Ode to a refrigerator

When we moved to North Carolina back in 1998, we moved from a rural farmhouse built in 1810 to a brandy new, just rolled the sod out house in a large subdivision. In New Hampshire, we were the epitome of house poor. We bought a nice house that needed a lot of TLC and put our backs into fixing it up. In the six years we lived there, I steamed off ugly wallpaper until my fingers puckered, learned more than I ever wanted to know about septic systems,  and was on a first name basis with our plumber’s family. We turned an eye sore of an old house into a pleasant place to live, all while having two babies and building my husband’s career.  We put all our disposable income into the house so we didn’t have a lot of stuff. Our formal living room had a Little Tykes jungle gym in it so the kids could have active play time year round. We didn’t have a bedroom set because you could barely fit a full size bed in our tiny bedroom and still walk around.

When we moved to North Carolina, so my husband could skip a few important steps up the corporate ladder and be closer to his parents, we were overjoyed to buy a house where all the doors shut and we were not in constant competition with the mice that lived in the dirt basement. Which brings me to the reason I am writing today. When we moved south, we needed “stuff.” The first two things we bought were a nice refrigerator and a big screen television. I remember the first time I turned Sesame Street on for daughter #2, she was terrified that Elmo’s face was now three feet high. She quickly adjusted. Other stuff followed, but those two appliances were milestones in our lives. We felt like we were moving up in life.

Well, two lovely young men came today and carted away both the refrigerator and the big TV. The TV stopped working around 5 years ago but it was too much of a pain to get rid of it. The kids didn’t use the playroom any more and it had become a junk repository. The fridge started freezing the lettuce  and melting the ice cream. It needed to be replaced with a new fangled one. It had served our family well for 16 years. Watching those two appliances was bittersweet. I’m excited to have lettuce that doesn’t freeze in the crisper drawer but losing our faithful refrigerator felt like a loss.

I realize that I am taking the loss of an appliance far too seriously, yet we are in a time of losses right now. The little girl that used to dance around the living room to Elmo’s World will be going off to college in the fall. The bigger girl will be graduating from college and start her career next year. It’s difficult to let go of the place where they used to tape up their drawings and keep their half eaten popsicles. The new fridge is nifty. I won’t have to pull it away from the wall to change the water filter and it has all sorts of fun features, but it won’t ever hold juice boxes or bags of baby carrots waiting to be packed in lunch boxes.

What Does Happy Look Like

Emotional intelligence needs to be developed in order for a person to successfully navigate the social world. I find that many parents don’t think to talk to their children about their emotional lives. We assume that kids can and do correctly identify what they are feeling. This is not always the case. Unless we talk to our children and help them identify what they are feeling in a situation and how to express that, they may grow up to be emotionally stifled adults.

In my writing, I spend quite a bit of time with some seriously stifled people. Lately, I have been exploring what happens when a woman can’t express anger and resentment on a day-to-day basis. The results end up being explosive and fatal for her relationships. I am also interested in how a lack of emotional self awareness could contribute to bullying behavior, especially in girls. Could a better sense of appropriate and inappropriate ways to express negative emotions lessen bullying behavior? Could children and adults live more satisfying lives if they had a better sense of what happy looked like? What do you think?