As adults, we are well aware that life isn't fair. It just so happens that my almost-7-year old son, Quinn, has been going through a phase of "That's not fair!" Wouldn't life be great if it was? But perhaps it is true, it isn't fair that Quinn has chores when his little brother Max is too young for that kind of responsibility. Don't get me wrong, a 21-month-old can be helpful, but it is above his abilities to expect him to be accountable for daily chores. Apparently it isn't fair that we can't watch kid shows on TV all evening. As adults, these seem petty, but to kids it means the world.
Growing up and not always getting my way - and my parents were very good at not spoiling us - really helped me get through the roughest financial times. No, it doesn't seem fair that we had no air conditioning for almost 3 years because we couldn't afford to run (not to mention keep repairing) our ancient, inefficient unit. No, it doesn't seem fair that pretty much the only holiday gifts Quinn got for 2 Christmases, outside from the very modest loot that Santa left, were from relatives at family gatherings. No, it's not really fair that Quinn had to wear a snowsuit that was too small last winter because we simply could not afford to get him another one. The list could go on and on. Hopefully my kids are still young enough that there wont be very many long-term emotional effects. In fact, I highly doubt Quinn ever recalls melting over the last 2 summers. He was too busy playing outside with his friends.
Like any mother, I feel like I (and my husband) should be able to provide more-than-adequately for our children. For the first year of financial difficulty, I was too proud to ask for help; not from friends, family, or elsewhere. It was embarrassing to admit that we couldn't afford to keep our cupboards and fridge stocked. We were barely making the mortgage payment, let alone keeping the electricity on (which I needed since I work from home) or gas in the car. The breaking point was when I found out I was pregnant with Max. I was terrified since I didn't have any health insurance and knew there was absolutely NO WAY that we could ever tackle a hospital bill for delivering. I just knew that I would be giving birth at home with a 5-year-old as my nurse. That was when I finally called Health and Human Services and they got me hooked up with Medicaid. I was a bawling basketcase over the phone, and I am surprised the poor woman could understand a word I said, but the gravity of our situation and that we had to do something was just too much with the hormones I had going on at the time. We also got signed up for food stamps, which was a GODSEND. I guess I had just always pictured the stereotypical people (the type you see on Cops) on public assistance, not middle class folks who look the picture of financial stability.
I guess where I'm going with all this is that yes, life's not fair. Instead of being bitter or spiteful, we just have to deal with it the best we can, make do with what we have, and work toward getting out of the rut. It's been a very long road these last three years, and we're not completely out of the woods yet, but it has definitely shown us what we are made of, and I suppose that's a fair trade.