It’s a term that really can encompass a whole manner of sins isn’t it? What is our Lifestyle? Is our lifestyle defined by our jobs? Houses? Sexuality? Education level? Economic Standing? Skin Color? DNA? or is it something that is flexible with our personality?
While I was growing up, I spent my time between two households. One was just my mother and I. We were broke, she worked a lot and I was lonely. We moved a lot, ate a lot of fast food and I spent most of my time in the care of my aunt. They were much better off, had a large house, pets, and lots of money. I didn’t spend any time over at friends houses or have a lot of exposure to other families. Because of this limited exposure, I was raised with the impression that the only way to survive and succeed in this life is to have the following “Lifestyle” –
I must own a large house, 5 bedrooms or more.
I must work a 9-5 job, salaried, where you wear a suit every day.
I must send my child to private school or she will be stupid.
I must have 3 children
I must quit my job when I have child number 2, so that I can stay home and take care of the babies while my hubby earns all the money.
I must drive an SUV or large car
I must be a part of the PTA, Drama club, Girl Scouts and a Dance Mom or my child will drop out of these activities and thusly fail out of college.
To me, saying that I have a singular lifestyle is like saying that I have declared a Major, once it’s chosen, there is no going back. That’s scary. I don’t want to be locked into a life that I may not like when I’m older. This list wasn’t what I wanted, but it’s what I felt I had to do for my family to be happy and accept me. They didn’t want the independent, self sufficient, opinionated “hippy child” that my mother had birthed. They wanted a carbon copy clone of the rest of them.
For the past few years, and by few I mean 24, I have been a ball of anxiety about how I was going to achieve my “Lifestyle List”. Instead of focusing on the decisions I made that made me happy, I spent my time looking at them as disappointments, because they didn’t fit the list.
Didn’t go to college- there goes the 9-5 suit wearing salaried job. No salaried job, no big house, no private school, no SUV, no butler or nanny. No life. There it was. Over and done in one decision.
Got married at 19, to a man with no college degree either- Well, then I guess our children will just be stupid and uneducated. That’s they way it works isn’t it?
Recently, I have been mulling over the list. Considering re-writing a few things. I have realized that I don’t want to life the 9-5 rat race, sending my child to school for someone else to take care of. I don’t want to settle down in one place for the rest of my life. I spent the first 19 years of my life in one place and I don’t want to spend the rest of it in another.
The Hub and I have been questioning if we really need the house, the stuff, the cars, the jobs.. Perhaps we would be happier if we took a different approach to this whole “lifestyle” thing. He has always wanted a big family and I have always wanted a family period so we are seriously thinking about finding ourselves an intentional community. There are a few in my state but we are thinking about making a big move to be closer to his parents in the Midwest, before heading to somewhere in the North Western Coast for the long haul.
A Cross Country move has always been in our future plans, so maybe we should just do it. Sell everything, buy an RV or large van and just go.
Special K would be better off, God knows that she’s smarter than most of her teachers anyway. IMO, all a child really needs is love,a little guidance and room to grow on their own. She has two loving parents so she is already ahead of 60% of the kids in this country. Growing up someplace where she can be home schooled, have a strong sense of community and learn the value of hard work.. sounds like a win to me.
Not saying we are going to stay there forever, maybe a few weeks, maybe a few years. Who knows. Maybe it is time for me to grow into the “Hippy Child” my mother made me. Maybe it’s time to trade my power suit for a peasant skirt. My coffee break for a mending circle. (I refuse, however, to give up meat.)
All I really know is that I need a lifestyle change. I’m declaring a new major and that major is that I am undecided.