Sunday, August 30, 2009

"We've become normal!"

It's funny how we all perceive things differently. This afternoon, we attended a picnic for the kick-off of the scouting year. Yes, the boy is joining Cub Scouts. This was not an easy decision, since we're Unitarian Universalists, and the UUs and the BSA have not been on exactly good terms for over a decade. Despite our ideological differences with the organization, however, we have found that a local pack has very sane and open minded leaders, so we're willing to give them a try.

On the way home, the girl was exclaiming about how normal our family has become. With a boy in football and Boy Scouts, a girl in Girl Scouts and piano lessons, a mom who's a writer and a singer, and a dad who teaches college, we certainly seem pretty conventional, at least on paper. I like to think, however, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and I would almost never characterize our family as normal, despite how conventional we may seem.

As diehard urban pioneers, we have certainly chosen an "abnormal" neighborhood for our family. This has created some frustration lately, as many of the girl's friends live in the (in my opinion) far more "conventional" suburbs, and her interests have increasingly become more suburban (the mall being the coveted destination).

Our choice to be a one-car family is further evidence of our deviation from the typical American family. Sometimes having just one motorized vehicle creates stress, or just inconvenience, but most of the time it doesn't really make much difference. At worst, it forces us to be creative. For instance, on Saturday morning, three of us had to be in three different places at almost the same time. The husband had the greatest distance to travel, and he was going to work, so he got the car. The boy had football and had to be at the designated site at 9 a.m. We chose this team because it's so close to the house, so he and I walked there. I had to be at a singing rehearsal at 9:30, and it wasn't terribly far from the house (about 2 miles), so I rode my bike. Everyone got where they had to be at the right time, and we all got home about the same time, too.

I'm definitely willing to say that, at least on the outside, our family is much more conventional than we were when the kids were little and we were cloth-diapering, co-sleeping, extended-breastfeeding attachment parents. We didn't choose homeschooling, which took us out of the more radical fringe of parents of school-aged parents. Our kids are, at least this month, interested in fairly gender- and age-appropriate activities, which definitely exposes us more to the mainstream families.

But we're still pretty far from the mainstream. I've got a pink stripe in my hair that says so.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


My son started fifth grade at a new school this month. He knew a couple of kids at the school, so the transition was easier than it could have been. He is, however, my sensitive child. While I won't call him shy, I do acknowledge that he takes longer than his very outgoing sister to jump into social situations.

Which is why I was stunned when, while watching the elementary boys practicing football in the park across from our house, he told me he'd like to join that football team.

But I shouldn't really be surprised. This is the same boy who decided to take hip-hop dance as his afterschool activity in third grade. So what if he was the only boy in the class? So what if he was the only white kid in the class? He wanted to dance, and he did!

Perhaps the football is a way to fit in. Perhaps he's simply looking for something physical to do.


I colored my hair a lot this summer. I used temporary pink for streaks. I did highlights. I bleached the whole thing as pale as it would go, then switched to medium brown. (Yes, I know I'm lucky that I still have any hair at this point.) I bought "new to me" clothes at Goodwill, since staying home does not require the same wardrobe choices as did working at the hospital.

I also started choosing books at the library based on nothing but titles that seemed interesting. As a result, I've read everything written by a few novelists (I tend to get obsessive once I find an author I like, especially mystery writers) and learned a lot about herb gardening. I learned that butter and coffee were much more expensive in Memphis during the Civil War than they are now (and that's not even changing the value of dollars throughout the years).

I've settled into a routine of sorts, since the kids started school. I get up early to get them to school, then bring my coffee to the computer and apply for jobs, read my feed reader, then write. With my new job writing at, I try to find out if anything new is going on downtown, or if I need to revise and publish one of my drafts. Once I'm done with that, I do housework, maybe start dinner, depending on what we're having, then read or run errands. We're selling some stuff on eBay, so the post office is a frequent stop, as is the library, and, of course, the grocery store. Then pick up the kids, homework, dinner, and whatever activities are planned for the evening (football, music, etc.)

Maybe one of the things that was missing from my former job was a routine. Every day was an exercise in crisis management - who had called out sick? who was in the weeds? where was the drama? what food would not be at the correct temperature when it was time to serve it? - and I function much better with a routine. Having learned that about myself, I can make better decisions about which jobs to take, or even which promotions to decline.