Category Archives: Radical Parenting

Circle A Farm: 3 Acres of Food & Family – My article in HipMama #50, the Home Issue

The new issue #50 of HipMama Zine is out, and page 18 is sporting a mighty cute picture of some mama weeding a garden with a kiddo on her back.  Woh, that’s my kid!  And that’s me!

Here’s a snippet from my article “3 Acres of Food & Family” in the Home Issue of HipMama:

I was one of those folks who fantasized about motherhood, marriage, and creating a home for my family.  Yes, I’m a radical, post-feminist anarchist, but I still wanted a ring and a big pregnant belly.  When I imagined my future, I saw a couple of acres of vegetables, animals, grass, trees, community, kids and a partner.  I saw a sweet little farm and a sweet little family.

But while all this imagining was going on, there was also a lot of living in cars, crashing in warehouses, and scrounging up enough change to buy a can of black beans to eat for dinner.  There was a marriage and a divorce; there was alcohol; there was poverty, and a whole lot of the other things that come along with it.  There were a lot of circumstances, opportunities and choices standing between me and my acres-of-the-perfect-life.

I never sat down and made a plan of how to get from there to here, but somehow, it happened.  A decade into adulthood, I now spend every day amidst a vibrant tapestry of all those things I dreamed about–a ridiculous, redheaded three year old, a herd of goats and a flock of hens, an orchard, an acre garden, and its fabulous farmer, my partner.  Somehow, with very little planning but an enormous amount of intention and work, I got here, to the Circle A Farm.

For the rest of my story, and for loads and loads more inspiring stories from mamas across the spectrum of mama-hood, order a copy of hipMama Zine #50 here.


Mama’s a Sucka (or How My Toddler Walks All Over Me)

My 3 year old daughter made two statements yesterday that really smacked of knowing-how-to-manipulate-her-mama.

First, yesterday morning, the clothes she wanted to wear were totally inappropriate for the weather and it just wasn’t gonna fly.  So what does she say, with a stern face and a furrowed brow and a twisted glint in her eye?  “If you don’t let me, I will cry.”  Uhm, does crying usually get you what you want?  Oh, yeah…it does.  Shit.

Then last night her & her Pa were headed outside to feed the chickens, and she didn’t want to walk the whole 15 feet into the kitchen where I was to get her boots.  So she says to her dad, “Watch this,” and proceeds to scream, “Mommmmyyy!!  Bring me my boots!!”

Now, her boots weren’t actually in the kitchen, because (duh) nothing is ever where you think it is when you live with a 3 year old.  But if they had been, I probably would’ve yelled back something like, “Come get them yourself, my love!” and then proceeded to bring them directly to her after a few seconds.

Yeah, mama’s a sucka.

I spend lots of time mulling over my intentions as a parent, and trying to balance those with the harsh realities of everyday life and the emotional attachment I have to the perfect creature that is my daughter.  The way you think things should be isn’t always the way they are, or even the way they can be.  I want to show my daughter that I will always unconditionally be there for any need she ever has, and yet I want her to have boundaries and guidelines that help her navigate this circus of a world.

So last night, in my head, I had one of those Resolving-To-Get-Tough-And-Not-Be-A-Doormat moments.  I considered spending last night having a How-Badly-Am-I-Screwing-My-Kid-Up-Today moment, but really, how’s that going to help?

Instead, she can get her own boots from the kitchen and wear appropriately warm clothes in the fall.  Or she can go to the hen house without boots and freeze her little butt off today at Montessori in shorts and a tanktop.  Either way, Little Mama’s gonna learn that Big Mama loves her very much, but isn’t her bitch.


The Kids of Occupy Grand Junction – #OccupyGJ

This gallery contains 21 photos.

I spent two full days this weekend at Occupy Grand Junction, sharing childcare duties, facilitating meetings, and basking in the momentous dissent being voiced here in my small, conservative, western town.  Here are a few images of the kiddos who … Continue reading

Bringing Back the BabyBloc: How and Why Kids are an Important Part of the #Occupy Movement

This guest post by rad mama Sonya describes her efforts to involve kids and families in the Occupy Minnesota movement, and some of the history of the BabyBloc.  Thanks to Sonya for sharing her experience and for the work she’s doing to insure that this is a multi-generational movement.

when my son was born seven years ago, many people gave me this piece of advice: enjoy him, cuz it’s gonna go fast. he’ll be grown in the blink of an eye.

now, he runs to an intersection near our home in south minneapolis and flags the bus so it doesn’t pull away from the curb before i can catch up and hop on. we set down our packs and bags and trays of food–veggies picked from our garden to donate to the kitchen in the plaza–and i pay our fares on the bus card i get from the county as part of my welfare benefits. a half hour later, we arrive at our other home, our new home. we arrive at the people’s plaza in downtown minneapolis, better known as #occupymn.

we head to the family area on the east side of the plaza. i go through a few boxes and bags of donations. toys, games and art supplies come my way. i’m glad to see a few child-sized jackets. the weather’s been unseasonably warm for october in minneapolis, but it’s only a matter of time before some of the lowest temperatures in the united states blow through. meteorologists are already predicting colder-than-average temps for november and december.

global warming and associated climate instability. just another reason why i’m here.

as soon as i heard that occupy wall street was sending up a shoot in my home town, i knew i wanted to be involved, and i knew how. i wanted to organize a baby bloc, which is a nifty way of saying that i wanted to organize around safety, accessibility, and fun for kids and families. Continue reading

Faux Babywearing: Even Non-Parents Can Show Off Their Snuggli


This kind man’s shirt caught my eye as we both tried to catch a flight out of the Burlington, Vermont airport this morning.

He doesn’t have any kids, but he’s expecting his first nephew any day now.  He’s on his way to await and celebrate the new baby, and his mom gave him this shirt in honor of the occasion.

He’s obviously going to be the best uncle ever!

Anybody know where to find these shirts?

UPDATE 08/15/11 9:49am:  Thanks to reader Margaret Pruitt, I now know that this is a ‘baby Carlos’ shirt from the movie ‘The Hangover’–a movie I’ve never seen or heard of, and apparently, neither had the guy wearing the shirt!  If you’re an aspiring parent and want to get a sense of what it’s like to have a (drawing of a) wee one attached to your front, you can buy this shirt…well, everywhere:

Tiny Fists Tour: Santa Barbara to Tijuana this week!

“Two families full of radical queer riot-folk fury” are sharing their acoustic & string Riot Folk music this week.  So if you’re in Santa Barbara, LA, San Diego, Tijuana, or anywhere in between, check out Bonfire Madigan & Evan Greer  on the family-friendly Tiny Fists Tour this week.

Two dynamic activist musicians are hitting the road this spring with their babies on board, toting an arsenal of stringed instruments and a whole bunch of reusable diapers, hellbent on making folk a threat again. Continue reading

Parenting “is not some weird group project”

Maybe this is what’s wrong with the contemporary parenting model–why the nuclear family more closely resembles a dysfunctional combobulation of mental illnesses than it does a healthy, supportive environment to grow and learn.

We’re missing the understanding that parenting IS inherently a group project.

I’ve already confessed to my strange habit of watching The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  Last night, 8-month-pregnant and 15-year-old Amy was considering actually keeping her baby for the first time.  Her little sister pled the case that everyone could pitch in with childcare and support, and Amy’s response was, “This is not some weird group project.”

Some of the many faces that have made my parenting a "weird group project" indeed.

When did we lose our understanding of the inherent and necessary relationship between community support and family?  Why did parents decide that we could do this job better on our own, isolated and alienated?  Where did the village go?


Maybe I’ve been privileged as a parent to have family & friends who offer childcare, advice, experience, food, money, clothes, and patience when I’ve needed it.

Somehow, I’ve been lucky enough for my parenting experience to VERY MUCH be a “weird group project.”  And my kid will be all the better, all the healthier, and all the wilder for it.

Thank you, village!