Friday, June 13, 2008

Sense of Deserving

I have caught myself uttering the words "I deserve...." as they have come out of my mouth. Seems like a harmless phrase, especially when there are times when maybe I did deserve whatever it was. Did I really deserve it or did I earn it? The dismal state of the economy has had me reflecting on this attitude of entitlement that has gripped my generation and those following. It seems that despite how hard our parents worked scrimping, saving and struggling while we were young, we only remember years of prosperity when we had abundant meals of variety, vacations to places like Disneyland and trips to the mall for school clothes shopping. We had new couches, movies to watch and a new car every once in a while. But our parents worked hard for those things. They didn't just fall in their laps, and yet this generation expects the same abundance when perhaps we haven't really earned it.

I remember the first few years after we moved to Las Vegas. My parents were both working hard, so my brother and I had to stay after school sometimes. We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese, but we were happy. My mom didn't buy the designer clothes like Guess or Esprit but rather made my summer shorts or bought things at Target. My mom worked every day while I was growing up, but I never felt like she wasn't around. She taught us so many things and made sure we did our homework. Despite how hard my parents worked, they were present and involved, which must have been exhausting for them on many levels. But their diligence and hard work have paid off over the years and although they are not millionaires, they have been smart with their money and are comfortable. They rented until they could afford to own their house and now the mortgage is almost paid off. They can do the things they like to do, visit their children and invest in hobbies like triathlon and scrapbooking. They have saved for the future, so they won't have to work at the movie theater or McDonald's in their 70s, and they don't have credit card debt unlike so many Americans. They are a good example of how it should work, but they are also in their 50s.

I am about the age my mother was when we moved to Las Vegas over twenty years ago. That means my mom has twenty years of experience on me. And although I do not have 2 kids at the moment, we are probably in mirrorlike situations. I have seen other people my age who have been able to buy homes, stay home with their kids and live on one income comfortably and have other "things" that seem so customary for someone my age. Sure, I wish I could afford to buy a house and live on one income and buy gDiapers for my baby in order to save the environment, but I am not in that place right now. I could say to myself, "You have worked hard and you deserve to stay home with your son and have all the things you want." But at the end of the day, I haven't necessarily earned that, but I know that if we continue to do what is right and be smart with our money making good decisions about our future, then we will be blessed with the things we need and desire. But right now, today I still have work to do, and I still have to struggle and save just like my parents did. Some women are fortunate and can stay home with their children everyday, and I hope I get to be one of them someday. But not everyone is so fortunate. It is a good desire to want to stay home with your children, and I think it can be done in the right circumstances. It's a goal I have, and I am willing to work hard now to make it happen. But just because I want it and I see other people doing it does not mean that I deserve it.

I see the blessings every day in my life. We do not have any debt, credit card or otherwise. We save up for the things we want and need rather than buying now and paying later. I had been worried about what I would do when my maternity leave was over because I couldn't quite see how we could live on one income right now, despite our affordable rent and fairly good paying jobs. It just stressed me out. I kept thinking I would need to find a part time job or something to help out, but I didn't know what that would be and the pressure of trying to figure it out while being pregnant and trying to organize our home and lives for the addition of a new family member was too overwhelming. But then I learned that I could probably work from home a couple of days a week, which isn't ideal, but it is better than being away every day all day. And I immediately knew that the Lord was watching out for me. Sure, it's not staying home every day playing and going to the park, but it will allow me to be with my son rather than have someone else take care of him. And Cameron can work from home some days as well, which will mean that our son will have his parents around rather than being in someone else's care... not to mention the money it will save. Will it be easy? Is it what I dreamed life would be like? Probably not, but I do believe that this is not the picture of my life forever.

It drives me crazy to see the way the world feels entitled to have certain things without working for them. It's the reason Americans have so much credit card debt. It's the reason we are in this mortgage crisis. When our grandparents were our age and our parents were growing up, you couldn't get a loan for anything unless you had the means to pay for it. That is not so today. It astounds me how people who have barely better than minimum wage paying jobs can apply for a loan to buy a house that is well out of their price range and be approved for it. It astounds me the way credit card companies infest college campuses eagerly giving out credit cards to students who have no income, and there is no one there to explain to them how credit card companies function and make money. They want you to default, make late payments and rack up service charges. They hate people like me who only use their credit card every once in a while and pay it off every month because they don't make anything off of me. The last thing students need in college is to get swallowed up in credit card debt so they are faced not only with mounting student loans to pay back but thousands of dollars of credit card bills as well. What happened to saving for the things you want? And I would venture to say that most of the things people buy are just that... things. Stuff that most of us could get by without just fine. I have made bad financial decisions in my past, which may be one reason why I am so careful with saving and knowing where my money is going now. I have realized that a great many things I think I need are just whims and if I sit on it long enough I will eventually realize how little I really need them. We could all benefit from a healthy dose of prudence.

I am grateful for parents who taught me responsibility, even if it fell on deaf ears for a decade. I am grateful for the many blessings I see in my life every day and for knowing from whom all of those things come. I am grateful for the opportunity to work, so that I may better appreciate the joys of the fruits of my labor.


Oliver & Margy said...

Amen Nikki. I always thought I was an appreciative and deserving child until I became an "adult" and realized all of the OTHER things my parents and others have done for me over the years. And now, working with the youth I think "if they only knew how many people and how many hours are put in on their behalf on a regular basis"... but they probably won't get it until they get called to work with the youth in 10 years.

familia Bybaran said...

Really good points Nikki. I think the idea of "deserving" things is quite flawed. From a gospel perspective, we don't deserve any of it and anything we have is just a blessing from the Lord, right? But I think it's especially difficult when you are talking about staying home with kids. I think it is really difficult and not a luxury that most people can have. I am glad you were able to find a way to work from home. I think that is the best solution (which is also not available to most people). I am sure you will be blessed for your sacrifices and your kids will know how hard you worked for them (even though that recognition may not come for another 20 years).

Nicole Cave said...

I have alot of respect for parents who have to work outside of the home but are also good parents. I don't know if I could do it. Maybe I am just selfish, but I love being with my kids...yes at times it is exhausting and frustrating, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I am glad you can be home with him. I would be so sad if I had to leave one of my babies with someone miss out on those years that fly my so fast.
It is hard to get by now a days but I think Heavenly Father is mindful of our efforts and blesses us as we do our part...somehow it all works out.