What will my mother say?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I've been thinking of nothing but homesteading since before I knew what it was called. Right now, we're still living in a rent house close to town and are in preparation. Our plans will still include regular jobs (at least until we have kids, when I'll stay home), and we'll be on the grid in case the windmill doesn't fulfill all my husband's techie needs. I'm even toying with the idea of homeschooling. But the more I consider my dream of paradise, the more I feel certain my poor mother is going to have a cow. She grew up in Southern OK on a real farm and for real poor. Even I remember helping my grandfather pick cotton. She's worked extremely hard all her life to achieve financial success and stability. To her, this whole thing will have dismal connotations. We love one another dearly (I am her only child), and I can't stand the thought of worrying her. Any suggestions for making the whole thing more palatable. (I've already decided the word 'homestead' is off limits until we're obviously stable!) Thanks for your input! Carla
-- witness (email@example.com), March 01, 2001
Dear Carla, I can understand your problem completely. I have the same one and I am almost 50, have raised my children and have supported myself as a single woman for over 8 years. MY Mother still thinks I can't live my dream "alone". On the other hand, I am currently very concerned over my own 25 year old daughter who is in the process of making some life changes that I don't understand at all. (She needs a 3 month leave of absence from her job and a trip to London to figure out what she wants to do with her life-go figure). As a daughter I say tell her gently with all of your excitment and good solid plans in the telling. Explain how you plan on feeding yourselves, providing what is necessary and keep from becoming 'poor' (which is in the eye of the beholder). As a child of the farm she will be able to see what you plan more than any others might. You probably will have as much luck as I have with my mother- who also was hard core poor and a farmer's daughter-which is little to none. As a mother, I understand her and my mother better now (last month everything looked fine with my three children, this week it's a little uncertian in my eyes). I have a very good relationship with my children (and a special one with my 25 year old ) so I think that if your mother sees how you feel, how you have planned and what your resources will be she may eventually come to understand what you want to do. Explain that farming is "in your blood". That's what everyone blames my desire on-grandpa and his love of the farm and it's critters. (It went to me and one of my cousins). Just keep slowly telling her your plans and once you begin to successfully realize them she should feel less uneasy about you and your family. Good luck and be thankful you have such a loving mother (she should be thankful to have such a caring daughter.) betty
-- betty modin (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 01, 2001.
If ma's gonna have a cow, tell her to bring it along when she visits. (sorry, I just couldn't resist!)
-- john leake (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
Buy her a three-year subscription to Countryside?
-- Ken S. in WC TN (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
Carla, if you talk to your mom about your plans from the standpoint of something you really want to do, explaining your plans and explain how your going to do it without leading to a life like she had as a child, maybe that will make a difference. She's just concerned that you will suffer as she did (does she really feel bad about her childhood? most people who were raised on a farm will tell you it was hard but have LOTS of good memories too.)and not have all the "special" things she thinks you need. Maybe if you involve her (by asking for advice, i.e. "when you were a kid how did grandma make bread", that kind of thing)it will help. Our older citizens are an invaluable source of knowledge, draw on it. Apparently your experience of being on grandpa's farm was not bad for you or you wouldn't want to do it yourself. Also, mom's are worriers, doesn't make any difference how they feel about what your doing, they are going to worry, period. She'll be supportive once she sees you can do it and that your happy! You can't stop her from being apprehensive, you need to do what makes you feel good.
I lived on the farm with my mom in a mobile home next door for 18 years and she worried about what I was doing all the time, and was an unbelievable source of information. I've always given her credit with getting me started with being self sufficient, after all she grew up the oldest of 8 children, was a farmers wife all her life, and had a fantastic memory! She's gone now, but she would have been beside herself with losing the sheep this spring.
Good luck in your endeavor, I would be more concerned about your husbands' interest and involvement than your mom's. He's going to be a big part in the homesteading and you'll have a much easier time if he's interested and involved. Voice of experience, my husband is a printer and not really interested in caring for animals, etc. The only thing he really likes about homesteading is the good food and being able to have his friends come out to hunt on the farm. That has never stopped me from working toward my goal, however.
-- Betsy K (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
Part of the dismal connotations for your mother may have to do with rejection: if you turn away from the secure and stable lifestyle she has worked so hard to achieve, are you, in a sense, rejecting her? She might see it that way (perhaps not even consciously) and need to be reassured otherwise, especially if you have to move away to find the right property. (I can remember being astonished at the strength of my mother's reaction when, for a school assignment on 'The Gulag Archepelago' (sp?) I was supposed to live on bread and water, and not bathe or comb my hair for three days! I was showing disrespect for those things my father had provided for me. She was truly distressed, and I cancelled the experiment.)
You might find ways to let her know how much you honor her hard work and determination, and that she instilled those qualities in you - the goal of a good life is the same, it just takes a different form. Perhaps ask your mother's advice on specific farm related things that her early experiences make her knowledgeable on. Reassure her that you still need her and that she can still depend on you. Hope these thoughts are helpful. Good luck.
-- Nina in E TX (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
I imagine a lot of people have had to deal with strained family relations, at least temporarily, when making this major change in their lives. I'm no exception.
I grew up in the shadow of Philadelphia. Most of the time we were comfortable financially. There were periods of great prosperity and periods of financial strain as well. The one constant was that we were living in the suburbs. Three cars. Pool in the backyard. Nicely trimmed lawn. The few trees that we had were there for aesthetic purposes only. We had a garden for a couple of years but it was soon covered by an above ground pool. None of the philophies of modern homesteading were practiced in the Hedemark household.
In early 1997 I announced to my family my plans to move to North Carolina. I had just purchased, with my inlaws, 36 acres about 30 miles outside of Durham. I gradually told them what my dream was, and they were having a hard time accepting it.
Here we are four years later. I'm still not living on my land. I'm taking a different path than some of you. I happen to make good money in town, so I figure I can pay off my land and my house very quickly if I stay in the race a little longer. That way I don't have to worry about debt so much when I leave town.
What I'm doing now is halfway between my past and my future. I've got a house on about an acre and a half, somewhere between Durham and my 36 acre woodlot. I can't have livestock here but I can garden extensively and have a fruit & nut orchard. I'll use this place to hone my skills. And the place should build equity pretty quickly due to the rate of growth here. When I'm ready to sell the place I'll have some cash leftover after paying off the mortgage to build a house on my 36 acres.
But the family is having a hard time understanding it. I've built a very successful career for myself in computers. I could live in the suburbs in a nice house with a pool if I wanted. My family is having a hard time understanding why I would want to drive an old truck, grow my own food, generate my own energy, etc. They think it is funny to send me redneck jokes in email. As far as they are concerned, I am a born-again redneck. They don't understand it, but over time I think they have learned to accept it. They know that I am happier today than I ever was in Philadelphia.
You cannot live to make your parents happy and live up to your dreams. You have to live your own dreams. They either will or will not be supportive of you. You can't make your decisions based on what they want for you.
Someone had recommended getting her a 3 year subscription to Countryside. I second that. Countryside paints a better picture of what many of us are trying to acheive. I was reading through some of my archived back issues last night and smiling. They have had some great articles in the last 3 years on how homesteading could evolve into our future mainstream society. In fact, I think I'm going to do this for my parents as well.
-- Chris Hedemark (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
Carla, I wouldn't tell her anything except that I was moving to the country. Tell her you think you'd like living outside of town more than in. Then just do the things you want to do, and when she notices and says something, just casually tell her that, yes, you thought chickens would be nice--fresh eggs you know. When she comments on the electricial setup, tell her about rising energy costs, etc. Take it one step at a time. I'm an only child. My mother had a very vocal, negative fit every time I ever wanted to do anything that was not pre-sanctioned by her. Just learn to do what you want, without her blessing and/or approval. She will survive, and you will both be better off for it. Trust me. Been there, done that. Remember, she made her choices in her life, and now it is your turn to make your choices in yours. And be happy. In the end, that is all there is.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
My brother has been uneasy for years about the financial status of his family members. He is concerned that they are not planning adequately for emergencies, and if something happens, he will be asked to pony up. Do you think that if you could assure your mother that you will have your finances covered regardless of what happens, she will feel better about what you plan to do? I suppose a big part of that might be outlining why your financial requirements would be significantly less than those of someone living a different lifestyle, so your financial security can be assured with much less money.
-- Laura Jensen (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
why is it parents think we must live their dream for us, why are our dreams not as important as theirs?????
i guess the answer is love, but is it love for us or love for their dream.
i moved to upper new york state, and i mean upper; 4 miles from the canadian border, in 1980 this was the dream my husband and our children had for a lot of years and finially just did it. i tried to explain to my family what we were doing and why we were doing it, but to no avail, to this day i only have contact with 1 sister out of 4 siblings and they still think we have to be crazy to even try to live off the land. by their standards we are poor, poor, poor and no one can believe we perfer our aladdin lamps to an electric light bulb. my only blessing is we are happy and well, our children are all married now and live close to the land but not exclusivley off the land as we try to do, but i can see them getting closer every day. it is a good feeling to be able to say that everything on your table was put their by your own labors, things sure taste better that way.
i guess my advice is you have to be true to yourselfs and only hope that family members will at least allow you to follow your dream and support you in it.
blessings to all, sally
-- sally stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
Thanks for all the good advice. I'll use it. I figured rightly that lots of other folks had dealt with similar issues. And just as a sidenote, I know she'll be okay. There's no question of outright rejection or anything. I'm just concerned for her peace of mind. I'm the only kid she's got to worry about, you know? :)
-- witness (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
How old are you? The reason I ask is that I am 35, and just did the same exact thing!! I am also an only child (however I have one of my own that is staying with my mother for schooling reasons). You know... If you have thought it out well, have a solid plan (flexible enough to change if the need arises) and are truly happy with your decision, then you will be fine.
My Mother wasn't too happy when I up and moved 2000 miles. Hubby got a job, and we were going. I wanted to bring my daughter, but she is going into high school this year. She already has plans to go to college in the home state, and the high school she's going to has a really great record... unlike the 27 student high-school she'd go to here...
Once she realized that I am not dead tired at the end of the day, not going into debt faster than I can dig out, and am truly truly happy with the decision - she was fine!! She has even offered to help out with a down payment when we buy the land!! she wants to visit!
It all works out for the best - REALLY!!!!!
-- Sue Diederich (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
Carla, you have already had many great responses - and you may have a few more; because I would almost bet that so many here have had a negative response with someone. I think I mentioned on another thread the other day that though we were all raised on basically a homesteading type situation, my four siblings are really not interested in that type of situation at all and live in town. My mom was also very involved in all the gardening, animal care and all that went on; but I realized as I got older that she didn't really like it. She too had been raised in a poor farm situation (actually sharecropping part of the time) in eastern OK. If she had lived, I suspect she would have had a similar reaction - like your mom. I think to them it represents you going right back to the lifestyle that they drug themselves out of. I agree with the person who said to just let it be known a little at a time, first just say we are moving to the country and then a little more - as things progress. For one thing, it gives her time to adjust as she sees your happiness and contentment. Good luck and may God bless, Cynthia
-- Cynthia Speer (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
Carla, like Betty said, it is in your blood to go back to your roots-- to homestead. I been around long enough to have learned our genetics play a big part in who we are and what direction we go. You feel at home in the country and find peace working the earth. You interact with animals differently than your friends. It's in the blood. Listen to it.
-- Eve in FL (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
I agree you can talk the kid out of the farm but you can't take the farm out of the kid. Your mother's concerns are well known to me as I have heard them all my life from my parents. The difference from how she grew up to how you want to live your life is CHOICES. Your mother and her parents didn't have a lot of choices in how they farmed, how they lived, what conveniences they had. It sound as you and your spouse have planned and thought out quite a few details and will be making your living choices based on available options. If you reassure your mother that your choices in no way reflect negatively on the choices she made in life, and you can show her how your choices are building blocks on the foundation that SHE built for you, she will conme to understand and apreciate them. Your mother will be a wealth of knowledge, and because she loves you, will help you whereever and whenever she can.
I am the youngest of three daughters. My parents pressured all of us to go to the cities and make something of ourselves, get a good career and stuff. I never could do that, I turned down all the city opportunities to live and work in the sticks, and "doing without." Now that all of us daughters are in our 40's, it's become clear to my aging parents which kid made the better choices. My place is their favorite destination, my kids are pleasant to be around and my critters are most entertaining, and nobody works too hard. I think what they see most is that my family and I are happy and content with our lives as homesteaders.
-- Laura (email@example.com), March 03, 2001.
I think one of the best things you can do to reassure your mother is to start living as much of the life as possible right where you are. Start a garden and be sure to plant a few of her favorites. But work hard at it so you can make a success of it and visually and physically show her you are able to feed your family. Start making bread, soap, cheese, whatever... And share some of your successes with her so that she will see that you really are able to do these self sufficient things well and enjoy doing them. Show her, don't tell her, that at your economic level you are able to build a happy, healthy life for your family by embracing this lifestyle. But be sure to gussie things up just a little bit for her so that a bar of homemade soap doesn't remind her of poverty, but demonstrates a special thoughtfulness by catering to her skin type or fragrance preference, etc.
Actions speak so much louder than words. Prove to her beyond a shadow of a doubt that a homsteading lifestyle is something that you can do quite well and in a terrifically enjoyable fashion. My husband and I explained our relocation to our families by telling them that while we were dropping drastically in standard of living, our quality of life was skyrocketing. And now they all see that and often refer to how good it is to raise children in the country, appologise at family pot lucks that their dishes are not made of homegrown, homemade organic food, and make the occasional remark about how much we must enjoy the peace and quiet out where we are. Our lifestyle would not work for them and we are careful not to criticise them for their choices. But the bottom line is that there is no more convincing argument than hard proof! Work, not words!
Best wishes to you with your future homestead.
-- Lori in SE Ohio (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 04, 2001.
Carla, I'm with ratdogs on this answer. Only tell your mother what you absolutely have to, and only when you have to. What she doesn't know won't hurt her. This is how I handled things with my parents and it worked great!
-- debra in ks (email@example.com), March 05, 2001.
Carla I had the same problem, except it was may Dad. He grew up in SEKansas, and a single mom trying to get by. I remember the stories he told me of getting up before sunup, milking the cows, loading up his cart, hitching up his pony and going on his milk route to help support his mom and 3 sisters. He was the oldest. It was his stories that made me want to live this life, before I knew what it was called too. JUst hang in there and tell your mom your dreams. I am living this life now, and loving it. I'm 54 and married with 3 sons. We've been working at this for the last 34 years, eversince I got married. I got lucky and as I told my dad when I was very young I am going to marry a small farm. He always told me to marry the farmer. We have goats to milk, raise a big garden,.I have never regretted it and my Dad used tophone me during garden season to see how the garden was, he only lived 50 miles away, but he didn't get over much due to health in the last years. But we would compete with each other on who had the first, biggest, most, out of the garden. I know he just wanted me to be happy, and he died with that knowledge and was happy for me. Level with your Mom and ask her about her life. She might just come around.
-- Sue Bradford (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 06, 2001.