Saturday, March 6, 2010

what really matters

I have been pretty worried about money lately. We get by, but every time I think we will finally be able to add to our small savings account, some new expense comes up. These expenses often have something to do with Danny's therapy, whether it is new equipment or the copays for OT or the super nice developmental pediatrician who spent over 2 hours with me when he diagnosed Danny with autism. And then made sure to bill me for every. Blessed. Minute.

I so should have become a developmental pediatrician, because they sure rake in the cash.

Anyway, so we are doing OK, but not saving a whole lot. We have a nest egg in case we have an emergency, and we have next to no debt, besides our mortgage and Bil's student loan, so I know we are better off than many. But still. We have so many things we need to save for: a new furnace, new siding for our house, a car to replace the vehicle Bil uses, which is sure to die on us at some point in the near future. And let's not even discuss all the things I would love to do to our house to make it more aesthetically appealing. Our landscaping is horrendous and replacing it is my dream.

I am not an overly materialistic person. We live pretty frugally, forgoing many items people consider necessities, like cell phones and cable. I even went without a clothes dryer for years, until last March when my mother-in-law insisted on purchasing one for us.

I am not expecting a mansion or country club membership or designer clothes. What I want is to be able to save some money every month so that we don't have to go into debt when our furnace dies or the next time our insurance company decides they no longer want to cover one of Danny's services.

So, I have been worried, a bit preoccupied, obsessive even about how we are going to do this. And maybe just a touch petulant that we don't have more.

Then, I did my Meals on Wheels route this week. I entered home after home to drop off an unidentifiable meal to the people in my neighborhood, most of whom are elderly and many of whom have pretty nice houses. Big houses that are probably all paid off.

The thing is, the majority of these houses are empty. Big, pretty, and empty.

I'm willing to bet that all the people I visit would so much rather have their health or the company of their loved ones than have a big, paid-for house. I am sure they wouldn't give their material possessions a second thought if they could trade them for the ability to get around or the chance to visit their grandkids.

And I have that. I have my kids who love spending time with me. They really do; most of the time they are begging me to play with them. And my husband is living with me and is healthy and able to take out the garbage. He loves me and enjoys spending time with me. I have friends who I get to laugh with and spend time with, and I am able to get out of the house whenever I want. I have my health and am mostly physically fit (though don't ask me to run a mile or anything. Let's not get overzealous here.)

I am able to do the millions of things I take for granted or even complain about every week: I can cook a meal, babysit a friend's child. I can carry my fat baby boy around the house and even toss him up into the air. I can play a rousing game of hide and seek with Danny and Charlotte and hide under the bed while laughing so hard I pull an ab muscle.

We may not be able to afford remodeling, but we do manage to pay for all the equipment and therapy Danny needs, all while eating well and having a warm home to sleep in.

My house may be a bit shabby, but it is filled with kids who laugh easily and often. We are a family who plays together a lot; we build forts out of blankets and chase each other around our crudely decorated house. Pricey knick knacks we may not have, but our house is abounding in love.

And really, who needs pretty landscaping when you have that?


danette said...

"abounding in love" - the most important thing :).

Denise said...

AMEN! Not much more to say that that....A.M.E.N.!!!!!

Elizabeth Channel said...

Children don't care a whit about landscaping unless you try to do it yourself thereby creating huge piles of dirt and mud, and then they love it!

Great perspective, and one I needed to hear since I've been complaining myself about my new (old) house that needs so much updating.

Sarah said...

It's easy to get caught up on those things, but having a spouse you adore and children who are happy and feel safe is something money just can't buy. I would rather have those things then flat screen TVs and iPhones any day :)

Anonymous said...

Very insightful article. I feel exactly the same way. We don't have much, but I'll never regret what we don't have and just be thankful for what we do have, (as long as I can continue to pay the bills. If not, all bets are off!!!!)

Lindsey Petersen

Mrsbear said...

I have to remind myself sometimes. After a particularly difficult day, one during which I agonize over every flaw, every repair that needs to be made, every way I think things fall short of expectation. Our kids are healthy, fed, we have a roof over our head and love in our house. The just not that important. Landscaping is overrated. ;)

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Needed this this week. I have been stressing big time over money lately too. Don't know where we'll get it, know what we need it for, etc.

But your right...I'm lucky and I'm glad for what I do have. Maybe not having money makes that all the more real....I might lose sight of what really matters otherwise.

Anonymous said...

SO true! Many would rather just have someone visit.

Anonymous said...

Awww. I love this post. It's so true.

Anonymous said...

...makes me think of this song: