It's amazing how many similarities there are between my family growing up and the family that Mike and I have grown into. Like my parents, we have three children spaced roughly two years apart and we are living in Connecticut in a small space with lots of energy, creativity, music and love flowing through our home.
But then there are the things that really separate our experiences, mainly, the world around us and the expectations that society is currently placing on families like ours.
It just seemed like simpler times back then and my mom will vouch for this. She is always saying to me, "We never had to worry about (you fill in the blank) back then. Nobody cared about that sort of thing."
You can fill in that blank with so, so many ideals, images and mandates that so many people in our society are striving towards with each and every breath they take.
Anything and everything from
worrying about creating "well-rounded children",
making our children's social lives a priority over our own,
giving our kids an edge with early preschool,
trying hard to "balance" all three meals and snacks with equal amount of plant/protein/carb/fat, worrying about what our front lawn looked like,
caring enough to decorate the outside of our house for every major and minor holiday,
caring if our kids only "did" one sport/club/dance class and not asking other people about how many sport/club/dance classes their kids were taking,
too much TV time,
riding bikes outside at dusk,
putting children before a marriage,
trying to make every weekend into some spectacular experience/memory,
feeling guilty because we are not scrapbooking each of our children's entire lives,
worrying that we are not reading aloud enough to each child or spending enough alone time with each child,
spending hundreds of dollars on a child for his/her birthday,
making sure our kids are dressed well
trying to make our homes look images seen in magazines
and worrying that we, as mom look as if we are "balancing" all of this and more.
Don't get me wrong. Some of these new-fangled ideas and ideals are actually beneficial to the well-being of children and families. Like safety rules about needing to ride in a booster seat or wearing a bike helmet while cruising your neighborhood streets.
But then there are the others. The burdens that we attempt to carry in the name of trying to be a "good parent". Often these loads are so heavy and so impossible to carry that our knees buckle under the weight of them before we can even come close to the finish line of that particular rat race.
I wonder why so many of us are choosing to accept and follow these ideals instead of digging deep and asking those hard questions that bring us to the point of being brave enough to invent our own families values. Swimming upstream with all of the other fish is so easy to do. Living a counter-culture existence is often oh-so hard and tiresome. But I have to belive that it is worth it and that it is this higher calling that will define a family in so many ways in a culture that is filled with strong currents and big fish.