For me and so many of my friends, this is the first time in our adult lives that we have experienced such an economic crisis. All around me I hear stories of cutting back, friends losing jobs, 401K’s vanishing. We are a people so clearly without control of our financial destinies! …Or so it feels…
In my own family we are cutting back, watching the food consumption (oh, did I mention the 6′3″ teenager I have?) My kids even watch the gas prices at the pump, and recently cheered when the total was actually under $60.00!!! Like many parents I look for “teaching moments” with my kids, what better time to learn the value of a dollar? While driving with my seven year old son recently, I learned just how much of the bad economy vibe he was absorbing. While discussing Halloween he informed me that this year he would be making his own costume…”to save you money Mommy…” He then pointed to a cut up piece of construction paper stapled to his shirt. At first I laughed, and then I told him how sweet and creative he was.(see? good and caring Mother) After pondering this for a few minutes, two things hit me. A) Even though he is my third child, I am still amazed at how much they take in. After all, it’s not as if we are in danger of losing our home…we are not starving…We are being cautious. and B) This project of his explains all the holes and random staples I’ve been finding in his clothes! As it turned out, he recycled an old costume…He was a clone trooper, I’m sure no one but me noticed it was three inches to short!
I suddenly realized all the things that had slowly started to change for us. Without even realizing it, our family time had begun to change. Like most people I know we had fallen into routines of dinners out, movies with the kids, and shopping as a past time. To be fair, I can shop a sale like no body’s business! But as my husband said not to long ago…”Stop saving me money!” So alas, even the shopping is mostly on the back burner…Whatever is a family of five in the year 2008 supposed to do for fun? Well, as it turns out…”Making” your kids (even the 6′3″ teenage boy) go for a walk around town can be a lot of fun! Especially when my husband created a new game, whereby he puts a dollar under a rock, counts to three…and every family member races to get the money first….As I said these are hard economic times! One person was tackled, two people fell down, one child almost crushed (saved by before mentioned good Mother) and five people were laughing so hard there were actual tears!
It took a simple observation from a small child, to open my eyes to the many blessings happening in my family. Joy filled my heart as I realized how we were bonding, how we were talking and laughing. I realized that my children are listening to everything we say…Well, not everything, but definitely the things I don’t think they are listening to! They are observing the world we live in, and learning from how we react to it as a family. Our lives have changed for the better. Not financially at the moment, but in a way that we will carry with us .I now look forward to sitting on the couch with my husband and a glass of wine, the way I used to look forward to going to the latest restaurant! What I’ve learned is that my kids actually want us around. I know that won’t last forever, but I’ve got it now. I wonder if I would have missed that message from them if we hadn’t had to cut back?
While I am scared for our country, and uncertain of our next few years, I do know this…I will never forget the lessons my children have taught me, what they have showed me they really need, by the way they have embraced this bad economy.
By Krista Michalowicz
Bio – I have been a stay at home mom for the past 16 years, before that I worked in early childhood education. I am married to an entrepreneur; we have three children and live in Northern New Jersey. I enjoy writing in my spare time.