Friday, September 21, 2012
Jack never went to Disney World, Hawaii, or a professional football game. He didn't have a cell phone or fancy electronics. Many of his clothes were from the thrift store, a "perk" of having a mom who loved bargains.
Thriftiness was part of our family culture and it was easy to take pretty far because Jack really didn't ask for much. Maybe he would have preferred an expensive baseball bat and batting helmet instead of cast-offs. I don't know. But really, he seemed content.
Money did not burn a hole in his pocket. He was a saver and a savorer. He liked to save up for "something big" and make sure it was something he really wanted. In fact, after the accident, we found a lot of unused gift cards in his room, from birthdays and Christmases waiting to be used for the next. big. thing. Tim, Margaret and I ended up using them to buy Christmas gifts for needy kids.
Of course I would have loved for Jack to have traveled more, done more, and to have had a lifetime of experiences instead of a measly 12 years worth! Today I would love to be able to read a trail of texts between the two of us that captures the warm give and take of our relationship, but I can't because he never had a phone! Ugh. But I suppose measly truly is not the word I'm going for today, when thinking of the years he had, because while measly in quantity, the quality was okay with Jack. How he spent his days. What he had or didn't have.
You may be a mom who is wondering whether your kid is missing out on the pricey riding lessons or gymnastics clinics or ski vacations of his or her peers. You may be looking at your neighbor's house and thinking that a great big kitchen island, preferably covered in Carrera marble, would somehow make you a kinder, gentler, more organized mom (or am I the only one who does that?) You may be counting the years until college and realizing there had better be one heck of a financial aid package on your family's horizon, because you will never be able to pay. You may even be wondering, in a very real and scary sense, if you can meet your family's most BASIC needs this month.
You may be wishing you could give your kids more.
Tim and I were fortunate to be able to give our kids more, in a financial sense, but we didn't. We gave them what we gave them. And we don't regret it. Not really.
Because many times, but not all of the time, when the stars were aligned in that sweet spot of parenting, in the midst of blowups and apologies and busy-ness and petty comparisons and our easily bruised parenting egos... we gave them ourselves.
And that really is something.
It's something we all can give