Many of you know my brother and I were raised by a single mother. She worked long hours and also ran her farm successfully. But I know it wasn’t easy financially. It was actually probably a financial nightmare for my mom. But she ALWAYS payed her bills and truth be told, I didn’t realize we didn’t have much money. I had horses and dogs and 80 acres I ran wildly on. I actually remember feeling sorry for the kids that lived in town. Sure they had new sneakers and thier clothes weren’t bought second hand, they went to movies and the swimming pool, they had the latest cool toys, and thier parents drove a car that had air conditioning; but somehow I still felt like I was the lucky kid.
I also remember we only went to town ( it was less than 10 miles from the farm) once a week because we needed to save money on gas. And while at a friends house I was appalled that a special trip to town was made to go get a candy bar and a coke from the gas station. Why drive to town just for that!? I just didn’t understand.
Growing up there were several instances that I began to see the difference in how my mom spent her money (or didn’t) and how other people spent thier money. My mom was always very frugal and sensible. She did however allow for some extravagances like our horses. They were expensive and not especially a need. We also had several dogs at a time, usually four or five. But that was our entertainment.
Now I find myself at 29, and a mother of my three girls Boo, 5, Owl, 2, and Bunny , 1. Unlike my mom who was a single mother, I have a wonderful, hard working husband, but we still struggle financially. I have a better understanding of what my mom faced now that I have these responsibilities.
My oldest daughter, Boo, asked if we could go to the library. I thought in my head;
Do we need anything in town? We really need to save the gas in the suburban. We don’t really have the money to make a special trip to the library when we don’t have anything else to do while we are there.
I told Boo that “No, not today. We aren’t going to spend the money and make a special trip to town, but we can go Wednesday on grocery day.”
She said, “Mom, the library is free! Even the free stuff is too expensive?”
I took the opportunity to remind her that gas isn’t free. And that it would be a better idea to wait until we had to go to town for several errands.
She smiled and said, “Okay, can I go brush the horses?”
This is the moment I realize I AM MY MOTHER! GASP! But in this case, I’m proud. I am teaching my girls that everything has a cost. I’m teaching my girls to be frugal and delay gratification. I’m teaching them to be happy and content with what they have. I’m teaching them a few extravagances are OK, but within reason. Im teaching them life skills and how to have e a healthy relationship with money and expenses.
I hope someday they look back and feel like I did, that they were the lucky kid.