My heart broke a little last night at dinner. We were having a quick dinner of hot dogs and leftover pulled pork sandwiches with chips and applesauce. Certainly not a gourmet meal or even a very healthy one. But Jeremy had a meeting to get to, the kids had had playdates in the afternoon, and it was just that kind of meal. Mason turned to me and said, “I feel like we’re poor.” I asked her what she meant. She didn’t know – just felt poor. I asked her, “Are we happy?” She said yes. I asked, “Are we together?” She said yes. I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “If we’re happy and we’re together as a family, then it doesn’t matter how much money we have.”
This is one of those times when I need to practice what I preach. Real estate obviously has its up and downs financially throughout the year. So Jeremy and I need to always be aware of budgets and what money comes in and goes out. We’ve probably been more verbal about it to the kids than in the past – letting them know when we can’t eat out as much or have to plan extraneous purchases. We’ve been talking about it as a learning lesson mostly. We want our kids to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees; that we have to work hard to earn the money we spend; that saving money for future needs is really important. (I think financial responsibility has to start early – even with just a simple allowance and piggy bank.) So while I know Mason understands that money is tight, I was really shocked that she thought we were poor. It could be a sense of comparison – we do live in one of the wealthier towns in Rhode Island. It could be seeing Mommy and Daddy stressed – as much as we try not to let that out to the kids. Who knows where she got this feeling, but I want to do whatever I can to help her understand that money isn’t everything.
First I need to remind myself of the same thing. Money IS NOT everything. Sure it bought us a good house in a good neighborhood. Sure it buys us our clothes to stay warm and food to stay nourished. Sure it allows us to go on fun vacations every once in a while. Sure it lets us treat ourselves at times. We are extremely thankful for all of that! But we can still be happy without a lot of money at our disposal. I often feel poor financially due to the careers Jeremy and I chose, but I am rich in so many other areas of my life: my kids, my husband, my family, my friends afar and near… We chose the jobs we have because we love them. We chose them for quality of life, for more time with our family. So I shouldn’t complain. I should just remind myself of the riches I get from picking my kids up at the bus stop each day, from the people and experiences we have met through our careers, from the time we spend together as a family and the memories we make. Wealth is a state of mind, and I am rich beyond my years!