Everyone Has Dirty Little Secrets

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Everyone has dirty little secrets.  I don’t know if any new scandal of secret affairs or hidden addictions could surprise me because enough people have shocked me when their shit hit the fan that I know it’s only a matter of time before the next person’s secret is discovered.  I know what we are all capable of, what I am capable of.  And nothing is beneath us humans.  We are all a push, shove or a shimmy away from committing murder, so to speak.  If the world collapsed before us and we became desperate, how would we react?  There’s plenty of movies that ponder this question.  From apocalypses to alien invasions to zombies; people are tested on how they will react in desperate situations.  If you are thinking you would never be capable of some atrocious act, keep in mind your life is probably pretty comfy right now.  I’m not saying that no one could resist the temptation, but that we should all have the humility to admit we are weak (left to ourselves).

I think I grew up fairly sheltered.  Like most kids, I thought there were “good” people and “bad” people.  Growing up in Baltimore city exposed me to things my parents couldn’t hide.  Like the boy who got beat up by a group of schoolmates in front of our house and was left on the ground with a broken leg.  Or the woman who crashed her car into my dad’s friends’ car that was parked at our house, and tried to run from the police; but ended up shaking and convulsing in my neighbor’s yard because she was on some heavy drugs.  Or my dad’s coworker who was stuffed in a trunk and murdered.  Or the thieves that broke into our house on multiple occasions and took any toys we left lying around outside.  The people who did these things were the “bad” people.  Everyone else was good.

I see now that we all have good and bad in us.  The saintliest person still makes mistakes so long as they’re human.  The scum of the earth still has the tiniest bit of good in him so long as he’s still human.  As I’ve thought about the grey lines of people, things, thoughts, actions and words, I’m quite unsure how to raise my kids.  Do I keep them away from those who could be a bad example?  I’m beginning to lean toward “no”.  These “bad examples” are the same as me.  They are seeking freedom and happiness.  They love and they get lonely.  They have no problem helping us out when we need it and don’t expect anything in return.  Yes, they have their faults and their addictions, but they also have their hearts.  Since my kids are toddlers now, I don’t really mind them being around our friends when they are drunk or high.  But will I mind when they’re impressionable teenagers?

Keeping my kids away from danger and people with problems is probably less helpful than teaching my kids about the dangers and the vices that these people practice.  I could tell my kids some day that “you see these people around you who are alcoholics and drug addicts and materialists and gluttons and hedonists, etc..  And you love them because you know them and see the good in them.  But you also can see that these things don’t bring them happiness.  These things only take away their freedom.  Because an addict is not free, he is bound in chains to his addiction.  And every sin takes away our freedom and makes us slaves to it.  Don’t stop asking what you are made for and where you can find freedom….and happiness.”  (My silent plea: don’t be like me- someone who knows what could bring happiness but is still attempting that which has proven to be unsubstantial, letting happiness escape me.)

I think above all, we all just want to be happy.  But we’re always looking in the wrong places for it.  Who are we, though, to judge others on their search, even if they did get tangled in a weed and forgot they were even on a search.

Of course I still have to protect my kids from people who could do them harm.  I’m not going to let them be around people I don’t trust.  There are damaged people who inflict their own damage on others through physical, sexual or emotional abuse.  These are the people I hope to protect them from.   But I can’t protect them from all possible harm.  Thus is life.  It’s dangerous to be alive.

What do you think about sheltering your kids?  Where do you draw the line?

A Hippie I suppose

Well, I’ve recently come to the realization that I’m a hippie.  A modern day hippie.  How did I come to this conclusion?  I was researching communes and the “hippie communes” kept popping up.  And I was like yea, I guess this is kind of a hippie idea.  That and I don’t agree with most conventional “rules” and thoughts in society….but that’s a different story.

 I have really gotten interested in the idea of living in a community, a cooperative, or a commune.  I think it’s brilliant to pool resources and work as a community to take care of each other.  It seems so much more effective and less wasteful than everyone living in their own private home, paying their own bills, making or buying their own food, taking care of themselves and keeping to themselves.  How many people nowadays, especially in suburbia, do not even know their neighbors, and they live only a few feet away from each other?  Several things have led me to this excitement for a community:

1.  I think it’s unnatural to raise kids in our own private houses all day.  Yes, socialization is good.  But I don’t think daycare is THE (only or best) solution.  Preferably, I’d like to see my kids running around with other kids and families while the other women and I are having fellowship by working on a garden or helping each other clean or cook.  (If we all chose to stay home).  If a mother from the commune did need to work (but could still contribute in some other way to the commune), I’d be willing to help watch and take care of her children if some of the other moms could help out, too.  After all, taking care of each other and helping each other out/sharing resources is what a community is about.  As is mentioned here, in the old days women had hired help if they were middle to upper class or had inter-generational living situations if they were poorer.  In either case, they didn’t have to do all the housework and childcare by themselves and I think that was a benefit to their kids as well.  It seems to me that if I were to spend the time I should to keep my house clean (and I don’t even mean sparkling clean) and have healthy home-made meals on the table every night, I wouldn’t be able to give my kids much attention.  And If I were to focus on entertaining them and stimulating them, I would be even more dreadfully behind on home management.  At this point, I choose to do both; so at least a couple days a week we go out and do something fun or meet up with friends for a play date.  And my house is pretty messy and doesn’t get deep-cleaned very often.  

2.  I’m envisioning a commune in which people pool their resources and strengths.  If one family raises chickens, then the whole community gets healthy pastured eggs and chicken meat/stock.  If one family has grass-fed cows, the whole community gets healthy beef, raw milk, and homemade beef broth.  Etc, Etc.  A large community garden could be worked on by many.  Herbs could be grown and used medicinally, cutting back on the need for doctor visits.  Women (or men) could get together and socialize while canning, baking, cooking, cleaning.

I know this is a Utopian ideal, and the reality would be occasional discord, differing opinions, and some members not wanting to work as hard as other members.  However, I think it might be worth a try.  I grew up in a religious community in Baltimore, MD.  It had a lot of families that lived in somewhat close proximity in the city.  Their main point was taking part in the religious activities, and it didn’t have any type of farming connected to it.  My parents loved it because they had an awesome network of friends and support, especially since we had no family in town.  My mom had a lot of friends with kids the same ages so they took turns watching each others’ kids and even cleaning the school we all went to when the school was trying to save on expenses.  I enjoyed growing up in this community for the 8 years that I lived there, but I would want an even tighter community that shares more duties and resources.

What do you think?  Have you ever been in or known anyone in communal living?  I’d love to hear about it.

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