Something I have been terrified of for most of my adult life has become a reality.
I’m married and parenting in the suburbs.
Please send help.
I grew up in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, and I hated it. Everyone seemed to live life on repeat: work, school, homework, tv, wash the cars, mow the lawn, chores on Saturday, church on Sunday, then it was back home to start the week all over again.
So here I am, twenty years later, back in the very place I never wanted to be. And I am content. Joyful, even. How can that be?
Back in the day (a rap song comes to mind), I wasn’t a very happy kid. I perceived most people I knew were not very happy either, stuck in a monotonous spin cycle, trying to keep up with the high cost of living on the outskirts of the nation’s capitol. Stress and never-ending responsibility seemed, to me, associated with this lifestyle, and I wanted none of it.
I moved to Richmond when I was twenty-five after telling God I was truly ready to try life his way. I was single, in debt, broke, and working in the restaurant industry the whole time but I enjoyed life, for the most part. I lived in the city and walked to coffee shops and restaurants and parks overlooking both the Richmond skyline and the James River. I was able to travel and do mission trips and spend my remaining two dollars however I chose. My only responsibility was me. I grew in my faith, I made some dumb detours, got back on track, and made friends I now consider some of my very favorite people on earth.
My one pain point was I seemed to be stuck in neutral while everyone else moved on: met a nice guy, got married, bought a house, and had tiny humans that cried all night and pooped their pants all day. I had to keep making friends with people who were younger than me because I didn’t feel like talking about breast milk for hours on end.
I dated a bit but never met anyone worth giving up my independence for until Ben came along. Sweet, handsome, actual Boy Scout Ben who won my trust and my heart. Dang it.
So now I have all the standard issue items of suburbia: a husband, a home, and a child (who was already potty trained when I came on the scene, PTL!). And we live in the suburbiest suburb and this is now my life. And I love it.
The difference is God. No matter what my circumstances have been, walking with God has made life beautiful. Knowing who I am and what I was created for (to live life in relationship with and obedience to the Lord) allows me to opt out of the rat race. We are not too concerned with status or wealth and we know having (fill-in-the-blank item) will not make life any more satisfying.
That takes so much pressure off! And because our worth isn’t found in possessions or impressing anyone else, we are able to live more easily within our means, which also takes a load of stress away.
I stay home, and I get to keep our sweet little house relatively clean, be there for the girl-child when she’s not at school, and make sure the people don’t go hungry. We may not be able to spend as much as other families, but luckily I enjoy finding a good bargain and this is the perfect arrangement for us. Being a SAHA (Stay At Home Angela) also allows me time on my own to spend with God, read, watch Farmer Wants a Wife, and write things that make people want to throw shoes at me. Life is good.
What was I so scared of???
The suburban death trap I was so loathe to re-enter does not exist. Not for us, anyway. The unhappiness I experienced growing up was the emptiness of my own soul, and the futility of trying to fill it with everything but God.
Life is about relationships. With Jesus and each other. Period. If we have love and community and purpose, we will be content anywhere. Even in Glen Allen.
Happy Friday, friends. I hope everyone has a great weekend!