Columns

Lauraville for Hipsters with a Heart

0

Hot House: 6400 Old Harford Road, Baltimore 21214

Sweet farmhouse Victorian  in the young and trendy neighborhood of Lauraville/Hamilton: $225,000

What: Sunny, charming and recently updated, this three bedroom, two-bath Victorian was built in 1920, when Hamilton was a making the transition from farmland to suburbs.  After years of decline from its working class roots, Hamilton is now one of the city’s great comeback neighborhoods, ethnically diverse and authentically Baltimore. Restaurants, art galleries, yoga centers, natural food and nightlife abound (checkout the Hamilton/Lauraville Main Street blogspot).  And 6400 Old Harford Road is an easy walk to everything.  The house features 9 foot ceilings, big windows, crown moldings and a wraparound porch. At 2,902 square feet and .3 acres,  it’s one of the largest houses around–you’ll be the envy of the neighbors, always a plus, and the large attic gives you potential for an easy 6 bedrooms.  Updated kitchen with breakfast nook, modern baths, new siding in’06, new roof in ’08. 

Where: Hamilton/Lauraville  is in the northwest corner of Baltimore City, bisected by Harford Road, and west of Northern Parkway. 10 minutes to Herring Run Park .

Why: young community, a real house in an up-and -coming hood with fun shops and great restaurants–walk to Hamilton Street Tavern! 

Why not: Great public schools? Not so much. Young families will need to check it out.  

Would suit: yoga teacher, college professor, hipsters with a heart.

It’s Summer! Imagine it On the Water in this Spectacular Spot

0

HOT HOUSE: 435 Ginn Lane in Pasadena, Md.

At auction: a one-of-a kind modern glass house and 3.51 acres with total privacy and views of Magothy River near the Chesapeake Bay. Suggested opening price:  $3.5 million. Sold to the highest bidder. 

What:  A beautiful, custom-designed glass house, built in 1997 for the late Leroy Merritt, developer and founder of Merritt Athletic Clubs.  An initial listing price of $7.9 million attracted no offers, and the house is being auctioned off on June 3 by Merritt’s estate. With high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass, the river views are spectacular from every room. At the top on the house is an observatory with 225 degree views. Sleek design and multiple levels of open living offer modern aesthetic appeal in a four-story, four bedroom home with four full and two half baths. Sunken living room and marble floors.  The grounds include a lovely pool, putting green, volleyball court and caretaker’s cottage. Private, waterfront land has a deep water pier with multiple boat slips and your own beach. This house was recently a Wall Street Journal  “House of the Day.”   

Where: A small rise on a private peninsula overlooking the Magothy River, Broad Creek and Sillery Bay. Pasadena, pop. 12,000, is on the western shore of the Chesapeake, near both Annapolis and Severna Park, about forty minutes from Baltimore. 

Why: A good chance to redecorate–even your mother-in-law will realize that her Victorian sofa won’t work here. Seriously, stunning views of sky and water puts the world in a different perspective.

Why Not: Visitors will be almost pathologically unable to resist comic observations about people who live in glass houses…

Would suit:  Water-loving millionaire with no urge to throw stones.


Different Values

0

This is the first in our series inviting writers to anonymously share family struggles. If you would like to submit your story, please contact [email protected]

What do you do when your values clash with those of your son and his wife?

Our son, Jim, and his wife, Cathy, are ultra-conservative Christians, while my husband and I are cafeteria Catholics.

Jim met Cathy at work. He’d never been interested in our Catholic faith, but a few weeks after their first date, Jim started going to Cathy’s church. He didn’t tell us he was going to church with her until after they’d been dating for a couple of months. Their wedding ceremony was performed by a minister Cathy had known since childhood.   Clearly, our son was committed to his new wife, his in-laws and his new religion. He never discussed any of this with us. Perhaps he thought we’d feel wounded or disappointed. We took consolation in the fact that he wanted to live a faith-filled life.

After Jim and Cathy had their first baby, my husband and I noticed we were not asked to babysit, and the baby was not brought to our home to visit. Though we had never dropped in on Jim and Cathy unexpectedly, we had been instructed by our son to call before coming over to see the baby. At the time, I thought it was a reasonable, understandable request, but when we found out that Cathy’s parents were doing all the babysitting and allowed to visit anytime with no call-ahead reservation necessary, we felt like outsiders and it hurt!  

At first I tried to convince myself that it was because we were the parents of the Dad, and maybe that’s how it goes: The parents of the dad have to wait until the mom (our daughter-in-law) is ready to allow us full access. I told myself I could live with that; it’s always been my goal to be a good mother-in-law. It seemed clear Jim felt closer to Cathy’s parents, but I consoled myself with the old fridge-magnet adage, “Your son is your son until he takes a wife, but your daughter’s your daughter all of her life.”

The first time we were asked to babysit, the baby was four months old. The other grandparents weren’t available. Last choice caregivers or not, we jumped at the chance to prove we could be the greatest of babysitters.  When we arrived we were given instructions about sleeping and feedings. We were also given specific instructions about what we could and could not say in front of the baby. No “Oh my God” or any taking of the Lord’s name in vain. No four-letter words.  I reminded our son that we don’t use that kind of language, and if we did, a four month old wouldn’t understand us anyway. He said the baby would pick up on our attitude. Really? Okay. 

I could see my husband’s face. The vertical vein in the middle of his forehead – the one that’s not noticeable when he’s content – was bright red and throbbing. But we said nothing; we were afraid if we raised a fuss, we’d not be asked to babysit again. So we smiled and assured our son we would follow his instructions.   

That’s how it goes most of the time. No screaming, no yelling, just subtle reminders that they have rejected our values and found something else. We fall in line because we don’t want to be any more excluded from their lives than we already are. 

I don’t try to lure them into religious debates. But if they say something I don’t agree with, I’ll tell them calmly without anger. One day they were telling me I should live by the bible, word for word. When I said I didn’t agree and thought the bible was a good guide for living one’s life, but not to be taken literally, my daughter-in-law said, “I’ll pray for you to change.” Boiling inside, I didn’t show my anger. Instead, I said that I completely respected their right to believe as they wish and to raise their children as they think best; that I would always respect their wishes regarding their children; that I don’t believe in trying to one-up them with religion and that I can see what may be right for me may not be right for them. A couple of hours after I left their home, Cathy called to apologize.

Recently, Jim said his daughters won’t be allowed to date – ever.  He and his wife believe that God will send the right man to marry them. Uh, good luck with that. People need the practice of dating and romantic relationships to make a good decision about whom to marry. When the opportunity arises, I will try to discuss this in a non-confrontational way. I’ll try! Due to the rules my son wants to impose, I’m concerned some of my grandchildren will rebel.  How will they handle it?  Will they reject them? I just don’t know.

Once in a while I’m encouraged.  The other day, Jim said to me, “Mom, it makes me angry to see Christians carrying signs putting down gay people. Don’t they know Jesus would invite gay people to dinner?” Hearing this made me happy and proud. He has a loving, accepting heart buried in his fundamentalist chest. 

I will not allow my family to be torn apart by religion.  There is too much of that in the world.  So I will continue to try to live and let live; to love my children for the virtues I see in them and to hope and pray that they’ll practice acceptance and tolerance too.

I felt rewarded by the Mother’s Day card Jim and Cathy gave me.  In it they wrote that I am a helpful gift to their family.  I hope they mean it because knowing that I am helpful to them would make my day, my year, and maybe, just maybe I might be a good mother-in-law after all, if not the absolute best.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

2

When our first child Emily was born, we were young, but not too young, and so eager to provide her with the life that we envisioned for her—no opportunity denied her, no experience beyond her reach. We would give her everything she could ever want or need.

My husband and I have compatible philosophies about childrearing, and while we planned to craft a comfortable existence for our children, we also knew that we would have high expectations for them. They would be well behaved, and we would be disciplined. They would work hard, and we would reward them. They would be good people—we would see to it. Naturally, they would attend the finest colleges and universities, and meet every measure society might place alongside them.

Fast forward nearly seventeen years… Beautiful Emily, born on a cold January evening, has exceeded our hopes and expectations. She has played sports, a musical instrument, participated in clubs, activities, even scouts, and has done well academically. She has been nominated to leadership programs, and won scholarships. We have been good parents, and she makes us exceptionally proud. Our daughter has good friends. She is invested in her community, and cares about other people. But, by the standards in this world of the uber-privileged, she is just a normal kid – a really good, normal kid. She does not get the best grades in her class, which she will willingly tell you. And she is no star athlete. Mind you, we still think she’s exceptional.

Imagine, then, the swirl of confusion as we have come to realize that all of this, this well-planned, exemplary childhood, may not be enough! This child, our beautiful, smart, hard-working child, is average, at least in the eyes of some college admissions professionals. It’s true that we know she will go to college, somewhere, and more importantly that she will grow to become a fantastic adult with a real appetite for learning and personal growth. But we can no longer promise her every door will be open for her. This is the first time in her life, and in our life with her, that we cannot offer her full access to the next steps.

What has happened is no tragedy. It is simply the realization that “really good” isn’t always good enough to get you in every door. This is never more true than when the doors they are knocking on are the prestigious colleges and universities we parents assumed our children would attend.  “Naviance,” a web-based software product used by high schools to aid their upperclassmen in the college application process, tells us that the profile for the typical accepted students at Harvard, Yale and Stanford, three universities with acceptance rates of 7 or 8%, include SAT scores in the range of 2100-2400. Average GPAs hover around the 4.0+ mark. In the world where these kids live and go to school, some of their classmates will get these scores.  But not many of them.

At the proverbial end of the day, when we are being really honest, I’m not sure if my anxiety is for Emily—that she will not be able to get into that first-choice school; or for me – that my own vanity will be exposed. We have wanted our daughter to achieve the highest level of success at every step of her young life. How much of this ambition has been for her, and how much for us?  These are the things that make me look old from the furrow that worry leaves in my brow. So now, in the early days of spring, I make my resolutions. I resolve to leave her alone about the college process.  I resolve to celebrate the really fantastic person she is, and is becoming. I resolve that I will not listen to the hushed conversations of parents along the soccer fields and concert rows during the rest of junior and senior years. And I resolve that, at least in our little world, we will make sure our really good, normal kid knows we think she is the best.

Elizabeth Frederick is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the writer’s children.

Guides