"Mommy, I want a real sleeping bag, a nice big one. I slept in one once, it was so great."
"Honey we can't afford to buy all the things we want right now. Maybe one day we will buy a sleeping bag, but we have other things we need to buy, like the water shoes you need for school."
"What about a water squirter? [N] got a water squirter for his birthday and it was SO cool. Can I get one, pretty please, oh pretty pretty please?" Drew begged.
"No, we don't always get everything we want, and you know that. We have to make good choices right now, and water shoes are more important than a water squirter."
Big tears welled up in his eyes. "Why can't we buy both?"
"Honey, that is part of life. I love you, but I can't buy you everything."
I'm sure we will have this discussion often throughout his life. While our life is fairly cushy compared to many, we still live in fear, living paycheck to paycheck and paying ridiculous amounts in childcare fees and bills, worrying about when budget cuts eliminate my job and when Mr. Bee's job might disappear. I try not to let the worries and the fear catch up to me and take hold. I push them away and I don't think about it. I can't let it rule our life.
I know this is important because I remember the one time it did. The first time Mr. Bee was laid off I was barely working 10 hours a week and Drew was a baby. When he told me the news I had a massive anxiety attack. It felt like our world was crashing down on me and I wasn't sure that there were any options. I could barley breathe and I thought I had the flu and needed to go to the doctor. Then I laid down, calmed down and regained control. Never again did I let that fear take over me like that. I won't let it happen. I am stronger now, because I have to be for my family.
I am proud that Mr. Bee and I are able to provide for our family, and also proud that we are not afraid to tell my children "no", no matter what the reason may be. If we have to suffer in this recession right now, if our life has to be so precarious, I hope the silver lining is that my children will have it easier when they are adults.
I hope that means we get to tell the "back when you were kids" stories, where we tell our children how much tougher we had it when they were growing up, and they can groan and never really understand how scary it was to hear of budget cuts, bankruptcy and foreclosure all around us. I hope they never have to live in a State crippled with unemployment. I hope they groan and roll their eyes because they can't imagine it; however I also hope that they cherish all that they have and realize that while they didn't always have everything they wanted, having everything they needed was an amazing luxury that we were able to provide for them.
"Happiness is not the absence of problems; but the ability to deal with them." ~Jack Brown