Every Day Is Kids Day

Today's topic at work was how we all grew up poor. We swapped stories about the various things we didn't have or couldn't afford, and the clever ways our parents did their best to make sure we didn't notice. And for the most part, we didn't notice. I was always vaguely aware that my family didn't have much money, but it wasn't because I went lacking for anything important. In fact, if we hadn't rented an apartment on a relatively swanky street until I was 8, I never would have given a thought to our second hand cars or my hand-me-down clothes. Sure, my friends had more toys than I did, but I chalked that up to being indulged by divorced parents (divorce was still kind of a big deal back then) rather than affluence. Besides, even if I didn't have many toys, I had Lego blocks, and what else did a kid need? The one area where our financial condition affected me was food. My mom wouldn't buy things like Spaghetti-Os or Twinkies or deviled ham, and we rarely if ever ate fast food like McDonalds. That seemed terribly unfair to me, but my mom held firm: "that stuff is junk" she'd say, and the discussion was over. I realize now that we probably just couldn't afford it, and that I was far better off eating her delicious home cooking, but at the time I felt deprived. I'm ashamed when I think of how hard they must have worked, and how much they must have sacrificed, and meanwhile I'm whining about how I can't have a Twinkie instead of home baked chocolate chip cookies. It really is a miracle they didn't smother me in my sleep. I was also ashamed as I listened to my co-workers tell about the sacrifices their families made; beautiful, bittersweet stories that put my "we had a used car!" drama to shame. The things that parents do for their kids!


LVA said...

I really, _really_ like this. Nice balance of "my story" and "others' stories" being equally valid, if different. and sincere humility that you can probably go to some degree. the learning is done: we all have a story...and it matters. :-)

Maisha...Queen of the working MOMs said...

Beautifully written. I thought about our conversation when I went home. Being a parent myself, I think your parents would tell you to let go of the shame of not understanding what they were going through as you longed for that yellow #5 delicacy. I know that the best gift I receive is my kids understanding that all that we do is for the betterment of and provision for them.
I see that you get that.
Your mom must be very proud.