Early this morning our daughter woke us with crying in her sleep. This interrupted a dream I was having; a dream that we’d moved to a new house. The house was nice, but larger than our current house. We had no furniture. Everything was just a little threadbare but it was a good home. We were sitting in our bare living room wondering what we were going to do next.
Then this morning I got up, made my daughter’s breakfast, lunch, and got her to school, fed my son breakfast and began to clean my kitchen. I scrubbed and scrubbed the eighteen layers of paint on the walls and cupboards. I wondered if my family was losing ground. For the first time I wondered if we were headed towards, not away from, poverty. I thought about how we aren’t gaining any of the material items of the American Dream in our lives. At all. We aren’t putting money toward equity. We have no college fund for our children. We are paying off on a family vehicle that is fast deteriorating and the one that’s paid isn’t any better off. We have no financial assets whatsoever besides my husband’s kernel of retirement and social security. I don’t think I’d be thinking about our lives in this way this except I’d listened to an excellent program on our local indie radio recently. I’d heard that families were saving less and owing more; they were working more in two incomes but hating it. I’d heard it was near-impossible to survive on one.
I am grateful not to be one of the “two income trap” families referred to in the radio program. This primarily means our lives have non-material assets instead of quantifiable ones. We live and thrive in creativity, something I wouldn’t have guessed would be such a large part of family life. We help others and give to the community of our time – a lot of our time. We have a warm home that we enjoy and feel secure in. We have excellent health insurance that we don’t use because we have excellent health. We are feeding, raising, clothing, and loving our children about 89% right (this is a lot, lot of work). We don’t have credit cards. We are OK walking or biking where we need to go. We have family nearby that we see often. We are adventurous, purposeful, and try not to be wasteful. We take good care of and treasure the things we do own. Even if I have dreams that hurt, or moments that break my heart, I want to always maintain perspective on what I do have.
As of now it’s 11:30 and I haven’t yet had a shower. An hour ago I finished deep cleaning the kitchen and I’m currently working on a handful of Christmas CDs for friends. Nels hangs out, decorating and re-decorating our tinsel tree while wearing Sophie’s swimsuit and demanding his favorite song (currently Peaches’ “Boys Wanna Be Her”). I’m sitting here wondering why I want a smoke; it’s been since Amore’s last visit months ago. Luckily it’s easy to stave off the craving; remembering my son last summer pawing at my smokes really turns me off. I guess I do need a bad habit though; ideas, anyone?