Anyone reading this with kids has probably figured out by now that it's kind of a big waiting game. Once we get past the ever adorable baby/toddler stage and our kids begin to assert their own personalities, we realize that it's maybe not all going to be a piece of cake. Our kids argue and test and push and roll their eyes and swear they'll never make the choices their parents made--or is that just my kids?. They develop interests which their parents can't understand and begin speaking in a language almost incomprehensible to those of us who raise them. Sometimes it seems like they're just really far away and they simply cannot hear us. We might try to guide them but often as not, they insist on doing things their way. And we parents just have to sit back and wait to see how it all turns out.
Every once in a while, though, we get a glimpse of who they are becoming and, if we are lucky, we get to see the part we parents played in that transformation. I was blessed with one of those moments today and it brought tears to my eyes.
It happened, as these things so often do, in the car, while I was driving MonkeyBoy to the bank. He had finally saved up enough to buy his own computer and we were going to move his money into my account since I needed to do the ordering. I think I jokingly said something about how mean I was to make him make this purchase with his own money and then pointed out how lucky he was to be a kid. He could spend his money any way he wanted but we parents had so many things to pay for and often not a whole lot left over.
Then out of the blue, he said, "I think you guys totally made the right choice". I wasn't sure what he was referring to, but then he explained that he thought it really was great that one of his parents was always home, that he and his siblings never had to go to day care or school, and that they could be home schooled. He actually said these things were more important than money and he hoped to be able to raise his kids in a similar way.
We parents don't get to hear things like that all that often so you know I was paying attention!
Sometimes I look at my friends who seem to have it all: lovely homes and cars that aren't one breakdown away from the junk yard, money for vacations and beach homes and endless camps and classes for their kids. Oh, and health insurance. The Spouse and I traded those luxuries for time with our kids, more time than most American families ever get . There have been many, many times when we've questioned the wisdom of taking this route. We've explained this choice nearly every time the kids ask us why we can't take "real" vacations or eat out more often or any number of things that would be lovely but aren't really so hard to do without. I always figured that down the road, perhaps when they had kids of their own and were up against the kinds of choices we've had to make over the years, that hopefully then they might understand why we made the choices we did about money and time and work and family. But I was astonished and hugely gratified to find that my 14 year old already had it figured out.