By Jacinda Gilligan
In the end it was courage I needed. Courage to step out onto a path of raising children that was so well worn by generations of family history and the confidence in our ability to carve out our own haven: one that reflected mine and my partner’s shared values and our own family culture.
Isn’t this every new family’s wish?
Birthing at home created our first opportunity to begin writing our own family story: a good place to start. I wanted to feel my own power and experience the intimacy and sacredness of giving birth and we knew this wasn’t possible in a hospital environment.
Both our girls were born at home without interference.
As we grew as parents, we learnt to trust our children and follow their lead more each day. For us, parenting unfolded as respectful relationships do, growing from a place of trust.
Trusting that we are born curious.
Trusting that challenging behaviour is an expression of an unmet need.
Trusting that we all are on the spectrum of life-long learning, some of us further along that spectrum than others.
We listened and we watched and we found what to do next.
Not going to school was inevitable.
Our lifestyle is family and community-centred, we enjoy being together and we like scheduling our own lives. The girls’ lives are rich with play, exploration and discovery, and their relationships grow out of authentic connections they make.
The community is rich with endless possibilities; people want to share their ideas and skills and tapping into this certainly makes for fertile ground to grow from.
Today is our day at the local community garden: a place that has become like a second home for our family. Each week we plant the earth and gather the harvest. We have made friends who have become family and have both welcomed new babies and farewelled dear friends from this world. Of course the garden is also a conduit for other local news and events and this helps weave our lives into the daily fabric of our community.
But lets be clear, every day is not a blissful unfolding of natural learning. Some days are hard: our personalities rub up against each other, the housework seems insurmountable, the weather gets us down. There are also just some days that I doubt myself. What keeps us going is remembering that perfection is not our aim. Rather we keep opening our minds and our hearts to living well with ourselves and each other, learning what we need to along the way.
We continue to co-create our lives as we have from the beginning, following our interests and connecting with our community. Choosing to keep the girls out of institutional schooling has allowed us to inhabit our own lives now and not wait only for the weekends to live well. Much like birthing at home, this has allowed all of us to keep the joy and the struggle of our lives in our own hands, grateful for the freedom and the time to cultivate for ourselves a purposeful and meaningful life.
Jacinda lives in the Lyttelton Harbour Basin with her partner and 2 girls and writes at www.watchingkereru.blogspot.com and is part of the collective writing about building community at www.lyttel-town.blogspot.com