The beautiful, and sometimes terrifying thing about raising children, is when you see that they are their own person. They come from the DNA of two people, and are likely being raised by one or both of those people, so a certain amount of influence is there from day one. But, despite all of that, they still have their own brains. It’s amazing to watch them take the info that they are given, and come up with opinions and ideas based on that. Sometimes it is exactly what you would do in the same scenario, and sometimes you wonder if they’re really your kid.
When I look at my own children, I see my hair, my ex husbands feet. My love of reading, his love of the outdoors. Parts of us are there for sure. But there are more parts that are all their own. This is fantastic, and it’s so much fun. It’s fun to envision where they might go in life with their personalities. But, sometimes it can be a little scary too. Sometimes, you wonder if you maybe messed up somewhere along the way. Having children also really makes you scrutinize your own dreams, and makes you wonder if by pursing your own dreams, you’ll somehow mess them up even more.
This came into play for me the other night. Both kids were here with me, and I was reading a post in a Facebook group about someone who planned to spend no more than $5 on any purchase that was not a complete necessity, a bill, or food. I was fascinated by this idea, and mentioned it to the kids. One child also thought this was a fascinating idea. The other thought it was just about the worst idea ever. I asked if they thought we could do something like that. You can guess how that went. The son who thought it was a terrible idea asked if we could do it after Christmas because he wanted this or that. The other son, while he probably wants some similar higher priced items, didn’t think it was an impossible idea.
Neither child gave the wrong answer in my opinion. They’re kids, and kids want the things they see. They don’t yet grasp exactly how money works, or how you weigh the benefits of a purchase. It’s natural, and I don’t fault either for the reaction they had. But, my ex and I have been noticing a trend with the child who said “no way”, and it’s a trend toward materialism. His grandfather had to explain the benefits of paying someone to come and do a bit of work with a truck, over the cost of buying the truck himself to be used on these rare occasions. Things like taxes, car payments, and maintenance just weren’t sinking in. Again, totally normal, but so unlike myself and my ex. So how is it that two people who really aren’t tied up in owning lots of stuff, raising a child who is all about the newest and best of everything? We want him to have the world, but at the same time, we want him to value everything he has. So now we are in this weird position of thinking that somewhere along the way, we messed up, but can’t quite figure out how, since we aren’t really like that, and neither is our other child.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally cool with me that he wants different things in life that the rest of us. But, I don’t want him to go into massive debt because he doesn’t understand how money works, or how to really weigh what is important to him. So here’s where the part about my own dreams and personality come in. For a while now, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of getting even more drastic with the scaling down of our posessions. There’s so much that has made it through the previous rounds of purging that has yet to be used. I’m very motivated to scale way down,and to even eliminate some levels of my sentimental clutter.
Financially speaking, I can’t give him the Christmas he’s probably hoping for. I don’t really think I should try to be honest. Living in a blended family already gives him about five celebrations at Christmas where he’s given gifts. So, I feel like our celebration should be different. But, I’m struggling with mom guilt on all of this. If I really pare our things down. If I really make our holiday what I think it should be, how will that translate in the brains of my kids? Will it make them see the value of what they have even more? Or will they just remember it as that year my mom gave all of our stuff away and Christmas stunk? It’s so weird and scary to do set your own path in life, while bringing along these other totally unique people who aren’t old enough to yet go their own way, but whose life you alter with every decision.
Parenting….shit this is hard!