Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Small Town Mom

We think that there's a good chance that our Domestic Enemies are getting together for cocktails and inadvertantly making more domestic enemies. Ummm, please stop doing that. It's enough that we have Randy (and Randy getting his revenge) and Dickie and sometimes Ricky and Chuck E. Cheese...and then you add in summer enemies and winter enemies and urban enemies and rural enemies and now we have discovered even more of those bastards hiding in small towns...gah!

Today's post comes from our friend Jessica (aka The Snarky Mom). We asked her to tell us some stuff about herself and she sent us this:   
  • I'm a former newspaper reporter and published poet. My combined income from both was about$30 annually. [We make less than that from blogging so WELL DONE! - K & L]
  • Mom of three kids, wife of one. And the two cats *let* us live here.- From the suburbs of Chicago, now living in Wisconsin. Every morning I wake up, wondering how I got here. [We suspect zombies. -Kate]
  • I was the one that gave you the FFTIHAD about the giant gummi bear back in August.
  • Have a strange and unnatural crush on Weird Al. [Holy crap. Me too! - Lydia]
  • Am trying really, really hard not to be a bitch this school year. Again, it's that small town thing. Sure, my bitching was justified and in the suburbs would have probably gotten things done. But in a small town, all it did was label me a trouble maker and put me on the outs with the principal. And the school business manager. (But not any teachers, I'd like to point out.) (That you know of. - Kate)
  • I drive a massive, fuel guzzling Ford Econovan E-150. It's so big, it won't fit in my garage and I have to double-check drive-thrus to make sure I'll fit. It was free from my aunt and currently has 263,000 miles on it. There's nothing mini about my van. [Is it white? Is it a big WHITE tampon of a van? - Lydia]
  • I grew up in the malls of Chicago and miss them terribly. I also have a weird sixth-sense that I can find the path to the mall from any attached department store. It's not something I can put on my resume, but it's come in handy in unfamiliar shopping situations. [Can you find me an Orange Julius? I've been looking for one for 11 years. - Lydia]

I grew up suburban, with an urban-raised dad and a rural-raised mom. When I graduated college, I moved to an urban area. Then a suburb. But 7 years ago when my husband got a position an hour away, I added something to my resume I’d never had before: Small Town mom.

Small towns are different that the burbs, urban areas, and rural places. We’re a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and a whole lot involved in other people’s lives. If Mayberry had Facebook, Aunt Bea would be more concerned about her neighbor’s status update than what little Opie did at school.

Oh, and John Mellancamp? Your song sucks. I live in a small town, and I’m not nearly as excited about the “lack of opportunity.”

Domestic Enemy of the Small Town Mom No 1: Knowing Too Much

Being a mom in a small town is a lot like being in a sketchy sorority. You’re not sure whom to trust, what they’re going to say, and everyone’s watching what you do. And Facebook only makes it worse. No one’s really outwardly mean to each other, but there’s a lot of gossiping. And Facebook stalking. And honestly, some of the stuff, you just don’t want to know. You don’t want to know which mom got raging drunk at the Rotary fundraiser, because she drives the carpool on Thursday afternoons. You always thought little Billy’s mom was prim and proper, until you saw the high school pictures from Halloween when she and her friends went as the cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Really, I’m better off not knowing, but it’s like a car accident; I just can’t look away.

Maude forbid you need a pregnancy test or yeast infection cream. In a small town, not only will you run into people you know while the said items are in your cart, you’re going to know the cashier, too. And then after you leave, you know the conversation goes something like this, “Gosh, I saw Jessica at Walgreens yesterday, buying Lice Shampoo and Imodium AD. Weren’t you just at her house the other day?” And then everyone starts itching.

And then there’s the special breed of Small Town Moms, the kind that have been here their whole lives. My friend E. has lived in the same place her whole life. So imagine just how pretty and special she felt when she showed up to the hospital, sweating and panting in labor and not wanting to be seen by anyone that isn’t in her immediate family. Her nurse for the day was the snitchy former Ms. Popular from high school, still looking ever-so perfect with her pom poms just as high up as they’d been 10 years earlier. “Just let me squeeze past your stretched out contracting orb with my Slim in 6 abs while I check your cervix. Wow. You really packed on the pounds with this pregnancy, didn’t you?”

That’s the thing about small towns, no one forgets. And news travels fast. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to line-dry your pants indoors, lest anyone catches a glimpse of your stretched out waistband on the clothes line. And, if you happen to run into an old person in your town that’s known you since you were a kid, it doesn't matter if you're a respected doctor or city's attorney now, all Mrs. Jones remembers is that you once stole her garden gnome.

One other thing about this subject. Sure, I’m not from here originally, but they’ve hazed me enough to let me in on a little secret: last names mean a lot around here. Too much. It doesn’t matter what your own accomplishments are, if you have a last name people don’t respect, you’re lumped into that group. It sucks. By contrast, if you are a low-life scum-sucking asshat, but your last name is a “good one,” then your troubles aren’t made to be a big deal. I got a first-hand experience with this when I was a reporter. Someone with one of the “good” last names was cited for road rage. The story appeared on the front page. My husband’s boss summoned him to his office and asked if I had anything to do with it. According to my husband, he yelled, “But she’s a [good last name]!” Yeah, well she also almost committed vehicular manslaughter. On purpose.

Domestic Enemy of the Small Town Mom No. 2: Wal-Mart Dependence

Where I live, I’m lucky enough to have three Super Wal-Marts within a 15 mile radius, the closest one being 3 miles away. And yes, Wal-Mart is where I do the majority of my shopping. But small town people are intelligent and neighborly, and we all know the battle between the local businesses versus the big corporations who see our small towns as dollar signs. We’ve read about the problems with Wal-Mart and all the social implications they’re struggling with. And as guilty as I feel, I just can’t take the kids grocery shopping at the local (and very friendly) grocery store. And shamefully, it all comes down to the carts. Three kids = a need for the large shopping cart with the trailer feature. It’s a vicious cycle really: I shop at Wal-Mart because they have the carts to accommodate my kids. They, in turn, spend part of my money on ensuring they have more of these carts. I only run to the local store for milk or other quick items, and that money can only buy the sub-par carts. I feel bad.

As much as I love Wal-Mart, I hate them too. Most of it is an issue of self-control. I’ve gone in before to buy maybe $10 worth of products, and leave having spent $58. Score one for Wally World.
I feel like they really have us by the episiotomy stitches. If Wal-Mart doesn’t have it, it’s either an hour trip to the 2nd largest urban area in the state, or live without. My friend J. says that many times she sees a good recipe in a magazine only to find out Wal-Mart doesn’t have half the ingredients. I guess if Wal-Mart doesn’t have it, we don’t need it. Game over.

And I can’t even tell you how many dates with my husband have ended at Wal-Mart because we couldn’t think of anything else to do. It’s a sad, pathetic existence. Wal-Mart, we just can’t quit you.

(By the way, the reason for only two Domestic Enemies of the Small Town Mom is because I can relate a lot with all the other Domestic Enemies posts. Though I’ve never come face-to-face with a rat, I did once encounter two deer and a turkey on a walk with my son. Froze solid. Also worth mentioning, my son is in 4-H, and I didn’t know you could be in that if you didn’t have a farm. Good to know.)

The positive side of providing a small town experience for my kids? Well, the one I’m most thankful for lately is that their bus ride is only 4 minutes. It may be 4 minutes of words my kids are not allowed to say, taught to them by the “good” families’ kids, but it’s only 4 minutes. When I was a kid in the burbs, it was 25. It’s going to take the whole semester for them to learn ALL the slang terms for body parts. It’s small victory, but a victory just the same.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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