Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mother's Daughters - Being 60 (week 49 - by Margaret Ullrich)

I got a few emails about a piece I had written a couple of weeks ago.
I had compared my childhood to Loretta Lynne's Coal Miner's Daughter.
I said my siblings had the Crystal Gale experience.

I guess I wasn't clear enough.

It wasn't about the green "Alien Registration" postcard every year.
It wasn't about being the go-between, the translator.
It wasn't about the paper trail I have to show to explain where I was born.

It was about how families change.
Not for the better or worse.
Just change.

Picture it...
A couple in their mid-twenties have their first baby.
They're settled in a country where, for centuries, their families had lived.
They have family, friends, his job seniority, a home, furnishings.
Wife is content.
Husband wants to live near his siblings.
In another country.
On another continent. 
Wife with baby has no choice.

They leave everything to share a four room apartment with his brother's family.
That's four room, not four bedroom.
Baby shares cousin's crib.
Wife has to get a job in another town so they can buy a home, furnishings.
Relatives, Maltese and Italian, babysit.
Wife is, shall we say, stressed.

After two years the couple buys a house.
It is near the factory where they work.
It is away from the relatives. 
Wife is still working.
Toddler is babysat by German neighbors.

After three years, Wife is expecting again.
She has miscarried twice.
Doctor orders her to quit working and rest.
There isn't any threat of moving again.
Wife and Husband are becoming American, less content.
They have more than they had, but less than they see.

The new baby is brought home to a crib of her own.
Wife is now a stay at home Mom, busy with the baby.
After six months the eldest starts school.
The family stays in that house for 14 years.

Another time.
Another place.
Another Loretta Lynne / Crystal Gale situation.
So it goes.

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