Saturday, September 6, 2014

All Joy and No Fun review

There are two trendy ways to talk about motherhood, much like the virgin/whore dynamic.  Either one loves and cherishes being a mother every moment - or motherhood is the most difficult, soul-crushing experience  ever.  With that said, it's progress that anyone admits that parenthood is exhausting or difficult - for a while it was heresy to admit in many circles.

In All Joy and No Fun, Senior talks about how perceptions of parenthood have changed radically throughout the years.  It's no surprise that children and teenagers were viewed differently in the 19th century and before.  Children were seen as real assets to the family (in the assistance they could provide to the family)- not the current state where parenthood is a relatively conscious decision in later life.  She writes: 
Children are no longer economic assets, so the only way to balance the books is to assume they are future assets, which requires an awful lot of investment, not to mention faith.  

Not only has our perspective about child-rearing changed - we now have the choice about when and if to have children in the first place.  Then, we're told from a young age that we can be whoever we want to be - whether or not it's actually true.  Senior writes: "Even if our dreams were never realizable, even if they were false from the start, we regret not pursuing them".  

And I agree completely that this is one of the most difficult parts of transitioning from an autonomous adult to a new parent.  I had some idea of what I was in for (being the oldest of six), but not for how much I would lose.  What I lost is something I am gaining back (slowly) as my kids grow older - just simply being able to go out on Friday night and not worry about who would watch the kids and where the money would come from.  

I welcome this notion of the paradox of modern life - that many of us hold ourselves and our lives to a standard that was never possible (given current social norms, class mobility, opportunities, etc.)

I appreciated this book because it talks about social issues and attitudes that many middle-class parents face. In the early days, one can feel  alone. Parenting recommendations (and trends) change all the time - what worked for my grandma (give them cereal at three months) is no longer recommended.  Then there is the constant anxiety that one is not doing enough - not pushing one's children enough, not doing enough activities, etc.  This book helped me remember that losing myself, exhausting myself as a mom doesn't help me OR do my children any favors.  

As I've said before, I love being a mom.  Yes, it's hard work.  It is a high cost/ high reward activity.  

I'm glad that as a society we're drifting away from worshiping at the cult of motherhood - that women can now be honest about the impact of motherhood on their lives.  And my hope is that we can start to think about both parents being responsible for their kids (and how they turn out) - not just automatically blame the mother if something happens (this is the typical media bias).  It is our society/community as a whole who is also responsible.  

And to be aware that women (and parents) need to remember themselves and their mental health throughout the process - parents who are exhausted, not setting boundaries with their kids, not being present, not asking for help - are not doing anyone any favors.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Turning into one's parents

I was determined at sixteen not to turn into my parents.  That may have been a life goal of mine at the time.

So it's ironic some years later to realize various ways I'm turning into my parents (and admit it to my children and the internets).

- I don't order pizza delivery
It used to drive me nuts as a teenager that my parents wouldn't order pizza delivery.  I ordered pizza myself a few times as a teen.  But now - the cost of tipping the delivery person is just too much.  And it's not as if it's a lot of money.  For me, I am much more willing to drive to the pizza place and pick up pizza myself (bonus points for the frozen pizza they carry).  And when the weather is awful and I don't want to cook - I hate the idea of the pizza delivery person driving to my house.

- I have been putting meat in the freezer
My children's dad was shocked when we first moved in together that I would put bacon and sausage in the freezer.  He felt this was heresy.

But for me, now, I'm eating a lot less meat, and it could easily go bad.  So I'm putting it in the freezer, and defrosting what I need.

- I don't play the lottery
For me, playing the lottery always feels like burning money.  It must be how much I know about the math involved - it's more likely that I will be struck by lightening.  Not sure if my parents said this explicitly, but it was always implied.

One of my goals is to be frugal, not cheap.  I read about the cheap vs. frugal dynamic - being cheap is deliberately not spending money and not being concerned about quality.  Frugal is being conscious about spending money, and working towards quality.

The most important part (to my mind) is making conscious decisions.  I am consciously choosing these habits of my parents (which typically make logical sense). It would be foolish (and immature) to reject good ideas just because my parents did (or did not) choose them.  I think it's only natural that each person chooses to be like their parents in some ways, and chooses a different path in other ways.

The infamous $10 peaches
When I start driving to Utah and canning peaches, that's when it will be time to be concerned.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Thriving

Rose bush 2014
I received this rose bush as a gift, a few years ago. I wasn't sure if it would survive, if I had enough time to take care of a rose (on top of everything else).

It turns out I did.

And it survived this past winter, which my lavender bush did not.

I wasn't sure that it would weather being re-planted and moving to a new place. But it hasn't just survived (as the saying goes) it's thrived.

My husband and I recently announced our separation and pending divorce.  I don't want to go into all the reasons for what happened.  It's between the two of us.  It was not an easy decision, we are both responsible, and we both tried really, really hard to make our marriage work.

It just wasn't to be.

As I mentioned in my fb status update, we are committed to putting the kids first and making the transition as easy as possible for them. And so far, both he and I have really been successful in that.  I've known too many divorces/separations that haven't been that way, so I am incredibly grateful.

And it has been hard, despite how amicable everything has been.

I have also received an amazing amount of support from family and friends, which is humbling (and makes me tear up sometimes when I think about it). It appears that some of the stigma of divorce is fading (thank goodness) and that our culture is changing.

I don't know what the future will hold.  I do know that so much of my life appears to be unexpected.  But it also has pleasant surprises - and gifts I didn't expect.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ancestry


For a long time, I thought I looked the most like this great great grandmother - taken in 1903.
Great Great Grandmother 1

Great Grandmother 2
 
Or maybe this  great grandmother (the one who famously believed that you could line up righteous LDS women and righteous LDS men and have a successful marriage).








 Great Great grandmother 3
me, old fashioned













Yesterday we went to an exhibit where they take a current  photo of you and you can photoshop it into old fashioned clothing/poses.

I know the scanned photos are grainy, but when I look at it, I think I look the most like great - great grandmother number 3.  At least I think I have her eyes.  It's really pretty amazing that I have photos (copies) of all these women, and have some idea of what their lives are like.




Saturday, May 3, 2014

Life is good

A lot has been going in for me recently, most of which I don't feel comfortable talking about at the moment on this blog.
May flowers 2014

But I'm struck by the fact that no matter what's going on, life is good.  Life is pretty amazing, in fact.  And I remain in awe (when I remember to be) that I'm here and that I have as many opportunities that I have.  Gratitude for all the opportunities that I was fortunate to experience.

Many local people complain about this past winter (it was a difficult winter).  And it's wonderful now that the winter is over, and at least here, it's firmly spring with flowering trees and warmer temperatures. So life is good.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Eleven Years in the Same Location

It was incredibly surreal for me when I realized that I had lived in this house eleven years, longer than any other home growing up.  We moved around a lot - back to Utah for my Dad to go to grad school - to various jobs.  My parents have lived in their current home for longer, but I haven't lived with them.

My Mom would call it the family wanderlust - every two or three years men in my Dad's family would have the urge to move.  It's hard to say what really was going on there. Job loss, better opportunities - in my experience, I think mormon families do tend to move around a great deal.  There is a built in social safety net of sorts, so a person doesn't have to worry about trying to find the best doctor or babysitter after moving (ward members will probably know).  Whenever my siblings were born, it was a fellow ward member who would come over to our house so my Dad could be at the hospital.  We didn't need to live in the same town as grandparents or extended family.

I've almost lived in this current city more than where I grew up - which is also odd.  I have no intention of changing cities anytime soon - I like my job and my kids are in relatively good schools.  I feel a strong sense of community here.

I must have some of the wanderlust my Mom spoke of, however, because I am still interested in moving (at some point) to a smaller location.  That's not the way it's supposed to work.  You're supposed to buy a house before having kids, and stay in a house and maintain it (including the lawn).  It's part of the American dream.  It's the investment you're support to grow old on.  It's like going to certain vacation destinations with your kids.  It's tradition.

But I don't want to spend all my time maintaining a home.  I don't mind gardening.  There are many "volunteer" flowers that come up every year.

But with the house (and yard) - I feel like I'm always behind the eight ball.  There is always a mountain of things to do, clean, sort, weed.  My sister said I should consider paying someone to do some of that for me, and she has a point.  But I don't want to pay someone to do those things for me, I want a smaller space so I can do it myself.  Much like this post - it's discovering that what everyone else wants for me or thinks I should want, I don't necessarily want for myself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thoughts about the Ukrainian conflict

I've been watching the news in Ukraine with interest.  Obviously, as an ethnic Ukrainian I have an interest in what happens to the country.  Also as a Russian history major  I have an interest in how the two countries work out their differences.

Some brief thoughts about the conflict:
-Many Russians consider themselves the same ethnicity as Ukrainians. Ukraine is just another province or state, much like Alaska is for the U.S.  (Or  Quebec is for Canada).  So it's not cut and dry, but many Russians see this differently than Ukrainians.

-History is everywhere with this conflict.  Stalin and the Soviet Union committed genocide against the Ukrainian people. He starved millions of Ukrainians and had armed guards around the granaries.  He punished people for speaking Ukrainian. My great uncle returned to Ukraine in the 1980s as a Ukranian speaker and teacher.

Thanks for nothing Khrushchev!
-Crimea itself was a part of Russia/the Soviet Union until 1954 when Khrushchev gave it back to Ukraine in a political gesture.  This piece of land has been fought over for a long time and has changed hands often.

-In fact, my great-great grandfather lived in the same place in Ukraine but was a citizen for four different countries.  Austria-Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Russia.  The territory has been fought over and changed hands often (as Colbert points out, anyone who plays Risk knows this).

-East vs. West in Russia and Ukraine has been a long standing tension/philosophy.  Most historians agree it started with Peter the Great.  Throughout modern Russian history figuring out that balance of embracing the west and western culture while keeping the unique parts of Slavic culture has been a challenge.  Anyone who doesn't see that tension doesn't understand some of what's going on behind the scenes in this conflict.

-While the Soviet Union was a great geo-political power, that country failed.  The political system failed, for many reasons.  Returning to those days is not feasible.  Both countries need to move forward, to continue to grow and reform.  Sure, lots of older people/pensioners in Russia wish for the day when things were stable and guaranteed.  But that stability was based on the blood of many dissidents and on genocide.  Going back is not tenable. Both countries will need to reform and make changes (some difficult changes) to make things fair and equitable.
Communist rally Moscow 1996

I support de-escalation of the conflict - a diplomatic solution.  There may yet be a diplomatic solution possible.

I don't support countries invading other countries' sovereign territory.  I support Ukraine.

It is in the U.S. interest for both our political parties to work together for a resolution to this conflict - not to let party politics get in the way.

I don't want to see open war between the two countries, and I hope that doesn't happen.  It would be (for me) a little like the U.S. going to war with Canada.  It would be a poor solution and no one would win.