I can’t speak for Joyce, but for my part, I believed that a 1976 trailer in a rented lot was just a stepping stone to bigger and better things. I told myself that this was the way life was supposed to be: A young couple starts small, and then they, to borrow a phrase from the immortal Dr. Seuss, “keep biggering and biggering.”
I wanted more. I wanted newer. I wanted nicer. I wanted better. The same longing that had filled my heart since childhood grew from innocent hope to something so twisted that it is hard for even me to explain.
On the one hand, I loved my life; I truly did. My children and my marriage were, without any doubt, more wonderful and fulfilling than I had ever imagined. My home was clean, well-ordered, and peaceful. Dan built me a beautiful tiered vegetable garden in the back yard, and he even put a door on the shed. Deep down, I was still the leftover hippie chick that I had always been: I grew, canned and cooked my own organic food. I gave birth to my last two babies at home and breastfed them with absolute devotion. I continued to diaper them in real cotton. I sewed most all of the family’s clothes myself. I started attending homeschooling support groups and reading books about homeschooling when our first baby was only five weeks old. Throughout their childhoods, I taught all my kids at home until they went to college. I worked outside my home, and attended college myself, only when my hours did not affect the children’s schooling. I was a fiercely devoted mother, homemaker and wife. That was who I truly was with every fiber of my being.
On the other hand, I was miserable because my lifestyle did not fit into my Brady-Bunch-Pledge-commercial-Mr. Bubble imagination. I could not reconcile my real values with my imagined ones. Dan was an ordinary low income blue collar worker without any real prospects of advancement, and I was a refugee from the Le Leche League. Joyce eventually put her kids in public school, got a job and moved out of the trailer park. I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. I was once again the only housewife in the not-so-happy neighborhood, and I was filled with self loathing, even in the midst of genuine happiness.