24 January 2009

Forbidden Thoughts from the Peanut Gallery

I don't usually talk politics.

It's an odd sort of thing to have come from the mouth of a girl whose mother will die a die-hard Democrat, waving an American flag, and attesting to the brilliance of our country and its government. She even ran for the Wyoming State House as a Democrat (in a state full of Republicans). Who even knew they recognized the Democrats on the ticket?? But there were four or five Democrats in our tiny town of 2500 people, and sure enough they encouraged her to run.

Of course she didn't win.
But it was her way of prodding me and my sisters into 'being all we could be'. You know, we could be anything we wanted to be, because girls are as good as boys. That's my mother, a complete liberal--Democrat to the bone, All-American, and a total supporter of feminine rights.

Um....well let's make that a supporter of women's rights. I don't know that I'd go way out on a limb and attribute 'feminine' as one of her virtues.

See, when I say 'girls are as good as boys', let me make it perfectly clear that she didn't see it worked in the other direction as well. I'd even say my little brother was more of a second-class citizen partly due to the Y-chromosome in his make-up. There was really no room for 'equality' in my mother's world view. She was too busy (as were all the other women's libbers) trying to prove to the world that she was just as good as or better than the men. She could do it all--run a home, work a full-time job, raise her kids, and participate on dozens of committees while still maintaining the illusion that everything in her home was PERFECT.

Except of course when something wasn't.
And there was a lot that wasn't.
But that's a subject for another time.

Today's post is brought to you by the Democrat-I'm-Not-Despite...or maybe Because Of...My-Mother.

I tried to do 'her' thing. For about the first ten years of my marriage, I was utterly convinced that I too could have it all. The house, the kids, the husband, the Ozzie-and-Harriet routine, and somehow still manage to work PT and even go back to college too.

But somewhere in the haze of 3 a.m. colic with my last son followed closely by four years of repeat hospitalizations due to my husband's recurrent cellulitis, I realized I didn't WANT my mother's lifestyle. When Manling #4 would finally go back to sleep, I was so exhausted I could barely make it through the day with the other three. A perfect household was NOT in the cards. DH's hospital 'vacations' put a tremendous strain on our budget, our nerves, and our marriage. We went into debt trying to continue our regular lifestyle even when he was only drawing disability for part of his time off work.

At our lowest point, we even had one of the credit card companies calling us because I was a month behind on a payment; and I will never forget listening to the phone ringing, wondering if it was THEM again, and thinking to myself, "we're going to lose everything."

That was about the time we all realized things had to change.
And it was tough.
DH and I had grown up with parents who had not given us 'everything we asked for', but we'd never really gone without either. Looking back I realize now there were times my mother and stepfather must have been hard-pressed for money, but it was never talked about. Instead of discussing finances and training me to manage my own household, my mother told me to plan to take over the world--no doubt figuring I'd marry some nice accountant who would manage all my bills and budget for me. (Either that or we wouldn't have money in this 'Golden Age' we'd be living in.)

It took another three years of struggling with managing our money before we finally started getting the hang of budgeting. We're still not out of the hole we dug, but the light is brighter and the end is at least in sight.

We started a backyard garden and canned and froze the excess. I started haunting survivalism and homesteading boards, looking for ways to maximize our money and make sure if something did go wrong we'd still be able to feed our family of four ever-hungry, fast-growing sons. We also had the debate when we started the garden about organic vs. non-organic--and the whole house agreed that we would never knowingly eat a bunch of potentially harmful chemicals, so why would we dump them on plants we were intending to eat.

DH had been diagnosed with really nasty eczema (which had contributed to the cellulitis due to skin breaks and repeat infection). In order to make things more bearable for him, I found a recipe for making our own laundry soap and cut out the fabric softener. The fifth or sixth time he was in the hospital, he was also diagnosed with hypertension and gout. He'd never had a gout attack--but the doctor told him it would only be a matter of time if he didn't change his diet. The youngest Manling and I also had food sensitivities, so we started with a lower protein diet for DH and ended up with a mostly-from-scratch diet that has done wonders for my IBS and doesn't affect Manling #4's stomach.

What does all of this have to do with my mother's Liberal Democrat upbringing?
Not a thing. That's the point.

I recently took a good hard look at my political leanings--mostly in light of things I've been hearing and reading about what to expect in the next four (and possibly eight) years. I think it's become pretty clear to me that I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican either. But I'm too conservative for an Independent. I think about as close to a title as I'm going to get is Libertarian. I might even swing as far as Green depending on the issue. I think it's probable I might have to start a new political party--something like "Conservative Hippie". LOL

In the last couple of years, I've incorporated new words into my life that would make my mother roll over in her grave (as she no doubt will be sooner or later). Words like: suburban homesteader, homeschooler, housewife, Christian woman, pro-life, and survivalism. I've got friends who are a wide range of political leanings and religious bents--from Democrats to Libertarians, pagans to faithful LDS. Most of the people who live on my block know me as 'the weirdo'--THAT homeschooler who dresses half-hippie and half-Mennonite (I usuall wear a headcovering or have my hair pulled up). All this adds up to make me into about the closest thing to a polar opposite my mother could have. I'm understandably not celebrating this week.

Most of all I'm the proud mother of four sons. FOUR. SONS. Four Manlings of various ages, who I hope will grow up to be good husbands and fathers and providers for their families. I have learned a lot about boys/men in the last fifteen years. And then again, there's a whole lot I still don't understand.

But I will say this--my mother was very wrong when she said girls were just as good as boys. Girls are girls. Boys are boys. There's no room for comparison.

Don't believe me? Ask a mother of four girls. *smile*

I love my Manlings.
I love my country.
I sincerely hope things are going to start looking up....for all of us.

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