Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homecoming Queen, 2010

(or the post in which I eat my own words)

My senior year of high school, I didn't exactly think my involvement in the debate and environmental studies clubs garnered me huge popularity points, but somehow I found myself on the receiving end of a senior girl's highest honor, a homecoming queen nomination.

Most of the details of the nomination process, election and homecoming week are fuzzy memories, but the coronation assembly before the big homecoming game and dance flashes like a bright neon sign among my high school memories. The big event involved cheerleaders cheering, Madrigals (both current and alum) singing traditional school songs, skits by the students body officers and school produced videos full of exciting football moments and rousing school spirit. The crowning moment was the processional of the homecoming royalty nominees and the announcement of that year's queen.

There we were, lined up at the back of the darkened auditorium, waiting for our names to be called. In turn, each of us was escorted down the aisle to the stage while we were introduced to the student body. Our glowing high school curricula vitae and hopeful future plans were read aloud to sentimental music as we promenaded past our peers. I knew the vast majority of my little biography would be about school, because, well, we were in school and I planned on attending more school once I graduated. The other nominees were bright, accomplished young women. Their service to the school as student body officers and cheerleaders, then their college plans and future careers were all mentioned. For some, there was also mention of desires to have a family or to go on a mission.

Then there it was, read aloud to an entire student body in our homecoming assembly, tucked in among the lists of choir achievements, parts in the school play and college plans. One girl hoped to be, and I quote, a "mother in Zion".

I was dumbstruck. Zion as an ideal spiritual society was part of the religious lexicon of Sunday school lessons, but there in the midst of a contest that was essentially a popularity election? Shocked, I couldn't process it. It seemed out of place and not a goal worthy of mentioning. Sure, we were going to be mothers some day, but didn't she know that when some one asked her about her plans for the future, they were asking about her secular life...what she was going to study, make of herself, and do in the future? Where were her dreams, her ambitions? This mother in Zion business seemed such a limited view of her future and the world.

Fast forward quite a few years. I moved away from home, graduated from college, moved further away to a city I love, pursued a career in my own meandering way, married, traveled and experienced a bit of corporate success in an unexpected second career. Through the midst of it, the desire for children grew gradually and persistently but has been repeatedly frustrated. Time and time again, this challenge drew my focus to home and family. Used to looking out into the big wide world to justify my identity, purpose, strengths and success, looking inward and homeward was often uncomfortable and uncertain.

Recently though, something has shifted. I feel a growing excitement and purposefulness about nurturing the life that is centered around my own hearth. Now, not only do I want to care for my relationship with my husband and prepare for future children, I see it as extremely fulfilling work. I am excited to focus on meeting the needs of our little family of two and preparing to care for an expanding family. I want to learn how our home can be organized, peaceful, and supportive of growth. I want our spiritual life to be vibrant and strong, our meals to be nourishing, our recreation to be rejuvenating, our space to be welcoming. Simply put, I want to create a bit of Zion here in our little apartment.

Oh, the delightful irony. My seventeen year old self saw that vision as limiting, short sighted and even out of place. Now, I see it as possibly the most freeing, meaningful thing I can engage in. The effects of a well managed home and a cared for family are not out of place in the real world, but intimately woven into a family's and its individual member's successes in that world.

So, I take it back. I too want to be a mother in Zion. I want to learn all that entails from organizing and cleaning to nurturing emotional development, from preparing healthy meals to creating family time, from wise financial planning to having a deep, soulful marriage. All of this feels like deep and sacred work. I want to embrace it, share it, and write about it here.

And if, along the way, this focus on decorating, refreshments and cheering for the home team wins me a Homecoming Queen crown, who am I to complain?


Amy said...

ditto, my friend, ditto. i need to remember regardless of our status there is always some yearning and some way to create our own little zion. thanks for this today.

J.B. said...

A few comments.
1 - LOL
2 - Hope your words were chocolate-covered
3 - ME TOO!

word verification: baledial - N - a gauge placed on hay bales to show the rate at which it is expiring.

Alexis said...

Lovely story.

I am trying to create a haven for my family--something I must remember as I live in the hurricane of three small girls!

Thanks for the reminder!

Megs said...

Beautifully written! My hubby and I are prbably not going to have kids... So many people think I'm crazy for spending so much of my time cultivating my home-life - but love of family, of husband, of home, of cooking, of simplicity, and joy - those are things to strive for no matter what the situation. (And I like that we can share stories as we go, on how to get there!)

So, did you win homecoming queen? ;)

Jen said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing your journey!
Um, yeah, did you win?

shellysquilts said...

Hey Andrea, For every time in this life there is absolutely a season. And where this road, that is your life will lead you, is going to surprise you beyond recognition. That being said, I hope your road leads you past some amazing scenery and that your potholes are shallow. Take care, count your blessings and quilt your brains out my friend!

Nina said...

I heart you . . . and your Beatle's Rock Band lovin' husband!

Amy said...

I wonder about that homecoming Queen and what she wants now.

Glad you're in my life Andrea.

rosemeg said...

You don't have to eat your words, my dear! Surely the journey that's led you to this place has made your desire to cultivate your spirituality and to build your life on hearth and home, all the richer and better informed, no?

redhot said...

Andrea, how I miss you and your ever lovin heart!! You have such a beautiful way of expressing yourself. Can I be like you when I grow up? You continually inspire me. Thanks for this post.