I grew up in the country. I’m talking farm land as far as the eye can see kind of country. Nearest neighbor 1/2 mile away kind of country. 1 hour+ bus ride to school kind of country. We were out there.
We were among the poor ones of the school. Dad was a farmer and mom worked multiple jobs to get us by. There were kids with less than us but there were certainly a number of kids with more.
Even then I learned who my friends could be and who they couldn’t. They girls who came to my house lived within biking distance of it. We played in the creek together hunting frogs and turtles. We went sledding down the same treacherous hill together. We attended 4-H together in the same little country town hall. None of us had much and we enjoyed every bit of what we had.
As I have grown I have never been all about status. I work in social services so I’ll never be infinitely wealthy. We don’t buy things when they are new and hip. We wait until they are reasonably priced. The first house we bought was a 2 bedroom starter home that was comfortable for our small family.
As the boys began to grow our home began to shrink. Could we have stayed there? Sure we could. The issue we had with staying was the school district. We lived in the large, urban school district that was slowly sinking into the slums. Thanks to the ridiculous rules of government, this district is continuously losing money because they can’t make the grade. I could go on and on about that but this is a different kind of post.
Anyway… We made the decision to move to a better district before the boys started school. It was cheaper to do that than to pay private school tuition for 2 kids. We got lucky when the housing market was taking a turn for the worst and moved into an up and coming subdivision in the district we wanted.
Ours is the cheap house on the block. It fits in, kind of. It is smaller than the others. There is no extravagant landscaping. It is our house and we love it.
Living where we live we happen to be in the zoning of the elementary school that my friend jokingly refers to as the “pointy toed school.” Some of the kiddos who attend this school have parents who are wealthy beyond belief. Many of the mothers don’t work – hence the 10am PTO meetings that us blue-collar folks can’t attend.
I watch many of these mothers at school events and run into them at soccer games. I know that we don’t fit in with them as far as parents go. I know it and it’s never bothered me.
Eli’s soccer team practices at one of the coaches homes. He lives just a couple of miles from us. In the rich neighborhood. In a home that could house at least 2 of mine – maybe 3. With a yard that is the size of mine combined with a few of my neighbor’s yards. A yard big enough for a play set, a good-sized pond and a decent sized soccer field – along with a “shed” the size of my garage.
I’m overwhelmed by all of it. And, for the first time, Eli notices. He asks why we don’t live in a bigger house. He thinks that if I had a husband and kids that we would have a bigger house. And wouldn’t it be awesome to have a such a big house.
It opened the door for a very important conversation. A conversation about love vs. material things. A conversation that included discussion about being lonely when only material things are involved.
In the end it was a beautiful lesson. It was good for me to remember why we came to be at our current home and an understanding for my son of just how rich he is.