April 23: My childhood vs. My children's childhood | Part One

Another topic from a commenter:

"Here's an idea for you (that may take more thought than you want to put in), but maybe a post about how your kids' childhoods are/will be different than yours, and feelings on that? I've been thinking that over a lot lately and since I don't blog, I'm passing the idea to you :). I grew up in a rural area with a SAHM; my son is a city kid with two full-time working parents. As he gets older, I'm realizing there are some idealizations of my childhood that I have to let go of, and also some really amazing experiences my kid will get that I never had access to. Maybe that's way too deep ... but an idea. Pictures are totally fine too :)"

I find this to be an interesting comparison and one that I haven't specifically pondered until this comment. My initial reaction was that my upbringing and also my kids' upbringings will be quite similar, which is a subconcious goal of mine since I had a wonderful childhood (Nate, too!). But I guess when you really get down to it, there are plenty of differences to discuss as well. I hope it goes without saying that everyone has different childhood experiences and upbringings and that is totally fine by me! Just because I was raised one way doesn't mean it's the 'right way' or that someone else who wasn't raised like me is missing out. I feel the need for this disclaimer before I touch on a few heavy topics of childhood and priorities in raising children. This is just my own personal story and the ongoing story of my children. Differences are good! Okay then.

Big city versus small town upbringing:
I grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri which is the commonly forgotten Capital in the middle of the state.  I thought it was a 'big city' with a population of about 45,000, which was gigantic compared to the tiny farming towns surrounding us in JCMO. My high school was huge since there were only two in our city: public (mine, graduating class of 800) or private (much smaller but still a huge competitor of ours in athletics). The size of my high school compared to the size of my hometown is kind of interesting, since I never realized other truly BIG cities had suburbs with their own schools, own little world, and their own culture. You either went to the public high school or the private one and that was that. 

My kids are growing up in a suburb of Milwaukee that has roughly 45,000 people living here, which is basically the exact same size as my hometown. And in case this isn't already known: we live in the same suburb where Nate grew up, and his parents still live in Nate's childhood home just a mile away from us. But the big difference is that our suburb is a part of the Milwaukee metro area that has 1.5 million people calling it 'home.' So Truman, Cecelia, and Porter are definitely 'city kids' compared to myself. 

And one of our favorite things about this suburb is the walkability: we can walk to school, walk to the downtown village, walk to playgrounds, etc., which feels very city-like. I definitely did not live in a walkable town growing up, we didn't have sidewalks, and my childhood home was built in the 1980s instead of our current home from the 1920s. That part doesn't really matter when it comes to 'upbringing' but I think our neighborhood and suburb have a much different feel than my hometown, too. I'll call Truman, Cecelia, and Porter city kids---but city kids in a suburb. I was a small town city kid with a side of farm girl;)

I went to St. Louis University and had a bit of a culture shock as I realized that I was considered a small town girl. Not to mention that when I chose a Jesuit college I didn't have a clue as to how different I'd be there since I was not Catholic and 90% of the kids there were at least 'sort of' Catholic. I think a lot of the city kids thought I was a po-dunk-farm girl-atheist or something, which was shocking since I believed myself to be a city girl with a solid religious background (more on that part in a bit)! My family did technically own a beef cattle farm, although faming wasn't my dad's primary job. Dad is a CPA who would change out of his business suit into his denim overalls and steel toed boots in the evenings to inseminate a cow or something crazy. So yes, I guess I was a bit of a 'farm girl' but we didn't live on the farm and I've never driven a tractor;) 

More on my experience being somewhat of a religious outsider at college: I remember the first Ash Wednesday I experienced while at SLU. My friend Keri came to class with ashes on her forehead and I was perplexed, telling her that she had dirt on her face. Ah, I learned so much about Catholicism in college because of the religious studies we were required to take, but also because of my numerous Catholic friends in college. I have gone up to the front of church at more Catholic weddings than I can count---getting a blessing with my arms crossed over my chest instead of receiving communion became more comfortable for me with each subsequent wedding. Which brings me to another topic when comparing childhoods.

Although I went to a public high school, I attended a Lutheran grade school from kindergarten through eighth grade. Which is ironic because we went to a Baptist church--one that was a very prominent feature of my childhood as we went every Sunday, most Wednesday nights, did vacation bible school and Sunday School, and my mom was employed by our church for many years. Papaw was even the very first pastor at our church, so it was definitely a big part of my childhood. But my dad grew up Lutheran and attended the same grade school that I did, so I had a nice blend of denominations as I formed my own faith base. Lutheran grade school, public high school, Baptist church, and then a Catholic university. This could have become quite confusing for me but I am thankful for the variety of religions I've been exposed to over the years.

As for my kids: Nate was brought up Catholic but married me in an art gallery with my Baptist grandfather officiating;) And now we attend a Lutheran church because I consider Lutheranism a nice compromise between Catholicism and Baptists. Nate and I really enjoy our church mostly because it's laid back, geared towards families with young children, and the pastors are fantastic. But one way in which my kids will have a different upbringing than my own? We do not go to church every Sunday (shame, shame--I have Catholic guilt for this without being Catholic). For awhile when it was just Truman and even into the baby Cecelia days, we did make it every-other-Sunday and I believe someday we'll make that a priority again. But right now during this chaotic stage of life with three very small kids, it's just not. I believe we can still teach our children about God and faith and religion without going to church every Sunday. 

For instance, Truman is really into this storybook Bible these days:
All Photos-306

We will read stories from it and discussions are prompted about God, Jesus, faith, and being kind to others. Truman also loves any of the stories that have to do with battles and death and I sort of forgot how intense a lot of the biblical stories can be. I mean, the crucifixion in general? BIG topic of discussion and something that I'm sure we will continue to talk about for years to come. At least, I hope we do! Cecelia doesn't 'get it' yet but reading stories with Truman is one way that the kids are getting exposed to religion without attending church every Sunday. Plus, Christmas and Easter are both opportune times to steer the kids towards the real meaning of these holidays. But of course, opening presents and eating candy are a hundred times more kid friendly than the birth and death of Jesus. BUT ANYWAY, religion was a huge part of my upbringing and it's also a part of my kids' lives. But probably not as prominent as it was for me as a child. When discussing religion at all, I feel the need to say that everyone is different here and it's alright if you weren't/aren't religious and don't want your kids to be either. I hope talking about faith isn't offensive because yes, it can be a sensitive subject!

Already touched on this one, but Nate went to public schools for elementary, middle school and high school, then met the love of his life at a Jesuit college;) I went to private grade school/middle school, public high school, and was Nate's love of his life at the Jesuit college. Nate even attended the exact same middle school and high school that our kids will attend, different elementary schools only. Our kids will go to public schools until college and then I will pray with everything I have they choose a state school after high school. Private colleges are beyond my comprehension for tuition costs so hopefully all three of our children are GENIUSES and get extremely awesome scholarships somewhere (that goes for a state school or a private school, actually). Be geniuses, kids!

So size of the city=different, religion=same but different, and schooling choice=same. More on the concept of the family unit next.


  1. I lol'ed at the whole Catholic/ash wednesday thing because I also grew up in an area with very few Catholics. Chad was raised Catholic and has had to educate me on MANY things about the denomination. (Also, how funny that we both grew up Baptist and married Catholic boys!)

    Also. Your family owned a beef cattle farm?! What? That's hilariously random...I mean, totally cool, I just had no idea. Obviously, I think I know everything about you because I read your blog. Duh. So when you throw something like that out there, I'm all "what??"

    1. Always like to keep you guessing, after all these years! ;)

  2. Neat topic! I've often thought about experiences I had growing up vs. those I wish my kids to know / or not know. (i.e.: traveling). It's especially interesting to me how couples chose to mesh religion and parenting styles when they come together, and how parents (who are now grandparents) accept those changes when they're different from their own.

  3. This is so interesting! We just moved back to my "home town," a 50,000-pop Twin Cities suburb. I just attended Kindergarten orientation at the elementary school where I went to Kindergarten. It's very Sunrise, Sunset over here! Maybe Nate kind of feels that same way.

  4. Such an interesting topic and I guess I haven't really thought that much about my own situation. But "Max" and I both grew up in small-ish towns that felt bigger given their location (Fargo, Blacksburg, VA) - as in, they were the big towns others might drive to. Now we live in a similar sized town but it's a suburb of a much bigger city. Max and I were both raised Catholic [and here I wrote a LONG and TMI thing about our Catholic history that I decided was way too much, ha!] but we no longer attend. We consider ourselves spiritual but not religious. I want to make service a part of my kids upbringing so I am not opposed to doing activities with local churches to make that happen - there is one up the street that seems ideal for that as they are an extremely liberal church. And public schools were great for us as kids so our kids will also attend public schools (with the caveat that we did move specifically to the area we live in for the school system).

    1. Yes, agree---we definitely live in our suburb specifically for the good public schools, too.

      And it's so easy to write a TON about the religious stuff---I had to edit mine way down, such a touchy subject!

  5. I love the comparisons! And I had no idea you both went to SLU, so did my husband and I!


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