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The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

18th January 2018

Our little tribe of three was born to live bare-foot in a wooden lodge on the edge of a forest, watched over by mountains and fed by glistening waters.... writes Gemma West

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

18th January 2018

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

18th January 2018

We were meant to spend our days making and creating with our hands, celebrating our bodies with yoga and fresh air and meals made from foods we have grown or foraged, marvelling at the beauty of the seasons as we wander the woods and gather treasures and return home to make art or tell stories inspired by them by the fire. Our days right now aren’t quite that dream; my husband has a very conventional job that keeps him busy and us moving every few years, and we live in a terraced house surrounded by buildings. Before we had our daughter, we were so busy with work and volunteering and friends and wonderful travel that the inner itch to live a more natural and simple life was easy to put off.

Once this little bundle came along, and we fully embraced breastfeeding and co-sleeping and what seemed to us responding to our child in the way that seemed the most natural to us, it became more and more apparent how far we had drifted from the life we meant to lead. Gentle parenting is still counter-cultural, and I longed for a patch of land to roam freely, a simple life that supported connection and contentment and a tribe who understood why I wouldn’t sleep train, or why my toddler was playing naked in the mud.

This isn’t the fairy tale where I tell you how my husband took the gamble and left his job, and we built that little eco-lodge and now we roam barefoot every day, surrounded by our kindred tribe. This is the ‘our journey to’ story; less glamorous, less exciting, but so very important to us. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the three of us and our dog went down to the river after a stressful week of too much doing and not enough being. The joy we felt as we jumped in the water, made mud-castles, swung on the rope swing and searched through the woods for berries to add to our picnic was overwhelming. In that afternoon of simple pleasures we remembered that this was the life that we had wanted when we were young and full of dreams, the life that we assumed would magically happen for us but that couldn’t be further from our everyday now. That night I decided that we needed a plan, to be more intentional in manifesting this life we wanted. So we came up with one. To save the money to buy the land, to start working up a business on the side so that we had some assurance that we could manage after my husband left his job. And it felt great. Then we realised this plan would take years. YEARS! And that was the night that I committed myself. Not just to the long term, let’s live our dream lives plan. But to living the journey too. Because life is beautiful and wonderful but it can be short and scary and unpredictable. I didn’t want to be so busy that I forgot to work towards our dreams, but these years of working towards them could be all we get, so I didn’t want to press pause on joy as we waited for things to be perfect.

So the very next day I committed to finding a little piece of that wilder freer life, every day. I got some waterproof trousers to go with my daughter’s puddlesuit and we would go for a stomp in the woods despite the Yorkshire wind and rain. We started learning (slowly, we have a lot of learning to go!) what we could forage that time of year, then go in search of treasures, then bring them home to find a new recipe to use what we found. I got my daughter her own yoga matt, and instead of waiting for her to fall asleep, then trying to extract myself from her sleeping limbs, we would start the day by lighting a candle, filling a gratitude jar and doing some yoga. So my practice involved a lot of stopping for giggles, and cuddles and questions. But I actually had the daily yoga practice I had always figured I would get round to ‘one day’. I vowed to slowly be more mindful of the products that we used. Each time something ran out, I would research alternatives, then we would either set out to the health store or make magic happen in our kitchen. It took longer to make
our own soaps/cleaners/deodorants with a two year old helping, but we were being more mindful of what we were using, plus I could actually answer the ever inquisitive toddler questions about what things were made of and why! Instead of waiting until she slept to do some self-care, that inevitably got pushed aside by chores or social commitments, I started journaling every day and making vision boards or art instead of scrolling through social media and numbing out in the moments when she played by herself. And to my surprise my little wildling didn’t resist me trying to do something for myself, but she did ask questions and pay attention and then start to do the same things herself! We cut out the many groups I had felt compelled to do with her, and our afternoons were finding pine cones to paint with, and climbing trees and baking with foraged foods and dancing in the woods and in the rain instead of art groups and gym classes and baking groups and dance classes. Once I took the time to stop and look up I also started to find my tribe. I met some incredible women, women who smiled when my daughter was playing barefoot in the mud and said ‘yes, let’s all take our shoes off’.

So for now, our lives look to the outside world very much the same as they were before. But my soul feels lighter and we laugh more. As much as I look forward to the days where we live barefoot in that cabin, our days now are marked with ritual, and wild time, with connection and intention.

We have moved again, so that land where we first really began to feel grounded, and that tribe who lifted my spirit are a plane ride away now. But this starting over feels very different. Our little tribe of three has our long-term game plan, and we grow closer to our ‘every days’ looking like those ‘one days’ just as my stomach grows and flutters begin the gentle tickles of hope and wonder. I know what to prioritise now, I know that as easy as it is to get busy, to get pulled in to how life should look when you’re surrounded by a
world that has so many expectations and demands so much of us, that we need our slice of wild and wonder. That this very moment is a treasured gift, and nothing beyond it is promised to us. So we won’t let the enormity of our wildest dreams of ‘one day’ stop us from living the very best lives that we can live today.

Gemma is a Northern Ireland based mama, writer and play therapist seeking out moments of wonder and wild amidst the everyday. She loves hot tea, the open forest, soul searching conversations, mountains on the horizon and her daughter’s hand in hers as they fall asleep. Connect on instagram @ our_wild

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