samantha spigos

During the autumn of last year, Mark and I welcomed a new life into my womb. I hardly know why today, the first day of Spring, is when I feel ready to share the news. I have worn the knowledge of this baby quietly and close to my heart, like a warm base layer. My body was quick to make the adjustment, knowing just what to do (the way bodies do), while my heart and mind adapted much slower. No one asked me to hurry. I made no public internet announcements. I walked the streets of town pondering what it meant to be a mother to a second person. I rejoiced in giving my daughter a sibling. I grieved the loss of my life as I had known it. By day I would admire my sister’s dance of mothering five children. By night I would posit questions into my husband’s ear about how we would possibly survive. Every time I named a fear and gave it over to God, surrendering my false sense of control, it was quelled. I am continually amazed at how I can go from panic to peace in a matter of seconds — seconds! — when I let go of the vice grip I try to maintain on my circumstance. Mine was (is) a slow unfolding into mothering a second child. And sharing the news with you, dear readers, is a joy. Will you walk this journey with me once more? Will you share with me your experience with a second child, or your desire to have a first, or why you love being an uncle or aunt? Finally, has spring touched your corner of the globe?


—S

THE ABUNDANCE IN UNKNOWING

 
Abundance Surrounds Us Foraged Mushroom Photo by Samantha Spigos
Abundance Surrounds Us Cloth Diaper Baby by Samantha Spigos
Abundance Surrounds Us Mother Daughter by Samantha Spigos

There's a Hungarian bakery in the neighboring town. It serves as the one and only place Mark and I have gone on a "date" since having a baby, and in fact the baby has joined us on both such dates. We head there for poppyseed strudel and cappuccinos. If we're being honest with ourselves, the cappuccinos we make at home are superior, and we are decidedly Bagel People. That's not why we go. We go to dream up the fields and forest of our someday land. We go to listen to the ramblings and visions of the other. We go to say Yes to a dream of a pink plaster kitchen (mine) and of growing a plot of wheat just to make a single loaf of bread (his). We go to see each other with fresh eyes. We leave deeming that This is Our Year, and it always is! When we get home—and this is the important part—the very spot we’re in feels brighter.

I admire the thick, worn lines of the kitchen. How they are precise and chaotic, all at once, I cannot say. After a year, and after dozens of loaves of bread, I finally understand the oven and where her hot spots live (right side, towards the front). I tell myself I could live here forever; I might never be ready to leave the room where my baby was born. And yet . . . and yet. What I desire in that deep, unquenchable way — I think it’s called a calling — is not here. We don’t know where it is, and that’s OK. As the weather turns, and I feel myself inhaling the crisp air I long for all summer long, I am resting in the OK-ness of not knowing. For eight months I have been learning how to be a new person; a person I never knew before. To put it far too simply, there has been much to discover and uncover. I am still a brand new woman, reborn in motherhood and learning through immersion. It’s clear that ours is a life with a slow unfolding. For now, baby; For then, farm. A divine hand is happily at work, this I know. The land and farm we desire is yet unknown, but the life we desire is the very one we’re living. Fancy that.

Abundance Surrounds Us Fall Donuts County Fair by Samantha Spigos
Abundance Surrounds Us Sourdough and Organic Tomatoes by Samantha Spigos
Abundance Surrounds Us Seasonal Flower Bouquet Dahlias Zinnias by Samantha Spigos

In other news. . .

I recently had an essay of creative nonfiction published in Taproot Magazine, titled “Cattail Day”. It was my first piece of writing published in print, and I am still overjoyed that it was included. If you are inclined to my style of writing, you will probably enjoy every piece in Taproot. I hoped to include a link for purchase, if you were interested, but I see that the issue that includes my essay is sold out! An excerpt from “Cattail Day”:

“More than twenty years later,

I anticipate the day I can welcome my own daughter into the magic of unknowing,

the sort that beckons even adults to enter into the mystery of Wonder.”


—S

MOTHERHOOD RISING

 
Mark and Sam 9 2017.jpg

Happy 2018! If by chance you, like us, have ushered in the new year under the deep freeze of Winter, I hope it has been coupled with warming beverages and hearty food. More than that, I hope you and yours have stayed safe and well shielded from the elements. My heart feels very drawn to the poor and homeless among us seeking shelter and sustenance. In my rural locale you don't see homeless men and women on the streets, but if I did, I wonder how I might respond. I hope with a charitable, trusting heart. If nothing else, now is a time of year to work on being genuinely grateful for a warm home and ample clothing, not begrudging of the inconveniences the cold brings. Following along with our farmer friends in the Northeast is no joke — it's cold, and while animals and farmers alike are hardy, they are all pushing the limits of their working bodies. If you are one of the many working with and through the elements, bless you! And thank you. 

Mark and Sam 11 2017.jpg
Mark and Sam 3 2017.jpg

I am acutely aware of how different life would be if we hadn't moved home. For one thing, we'd be in this cold every day, caring for goats. At least, Mark would be. I might be wiling away the time knitting by our woodstove. Ah, how we long for you, woodstove! I miss putting my body outdoors and feeling the harsh air on my cheeks. I miss throwing hay and crunching snow under my work boots. This year, instead of all that manual labor, I am hugely pregnant, preparing for the biggest labor of my life, and walking up and down stairs is enough. All of my body's resources are inwardly focused—baby gets (and deserves) it all. 

We are mere days away from being cataclysmically blindsided with love when our baby finally comes earth-side. Every day is a lesson in patience as I slowly waddle around my house and wonder when shim will feel ready to be born. Every day is a lesson in cherishing this fleeting time when it's still just Mark and I. Every day is a lesson in forfeiting the desires of self for the needs of the baby. Here we are, nine months into a whirlwind pregnancy that started with us feeling scared and excited, and wraps up with us feeling eager and oh-so-ready. I want to be a mother. Mark wants to be a father. Every night before bed, and every morning when we wake, we talk about cuddling our child. Our very own! An actual breathing, thinking, sentient human being. Is there anything so equally magical and practical as new life? Advancing the race is the purpose of being alive, and yet it is the most miraculous act I can possibly conceive of. Motherhood, I'm coming for you.

Mark and Sam 6 2017.jpg

Photos were taken at 36 weeks by our dearly beloved best friend, Andrew Enslen.


—S

A WOMAN LIKE HER

 

Mark and I generally envisioned this blog being about beekeeping and hearty roast recipes and goat herding. To a degree, it is. The thing is that life is swirling and twirling and moving and shaking with the grandeur of family, of life and of death, of encounters with faith and with humanity that change your heart forever. And how can Mark and I possibly keep to writing about the goat roast we ate last week when these currents are happening elsewhere? To us it would seem inauthentic, and thus our blog is 50% farmstead writing and 50% super personal writing. Cue this week, in which my mama Retires. Capital R, Retires. She has engendered real change, genuine growth, and joyous communion with, literally, thousands of people—all because of her simple way. Her deep optimism, which says that life and people are Good, suffuses a room—a whole company, actually—with such light, such warmth, that it can feel impossible to step away. As her youngest daughter, I am heartily biased, but actually I am blessedly privileged. She is mine, as much as someone can be someone else's. To me and her kin, she is the queen of our hearts. I am awash with all of the pride and gratitude that one can feel for a mama who devoted decades of hard work in order to create something better for her family, for her employees, for her company. Just like her dad, my remarkable grandpa in Heaven, she shows dignity to everyone. There are no caveats, no exemptions from this dignity. It is her simple way. How could I not write about this moment? I am continually moved by this awe-some mama. To be a woman like her: my greatest dream. In her words, which are more elegant than my own:

"So this is a big week in my life. An ending, a closure, a turning point. This is my last week working as a store manager for Walmart. I am turning in my keys and the responsibility that goes with them after a 19 year career. I want to let you know that as much as I am looking forward to focusing on my precious family and my own business, this is bittersweet. I can not say loudly enough what Walmart has done for me, my family, and more people than I can count.
I would never have dreamed that this stay at home Mom, looking for extra money for Christmas gifts, would take a job stocking overnights and end up managing 500 people and a $115 million dollar store. I had ZERO retail experience and no college degree when I took that temporary position. This company backed me every step of the way-seeing and believing in a potential I didn't recognize. I was encouraged, challenged, trained and given opportunity to advance. It was tough-of course it was, it always is, right? Great effort does yield great reward. This is the thing I want every person to know-in all the sound bites of negativity, Walmart takes a beating. I have never encountered the company that is often depicted. My experience is not unique, it is repeated all across the country/world every day..I look at people I have hired for those "low paying jobs" and who are now on their way to doing even better than I. I can't count how many associates I have seen take off and build careers. I smile thinking that someday they may be afforded the chance to teach training classes at the home office to new store managers like I did, or stand on the big stage at a company convention in front of 11,000 people and speak like I did, or sit at the table with community leaders and contribute to projects that impact our neighbors like I did..
I could go on for a long time, and I already have, but it is important to me that you know the truth of my experience, and the honor I was given, and the pride I have as a Store Manager for Walmart. My friends and coworkers- I will love and miss you. And Walmart-I am forever grateful to you.
Peace and joy to all."

[P.S. Happy Valentine's Day! This is my second favorite holiday and to celebrate we are hosting a big, full-bellied feast with all of our pals out here. I hope you give an extra smooch to your partner, or your pet, or the earth!]


—S