Monday, February 6, 2012

Adulthood: a new appreciation

Growing up, I KNEW my mom worked hard to make sure her girls were happy, healthy and well cared for.

I also knew that working hard meant her working several jobs at once, cutting back when necessary and making sure that we never felt the financial struggles that were a part of life.

And then I got married young. And incurred a ridiculous amount of student loan debt. Some credit card debt. A few cars and now a house with financial struggles of my own.

All the while, I was so thankful for the work ethic and financial planning skills my mom made sure I had.  Things might be TIGHT sometimes, but I very rarely feel strapped for cash (sure, there could always be MORE for this or that, who doesn’t feel that way?), and for that I am thankful.  I know how to budget (and stick to it) and how to withhold my urge for retail therapy.  And I know how to work – the do whatever it takes – kind of work that sometimes, is just necessary and doesn’t really phase me.

But I also know the value of items and time.  I never understood why we couldn’t always get the “good” ice cream at the store  or what the big deal about buying “real” pop tarts was.  But I SO get that now.  I remember calling my mom one day maybe a year-ish ago and being SO excited at how much money I saved at the grocery store.  And then I knew I was an adult.  And she laughed at me, I am sure. But I get it now. She did so much for us, and one of the biggest lessons I learned was the value of items – she used to relate large purchases to hours worked to help us gain an appreciation of what it took to purchase/do things – that sticks with me to this day.  Budgeting is a pain in the ass sometimes, but it is a necessary pain in the ass. 

More than anything else, my mom taught me the value of time.  I value my time at home – my time spent NOT working – so so much.  I know that my mom worked 2 or 3 jobs pretty much until about two years ago – but I never FELT that stress.  When she was home, she was home.  She was with us – making us laugh, cooking us dinner, making snack trays, just being our mom.  We made games out of chores and we all pitched in so that we could have fun together.  My childhood may not have been full of fancy vacations and name brand jeans, but it was overflowing with laughter and love (and many temper tantrums over not having name brand jeans, until I learned the AWESOME of the sale racks!) and while I appreciated it then – now, it’s a whole new perspective and level of appreciation.

In the days of 24/7 connectivity – it is REALLY hard for me to just put the work away for a while. To not be checking emails, texting with people about work-related things and all of that.  But the other night, as I was hanging out with Gianna while Mike was at work, it hit me – she is going to remember this.  And while I want her to understand and appreciate how hard her mommy works, I don’t want her to FEEL that hard work.  I want her to know that it happens but know that when we are together – that is all that matters - that we will laugh and love and experience life together without work mixed in.  Because the work that I do, it is still going to be there after she is in bed but the requests for more books and “can I just lay on your shoulder while you read to me” aren’t going to last forever.  And, that time together is worth more to me than anything else in the whole world. 

I know that the need to continue to work hard is not going anywhere anytime soon – but I hope that as Gianna continues to grow up that she appreciates the hard work and remembers the laughter and the love.

Funny the appreciation and lessons of our childhood that adulthood brings out of us sometimes.



Anonymous said...

Funny, I just said to Cori last week: "Think about how many hours you have to work to pay for that "shirt,purse,etc." before you buy it" I never knew it stuck with you all these years! Thanks for bringing tears of pride to my eyes this morning! Love you! Have as many "tea parties" as you can with G and sing as many songs and dance, dance, dance!

alison said...

Such good lessons for all of us to remember. As we're flying toward age THREE at warp speed, it dawned on me the other day that these are the moments that he's actually going to start remembering. I could get away with checking my phone while feeding him a bottle because would it matter in the end? Probably not. But when I choose to work on designs instead of saying yes to "come pway cars wif me?", it's starting to form the foundation of our relationship. Thanks for the reminders. :)

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

Well this post.

~Jess said...

I think that is one of the most important values to instill in ones children...and it's certainly not easy to do.

Great post!

Mazzy said...

This is a great, GREAT post and Gianna is so blessed to have you as a mom. There are so many things about parenting and life that you just don't understand AT ALL until you are, yourself, a parent. Making it all work and juggling all the variables... it takes super strength.

I love the thing about how many hours of work and item costs. That's a big deal for me... I didn't think about that sort of thing much when I was younger and I would just splurge money on whatever, whenever I had it on hand. STUPID, STUPID. My parents never taught me that valuable lesson and I vow it is one I will definitely instill in my girls.