I am blog stupid, apparently. And design stupid, graphics stupid, everything stupid. This wasn't always the case. I guess I just lack the focus and free time I used to have. Need to rework my new blog and make it look better. Not thrilled with how it looks.
Anyway. Dinner is ready. Topaz mashed the potatoes, and the meatloaf is done. Now we're just waiting for Jake, who isn't even leaving work for an hour and a half. I'll get us all fed, then he can eat later. Right now they're watching a movie, which is stupid, because it's pretty much dinnertime.
Seeing Ali's post got me thinking. I did NOT come from a tradition-oriented family. And really, I wasn't even exposed to most of the traditions other people follow, so realizing now all the possibilities is a little overwhelming. I feel like starting anything this late in the game would make me a poser at best.
Why am I so hung up on this bizarre idea of authenticity? I am what I am, and should not make excuses or apologies all over the place, but I do. I feel like if I'd had access to the right books, or the right people with other ideas, I would be a completely different person. But really, to a large extent, I feel like as a person I didn't even start till I moved to Boston. And Jake was responsible for a lot of my education. Not that he went into any one thing at great length, but the sheer number of new ideas he presented has been staggering. I suppose I'm not giving myself any credit. I did try so very hard to branch out growing up. I did do a huge, huge amount of independent reading and thinking, and it is actually true that I did come by a lot of things that I still consider very valuable. LM Montgomery, the Little House books, all the wonderful literature I added to my Christian homeschool curriculum. I guess I'm still a bit angry at my parents for neglecting my education so severely. It literally was a case of ordering school materials and books, throwing them at us, and being done with us. I remember once writing a report about light bulbs, and there was no one to make sure I did it, or check any of my references, or even read the damned thing. But I did it all, following all the specifications of the assignment, and decided to give myself an A on it. Later I realized there should be no guilt about giving myself good grades, because in public school I got A's on everything, and then when I went back, I got A's in my advanced classes. The required reading in that curriculum were things I had never heard of, obscure inspirational-type Christian stories. I read them, and I did the work associated with them, but I was sure I was going to screw myself if I didn't flood myself with other reading, so I took it upon myself to go to the library constantly and read tons of literature, Shakespeare, everything Bronte, tons of Austen, just tons of stuff. I read a lot of herbal books, and botany and survival books. Read cookbooks and books on old skills like making soap. I didn't have the materials or parental interest enough to do much of that stuff, but I had a wonderful wild environment to explore, and I made the most of it. I learned all the native plants, even their Latin names. I kept journals, studied everything, made gardens, grew food and herbs. And looking back, I see my dad involved a lot more than my mom. In fact, I don't remember my mom at all. My dad was the one who would take me to the garden or hardware store when I wanted to do a project. My mom did allow me to do some of my own shopping when I went through m vegetarian phase. I cooked veg meals for everyone but they were generally rejected.
It was just not that big a leap for me when my mom left and I became the lady of the house. I did everything anyway. But then I convinced my dad to get me a car because we were so far from everything, and I had to get myself and my sister to school and back, and do the grocery shopping, and all the errands my mom normally did. In the midst of the insane step-parents, but that's just not even part of this.
I have no idea why I'd think so seriously about all this now, but I feel like it's been stewing in the back of my mind for a couple days and Ali's post just brought it to the forefront. So weird how that works.
I guess I'll do what I generally do now, and try really hard not to think about it in terms of myself and what I might have lost, but in terms of how I can use this to do better for my own kids. I want to make the tools and resources, and MYSELF, available to them every step of the way so they can pursue their independent interests. I want to be sure not to project my own desires on them, but to just be there and observe, help when needed, and let their ideas run their course. In hindsight, that seems SO incredibly important. Just being there, being supportive, providing the basics of what they need to let their minds roam free. I don't want them to have all the regrets I have.
And the homeschooling part worries me, but I am so focused on it (or some parts of my mind are, anyway) that I feel a little confident it won't be a problem. For us, it was parents who didn't seem to want to be bothered, or like my mom truly believed she couldn't do it, so she didn't try. We lived far from everything, in the midst of a very tight-knit community which we seemed to blatantly reject (I had very little to do with this) and which resented the hell out of us for it. So we were isolated, shunned, and had no idea what to do. I was very fortunate to have been so self-motivated and determined to succeed. My sister was not so fortunate. I tried to help her with her school work, but she was never interested and didn't take it seriously. In the end, I knew that going back to school was the only way to save myself, and I think it was. Conversely, when my sister followed me a year later, she immersed herself in the wrong crowd and it led her to the life she has now. So amazing how the same action, the same environment, produced such completely opposite outcomes. I feel like I took my life into my own hands and made it work out well enough, and I feel such a sense of loss and tragedy over my sister's outcome.
So back to the original point. We had no traditions. We baked cookies at Christmas and took them to the neighbors. We picked pecans in the fall. Barbecue and ice cream and watermelon and fireworks on the 4th of July. Beyond that...can't think of any day standing out at all. So I'm bringing very little to my family's table in terms of tradition. And I always craved it so much, and made pathetic attempts to create rituals and rhythms in our family's life. My grandparents exposed me to far more of the world than my parents did. I pored over their set of encyclopedias, and when I was younger, the set of children's encyclopedias. Nothing ever stuck, as it was either dismissed as not Christian enough, or just pointless. We never identified with any ethnicity either, so that made everything seem a bit absurd. And the same is true now. I feel like, maybe if I try to get some traditions started in our family, it will be normal to our kids because they'll grow up with it. It shouldn't matter if I feel like a fake. And why should I anyway? I am what I am, etc etc. People change religions as adults, and it works out. They change cultures, and it works out. Why shouldn't I be free to adopt elements from other cultures or belief systems and make them work for us? Maybe it really is my time to find something to identify with. I have never felt part of anything. Maybe I really need to. Maybe I want my family to be part of something greater. No, we're not any particular thing, but certainly there are things out there we appreciate and would like to share.
I suppose it's time to get serious about deciding what those things are. Jake is a hard sell on anything to do with "making a fuss" and would probably let Christmas go by unnoticed if I didn't make such a big deal of it. So we'll see. But it's really time.