Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mommy useless as Ipads on a deserted island.

I feel guilty at the moment.

No, not Mommy guilt, on that front I'm good.  Great in fact.  I'm an awesome parent.

I feel guilty for not getting back to this as soon as I expected.  Life happens.  Mostly what happened is that I had guests on Sunday and then I got my first phone call from my manchild in Navy bootcamp!  Seaman Recruit Manchild is doing very well and that makes me so proud of him.  It cannot be fun to hang around Waukegan IL in 15 degree weather with a bunch of other recruits who have all had only two minutes to shower.

Then I did some housework and some furniture refinishing and I clipped the cats claws and there was some laundry somewhere in there and Presidents Day.

The parenting's gone pretty well.  I've delivered yesses to reasonable requests and no's to unreasonable requests and both responses in context have made my maternal heart swell with a sense of duty and accomplishment.

Which lands me on one of the reasons why I don't engage in mommy guilt ... My husband and I started our marriage and our roles as parents damned poor, so we had to focus on our values and our priorities, which made saying no real comfortable.

This is my husband and our firstborn in our first apartment,
a one bedroom with a galley kitchen and a barely functioning fridge and stove.
Only days into parenthood we came to know that parents for thousands of years managed to rear offspring with little more than a lick and a prayer.  Cavemen parented well way before the wheel was invented and then the media calculated that it will cost the average American citizen $235,000 to get your child to age 17.  It takes a bit to raise a kid but not nearly what popular opinion would have us think.

I haven't crunched my own numbers, but I'm telling you that my family has managed to feed, clothe, house and educate our children for a lot less than 200K.  Not that we were bargain hunting.  We had to.  We didn't have more to spend. When you've got ten bucks in your pocket and it has to last two weeks until your next payday, you stretch that ten bucks so far that Hamilton squeaks.   Now, as poor as we were, we were lucky. We had our health, we had enough to eat, we found enough to wear, and we could pay for well maintained housing. Thank God for evil socialist institutions like public education, the public library and parks, public transportation, public health and veteran's benefits.

So why didn't I feel guilty for not being able to give my children more, like what other families seemed to be able to provide for their kids?  Because it costs nothing to teach your kids how to not lie, steal, whine, cheat, beg, intimidate or hit.  Because it costs nothing to teach your kids how to be kind, joyful, humorous, grateful, industrious, dignified, and hopeful.  Because these values that cost nothing and mean everything are going to serve my kids well for the rest of their lives if they take them to heart. Without a single payment of 29.99 plus shipping and handling or AA battery.

Think about it.  You buy your kid a nice present for some holiday and your kid tosses the toy aside to play with the box.  We started our marriage knowing this was true and we provided a lot of box.  Our kid didn't know any different. 

Guilt can't thrive when you know that the makings of better or more loving parenting isn't because you can provide designer clothes, popular and expensive toys, politically correct educational exposure, their own cell phones, any amount of over advertised baby gadgetry, or theme park inspired cruises.  My kids have had some of these extra joys but none of them are required for happy healthy productive kids who have good memories of their families and childhoods and grow into decent adults.

Adults who join the Navy.

And call their mommies.

And begin to sniffle because he says it's good to hear your voice.

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