the simple minded suburbanite


We’re Doin’ Just Fine…More or Less
July 9, 2011, 7:38 pm
Filed under: budget, gratitude, parenting, suburbanite, voluntary simplicity | Tags:

“Everyone has more than we do,” mumbled my 12 year old.  12 year olds have a sensational ability to make huge leaps in logic.  In less than 30 seconds, he went from begrudgingly turning off his Xbox (but it’s not XBox live!) to donning his Nike tennis shoes (but they’re not Nike Shocks!) to heading out the door to weed the flower bed, one of his chores (only $12 a week!  I’ll be dead before I can afford an IPad!).

I take most of his pre-teen grumbling and complaining with a grain of salt.  My husband and I counter such nonsense with pointing out how fortunate we are, we have a family who loves each other, we have all we need and much of what we want.  We state what we’re grateful for each night before bed.  Our kids work and save birthday money, summer allowance, and the occasional cash from odd neighborhood jobs for the gadget of the year and I am proud to say that we whip out the same Nintendo Ds we bought 6 years ago for road trips (Lite?  3-D?  I say, Nintendo BS).  They’ve never been the kids who beg for toys in Target or whine for bubble gum in the grocery check out.  They understand that, as a family, we choose not to spend our money “that way”.  We prefer the stability of a home that is not under water, the thrill of the occasional family vacation or excursion, and the dreams we have for our kids’ futures as we squirrel away loose change for college.

But, I gotta say, I lost my cool.  He not only said it once, under his breath, but confidently repeated it to me with a full on look into my eyes when I asked the motherly, “What was that you said?”  I didn’t lose my cool right away, I lost it after I started into my usual, “There are so many people who would love to have what we have” speech and he, as respectfully as possible, said, “I know that, but I’m talking about everyone around here.  My friends!  Our neighbors.”  I’m not proud to say, I yelled.  I stomped around.  I flailed my arms. “$120 Nike Shocks!  Are you kidding me?  You’ve gone on a run all of 2 time the entire summer!” I had had it!

I know enough to step away…. so, I did.  I took a breather.  I calmed myself down.  After furiously scrubbing the kitchen and sorting all of the laundry in the house, I went onto the back deck and called my hubby, ran through all of the things I was planning to take away from son #1 to teach him a lesson.  My husband, may I say, knows enough to let me get it all out, spit out the venom, before offering perspective.  “It is his reality, and though he needs to be respectful of us, we do need to listen to his reality.  It’s how we feel often times ourselves, isn’t it?”

Shit.  I knew I married this guy for a reason.

I am not enough.  It’s the pressing, unwanted mantra that bumps around in the dark. It’s the self loathing untruth from which I’ve tried to free myself for most of my life.  And what son #1 said, it made me feel less than.  It made me feel that all the hard work that my husband and I have put into our homes, our family, our relationships, our careers is all for not because we keep falling short.  We keep falling short in the “stuff” aspect.  In all truth, this is one of the reasons I write this blog. Yes, for one, I want to point out the absurdities of the suburban, consumer-driven, self-indulging lifestyle.  But, also, it keeps me focused on what I know to be true, and I think everyone knows to be true when hard pressed, that none of that “stuff” really matters.  But, ya know, it takes alot of energy, consciousness, humility to believe it and stick with it in the Land of Rovers.  And sometimes, I think I’m the crazy one.

So, I took what my husband said to heart and changed gears.  My son is getting older now.  I explained, that Mom and Dad feel like everyone has so much more that us sometimes too but here is what is most important to us:  that our children dream big and work hard to get it, that our family finds joy in the day-to-day moments, that we embrace a love of learning and an openness to people and situations around us, that we be our true selves and support one another. You are not what you own, you are sooo much more than that.  I told him that what he said was a put down to a mother and father who love him and work hard to provide our boys with the best life we possibly can, that by saying words like that hurts us.  We are here to listen and to help with anything that comes his way because we love him.  And, if anything like this comes up again,

I will take all of his shit and throw it in the trash!

Author’s note:  I wouldn’t really throw it away.  Why, that would be wasteful and bad for the environment. I’d sell the crap on Ebay and get my hubby and I a nice little weekend in the mountains!  College?  Smollege!)

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