Thanksgiving: Tales, Travels and Travail

Last Friday, we left our babies in the capable hands of our friends, the PRs, and headed back to Virginia to spend time with family. The PRs bravely took on two 70 pound golden retrievers EVEN THOUGH they had both sets of family coming into town. Thankfully the corn turkey-substitute and the majority of their stuffed animals survived our dogs.

We had a great time in Virginia. Chris’s grandpa celebrated our arrival with a full Thanksgiving dinner, and on Sunday Chris’s mom made a roast. We did some shopping and watched Hunger Games on Monday and ate dinner with Chris’s high school friend Laura. On Tuesday, we drove with Papa through the rain and wind to North Carolina to see the family farm. Weird thing about me: I love family farms and graveyards. Our visit to the family graveyard was especially illuminating as I learned more about the story of Chris’s great grand-parents:

Many years ago, Nat King, a handsome local of about 25 began coming around the Eaton household and courting the farmer’s daughter Belle. As time went on, however, Belle began to figure out that Nat was actually interested in 16-year-old Zora. Nat and Zora didn’t want to tell her dad the truth. Instead, they eloped and were married under an apple tree by a friend of Nat’s who had just become a pastor. They were married for over 50 years and had two fine sons.

In our educated day and age, that would be creepy but through the lens of time it’s romantic and respectable. Why would that be ridiculous nowadays? More education? Extended childhood and adolescence?

Chris’s papa treated us to BBQ at Ralph’s, a famous buffet, and his dad took us to Q, a great Richmond landmark. Both places had great BBQ but the treatment was completely different. Ralph’s was completely country with great pulled pork, amazing banana pudding with meringue on top, delicious meat loaf, and a red sauce so sweet it tasted like candy. Q was very urban and polished;  the corn pudding was delectable.

We also went to visit our friends Mike and Tater. Mike just had the worst month ever but he is much, much better. It was great to see them; they are a big part of the reason we have golden retrievers and have cared for us through some rough times.   

We spent Thanksgiving with the Boswell clan and had a great time with all of them. When I was growing up we usually just had Thanksgiving with us and the grandparents; it was never a big affair. So it is interesting to experience the Crowd Phenomenon where there are more than 6 people present. The extroverts were all mingling outside and in the kitchen; the introverts were curled up in corners on their phones or watching the game. As an extroverted introvert, I did a little of both.

On our way back to Minneapolis we broke our streak of early flights when our plane had computer issues twice. They even had us all get off… we thought we were goners (in the flight actually taking off sense). “Can we fly into Rochester? How are we going to get our luggage and our car from Minneapolis?” It brought back memories of my two night stay in Chicago during the winter storm of 2006.  That time, I ended up flying to Omaha where my mom and brother had to drive 7 hours to pick me up so I could be home for Christmas.

Thankfully the plane ended up taking off about 2 hours late and we got to Minnesota just fine. We were reunited with our bags, car, and doggies and are settling back into real life with only a slight holiday hangover. “You mean I can’t sleep in til 9? I have to go to work? Family members won’t take me out or make every meal?”

Waking up is hard to do!

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Full Time Moms

All right, it’s time for an opinion piece! Pardon me while I pound on my pulpit for a minute.

‘Tis the season of Thanksgiving, and here is one thing I am thankful for: moms. I am a doggy-mom at this point in time, but sometime I hope to expand to the human variety. One thing I don’t know yet is if I will be a full-time mom, aka homemaker, or a mom with a job. (Note: a mom with a job is also a mom, all the time, it’s just that some of her time is spent doing something important besides taking care of her kids!)
 
I know a number of brilliant, talented women who have chosen to leave lucrative job tracks to pour themselves into their children. My mother, for example, spent two decades raising and serving and caring. She made the right choice.

I also know a lot of brilliant, hard-working women who work demanding full-time and part-time jobs while juggling their roles as loving, caring mothers; for example, my mother-in-law. She also made the right choice.

There is no one right choice.

Choosing to be a full-time mom is a decision between a woman, her husband, if she has one, and God. It requires taking the individual children and the support system into account. Motherhood is like jeans. One size definitely does not fit all.

I wish that people would be a little less judgmental about the right choice. I have heard a lot about “why would you have kids if you don’t want to take care of them?” Or “if you can afford to stay home with kids, you should!”

On the other hand I have heard a lot of “Lean in!” “Don’t drop out of the work force!” “She needs a job.” “If I can do it, anyone can.” “Women who leave make a lot less money over a lifetime!”  (News flash: money isn’t everything. It really isn’t.)
 
The reason I’m thinking about this is because of a piece I read on CNN. The writer, a divorcee, expresses her sadness that she can’t be a “good mom” because the divorce forced her to go back to work. She can’t do crafts and make healthy breakfasts and cuddle. Her life is full of shortcuts and imperfections.

To which I want to say – you are still a good mom!! I am sorry that you didn’t get to make the choice. I’m sorry you didn’t get to keep the life you wanted.  The life of a single, working mother is NOT easy, but you are doing the best you can. You are being the best mother possible and that will pay off in the long run.

And – nobody has the perfect life. There will always be sacrifices, trade-offs, and shortcuts. In this life there will be sorrow, trials, tribulations, and trouble.
 
Okay, okay. I’m not a mom so I know I don’t “get it” yet. But I know this: there is no one right way for everybody.
So don’t be defensive. Be proud of your choice and hold off on the judgment.

Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. Thank you moms everywhere; no matter how you do it, we are thankful for what you do!