My niggling Achilles heel in our whole lifestyle, this stay-at-home-bit that turned into homeschooling and life with kids – for years now, has been comparing our life to other people’s lives. Specifically, the two-income earning nuclear families, surrounding us (literally) on all sides – when children get school-age, most everyone in my peer group follows this path. Non-junker cars and home ownership and shoes bought new (not from Thrift City and sorry about the athletes’ foot Ralph – that is not a joke by the way) and sometimes big screen televisions and smart phones and camp and karate lessons and soccer camps and vacations.
Don’t get me wrong. My kids are incredibly fortunate and my family operates from a privileged place in many ways. My children have the things they need: love, shelter, clothes, food, companionship, support, friends, family, and medical care. Our decision to prioritize time with them over additional work-for-pay has been, although against the herd and therefore occasionally very difficult for me, reified with clarity and a lot of unity between Ralph and I (this is a wonderful thing about our partnership). We struggle like most people do, sometimes questioning ourselves or second-guessing our strategies, often laughing at the ridiculousness of our self-imposed scenarios and taking much joy in the sublime things that have come our way whether we tried to plan for them or not. Our choices have been made with our heart, mind, gut – all of our integrity, as best we can.
It still stings though, just the idea of school supplies, and please hear me out before you roll your eyes. I know having the kids out of school is the right thing for us. I still feel that twinge though, the smell of erasers and notebooks and stacks of construction paper and the field trips and – basically – the state subsidization of kid-care when I often, like most parents, worry I’m not supporting my kids enough. Yes, my children have access to books and art supplies (library and grift, resp.) and they have the ultimate freedom and I am always ready to pick up and take them where they need to go to do what they want to do within my abilities (today, a bike ride to the pet store with $20 in our pocket; we did not come home with a pet but my daughter got to do some math on the subject and I’m sure she’ll get back to me with a Plan). They have things very good but I have, when glancing about at others’ seemingly more vast opportunities (one shouldn’t do this, by the way), felt a sting that I am not a Provider (like I felt back when I had my Big Important Engineering Job) – merely and primarily a Nurturer. It hasn’t always felt like enough – even when I’m assured and reassured it is (or should be).
So in our time together as a family I’ve accepted our choices and focused on the good things in life and it’s gone pretty well – and if you’ve read here long you know I can laugh through the drama, too. I’ve tried to scale my ideas of our “wants” and “needs” according to what is reasonable for our family – the latter often being primarily a question of fiscal concerns (like in many, many families).
So, in that vein:
Three days ago the idea of getting my kids their own laptops was a far-off thing, something that might happen some day. But the exact thing I’d do next for them if I could find a way.
Two days ago I realized I could do this myself. I didn’t know how exactly, and I knew it would take a while, but I knew it would happen. I was quite motivated because I could envision just what I wanted.
When I decided to share this goal I knew some wonderful people would step in and assist me. I expected and felt comfortable with the prospect of a little support-stream; I began to hope for a sewing gig or two so I could “earn” my goal. I knew given time I could make this happen.
Still, there are many things I’ve discovered I did not know.
I did not realize how quickly things would come to frution. I did not realize how much it would agitate and overwhelm me to have assistance above and beyond what I could have Wildest-Dreams guessed.
I was unprepared for the stunning display of generosity and how quickly the “goal”, which I thought I would have to work and scrape for a bit, was met. Totally, completely, with one fell brush-stroke by a reader named T. who not only air mailed the Netbooks and accoutrement but donated to Paypal as well – after five other readers had contributed monies and three more winged supportive, lovely emails / comments my way.
I am right now overwhelmed, grateful, and extremely – have I mentioned overwhelmed?
I am closing my “pledge drive” tout de suite and I’ve removed my Paypal donation button. Thanks to T. and the other very generous gifts from readers my children not only have their computers as I type this, but I have a tidy sum sitting in my Paypal account. I’m not sure yet what I will be doing with it (because I didn’t anticipate these events) but I’m sure to write about it here when I figure it out.
I have thanked individuals who’ve supported in a variety of ways the last few days and I thank my readers now again – obviously. I knew I wanted this thing but I didn’t realize what it would mean to me. The range of emotions I’ve gone through in the past 48 hours informs me I have to think more on my apparently deeply-held beliefs on supposed scarcity, my personal fear of retribution if I ask for too much. I did not know how deeply these fears and anxieties twisted me up inside until I took a chance to make myself vulnerable to them. Besides blinding, stunned gratitude - these feelings are ones I grapple with now.
And the gratitude. There really are no words large enough, words that express my awe in other human beings’ kindnesses. The provision of these computers for my kiddos means more to me than I can convey accurately. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who has an opinion. I’ve talked too long; I’ll let other family members speak for themselves.
P.S. When you see Phoenix smile at 4:07? She’s reading an email I sent her that says:
Jamie from “Mythbusters”: /:â‚¬
Incidentally that emoticon vies to replace my years-held favorite: “Beaver wearing a hardhat and sunglasses”: dB=
P.P.S. Is that piano music Ralph selected over the top and cornball-inspirational? Well FARK YOU. I am seriously not going to try to hide the fact I’ve been crying off and on today. Thought I was tough? Guess you were WRONG.