Not too long ago, I was frustrated with our financial situation. I was feeling kind of like a kid with a broken leg who is watching everyone else play tag at recess. I admit it; I was feeling left out and financially forsaken. I had been trying to streeetch thirty bucks into a hundred for approximately the fourteenth time that month, and I was just plain over it.
During a rare outing alone, I asked my husband, Dave, why everyone else seemed to have money for the fun and the frivolous while we had to pick and choose our extras according to our economical status. I rattled off a list of the things I had been hoping to buy and do followed by a list of the repairs, breakages, broken promises and dropped balls that had led to my grave disappointment. It was heart-wrenching, I’m sure.
While driving, Dave listened patiently (or just studied the drainage contours of the fields we were passing; I’m not sure which) and let me get it all off of my chest. He then said something to the effect of, “Dearest wife, most people have two incomes. If you worked full-time—even if you only made $30,000/year—that would all be ‘extra’ money because my income pays the bills. That amount of money would buy a lot of fun and frivolous.”
First of all, I want to emphasize that my husband did not share this information as a gigantic passive-aggressive hint for me to go out and get a real job. He just stated the facts in his calm, logical way.
Second of all, I want to acknowledge the ridiculously obvious point that I was whining about not having money to the only person in my home that has a steady, reliable, bill-paying job. I was griping to the man who goes to work every single week day so that I can stay home to play games, read books and take walks with our children. (Okay, so I do a little bit more than that, but those are some of my favorite parts.) Yeah, not my most grateful moment.
Most of us struggle with feeling left out at times. We often sit on the sidelines, longing to be part of the game, momentarily disregarding that the sacrifice required of the game costs more than we are actually prepared to pay. Unfortunately, it is really hard to stop playing and walk off the field with everyone watching. I mean, what if they BOO us?!
When I begin to focus on what I do not have or on what people around me think, I need a change in perspective. If I look at how hard my husband works and how supportive he is of my role as a mom or if I consider the thousands of days I’ve been able to spend watching our children grow or if I take into account the incredible wealth of resources my family has that puts us in the top 10% of the world’s wealth, I am overwhelmed with humility and gratitude.
In spite of my infrequent moments of wondering if I’m missing out the game, I am incredibly thankful that we’ve been playing by a different rule book in our home. It’s certainly one that requires us to be creative, to exert some self-control and to go against the flow, but there’s a measure of fulfillment and peace in our lives that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The overall simplicity that comes with our chosen way of life yields great dividends. We miss out on some things for sure. Truth be told, we’re all missing out on something. May we be mindful of making our sacrifices according to our true priorities.
This article was originally published for HER magazine in January of 2016.