Before There Was Me: Part 3

Before There Was Me: Part 3 September 8, 2012

by Mari

The House

I’d like to take a moment to thank my parents for making my story an easy one to tell. I say “easy” because when they picked their nest, they stuck with it — and that has made dividing my life into chapters really simple. Well, at least for this particular part of the story!

After my parents were married, they moved into the apartment building next door. The green one.

But let’s not get ahead of the story.

They called the nice little apartment home for almost a year after they married. They started their family there- and, they started house-hunting. Because when you’re young newlyweds with your first baby on the way, the thing to do is to find a permanent nest.

They shopped and shopped, quickly tiring of the monotony of open house after open house. In the Spring of ’78, they were done. And the house next door to the (green) apartment they called “home” went up for sale.

It was a large, square yellowish house on the corner with ~6 bedrooms. I don’t know a lot of the details of the house at that point because they had done a lot of remodeling by the time I came around. All in all, as of today, the house has potential for up to 11 bedrooms if you count the attic and the basement, 3 full baths, kitchen, living room, and ample staircases. (Unfortunately, actual closet space and organizational space equals just about nil.)

Yes, it is what I like to call a monstrosity.

Back to the house itself… I say “potential” for 11 bedrooms because some of the rooms aren’t exactly designed to be bedrooms, but in a pinch, you could convert them. There could be up to 2 in the attic, up to 4 in the upstairs, there are 3 on the main floor and up to two in the basement.

The upstairs houses a room that used to be a kitchen. My parents rented the upstairs to college students to help pay the mortgage. These students would rent a private room and share the kitchen and bathroom. The only thing I have to say about this is that it was absolutely disgusting. They were college students. They didn’t have cleaning skills. When the last one left, my parents were left with a trash heap of a kitchen and bathroom up there. The bathroom was promptly cleaned, painted and tiled and it looks pretty decent now. Decades later — to this day — the kitchen looks just the same as it did all those years ago when the last renter left. (In all fairness, it was gross. I don’t blame anybody for closing the door and forgetting about it.)

Mom says they bought the house because they were tired of shopping. I don’t blame them. I probably would have done the same thing. (The “moving next door” phenomenon seems to be a genetic thing — a few months ago, I vacated the basement apartment in favor of the upstairs apartment in my building. It makes for a quick, easy move.)

Mom (almost) singlehandedly moved them into the house, even though she was soon to give birth to her first baby.

When they moved in to the house, there were only two bedrooms on the main floor. When I was a little girl, my parents added a third bedroom to accommodate their growing family. We ended up being 7 people living in 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen and living room.

This doesn’t work very well. The boys tended to take forever in the bathroom. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.

On This Day In History

On this day in history in 1969 the Woodstock Music Festival opened in Bethel, New York.

And, on this date in history in 2012, this girl took a not-to-terribly exciting class on how to diffuse and deescalate physical and verbal crises. (Just wanted to throw that out there….)

And, on this date in 1912, according to, Julia Child was born.

And also, on this day in history, my mum and dad welcomed their first baby — a tiny little boy — into the world.

Jonathan was tiny because he was born several weeks ahead of schedule.

Last week, my mom and I were examining the newest baby in the family, who had been born 2.5 weeks before her due date. I pointed out the soft fuzz on her ears and my mom told me that this is normal for babies that make their appearance before they’re fully cooked. (Ok, so I’m employing poetic license there — she didn’t say “fully cooked.”) She also told me that next time I look at my brother’s newborn pictures, I’ll be able to see an example of what it looks like for a baby that was born even earlier.

I don’t know anything of interest that happened in Jonathan’s babyhood, but I can tell you that he turned out to be a lot of things:

  • A “first-born child” with all the characteristics of a typical first-born: very conscientious and independent.
  • He is very intelligent. He’s probably read more books than I have — and I’ve read a lot!! He also began to learn Greek in high school, something that none of the rest of us even attempted. He also got the short end of the stick — because he was the oldest — in that he had to try a bunch of different “extra” curriculum that got ditched before the rest of us got a chance to use them. (One year, he did consumer math in addition the the regular math he had. That sort of thing.)
  • It’s appropriate that he was born on Julia Child’s birthday. Jonathan was the bread-baker in the family. He did an awesome job at it!
  • He was the quiet one of the family and is (to this day) the most laid back of any of us.
  • Jonathan is probably the most generous person I know.

Jonathan is the one that has truly figured out what it means to be a big brother. He teases. He does everything he can to get a reaction out of me.

But if anyone else would dare to try to do the same thing to me, he’d beat the crap out of them.

Part 1 | Part 2

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Read everything by Mari!

Mari is the middle of 5 kids — and the only girl — in a male-dominent, semi-quiverfull, rather patriarchal homeschooling family. She was raised in a patriarchal church and most of her social network as a child consisted of children of patriarchal or quiverfull families. This is the story of how she was sucked into the patriarchal/quiverfull belief system, and how she was lovingly (and in some cases, not so lovingly!) escorted out. Read her blog at:

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce




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