Beth Declercq is a homemaking, homeschooling, homesteading mama to six.
She is passionate about raising food on their 5 acre Michigan homestead, restoring their late 1800’s Victorian, drinking lots of coffee, crocheting, and frequenting the flea market in the summertime.
I didn’t grow up on a farm.
I didn’t have any interest in growing food as a kid and honestly – until my second pregnancy at age 21 I never really even thought about what I was eating or where it came from.
We gradually eased into this lifestyle over the last 10 years. The more children we added, the more variety of food we produced. All of our kids have basically lived with some type of food production around them for their entire lives.
They know how unbearably long it takes for a small seed to finally produce something edible.
They know “the good milk” isn’t available for a few months each year.
They know winter doesn’t just mean sledding – it means frozen waterers and lots of hay bales stashed away to build forts in.
For the most part, our kids love this life we’ve created for them. They are on board with all the new projects, get excited with each season, and yes – they’re still normal kids and complain about their chores… but none of them wish they lived “in town”.
Being able to build our own homestead has been my (and my husband’s) biggest dream. My list of new projects and ideas for this land is never ending. Of course, food production is the main focus… but this is life is more than food for me. It’s also my creative outlet, an opportunity to learn new things, and a way to challenge myself.
The worst part about homesteading with kids is balancing my dreams, desires, and “to do lists”… with theirs. And I’m not just talking about them wanting to ride bikes vs. picking up cow pies.
I’m talking about them each wanting their own bed in “my” garden plot.
Or insisting on growing a flower I don’t particularly feel matches my aesthetic.
Or wanting to name a baby pig after a Wild Kratts character.
Or wanting to paint the barn purple instead of red (okay – we did put our foot down on that one).
The worst part about homesteading with kids – and really motherhood in general – is the amount of opportunities to face my own selfishness.
Because right now, I have kids that are pretty accepting and on board with growing food. Even if they don’t all choose this lifestyle when they grow up, I want them to not only carry the skills we’ve learned and taught them, but also a sense of connection, and appreciation of where their food comes from.
I know how thrilling it is to flip through a seed catalog and make a list of your favorite things. I know how fulfilling it is to knead dough with your own hands then enjoy a slice fresh form the oven. I have to be willing to share those experiences though. I can’t keep them all for myself. I can’t tell them “no” to every single thing now – and expect them to still feel excitement and eagerness to try those things later. I have to let go of some of my vision, for them.
Even if it means some of the applesauce turns out a little chunky.
Even if it means the onions are planted in more of a squiggle line than a straight one.
Even if it means we end up planting 8 types of popcorn.
Sharing those choices with them, I hope, will help them connect and appreciate this life. But at the very least, I think giving up control of every detail and letting them in on this dream of mine will ultimately help make me a better mother.
Making me a better mother.
Maybe it’s not the worst thing after all then?