As a child I didn’t like being told we were poor but we were. I was poor and too uneducated to know what to do about it. Oh I did what I was told and I studied hard in school and got straight A’s and scholarships to put myself through college and graduated even poorer and more uneducated than I began.
It wasn’t until I was about 27 years old that I picked up a book to educate MYSELF. I didn’t have a plan. All I knew was that I was tired of reading trashy novels (no, not THAT kind of trashy) and wanted to put something better into my head.
Actually it started before that. It started after I had my first baby and I refused to have television in my home. I wanted something better.
So I started reading. That was better right?? Except that I was reading all the wrong books.
A couple of years later I decided I had to do more than turn off the television. I had to read better books. These weren’t self-help books. They were classic novels and what they did was put higher ideas into my mind. Reading those stories made me want a better life for my family. At last I could envision something better than what I had.
I began reading even more. I started writing a blog. I worked really hard to change myself. I taught myself to clean and cook and organize and simplify. I tried to make everything around me more beautiful.
I was hungry for a beautiful life.
I was born into a poor, working class family and so were my children. We were poor because we were trying to live above our means. And no matter how hard I tried to catch up I just couldn’t do it. When I say we were living above our means I don’t necessarily mean money although that is part of the equation. What I’m really talking about is time.
My children and I had to work from morning till night just to manage the basics and even then we couldn’t manage them and believe me I tried. I cut out everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary and I tried and tried and tried. Anyone that knows me knows the truth of it.
It’s also true that I wanted the fairy tale. A beautiful home and happy, healthy, educated children. Doesn’t everyone? But I couldn’t afford any of it. I didn’t have enough time and I didn’t have the money to buy more. More time.
I used to vow that I would never tell my children that we couldn’t afford something because I heard that every day of my life growing up and I didn’t want them to have the stress I had of worrying about money and not being able to do anything about it.
Instead of telling my children we couldn’t afford something I told them that we could buy (almost) anything we want. We just can’t buy everything we want. If I choose not to buy them something it was because I was saving our money for something better.
Now I understand things a little differently. Now I want to tell my children every day that we can’t afford things. Now I want to teach my children (the children that are old enough to understand of course) that they should worry about money. But it doesn’t stop there. I want to teach them that they can do something about it.
They can educate themselves.
They don’t have to be poor working class people like their parents and all their grandparents before.
They don’t need to be in over their heads.
They don’t need to be in debt.
They can be smarter and make better choices and make a better life for themselves.
They can educate themselves.
And I’m not talking about a typical public school, college or university education. I’m talking about a real education. One that expands their minds and makes them capable human beings. Capable of managing their lives and making it beautiful for themselves and everyone around them.
Right now our life is not beautiful.
It is hard, hard work from morning till night.
While we are working we like to find glimpses of beauty around us but there is always the work.
And there is the education that we squeeze in every day that still feels like work to a child that can’t see the bigger picture and still feels like work to a mother that has to sacrifice so much for it.
Where is the time for FUN that everyone else seems to be having? When do we get to stop working and learning and sit down for some mindless entertainment??
Because we can’t afford it.
Please don’t hate me if I tell you that we can’t afford to play video games and watch television.
We can’t afford useless hobbies and entertainment.
We can’t afford to eat junk food.
If I tell you we can’t even do all the good things we want to do or all the wonderful things we used to do it’s not because I’m mean. It’s because
But let’s keep working hard and let’s keep sacrificing and let’s keep educating ourselves because some day we certainly will.
In the mean time we enjoy the life and the luxuries and the beautiful things we do have and we’re exceedingly grateful that we have the opportunity to work hard and educate ourselves. We are so lucky.
Maybe it takes a trip to Guatemala to really understand how fortunate we are to have all the things we have but more importantly that we have the opportunity to get more. Most people in this world have a fraction of what we have and no hope of anything better until the day they die.
We are so, so lucky.