In the past six months, my husband has said he’s had the chance to find his inner-Mexican.
He’ll tell you that as a joke.
But we both know there’s a lot of truth in his laughter.
He’ll also tell you that he grew up in a culture that, in order to get what you want, you had to make it yourself.
He’s done a lot of making-it-himself lately, but by now, he recognizes that the quality of self-reliance is not unique to the Mexican culture.
Watching him make that connection reminded me of when we first moved to Lafayette, and I heard a local comedian say, “There’s one thing about us Cajuns. We love our food. We love our families, and we love our God.”
While I know that statement to be true about the Cajun culture, it’s also equally true about Mexican culture. About Cuban culture. About Thai culture. About most any culture I know anything about, in fact.
Yes, my husband’s Mexican-inspired declaration has to do with all the things he’s built. He’s laid tile. He’s installed windows. He’s painted. He’s built a set of lockers, one for each member of our family to simply drop our bits and bags, hang our sweaters, leave our books or whatever else we want upon our arrival at home.
As in the best humor, there’s much truth.
Finding his inner-Mexican has been about more than building things. It’s about him being who he is and being happy. In fact, our whole family is happier these days. We work better now – and that’s mainly because he’s home more. He’s comfortable in his skin. He’s fully himself. Life is much less stressful for us all.
Say what you will or won’t about the women’s liberation movement, but, from my experience, the fact is that home life, especially with kids, works better when someone is actually home. Not to say that plenty of single parent or dual-working parents’ families don’t work well. I know they do, but I also know it’s wearing. And that wearing-down is closely tied to economics, isn’t it?
During this transition time for our family and our nation’s economy as a whole, I’ve re-learned some of things people, mainly my parents and grandparents, tried to teach me when I was a child. They knew back then, and tried to teach the rest of us, that money doesn’t equal happiness. What I’ve learned most recently is that spending less money doesn’t equal less happiness. Like most Americans, I needed to be reminded of that. The rush-rush-spend-what-we-can-try-to-fit-everything-in lifestyle contributes to the wearing down of families.
Thankfully, my husband – and therefore, the rest of our family – has had the chance to re-learn some of life’s basics this year. He says his many years in corporate America were mostly rewarding, but the creative spirit required there has more to do with ideas. Now, he gets to make more tangible items, and at heart, he’s an artist – a creator of things.
Jan Risher’s column, Long Story Short, appears on Sundays. She can be reached at email@example.com.