I was speaking to another mom the other night. She has four kids and lives 30 minutes from school. She was telling me about her day and I said:
“I don’t know how you manage everybody’s schedule – 4 kids, you, your husband . . .”
“He lives his life. We live ours.”
She said it so matter of fact.
And then I paid attention. I was sitting next to her, across from her two daughters, at a restaurant. We were celebrating the end of basketball season for one of their big brothers. The other brother was playing in a varsity game about 45 minutes north east of the school. Both daughters had their backpacks at the table, both had their homework on the table, next to their empty plates. Both girls had their heads resting on the table. It was 7:30 p.m. and their older brother wasn’t due back to school for another 2 hours. The mom was talking about driving them home (30 minutes south west of school), and then driving back to school to pick up her oldest son. That would make three round trips to school that day. Three hours on the road.
I asked her if she wanted to move closer and she said yes, but . . . and cited the condition of the real estate market. She had already talked about work and I didn’t get a sense that she really enjoyed it, so I asked her if she HAD to work. She didn’t really answer and I got the impression she worked because they owned the business, one of two. Her husband worked and traveled a lot for the other business. Although she had shared so much with me, I got the impression that my questions made her uncomfortable, so I didn’t ask any more. I walked away from the conversation feeling very bad for her and her family, wishing there was something I could do to help, but knowing that their circumstances are a cumulative result of the smaller choices they’re making every day.
It all seemed so counterproductive. I’m so thankful that when we had an opportunity to buy a larger, more expensive home, we decided against it because of the sacrifices that would have been required. Sacrifices I’m still not willing to make. Our home may be smaller than most of our friend’s homes, but you know what?
It’s home. And we get to spend a lot of time there. Together. So we have to squeeze in. It’s cozy.
Every time I don’t buy something, I get something in return. Every time I say no to something that doesn’t support our family’s goals, we’re better for it. Every little decision we make is a building block in our daily lifestyle. These kids are growing right in front of my eyes and this window?
This is one of the songs I’ve ordered an accompaniment track for. Strengthens my resolve.
Follow-up: It may seem like I’m saying that being a stay at home mom is the best way to go. Not exactly. I’ve written about this before, in “to work or not to work, that is the question.” My point is that WHATEVER lifestyle you choose for your family – I hope you choose it ON PURPOSE.