Category Archives: family

And Baby Makes Three

In the 1950’s, it was all hunky dory for women to quit their jobs, move to a house in the ‘burbs, don an apron and dedicate themselves to being a full-time housewife. But after The Feminist Mystique, burning bras, birth control and Gloria Steinem’s “I can’t breed in captivity” quote when discussing whether or not she could have children while married, Gen Y women face an entire world of opportunities and choices. We can have it all. We can be the high powered attorney and the soccer mom. But do we necessarily really want it all?

In a 2006 poll done by The New York Times, more than 60% of the female undergrads attending Yale polled that they’d quit their jobs in order to raise kids. Are these women throwing away the decades of toil their foremothers went through in order to earn the luxury and freedom to even be able to have it all?

Gen Y women suffer from extreme pressure to create a life that reflects the choices we have in today’s society. We’re expected to go to college, earn that MBA, work tireless hours to afford designer shoes and handbags and haircuts. We need to marry the perfect dapper gentleman and move into a stylish flat in the city and have beautiful bouncy babies. We then take a week off for maternity leave, kiss our newborn on the head and then merrily skip back to our jobs to begin the process of juggling career, baby and social life.

In a world where both parents are expected to work, is there any room for stay-at-home moms? If the Gen Y woman does decide to quit her job to stay at home with the children, can the family even afford to live off of only the husband’s income?

The true question is, has feminism hurt Gen Y women? The benefits we have received by being born into a post third wave feminism world are countless. Glass ceilings are gone, the intricate female anatomy is now no longer a secret to men and more women now than ever are pursuing higher education.

The backlash is that there is no longer any room for the women who do want to stay at home and have babies. The price of living has increased dramatically and we no longer have the luxury of being able to live comfortably in a one-income household.

So what do we do? Do we downsize, move into a cheap apartment and sell the second car in order to be able to afford staying at home while our hubby or civil partner or girlfriend works? Do we work part time so we can still be with our kids?

It’s odd how far we’ve come only to be stuck again.

On moving home at 26

I think that there is something inherently perverse about moving back into your parents’ house at the age of 26. But that is exactly what I’ll be doing in six days.

After losing my job and deciding not to renew my lease, I am left with few options. And after much soul-searching and advice from both friends and family, I’ve decided to suck it up and live at home for a month or two while I save money and try to figure out what exactly I’m suppose to do with my life.

I am very, very lucky that I actually have parents kind enough to let me live with them rent-free until I get up onto my own two feet again. But at the same time, I can hear my dignity squealing in the background, emmiting the same kind of noise virgins burning in hell would make.

Will people look at me strangely if I tell them that I spent my Saturday night on the couch watching Murder She Wrote with my mother? Can I bring my boyfriend home with my dad snoring in the adjacent bedroom? Do I call my parents my “older roommates” or do I just blatantly lie and say I live in a van down by the river?

My mother told me that I am, infact, not “moving back home.” She calls it “staying a little while.” Last week, however, as I was unpacking my clothes into my old-new bedroom, I got this queasy feeling in my stomach. It was my pride shooting itself in the head with a pistol.

Why do I feel so defeated about moving back home? It feels like I lost at life. We are told all of our lives that we are suppose to be self-sufficient by this age. I see some of my friends getting married and having babies and buying homes and then I examine my own life, and see all of my stuff in boxes, and it kills me. Being unemployed and moving back home in my late twenties wasn’t something I had in mind for myself.

We set certain standards for ourselves and goals we’d like to accomplish by specific ages. We have parents and teachers that say that we can achieve anything if we only set our minds to it. When something goes horribly wrong, brings us to our knees financially and it’s all out of our control, what then? How are we suppose to feel?

I know it’s not the end of the world but it is ego-crushing. Maybe I shouldn’t think of it as “moving in,” but as “pushing onward.”

The family, that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. I love the city decked out in Christmas lights, Thanksgiving leftovers, and I love presents. I hate elves, mall traffic, and snow. It’s the time of year for merriment, counting your blessings, and suffering from a mild stress-related psychotic breakdown. It’s also the time of year everybody has to hang out with their family.

I feel like now that I am in my twenties and past all of the rebellious acts of stupidity I performed as a teenager, I have learned to appreciate my family again. I have come full cycle, from worshipping and needing them as a toddler, to despising and fearing them as any typical fifteen year old girl, to respecting and loving them as a young adult. 

My family is the one constant in life. They are my rock, the helium in my balloon that hoists me up despite myself. They are also the source of perpetual embarrassment, humor, and annoyance. I know that my family is one well that will never run dry, even if I do pray for drought sometimes. 

My mother is the most giving and silly person I have ever met in my life. She is dreamy, idealistic, caring, and lion-hearted when need-be. My parents used to own a house in a private, gaited community in the Pocanos where it was illegal to feed wildlife. During the winter months, my mother would sneak out at night dressed in all black, carrying a bucket of grain and a salt-lick for the deer. She took me out with her once, commanding me to duck every time a pair of headlights glided down the road. Ninja-like, we darted behind tree trunks and parked cars, our ski masks protecting our identity from the neighbors. My mother had three different herds of deer pass through her lawn twice a day that she fed. And she never did get caught.

My father is the typical linear thinking engineer. He is the practical voice of reason in my life. He is good with maps and directions. I can literally call him up from anywhere in the tri-state area and he can help navigate me home without the guidance of a map. We are Irish, and he used to sing me to sleep with Irish drinking songs instead of lullabies. Six years ago, during a dark time in my life while I was in college, my father gave me a piece of advice. He told me to “bloom where I was planted,” to make the best of my situation and spread beauty regardless of where I was. I have made that saying my personal creed and try to live by it everyday of my life.

My siblings are both my blessing and my curse. My sisters are my biggest fans, my personal on-call therapists, and my fashion gurus. My little brother used to serve as my punching-bag in our formative years, but now he has a good five inches and sixty pounds on me. He is a man of few words, but what he does have to say is often insightful. 

These are the people that have seen me at both my best and worst and have loved me through it all. They know my entire story, the peaks and the valleys, and have been my anchor in the most turbulent of storms.

I am a princess and I shall get my way

I was coddled as a child. No. Eighty-six that. I was downright spoiled. My parents gave me everything I ever wanted and more. I had toys, clothes, and a car. I even had a pony (yes, a real live pony). They were wonderful, giving, selfless people who wanted their children to have the world. And I took full advantage of this.

As a teenager, I learned to manipulate my parents into giving me what I wanted. I would cry. I would sulk. I would beg. I would cause guilt-trips. I would scream. I was a self-diluted princess and my family were my servants. 

Now, at the ripe old age of 25, I am mortified by the way I behaved back then. Yet, I still suffer from selfish tendencies. I don’t blame my parents for making me this way, but their constant doting did lend some contribution to the way I turned out. I still sometimes act like a toddler with a tiara on her head rolling around on the floor and sobbing.

It’s a part of my personality that I’m not happy about and I’m trying to work on. Even in this new “adult” chapter of my life I put myself first. I did something regrettably stupid and irresponsible and insensitive to my dad and sister last month that I’m still having trouble dealing with. And the sad part is that I had no idea my actions were wrong until both of them called me out on it. I was so oblivious to the feelings of others (and to top it off, these “others” were my own FAMILY) that I couldn’t even see that my actions were hurtful. 

I guess part of your twenties involves beating that stupid little brat inside of you with a leather belt. People need to become more aware of how their words and actions affect other people. It’s so ironic that most of us know the golden rule by heart, but we rarely seem to follow it in our day-to-day interactions with others. And we don’t do this on purpose. We just don’t know any better because our heads are jammed so tightly up our butts. 

 

When your mother breaks up with you

3007740307_5342d81101My mother and I have an uncomfortably close relationship. I can tell her just about everything. We’ve had conversations ranging from the profane to the absurd, and she never once batted an eyelash. 

My mother is my best friend. Don’t get me wrong. She will always be my mother first and foremost, but we have that Steel Magnolias mother/daughter type of bond. I have no doubt she would give her right kidney for me.

There are a couple of things, however, that we will never see eye-to-eye on. My taste in men is one of them. Another item that my mom strongly disagrees with is my choice to cover a big percentage of my body with tattoos. She comes from an era when the only people to have tattoos were whores and sailors. She thinks that my appearance will keep me from living the kind of life I dream of and prohibit me from advancing in my career as a writer. 

Two years ago, I was visiting my family for Easter. I had recently gotten “Alis volat propriis” (meaning “she can fly with her own wings” in Latin) tattooed on the inside of my wrist. I had been careful to cover it with my sleeves, but my mother has eyes like a hawk when it comes to her children doing things she disapproves of, and she saw it. The screaming and crying started shortly thereafter. She refused to take my phone calls for days, having my poor father answer every time my name popped up on the caller ID. My mother had dumped me.

It took awhile for the reconciliation to happen, but it eventually did. I was her daughter, after all. 

I ended up getting more tattoos ( a chest piece here, a half sleeve there) and learned how to hide them with high-collared t-shirts and cardigans. I’d wear quarter-length sleeves to the beach in the middle of summer and sit in puddles of my own sweat at the dinner table, praying to God that it would all be over soon so I could run to my car, strip down, and blast the AC.

It wasn’t until last night, however, that my mother finally admitted to me that she had  known all along. This time, we talked at length about our differing opinions and there were no fits of rage or sudden hang-ups. She had finally agreed to disagree.

I think we finally become adults when we learn to separate our lives from the lives our parents wanted for us. I have spent most of my young adult life trying to live up to the expectations my mother had for me. I earned my BA in English literature, got a swanky apartment, a couple of freelance writing gigs, and eventually a full-time editorial position at the Inquirer. It was a great life but it wasn’t entirely my life. It was a life that I knew would make my mom proud.

We all eventually need to learn what our own personal sets of values are and that it is okay if they deviate from the values of our parents. I think that this is one of the hardest lessons I have learned thus far, that my road ran parallel to my mother’s for awhile, but eventually, I would have to forge my own path.