As a former journalist, I know that reporters are often forced to write for the lowest common denominator. But still, come on. We need to move past the idea that everyone who is not living the life they want is in that situation because they can't stop splurging on statement handbags or the latest iPhone. More nonsense!
I should know, given that I am certainly not living my ideal life. Yours truly always figured she'd be a stay at home mom to a couple of kids for a few years before getting back into the working world. Obviously, things didn't work out quite like that. I was home with P. for her first two years, but I worked. Sometimes a lot. Then I lost some clients to the recession and we lost some investment income, and suddenly we found ourselves struggling. I hopped back into the W-2 economy because it was the right thing to do and we're better off for my having done so.
We still have a great life!
And unlike the nonsense referenced above, my job was not paying for a two-car lifestyle, twice-yearly vacations, or a horse. Even with my job, we:
- Live in wee, tiny Cape house
- Drive a paid-off car (the single car that we share, by the way)
- Have always followed a totally square wait-before-you-buy policy
- Ate the cats to save on pet care expenses
- Use Freecycle and Craigslist to get what we want without getting spendy
- Don't go out to eat or to the movies or anything like that
- Largely ignore the social pressure to buy stuff for fun
And speaking of points, here's mine:
When people are struggling financially, so many are quick to jump up and say they must have spent themselves into that hole. Conveniently forgetting that some people have jobs that are really only found in cities or on the coasts so they can't choose to move somewhere less expensive. Or that unexpected necessary expenses can drain a person's savings in no time flat. Worse yet, people are quick to make damning assumptions. Low on funds? Curb your lifestyle!
As if everyone out there hurting for money has a lifestyle.
Sometimes, for some people, the answer will be buy less stuff. Sometimes it's going to be make more money. And sometimes it's simply going to be wait for that ill wind to blow over so you can pick yourself up, brush off the dirt, and start over. You can't tell - can never tell - by looking at a person which it's going to be, though.
I guess I'm kicking this all around in my head because my three months of maternity leave are up in two weeks and I wish they weren't. My ideal life would not include trying to meet deadlines in between nursing H. It all comes down to the difference between WANT to and HAVE to. Chances are I'll never be a traditional stay at home mom - which is actually fine, since like the mister once said, I'm really good at putting myself to work. Might as well get paid!