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28 January 2013 First?

Last night was time with Beloved's family. Once a month his parents host a family meal, which can be quite a hassle considering that they have six married children, and one single but grown up child, and two special "girls" who are not little but act that way, plus a boarder who is young woman who is deaf but loves to be involved in everything around her. Since everyone has their own lives to live, whenever Beloved's Mama calls, whoever can comes. It can be a bit tricky since this family is a mix of four ethnic groups, attend at least four different church groups and live in two different countries, and the number of grandchildren already out number the number of adults. Not everyone can make it all the time, but we try our best to get together. It can be fun, because despite our differences, we love each other. Last night was a classic example. Let me share a bit with you.

We were suppose to start at 3pm, but because my good sister-friend and fellow blogger Fel had a nice little gathering for her hubby and superman's birthday. While I wish I could have stayed longer at this get together (or as we call in this neck of the woods "party" but not to be confused with what my peeps from elsewhere think a party should be), it was nice to be able to cut and run, and do two things in one Sunday. So we showed up at my in-laws about an hour and half late, but there was still work to do. Also, a couple of in-laws were just arriving so it was a bit hectic with 6 pre-school age children running around. My lateness, mixed with others caused a late dinner, but it was all good. We did, after a couple of burned plantains and a few changes of clothes (because let's face it, this raining weather and a three four-year olds are bound to make a mess) we finally sat down at my in-laws round table to share a meal. My father-in-law said the blessings over the food and the meal began. Little guys from the kiddie-table were moderately behaved but they still were heard, in three languages, with the demands of any kiddie-table.... Ack val maya cake... Ma I wa deh sam tings that X haf.... the the classic.... I have to go pee-pee....

Of course, since I don't have any children, I basically sat back and observed. Clockwise  around the table my Father in law and mother in law were  talking in Mennonite German to no one in particular.... I was sitting next to them and I kept looking around for who they was talking to and I didn't get it. They were too loud to be speaking to each other, but really no one else was listening. One of the special girls sat next to them unhappy about something, gobbling down her food and making random hurtful statements. I ask her what was wrong a couple of time and she would roll her eyes.Beloved's little sister and her husband sat further long the clock from me, speaking to each other in English, which meant they were trying to engage someone else in a conversation again I was clueless who, a visitor and my sister-in-law who's husband is out of the country on business we talking about babies. Their conversation seemed personal but not private. The boarders was at my nine o'clock signing to whomever would pay attention at a given moment. She has the knack at being witty so she  caused a few fits of laughter. The other special girl was next, also randomly making statements, but her's were of joy and pleasure, claiming that she is looking forward to the honours dinner tomorrow for all the family that have adopted "children" but all of us can't go because it is not for that type of family. Between ten o'clock and me sat Kriol Sister inlaw whose husband was absent and Beloved who were basically sharing their own secrets about the absent husband's "busy" schedule hinting to no one that his new satellite tv might be keeping him real busy. I loved this family but atlas I made a couple of conversational blunders.

See, while this side of my family is multiracial the core is from a stock of conservative Mennonites that have an interesting cultural evolution that involved migration, religion, and assimilation.  They mostly have strong values, and what they consider to be true and right is basically, absolute. If there we did not have the determination to love each other our time together be full of hurt and biases. Since, I know that certain topics are really taboo. It is difficult for some of my Beloved family to understand certain things in my life.

First Blunder was in regards to Rebecca Stirm's fashion show. I asked Kriol Sister In law, right around the table, if she attended the big event Saturday night.  Ouch. All of the sudden everyone's attention was on me. Someone asked me what I was talking about. I know I hit a sour note but I did not back off. I exampled that I would have like to attend because it really encourages me to see a young woman use her God-given talents to be creative, set standards, and well, do well. Belize deserves a celebration of beauty that is not contentious or lewd. I admire the fact that Ms. Stirm is giving young women in Belize a chance to model, to hold a higher standard of doing so. I hope that the days of bikini shots for Belikin beer and other shameful modeling are gone. I hope that a woman who has talents in modeling can be celebrated without having to sell out to over-sexed images and that classy becomes the new sexy. Ouch. I know by the glassy head and the absent minded nods that no one agreed with me but were too respectful to challenge my statements. It is sad that they don't see that female beauty as a creation of God.

Second blunder was after dinner. I was tired after a long day of jolly-banting and I wanted to go home and snuggle with Beloved. I also knew that dishes needed to get done. So when the meal was basically done and others were taking care of their children, I started the dishes. Beloved knew I was tired, so when I asked him to help, he gladly got up from the table where the other men remained seated talking about the weather and the crops. When he got up to help, it did not cause a major problem. But it did not go unnoticed. I the object of envy of some of the ladies and rebuke by others. Basically, Beloved's dish washing days were suppose to be over when we got married.

The last mistake was the cream on the cake. It was so classic that I do not know I should not have said it. I know I was foolish to say it. I know that is this a topic that I will forever disagree on with Beloved's family.  We ladies were talking, after Beloved left the dishes to return to the manly table and discussions about agriculture, and someone asked the group something about how to know how long you want to wait in between children. It should have been an interesting discussion, but of course, I opened my mouth. I said i think it depends on the long term vision of the family. If the mother is going to work or be heavily involved in something outside of the home, then I think it is better to have your children like steps so when they start school, her career or whatever can continue.....

Oh Beth, how can you be so silly! Let me pause here to say one thing. I realize that something like this is a personal choice and I know it is highly controversial. I grew up with my mother, who wanted to be a stay at home mom, working. I know both sides of the argument. I personally believe that in early childhood the main care givers should be parents. I also believe that if a baby-sitter is ever needed it should be a extended family member or close family friend. I also believe that children should be cared for, and they are partners in a family not burdens. But I believe that every couple has the right to work. I personally plan on having a career and children. I know it is not easy, but God gives grace. I don't want to have a career out of greed, but because I want to touch lives. I know that children, if they come, they will be my third priority, after my time with God and my time with Beloved....

This comment, full of conviction but said carelessly caused a stir. A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE HOME! was the conclusion of the discussion. 

So readers, let me know. What are your thoughts on your family life? What makes your extended family so precious? Do you ever make conversational blunders? What is your take on issues of beauty, gender roles, and working mothers? Let me know!

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