The Nouveau Appalachia Parent


When you visit the Virginia mountains with your children, you are likely to encounter a specific type of mother.

She doesn’t vaccinate her children. She’s likely to call them “Moon Pie”. And she will allow them a healthy serving of dirt – as only a snack, of course.

True story.

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Can you ever really return home?

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It’s a question that came to me not long ago – at McDonald’s, in fact. Just before we sold our first home in May, I was overcome with a longing for my parents and their house in the mountains of Virginia.

So I did what any Millennial parent would do: I tried to recreate a scene from my own childhood.

We took our children to eat beneath the golden arches for the very first time. As you may have guessed, our sandwiches were edible cardboard and the kids ate very little without the aid of excessive ketchup.

Really, the moment stung. “Old McDonald’s”, as my son lovingly refers to it, only heightened feelings of isolation within me.

Could I ever experience home again?

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It Rained Upon a New Fedora

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“You’re so hipster.”

If you are a mother who prides herself on being countercultural, this statement stings a little. I proceeded to shoot my husband the look.

“Well, you are wearing a fedora.”

Truth. Earlier that day, I had purchased my very first non-winter – dare I say fashionable – hat. It seemed like the perfect item to hide my exhaustion long enough to survive an evening of carnival fun in my hometown.

Only I didn’t plan for the rain.

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The Bus That Leads Home

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When I shared with my father that I, a 20-year-old graduate student, would be volunteering in Nicaragua during spring break 2007, his response was, in a word, strong. I explained that I would be working with orphans. No give. I emphasized the poverty that the children faced. No give. I told him that I was ready to see the world. No give.

I couldn’t see it then, but his anger and painful disapproval originated from a place of love.

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