A few months ago I wrote about how having a “poor” attitude can hold us back but since then the subject really hasn’t come up again, which is surprising since last month was even tighter financially than the month when I wrote the original post.
Today, on the way home from an event I’ll discuss later in this post, I realized that my attitude problem has a trigger! My kids!
Growing up I never wanted for anything, I really had a charmed life. I don’t know what my parent’s financial situation was like when we were growing up but I know that we were often called the “rich kids” at school. I’m pretty sure we weren’t rich by conventional standards but we had more than enough and were a lot better off than many of the children in our school, most of whom lived off the coal mine industry.
I may have been a weeency bit spoiled too. I’m not talking about being a brat and expecting things (though I do recall having a tantrum over wanting to go to Hershey Park instead of camping when I was 12 or so. I am so embarrassed about my behavior now. For what it’s worth we ended up going to Hershey Park and I recall it being boring. How much of a brat was I?) I’m talking about being spoiled in that I thought my kids would have the same charmed life.
So, back to what triggered my attitude this morning….
We joined a local 4H group for homeschooled kids. It’s a very active group of 50 children between 15 or so member families. Today I was at a parents meeting and the topic of field trips was brought up. Each club is sponsoring a field trip and the upcoming ones are to Gatorland ($11 per person), SeaWorld ($25 per person) and the Florida Aquarium (I don’t know the field trip price but their homeschool classes are $16 per person).
I sat in my chair and tried to disappear. When I ran the numbers through my head I realized there was no way we could do these trips. I know my kids would love to go to Gatorland especially, but $66 is a big chunk to pull out of another area because we can’t afford a dedicated field trip budget at the moment.
It didn’t matter that I knew we couldn’t go anyhow because the field trip is on a day when my older 4 are at computer class (which is free!) We can’t go to the Sea World trip because it’s on a day my girls are in drama class (also free!) The Florida Aquarium isn’t of special interest because we’ve been there quite a bit and get free admission all of September, and their grandparents are members and take them every few weeks.
None of that mattered to me. All I could see was “Poor Meg can’t afford these field trips!” which morphed into “Poor Meg can’t afford for her kids to have art class” which turned into “Poor Meg can’t afford a car for her 16 year old (who doesn’t even drive yet!)” which twisted itself into “I am worthless, my children have a horrible life.”
These things were forefront in my mind most of the 45 minute drive home. And then I almost hit the car in front of me. I woke up.
My children don’t think their life is horrible. I am raising children who know the value of a dollar and are very appreciative of everything they’re given. I have children who aren’t afraid to work hard to earn money and who don’t expect an allowance just because they’re alive. I have children who offer to pitch in their babysitting money to help pay for driving them to the activities they can do.
I have children who enjoy each other’s company (most of the time) and who value a movie night at home just as much as the rare theater movie. I have children who collect their pennies to donate to their favorite causes and children who volunteer on a weekly basis. I have children who never complained about sharing bedrooms, and even beds, when we were at our lowest point financially.
I have children who love their life so much they spent their own money on a surprise gift last weekend, matching best mom and best dad keychains for me and Jason. They mean the world to us.
My children do have a charmed life but not in the way I anticipated. I look back on my childhood and think “I wish I hadn’t been such a brat over that camping trip.” When my children are my age they won’t think back and say “I wish I could have gone on that zoo field trip in 1st grade”; instead they’ll be remembering all the cool stuff they DID do.
I need to remember that.