Last week I felt like I wasn't providing adequately for our children. We live on a modest income. We have always lived on a modest income. Some day that will change, but I see my girls growing older and wonder if it will change while they are still here to benefit. We live quite comfortably all things considered, but there are times when all of the shabbiness and hand-me-downs and things that need to get fixed pile up in my mind. This time I felt it while I was changing the sheets. One of my girls sleeps on a mattress that is probably 30 years old. We all sleep on hand-me-down mattresses. Once, when Jess was in the running for a higher paying job, the girls actually said they would like new mattresses. That caused me to pause. How many kids, while dreaming of things they would get if they had more money, would think to ask for a new mattress?
My oldest and I go for a walk each night so we have a chance to talk. I told her about my feelings of lack. I told her that I felt bad because the house wasn't neat and tidy, and we didn't have money to pay for repairs, buy things, or afford more experiences. She responded, "But we're happy."
She went on to talk about the families we know where both parents work so they can have the latest things and nice cars and cool vacations. She mentioned the families we know where the kids do chores to keep their parents happy. She continued on to the families that look like nice families from the outside but have children who are struggling, with parents who are either part of the problem or who aren't doing anything to help the situation. And then there were the families with teens and parents who argue a lot, and who think that's just the way it has to be. She even covered the families where one parent is really cool but can't be the parent that they want to be because they have to keep the other parent happy, and the other parent is very controlling. And then she said that she would rather live the life of our family, because we are happy.
Whenever I find myself looking at someone else's life with envy I ask myself if I would trade lives with that person. I have yet to find anyone that I would trade lives with. Other people may have more money, a nicer house, a better car and more than one car at that, but when I really look at their life there is something affecting their happiness. Often it is their marriage relationship or the sacrifices they make to maintain their financial situation. It has occurred to me that as long as I prefer my life over anyone else's life I must be doing okay. As long as my children can look past all of the things and experiences we cannot presently afford, and appreciate that we are happy, we must be doing okay.
Are you happy?