- Posts for life tag
Friends | Our Prairie Nest

As October nears, I feel the pull of the seasons stronger than ever. It draws me toward home with nostalgia for family and New England, and… certain friends.

The idea of a “friend” has changed over the years, and I have some thoughts on it. Probably cynical ones, mind you, because I don’t think that, outwardly, a friend is what it used to be pre-internet.

At its very core, the idea of having a friend is to have a support system – someone who shares some of your interests and views, someone you can have fun with, and who is also there for you when life is not so fun. It’s kind of like a spouse or partner, except there’s no desire for physical intimacy and no romantic attachment.

Things like Facebook have complicated this idea of friendship. For example, I don’t see all of my Facebook “friends” as friends. A few are friends in the traditional sense of the word – people whose company I enjoy, who I can do fun things and talk about shared interests with, and exchange gripes about our lives with, but we’re talking maybe 5% of the people in my entire “Friends List.” And at least one of those friends doubles as family, because I’m lucky enough to have a great bond with my sister.

Some were friends once, but we’ve grown apart. I like that we’ve kept in touch, but the bond isn’t as strong or there at all. That’s just a fact of life. It’s nice to keep up with them, but I won’t be scheduling coffee dates with them from 1400 miles away.

Where does that leave the other people on this “Friends List”? Some are online friends only, people I’ve “known” for a number of years online and would be happy to meet in real life, but distance prevents it. These friends were discovered through a specific shared interest, but also have other qualities or shared views that I value. These are fellow writers, readers, and genealogists, and there’s often another quality or aspect to their personality that makes me want to keep up with them, too.

Some are other moms whose kids are the same age as my daughter. I like these moms and I enjoy hanging out with them. However, that time is sporadic and not likely to change. That’s okay. I don’t mind that, but I’ll be honest: I prefer their Millennial, 20-and-30-something company over my own Generation X, anyway (and my rant about how Generation X disappointed me and let the world down is a whole other kettle of fish). So I don’t pass up a chance to see these moms, if I can help it. In fact, I’d like to spend more time with them.

And it’s not that I don’t hang out with the moms whose kids are the same age as my son; it’s just that I don’t know any. My son doesn’t participate in social activities or parties that have ever necessitated my presence, so the one time I briefly met other mothers was the year he flirted with the idea of playing baseball. They already had their mom cliques, as opposed to the moms I met when my daughter started pre-school. Of course, they’ve formed their social groups, too, but it was a lot easier to be welcomed among them from the get-go. As far as the high school moms, well… it turns out they’re part of the Gen Xers I want to rant about, anyway.

That leaves what I call “friendly acquaintances” – local people that I socialize with, but with whom I have nothing in common. They aren’t people I can call when I’m out of gas and stranded, or to vent about something. Most of them aren’t people I would socialize with outside of school or scouting, because not only do we not have enough in common to draw us together, they’re also just too different than me when it comes to values, views, and more. And, honestly, I don’t want to socialize with them beyond what’s necessary. At some point, these people won’t be on my “Friends List” because I won’t have to participate in activities with them as our children grow up. I won’t be worried about offending them by rejecting a friend request or unfriending them once my daughter has either graduated or we’ve moved.

That’s where it comes across as cynical, I suppose. I certainly see the value in having acquaintances who are different. But we aren’t talking cultural differences. These are stark political and religious differences, and all they do is remind me of how uncomfortable it is to be in the Midwest, sometimes. These are the people who send friend requests that, if I didn’t have to see them face-to-face, I would otherwise reject.

That sounds awful, I know, but it’s the truth. I really don’t have any interest in befriending Conservatives or loud/hardcore Christians, for example. Many of these people post or share things that are insulting to anyone who doesn’t share their political views and religious beliefs. Sometimes, all they talk about is their church this and their church that, and they have to inject it into every conversation. It’s obnoxious, to say the least.

The thing is, I’ve had enough of seeing and talking to these kinds of people to know how this goes. They are who they are, and I am who I am, and there’s really no need to pretend either of us want to be friends. It’s okay with me not to get a friend request from you. Just because we see each other once or twice a month in real life, you don’t need to feel obligated to send me a friend request.

These folks always get Unfollowed by me and placed on a specific list. This way, A. I don’t see their posts and B. I can hide some of mine from them, if I so choose. Even if I do see what they post, it’s not going to sway my views or beliefs. No matter what, my children (aka the Atheist Teenager and Wannabe Witch Child) are not going to attend your church event or Vacation Bible School, and I’m still going to vote blue.

Rather than hope people will change, I’m simply at an age where I just want to find “my people.” That’s all. Nothing against anyone else for not sharing my views or beliefs. It’s just “that I don’t have the time or energy for that.

I think my biggest fear is that people will see my feelings as narrow-minded or cynical or misanthropic, but the plain truth is I’m just done with fighting uphill battles. I did it for almost 20 years with my ex-laws. Instead, I would rather lend my energy to something positive. Part of that happens by spending time with others who share the same path as me.

I just want to find “my” people. That’s all. And I acknowledge that most people, especially in the rural Midwest, aren’t going to be a part of the circle I want to find or create. So even though I’m afraid everyone will see that desire as a negative, to me it’s a positive, an acknowledgement that I don’t want to waste my precious time and energy on things that don’t serve me well.

And let’s paraphrase my favorite line from one of my favorite movies of all time when it comes to relationships (romantic or platonic): I’d rather be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong ones.

To the Cass County Fair | Our Prairie Nest
Many Things & Not Enough

So I need to write this now or forget entirely. Though there is no forgetting how remiss I’ve been in giving my blog love. I have this beautiful website and haven’t posted in an age. Not that it matters to anyone but me, but I do like sharing, especially when it comes to genealogy and witchcraft. It needs to happen more often.

Summer isn’t an excuse. Yes, I slowed down and enjoyed every moment until recently. In fact, I think I’ve learned to slow down in general. At least a little…

If you look at what I do – work full time, write full time, lead Girl Scouts (and I’m probably going to flail helplessly there for the next few years – eek!), and find time for family and hobbies – you would probably disagree. But, honestly, that’s “slow” for me, even if you include binge-watching “Outlander” and cross-stitching and trying to read a book a month.

Fall hasn’t gotten off to the best start, either. My beloved great-aunt Jo passed away on August 30. Simply put, it sucks. Aunt Jo meant so much to so many people. She never married or had children of her own. In a way, all of us were her children and grandchildren. She was the keeper of the family history, one of the people I picked up the genealogy bug from, and the person who wanted to keep family together.

I got the news on Friday when I got home from work. When I did, I closed the bedroom door and cried. I hate grieving in front of people. Ever since then, I’ve had a lump in the center of my chest. Sometimes, it loosens and I can breathe. Other times, it’s so tight, I can’t help but cry. I know it’ll come and go, and the idea of Aunt Jo being gone is surreal at the moment. If I could be in Massachusetts for her funeral, I would. But I can’t and that sucks, too.

Life doesn’t really slow down until you die, does it? Maybe there’s a trick to it or maybe all we can do is pretend to stop and smell the roses, all the while knowing time is doing its own thing, whether we like it or not.

Daniel asked me earlier this year when I’ll “stop” doing genealogy. I couldn’t help but squawk back at him, “When I answer all the questions!”

I guess that’s what keeps this inquisitive Sagittarius pushing so hard from day to day. That’s how I live my life – trying to answer the questions. What about you?


This weekend, my daughter played with one of her classmates and liked the tie-dye shirt he was wearing. She asked if she could buy one and I explained that it’s even better to make your own, so guess what we ended up doing on Sunday morning?

The stores here don’t carry Rit Dye, which was the one brand I remember using as a teenager. But we did find a Tulip Tie Dye kit – one in the entire store! – and bought that, along with a pack of 5 boys white t-shirts. Rowan chose the patterns, so I did the rolling, bunching, and rubber banding, and she applied the dye. Here are the results:

Tie Dye | Our Prairie Nest

Tie Dye | Our Prairie Nest

Tie Dye | Our Prairie Nest

Her favorite color is blue, so she went pretty crazy with it. In fact, we ran out of that color before we ran out of the green and pink. She had a lot of fun doing this, so I’m sure this is a project we’ll repeat in the future, once she outgrows these shirts.

Enough for Me | Our Prairie Nest
Enough for Me

I don’t have it all and being among other moms kind of drives that point home for me. Today, especially, I felt the weight of judgment that’s probably just a figment of my imagination.

It all started Friday night, spending time with people I’m aware are far better off than I am. Actually, it started before that when someone very graciously picked up the tab for an event I’m interested in attending, after I mentioned needing to put off spending money on until closer to the date. While I appreciate the gesture, it injures my pride a little bit. Now I have to figure out how to repay that person without it seeming awkward. Of course, I realize a true friend won’t be weird about it, but I still hardly know most of the people around me.

As it is, I have a hard time getting comfortable with people. I’m always waiting for their judgment, because it’s loomed over me since I was a kid: I’m weird. I don’t fit in.

With motherhood, it’s even more acute. First, when I had my son, I had That Mom Friend who did everything with her kids that “normal” moms do: took them to the Picture People for monthly photos, had the perfect house with a finished basement playroom, and strong opinions about the things we “should” be doing. I couldn’t keep up and, frankly, I didn’t want to.

More than ten years later, that feeling is still there with my youngest. It doesn’t help that my fellow mothers are now millennials, instead of Gen Xers. Of course, we can still relate to each other as parents, but there’s an age gap that makes it obvious we are coming from very different places.

The big difference, though, is how much effort I put into entertaining my little one. I’m comfortable with her finding her own way, so I don’t provide much by way of activities. She has enough (I believe) toys, books, and more, not to mention nature all around her. Every Monday, we bake together. Tuesday through Friday, the kids are at school. To me, that’s plenty. Her weekends should be free for exploration.

Where I live, there are a ton of fun, kid-centric places to bring little ones up in the city, about 45 minutes north of here – museums and zoos, and do I ever do it? No, unless it’s a school field trip. It’s too expensive, too much gas, and I just don’t want to run my child up to the activities constantly. Our one weekly activity during the summer was a visit to the library, then we’d hit the local playground or beach/pool on days that seemed good for it. Running up to the city for everything there seems like such a waste of time, energy, and money. Do I begrudge the moms who do this? Of course not. That’s their choice. But when they’re surprised we’ve visited the zoo once (about, um, 2015 or 2016?), it hurts a little.

Sometimes, people act as though I’m a stay-at-home-mom, which also has me grinding my teeth a little bit. I’m a work-from-home-mom and my husband doesn’t bring in an income… so what does that mean? How do people perceive us, exactly? Then there’s the fact that we grow a lot of our own food, bake homemade goodies, don’t stock up at Costco and Sam’s Club (because, again, that means going out of my way to do those things, spending money on gas to save money on food). And so on and so on.

What drove the point home and sent me in kind of a blah spiral was babysitting today. Spending time in a mom friend’s enormous house, while she graciously brought my daughter up to one of those special kid places with her kids for some fun, was a bit of a happiness killer. I know what I have is enough for me. I know it’s not enough for most people. And, honestly, I would like more. Who wouldn’t?

But I’m at a point where what I have is enough for me, and it’s up to me to continue to stand by that. I guess what I need is to “find my tribe,” the people who are happily living with less, while still striving for what they do want and need. Just somewhere a little to the left of the rat race, maybe?