Thursday, May 17, 2012


When D and I were first married we were poor.  He was in school and I changed diapers and wiped noses full-time at a daycare that paid me $8/hour (I also wrote out a curriculum and formed little minds, but that doesn't make it sound as martyrish.)  I also worked a second part-time job three nights a week to make ends meet and he received a meager monthly stipend for his work at the university.  We had a lot of help from our families, whether it was house payments or giving us a car.  Somehow we made it.  We were happy and we even saved some money. 
Us with our dear friends at the height of our poor-ness.  Can you even recognize us?
 I don't remember how we did it.  What I do remember are these things:
  • Only being able to go out to eat if we had a gift card or someone else was buying.
  • Not being able to buy new clothes for the first year, and worrying every time individual pieces were ruined by the little kids at work.
  • Only having one car and having to ride our bikes to work - even in the winter.  (Picture Dustin in snowpants on his bike - seriously - he wore those.)
  • Making gifts instead of buying them.
  • Our $10 Christmas present exchange limit.
  • Pulling outdated furniture and home-goods out of the dumpster behind my second job so that I could furnish my home for free.
  • Thinking that my life would be so much easier if I just had the money to...
But I also remember these things:
  • The anticipation of being able to indulge in the $4.99 pizza special once every two weeks at the local pizza place, and savoring every bite.
  • The pride at walking out of a store with a desperately needed shirt, dress, or pair of pants that I had researched and saved for.
  • The thought and planning that went into creating a gift for someone...and the pride that I could do it on a budget.
  • The excitement of opening a creative $10 gift from my husband that he had stressed and planned over, and it being completely a surprise.
  • Allowing my creativity to flow with furniture and home-goods that I pulled out of the dumpster at my second job, or off the curb in front of someone's house.
Eventually we got jobs in our chosen professions - good jobs - jobs that made us happy.  We started earning close to four times what we did those first few years of marriage.
And there were things we could indulge in, and there were things that were easier.
But there was a loss.  We lost something.
It became clear to me last week as we were sitting at a worship and the speaker was talking about this very thing.  When we allow ourselves to indulge just because we can - rather than giving some of it away, or saving a percentage of it for something else - we lose something that we didn't realize we would ever miss.

Life after Corrymeela will be different for us.  Dustin is thinking about going back to school and I don't want to commit myself to work so much while my kids are young.  I know it will be hard and we will miss the lifestyle we had before.  There are times when we already do.  But I hope I can look back on the words that rang in my ears last week - heart-changing words - and that I can embrace these changes.
I hope that we can work hard to pay off the obscene amount of college debt I have created, or even save up to help our kids a little bit with their own post-high school lives.  I hope that we remember how to appreciate the experience of going out to eat, and make it something special rather than something every-day.  I hope that we remember the cost of a gift is so much more when it is paid for with time and love instead of money.  And I hope that my kids are raised like Dustin and I were - not wanting for much, but knowing what it is like to scrimp and save for a dream dear to their hearts.

Oh, and I also hope that they can be satisfied with making junk sculptures for fun and playing with dirt and sticks rather than with expensive toys that we will  obviously not be able to afford.

But that might be pushing it.


neitinomad said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Being poor is so different from country to country - back home one car per family is the normal way and one can survive even with children without even the first one if one lives in a city. :)