May 31, 2009

Enter the Suburban Housewife

I am fortunate enough to have lived a small town life, a metropolitan life and most recently the suburban life. I am not naive to the fact that most people, are born and raised, live and die in the same place. Either never given or taking the opportunity to travel, see other places, live other places or experience something different. I do not often take my life for granted, but when I do, I catch myself.

Now that I am a mother I am bound and determined to do it different from my mother, her mother and her mother’s mother. It is not that I am saying my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were bad mothers. They did the best that they could. It is that I simply have a different set of priorities. In my life I have opportunities they did not. Coming from a long line of working mothers I am happy to be able to break that cycle. My husband and I are fortunate enough to allow me to be a stay at home mom and are in a position to pay the bills save some money and live comfortably on one salary. This is a luxury that none of the mothers in my family before me could afford and I am grateful everyday. It is something that I try very hard not take for granted. To be able to witness the daily changes, the growing, the learning, the exploring, all of the firsts continues to be one of the greatest joys in my life.

For as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a mother. I have always enjoyed kids; I spent years babysitting and teaching swimming. My favorite jobs always were the ones working with kids, from camp counselor to lifeguard to physical education teacher. It was one of those things I knew deep down from an early age that I was meant to do. I also knew that I did not want to be a working mother. I would do it if I had too; I would not hesitate to find work if my husband’s and my situation were to change, but for now, the most important thing is my kids and being here for them. This is where the difference in priorities comes in. My mother and her mother before her not only worked, and had to, but thought the priority was their home, white sneakers, what others saw and perceived about their families and homes. For me, it’s simply the kids. Kids, homes, sneakers, they all get dirty. It’s not the end of the world, it’s not worth stressing or wasting time trying to fix. Spending hours a day cleaning my home, hours that I could spend playing with my kids, teaching my kids, showering my kids with love, is crazy to me. Someone once said… “My kids won’t remember the day I cleaned the house, but they will remember the day I took them on a picnic.” I try to live that philosophy daily. I do however, know enough to be embarrassed when my home if full of clutter and the neighbors come knocking, my mother taught me better than that! Even still, I do not feel that cleaning is the priority. The dishes are washed daily, toys are put away and laundry is deposited into the hamper. After that, the sweeping, mopping, dusting, happens around the kids’ schedule, not the other way around.

In the picture I had of my future, the one where I imagined having kids and staying home with them, Arizona, suburbia, is not exactly where I thought I would be. Although I have been fighting my husband’s desire to return to New England for years, I think, I always pictured raising my kids in a place similar to the one I grew up in. Somewhere that fostered the same values and truths that I knew growing up. I pictured a place where you might hear but not see your next door neighbors. In this picture in my head, there were trees and rivers and fields, fire-flies, and frogs and seasons. Do not misunderstand, I picked Arizona, not my husband; I am the one who has resisted the return to New England for so long. We found out we were going to have our first child and I packed up, left our 675 square foot home in Southern California and moved here in search of a new home. And that, is how I became a suburban housewife. I would say stay tuned for our next move, but with the housing market in the toilet, it looks like we will be here a while…

May 19, 2009

I believe

in order for me to explain what I believe I had to think about why I believe what I do. I grew up, as I said, in a small college town in Western Massachusetts. I suppose by it's very nature Massachusetts tends to be a more liberal state, so while I have never fancied myself to be political, I am of the more liberal persuasion.

My town, city in name, but town by any other standard was, for me, a bubble. I was sure that every other place, city, town, state was just like where I grew up. We had, I can not honestly say, how many churches. The French Church, Polish Church and at least three other Catholic churches. The First Church, a Protestant Church, Episcopalian and Unitarian Churches. One Temple and I lived for a while around the corner from a Jehovah's Witness Hall. I am sure there were every other kind of worship services held somewhere within the city limits. Everyone went, or didn't, no one talked about it. Sure we all hid from the occasional Jehovah's Witness knocking on the door, but it just was not a big topic of discussion. My family rasied my brothers and me in the Catholic Church. I was baptized Catholic, received my first communion, participated in catechism and in my senior year of high school was confirmed. I can remember sitting in the pew week after week and listened to the readings and the homily. I heard the church say that abortion and being gay were mortal sins, but I never felt that anyone really believed it, not deep down in their bones with any conviction, believed it.

In school, I sat through history class and learned about the Civil Rights movement. I remember being dismayed that anyone had ever been treated in such a manner. I watched 'Eyes on the Prise' and 'Roots'. I felt guilt and sadness. I understood that it was a long and horrible struggle for freedom. In my book, to the best of my knowledge and as far I as I could see, the war was over. Good prevailed over evil. It no longer mattered what color your skin was, or your gender. Everyone was equal, everyone had the same opportunities. What a shock when I moved to Texas. The doctors and Lawyers and College Professors of every ethnic background, creed and gender, living, working and raising families in my hometown did not seem exist on the same levels in Texas. At least not all over Texas. It was not long before I discovered that they only seem to exist in pockets and metropolitan areas of the country.

I grew up where Barbara Walters once called 'Lesbianville USA'. I thought that was rather funny. I might even go so far as to say that I felt pride. Pride in belonging to a safe haven; I was part of a community that embraced everyone and valued them for who they were and what they had to offer. Are you giving love? Getting love? In love? What does it matter who you love, it's love right? And your partner in life, skin color, gender are only part of who you are. The big picture is what is important. Are you a good person, a productive member of society? I don't much remember it being something that one would say about someone with any.... "He's gay", or "she's gay"... It was not something one felt compelled to say when talking about someone . Being gay was simply normal. Frankly it still is to me. I am sure, deep down sure, that I would feel this way even if I did not have a gay sibling. I can say that because I felt this way before I even knew I had a gay sibling.

Then I left my bubble * pop! * and moved to the south. WAKE UP CALL! Racism... Seriously? Why, what does it matter? Guns!?... You can carry a concealed weapon in Texas? Everyone does? Why?... Death Penalty?... The news talks about another prisoner 'put to death' weekly, at least monthly. Murder and car jacking.... High speed police chases and crime everywhere.... But in Texas, football was religion. Okay, I can get behind that. High School football. Sure it's just a game, and it's taken way to serious...but it a great way to spend a Friday night!

California felt more like home, more liberal, laid back, go with the flow. Save the whales and the ocean and the beaches. But litter everywhere. Save the planet and drive hybrids but oil rigs off the coast and on the beaches. All pretty hypocritical, but no one got their feathers too ruffled. Hell they ousted Grey Davis and elected the Terminator. To me it all seemed a bit out of a movie. "Let's stage a big coup and oust the sitting Governor. Then let's elect an barely literate aging action film star and maybe it will all have a big Hollywood ending..." To be honest my kind of politics, state you have an issue, but don't take it too seriously.

Then we moved here, to the 'burbs. Beige homes with young families. Stay-at-home moms and 2.5 children, or whatever the percentage is they say. On the surface it was very exciting. I was going to know my neighbors for the first time since I was a kid. They were all roughly my age, same income bracket, same age children.... Yippe!! I was so sure that this move was the absolute best thing ever! My husband travels all the time, we're going to have play dates and margaritas and I won't miss my girls in Cali so much. It's a transient state. No one is 'from' here everyone moves here. To be honest, I soon started to fell like we either missed a memo or were allowed in accidentally.

The first few months were great. It was a new neighborhood and a lot of the home sites were still empty lots. There had been a welcome wagon of sorts when we moved in and it was exciting to knock on new neighbors' doors and drop of a baked good and say "welcome". More and more young families, new babies, babies on the way. It just seemed so good. Grace was only 2 months old when we moved in and the hot weather was upon us. A lot of that first summer was spent indoors hiding my baby from the heat. Then a ladies social, plans for neighborhood activities, a Fall festival/block party I was on cloud 9! But little things started to feel uncomfortable. Almost all of the families that I was spending time with went to the same church. They all labeled themselves 'Christian' and spent a lot of time talking about the church. In my life I'd never heard so much conversation about church, but am aware and always have been that fellowship is not a strong suit of the Catholic church.

I had left the Catholic church about the time I left Massachusetts. I felt I did not agree with a lot of what the church was saying. Then the whole scandal with priests and altar boys was the last straw. I decided that a man, a fallible, child molesting man, was not suitable to tell me what my relationship was, should be or how it will play out with my God... or whatever. I would not be judged or dictated to by the priest or the church. It was about this time that if I though about religion, which was not often ,I concluded that religion divides and faith unites. Too many wars, murders and other hateful, atrocious, acts had occurred based upon religion and I wanted no part of it!

I now have formed relationships with these families that are very involved in their church. Admirable., and I mean that. I believe in the freedom of religion. I believe that no one religion is right. I do not believe in judging anyone based upon their beliefs. But I strongly believe that faith is a personal thing. It's between you and your God, or Gods, and has nothing to do with me. I do not believe in recruiting or spreading the word. I have been trapped in my share of airplanes with a Mormon trying to convert me. You go about your religious business and I'll go about my life and we'll get along just fine. I do not need to or want to be saved. If I do or do not know Jesus is none of your business.

Then little things start to be said... About being Christian and how life should be lead, but actions and words do not always seem to be one and the same. Judgements are made about how others should live. Then mention of needing to know Jesus or spend eternity in Hell... Political views are right wing, and right wing because of religious views/values. This scares me... We have separation of church and state for a reason... The local Christian church is everywhere and invading my life. My circle dwindles based upon acceptance of me. Fine by me, I'd rather you leave me for my heretical views. Saves me from looking like the ass who bases friendships upon religious views. I have never had a need to defend my religious or non-religious views before, but the topic continues to be raised... Suffice it to say, I don't fit in with the ultra Christian neighbors and I do not want to.

So what do I believe?

I believe in freedom of religion but do not personally believe in religion.
I believe that everyone should have the same opportunities regardless of race, gender or social status. I believe in saving the planet. I believe in wind and solar power. I believe we share this planet and destroying habitats or killing armadillo because they are digging in your yard, is wrong ~ you know who you are! lol ~ I believe that not enough emphasis is put on education. I believe that too many parents check out when their kids go off to school and the most important teacher a child ever has is their parent. I don't believe in having hate in my heart or in violence but want to physically pummel stupid, narrow minded, judgemental, needing to look in a mirror, people.

I am sarcastic, faithful to my friends, passive aggressive, messy, Irish tempered, Red Sox loving and full of faults. But I know who I am. I know what I want. And I don't have time for stupid. I will however have time to bitch about stupid so... here goes ~

May 18, 2009

Introduction

My story, well this part of it anyway, begins in June 1996, in a small college town in Western Massachusetts. I was 19 years old and on my way out for the night with the girls. I'd been in the sun and chlorine all day lifeguarding; convinced that there was no one left in this town to impress, I pealed off my suit, pulled on a pair of cut-offs and well worn t-shirt and off I went. Nothing out of the ordinary, a small get together at a friend's house. The usual guys that we'd known forever. Beer, cards, nothing special. In retrospect all big things seem to happen when you least expect them too. This is the night I met my husband. To be completely honest, I knew my husband from a few years before. He went to high school, played soccer, basketball and baseball with one of my cousins. They had in fact been friends. He was however almost five years older. Long story short, we got to talking and we have been together ever since.

Just about two years later I was living in Boston, he was living in New Haven, CT and he was offered a job in Texas. It was, for him, an opportunity he could not refuse and he had to go. There was not much in Massachusetts keeping me there. No career worth giving up the opportunity to live someplace else. Family, but it's not as if there are no planes, trains, or ways to visit. So I left my family, took a job with an airline as a Flight Attendant and joined my then boyfriend, future husband in Texas. We spent the next few years there, traveling, enjoying city life and living with my husband's brother who had been in Texas for several years already.

Then another job opportunity. This one was with the same company but it would require a move to California. My job was in Texas and I could try to transfer to LA, but this move was not going to be as easy. In the midst of our preparations to move 9/11 happened. I had the opportunity to take a company offered leave and we moved to Southern California. The next five years were spent in beautiful, sunny Southern California. We created a life and a family there. Lived with friends from back east, drank in the ocean air, beautiful sunsets, night life, culture, landscape and complained about the traffic like everyone else! A beach bungalow, a wedding, friends, maybe roots.... Almost two years after our 2004 wedding, on Labor Day weekend, we found out we were expecting a baby. Suddenly our 675 square foot beach bungalow, that was barely practical for two people, was an impossible living situation to be adding a baby to. So bye-bye Beach Bungalow, Southern California and our friends and hello desert home. Grace was born in May 2007 then 18 months later, to the day, Lily joined our family.

After Grace was born I stopped working and much to my joy I became a full time stay-at-home mom. We built a house in the suburbs and moved into a neighborhood filled with young families and young children. We have two beautiful daughters and have agreed that our family is now complete, except, for the possibility of a dog in the future.

And that is how my life went from Happy Hour to Story Hour in a nut shell.
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