(Anna is the latest winner of the Lost in Suburbia Stories campaign. She will receive a free copy of my book, “Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir,” and a gift basket from CVS ExtraCare Pharmacy and Health Rewards valued at $100! To share your story, click here!)
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When my boys managed to survive to school age, we moved to Shelburbia. Shelburne is a white (even for Vermont), semi-rural, absolutely picturesque town of 7,000.
We have apples and crisp fall leaves, snowmen, and Ohlmstead designed farmlands, mountains, lakes, ponds, and rivers. Idyllic.
The thing about idyllic? Its not real. We still need to live each day and each detail. And those details are disorienting.
Farmshare pick up, soccer practice, minivan oil changes, dentist appointments, drop in crafts activities. All tracked on my iphone.
I was an only child to two workaholic parents. Other than music lessons all extra curricular activities were for my parents. I was dragged to museums or left to spread out blue towel on the upstairs landing to pretend it was a pool for my one Barbie doll.
Despite its lack of diversity, we picked our town for its school, which has a 10 rating on Great schools, and is charmingly pre K-8. I knew the school was for me (I mean my kids) when I saw the lost and found. Every item was hung neatly and arranged in chromatic order. It was everything I pretended I wanted and knew I could not create at home. So I would outsource order.
It’s hard to be counter culture in Shelburbia. I mean, I could wear brands OTHER than lululemon. I could bring soda to the soccer game. NEVER. I would never. I could choose not to compost. Such acts of rebellion.
We moved here so the kids could be independent. Walk to school, pop by neighborhood houses, build forts in the woods. It happened. The neighbors are all decorating for Halloween, tastefully of course with straw men, pumpkin piles, and handmade bats drifting in the trees. Other people will drive into our neighborhood to trick or treat. We will have full sized candy bars, instant celebrity for our kids.
This ideal childhood is really just the side effect of my laziness, the real incentive to relocate was to make it easier to parent. This suburb allows me to wave good bye to my kids in my pajamas as they run to the bus at the foot of our driveway. I have not had to arrange a playdate in months. The troops arrive and depart on an hourly basis. My only job is to make sure I have pants on. I manage that a lot of the time.
Our right now house, new version farm house with wide plank pine floors, a wood burning fire place in the Viking equipped kitchen in a tidy neighborhood bordering 130 acres of woods and the river is the house of most mom’s dreams. Its general appeal is its problem. The house is a microcosm of everything I have given up to become Mama.
I prefer quirky. Vintage. Character driven. I used to watch independent movies. Now I watch teen witch TV shows. I used to write short stories. Now I write blog posts about parenting. I used to complete the Sunday crossword puzzle, now I crush candy while pretending to care about Minecraft.
When I view it from the monthly calendar setting I love our life. Our family meetings, weekends away, Thursday night dates. Day view is a lot harder, laundry, meetings and battles about leaving the house, disgusting dinners, and all other inequities of daily life.
The trick I’ve found is to focus on even smaller units, laugh at each fart songs, sort through rock collections, notice the bright spots.
Just like Shelburbia. The 10,000 foot view is all gorgeous landscape, a little closer you see the keeping up with the Jones’, and if you focus in tightly it is us. A moment of laughter with friends. A fire in the backyard. Exclaiming that this is the best art class ever!
That is my trick. A smaller life with a smaller focus. And Shelburbia is the perfect setting. Our story is still character driven, just by our characters. I might have lost the independent version of myself, but I have found our family life. It is the right sized for right now.
Note: Anna writes the blog, Shelburbia. You can read her latest post HERE!