Category Archives: Dead Parents

Runner’s Stretch

I’m breaking my number one rule for the Running of the Brides, because everyone on my dream team save my Aunt Chris can’t get out of work or weddings and join me in Cleveland tomorrow morning.  I’m a little bummed about having only one helper, just because it is lonely and not as fun.  Although I’m sure Chris will be a one-woman dream team: she’s a savvy negotiator, she’s got Obama arms for carrying heavy dresses, and she’s got great style.  Plus I am looking forward to a girly evening of gossip and iron-on shirt-making in a hotel in Cleveland with her.

But I think when I see the giant teams, I am going to have wistful moments.  In particular because there will be MOMS everywhere.  Even though I am fairly certain that if my mother were alive she would not go within 500 yards of a Filene’s Basement Bridal Event.  Grief is rarely if ever rational like that.

I am also nervous that every dress will pale in comparison to THE DRESS which I saw two weeks ago, despite price tag differentials.  Collin told me to stop kidding myself and just go buy  The Dress.  I called him out on how his suggestion was partially motivated by him not wanting me to go to Cleveland, even for one night.  I reminded him of ways we could use the money I might save on a dress.  [I think in normal relationships I’d say something like, “We can have another hour of open bar at the wedding!” or “We could take a weekend trip!” but instead I’m saying things like, “We can pay off more of the mortgage!” because that is what speaks to Collin.]

Full report, hopefully with hilarious pictures, when I return!

On the Plus Side, I Love a Good Apron

Sarah wrote a great post about chores and other domestic duties, and I started writing an epic comment before I realized I should just write my own damn blog post.

I’ve walked the housewife beat before.  Nope, I was never married, but I did stay at home for a year and primarily concern myself with cooking, cleaning, and childcare.

For new readers of this blog, my parents both died during my senior year of college, so after graduating I took a year off to help my older sister take care of our younger brother, who was sixteen at the time.  Instead of paying my sister rent I paid for all the groceries, and did most of the cooking and cleaning around the house.  And I helped make sure my brother was going to school and not getting into too much trouble after school.  The thing that was great about that year was being with my family when we needed each other the most.  The thing that sucked about that year was being a housewife.

Which is a damn shame. My dad was a house”wife”1 for most of my childhood, and he was great at it.  He made it look easy.  I wish I could be like him. I got so much out of having a full-time stay-at-home parent, and I would love my kids to have that luxury too.  But even setting aside the near-impossibility of supporting a family on one income these days, it just doesn’t seem like it is in the cards.  Because I suck at domesticity.2 I’m not good at cleaning.  I get lazy about cooking.  I find grocery shopping tortuously tedious.  [Do you have any idea how much a teenager eats?  IT IS SO MUCH.  I can’t imagine how much food you have to buy, and how often you have to buy it, to feed several teenagers at once.  I don’t want to imagine it!]

My dad went to the grocery store every single day.  Every day.  He kept a notepad handy at all times and he’d add items to the daily shopping list, placing them on the page so that the complete list would be in the order of his route through the store.  And I think he liked it.

So right now I’m unemployed again, and I find myself feeling inadequate because I’m not always dusting, because I don’t have food ready on the table when Collin gets home from lab, because our living room is so messy that at a time I thought it was unusually tidy my sister-in-law walked in and said, “I guess you guys haven’t had a lot of time for cleaning recently, huh?”   I was not particularly good at being a housewife when I had more or less embraced the role, and I’m completely TERRIBLE at it when it is just all there is left to do in the day after hitting my limit job hunting.

But thank GOD and FEMINISM and COLLIN that I really only worry about my shortcomings as a housewife during this period of unemployment.  I do not expect that once I have a job/once I am married (hopefully that will come second!), I will still feel like I am a failure of a human being because there are cat hair tumbleweeds on the stairs.  In the meantime, god bless Collin for his patience, and whoever invented that stairs attachment for vacuums for her innovation.

1I am all for gender-neutral terms, and you’d think I’d be extra jazzed about it in this case because I grew up being asked “what does your father do for a living?” and “will your mom be picking you up from school?” and getting pissy about it, but just can’t bring myself to use the word “homemaker” because it sounds like construction. I often describe my dad’s role as “stay-at-home parent,” but I want to compare myself to him in the present state of my life where there is no parenting involved.
2Collin has said he is not opposed to the idea of taking time off to raise potential children, which is one of the reasons I consider him prime husband material. But right now his career is looking really good, and my career is making that noise a car makes when the engine won’t turn over, so from our current vantage point it seems if one of us will be a stay-at-home parent, it will be me.

My Family vs. His Family, Take Two

My last post failed to deal with how Collin interacts with my family. A regrettable oversight that will now be rectified!

[Warning: Some people don’t like when I  frankly discuss/make jokes about my parents being dead, because it is sad and/or it makes them feel awkward.  Those people should read another blog right now!  Maybe this one.]

Ok, now that the Delicate Daisies are distracted, let’s be real: Collin gets off easy on the whole in-laws front because my parents are dead.  Sure, he had to pass muster with my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and Grammy.  But that’s child’s play compared to meeting parents, right? I mean, Ben Stiller didn’t star in a really unfunny movie called “Meet the Cousins,” right? (At least not yet.)

And my parents were, don’t get me wrong, totally awesome, but also kind of bizarre in ways that would make being their son-in-law a challenge.

For example, they taught me the very firm rule to call your elders “Mr. Whatever” or “Ms. Suchandsuch.”  I’m still getting used to calling Collin’s parents by their first names, despite regular casual communication.

Collin likes to joke that he would have called my dad (Brian) and my mom (Marty), “B-Money” and “M-Dawg.”

He says he would have asked for their permission for my hand in marriage by saying, “Yo, B-Money, M-Dawg.  I wanna hit that even when we’re old.  You dig?”

I can imagine how this would have played out.

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The Wedding Budget Stork

After reading this wonderful post on Another Damn Wedding, and re-reading the posts linked to within, I started to think about where wedding budgets come from.

Some couples must choose their budget because it is what they have to spend.  Some couples  choose their budget because it is necessary to accommodate certain necessities, like inviting everyone in a large family, or adhering to parents’ standards for decorum.  And some couples are fortunate enough to set their budget as what they feel like spending.

Collin and I are, more or less, in the last category.   This makes us privileged, and I don’t mean to whine about our enviable position. But I do think having a flexible budget makes what Lyn says about the attached meanings we give to money resonate even more deeply:

Money, to each and every one of us, is not just straight numbers. Money is class. Money is opportunity. Money is worth. And so we involuntarily assign an ethical value to our budgets. Whether we like it or not, we assign an emotional value to what we’re spending for our weddings.

I feel even more mixed-up about the relatively unconstrained choice I am making about how much to spend on our wedding because I am not spending money I have earned.  The money I have set aside for our wedding is from my parents’ estate.  We also have support from Collin’s very generous and wonderful family.

If my parents were alive today, I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking them for this money.  We would probably wait to have a wedding until after I’ve worked for a few years.  It feels completely insane to be spending big bucks on a wedding when I don’t have a job lined up for after graduation.  But I do have the money to spend.  I am making the choice to spend it, and I need to own that choice.

I could spend every cent in my bank account on my wedding and it wouldn’t buy me something as valuable as dancing with my dad at the reception.  I hope I don’t attempt to find a replacement for my dead parents’ love in the perfect centerpieces or a designer gown. 

But having lost my parents is part of the reason I want a wedding.  I want all the family and friends that are still with us to be there when Collin and I become a new family.  I want to “celebrate life,” as they say at funerals, but this time before it is over.  That experience is worth a huge amount of money to me, and I have the privilege to spend it.

So, yeah.  The values we assign to the money we spend?  Loaded, loaded, loaded.