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…

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