American Dream

I grew up poor.  Not dirt floors and outhouses poor, but trailers and factory jobs and layoffs and bankruptcy poor.  I know what it is to not have.  I saw my parents struggle to provide for their family.

Lucky for me, they supported me getting an education.  I got a bachelor's and then a master's degree and have worked in some form or anther since I was 15 years old.  I have always known that it was important to work hard and earn money.  I know what it is to have the wolves at the door. 

Also, I have come to know the feeling of keeping up with the notorious Joneses.  I love things.  I love the security of having a nice home and nice things in my home.  They provide (falsely) reassurance that I have moved out of reach of poverty.  However, the love of things always leaves you wanting just a little bit more.  Just one more thing and then I won't want any more things, I tell myself.  We built a new home a couple of years ago.  I love it...but.  There's always a but.  What if I could get new flooring?    If my carpet gets a bit shabby, can I love it as much?  My counter tops are laminate and not granite; can it be my dream home if I have laminate counters?   If my car works just fine but is from 2003, can I be good enough?  For whom?  It's all a bit crazy-making, really.

On the other hand, I know that is important to find balance in life.  I know that my relationships with my friends and family mean more to me than money ever will.  I honestly believe that it is important to try and find things we love to do in life and to do those things well.  For a variety of reasons, The Mister and I have worked jobs that put us on opposite shifts for the last several years - really since The Nugget was born.  This worked well because it minimized our need for day care and we made good money.  It also worked terribly because we have each operated as single parents for all of her childhood.  Normal joys like family dinners and nights at the movies have become rare treats for us instead of daily routine.  I have struggled because it is not what I wanted for our family.

The Mister has asked to be transferred to day shift at his work.  It hasn't happened for whatever reason.  Because of this, he began to look elsewhere.  And just this week he got what I would consider to be a dream job offer for him.  It is the kind of work he loves to do (unlike his current job which is simply the kind of work that earns money)!  It is with a very stable company (which I hope to tell you more about another time)!  It has daytime hours!  And it pays less.

I absolutely want him to take the job.  There is no question that he will.  It is hard, however, to live out the dream of being a happy family in this society when making less money seems to equate to being less happy.  It is hard to un-internalize that more factor.  To let it go and know (and I know) that our happiness does not depend on the size of our bank account but on our great love for one another.  I am working, though, to put that fear at bay and relish the fact that we will be a family just like I have dreamed of.  That money is not the only thing, not even the most important one, that we have to offer our daughter or one another.

So, in the interim, I'm giddy.  But scared.  I have a quote hanging by my desk at work, though, and I'm going to keep looking at it, keep knowing its truth, keep making myself believe that our American dream can be more than just about bigger houses, bigger cars and bigger pay checks.  The quote:

"Time may be money, but your money buys no more time."
                                                                          - James Taylor


  1. Yeah for the Mister!!! You'll work it out. We did/are. I HAVE NO CLUE HOW. I would prefer to just keep my head in the sand and think about 'that' tomorrow.

  2. It's a very tough decision. Happiness or money? I stay home but I know we could have lots more if I worked - but I wonder, at what cost?

  3. I so feel this! I grew up extremely poor and it was miserable. Now is better, but my husband and I BOTH have low-paying dream jobs and it's super hard sometimes to not feel dissatisfied with the things. I hate feeling like people are judging my house or clothes as not good enough, and struggle with that constantly! But I wouldn't trade bigger paychecks for us doing work that didn't mean something. Most days :)

  4. It's tough to make the decision to make do with less in our culture. We have the biggest family on our block, and the smallest house. I stay home, so every day my husband and I have to make conscious choices about whether we NEED something or not. Our kids are fed and clothed, we have a decent house, and lots of love. What more could we really want?

  5. Considering your past, everything you struggle with makes sense! You are rt...time is more important than anything!

  6. Hope he gets it! Sometimes, less money is worth it if it makes everyone happier!

  7. This? " Just one more thing and then I won't want any more things" - I say that to myself all the time. It's so hard not to compare in our culture as our culture is so driven my money and its attendant status. I hope that everything works out. Good luck!!

  8. You know they say the more money you make, the more you spend...well, I think it may be an adjustment, but you will just do it. My husband and I work very hard (he works long hours 6-7 days a week) to provide for this family. We struggle, but there are times it's not such a struggle. I know money makes things easier, but it doesn't buy happiness....or time.

  9. My husband can definitely relate to you. He too grew up poor. He tells me stories of having government cheese and canned meat in his home. Also getting food stamps from the tooth fairy! He has a tendency to try and aquire more material things to prove how far he has come since then. I think it's just a product of how he grew up. He has come so far and so have you. If you can remember what's truly important, like family, friends, good health, and keep those bad thoughts at bay you'll be just fine. Congrats to hubby with the new job. I think you'll find your happiness will be so well worth the cut in pay! And thanks for stopping by my blog and PYHO post!


Post a Comment

Every comment is practically perfect in every way!

Popular posts from this blog


The Munchkin - 18 Months

Listograpyh - Kids Movies