Yesterday, I was speaking with a dear friend at a softball practice. Both of our daughters are on the team, so we got to sit in the peanut gallery and gab (it’s practice, so it’s not like we were supposed to be cheering or anything). She brought up an interesting notion, in that she thinks due to her difficult childhood, she overcompensates and spoils her children in certain areas. Here’s a few other examples:
1) She had to walk to school, regardless of the weather. Harsh winds, torrential rain, blazing sun; she walked. Now, she tends to drive everywhere, even when walking would suffice. (I would argue part of that is due to the American culture to be fast, fast, fast — but still, I see the comparison.)
2) When she grew up, in her culture, no one had much money. If you were poor, it showed by your not having enough food. Now, when she cooks, she always cooks too much, and when she shops, she always over-shops. The irony is that throwing away extra, leftover food causes her pain — but the need to have enough food still overpowers.
3) When I grew up, we very rarely ate at a restaurant. We just couldn’t afford it. Now, I tend to take my family out to eat, even at fast food, waaaay too often. My children aren’t even excited to go to McDonald’s anymore — but every time we do, I feel the poor little kid inside me jumping for joy.
Anyway, that discussion got me thinking. Is easier always better? I’m sure it’s not, but yet find myself trying over and over to make life easier for my family than I had it when I was younger. (I have to add, that growing up, my Mom always provided everything we needed. We grew up in the ghetto of Detroit on welfare — and she still managed to send me to a private school. Mom, I’m forever in your debt, thank you so much. I have no idea how you managed it.)
If you’re a parent that buys your children more than they need, just because you can, I urge you to reconsider. Work less and spend more time with them if you can. That will be so much more important to them when they’re older. My kids will never think back fondly on all the times we had McDonald’s for dinner. Ironically, the few times I got to go are more meaningful because they were rare.
To my softball Mom friend: Thank you for helping me put things in perspective.