One of my favorite blogs to read is The Simple Family. I haven’t been following it for long but fell in bloglove pretty quickly when I realized it was written by a mom (Rachel) on a path to a simpler life…much like my husband and I. Parenthood smacked us in the face and yelled at us to wake up. We realized early on that our every breath and every move would be scrutinized and picked apart by D’s big brown eyes. Without having a history upon which to gauge or to compare our actions and the world around her, we realized she would take our example and believe it…whatever it might be.
For example, if my husband and I jokingly pretended to bicker, she wouldn’t know we were pretending…would she? If I threw a piece of garbage on the street, she’d assume it was the norm. If my husband drank soda for breakfast with pizza, she’d want the same. If we never said thank you, then the words would be foreign to her. These are the thoughts that consumed me in the first few days of motherhood. I was overcome with this insane sense of responsibility and opportunity. I could impact one life from the start. This little blank slate is going to soak up everything, and I mean everything, we throw at her. I realized early on that my husband and I had to make drastic changes in our lives.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not evil people decapitating animals and stealing food from the hungry. We’re your typical 20something couple- blind consumers, in debt, spending beyond our means and living for tomorrow. Rachel’s post today reminded me of the feeling I had in those first few days of motherhood. She writes about living within your means and struggling with those means and your wants. Like most people, my husband and I would love stuff…a bigger TV, a new car, a bigger house, regular massages, brand new camping gear, the latest leather handbag. Before we had D, we generally bought what we wanted. Not to a crazy extent, but enough so that we have accumulated some good debt and run out of storage space in our condo.
We’re committed now to living a simpler life for the sole reason that it provides D with an honest and true example of her parents. We don’t just shop now for the sake of shopping. We shop when we need something. We don’t just eat anything. We’re educating ourselves about the food we eat and eating healthier, greener meals. We’re not just getting rid of excessive belongings, we’re looking for ways to donate or reuse/recycle those items. We’re not spending every other night out at a restaurant, we’re enjoying home cooked meals. It might not sound like a lot- we’re not taking in starving children or building a home for the needy- but we’re making conscious choices about our everyday lives. We’re teaching D the importance of really being in control of your life, to be honest, to care, and most importantly, to live in the moment…to make educated decisions and be kind to everyone and everything.
My husband and I have been on the same page since day one about wanting to change our habits. But that doesn’t mean that every once in a while we don’t have the desire for silly, useless things. Take for instance my obsession with diaper bags. I have a perfectly good diaper bag- brown pebbled leather with pink stitching and lots of room…it’s the bag that I dreamed of when I was pregnant…I dragged my hubs to the Coach outlet to pick it up. Tell me then, why when I go into the local maternity store, I get this feeling inside, like a craving for chocolate, for the new Skip Hop bag? Or, another great example, my husband just got a new car. He’s actually gone through a series of 3 cars in less than a year. See, first he wanted a truck because he wanted to start a landscaping business. Sans business plan and with zero other planning, I stupidly agreed to the purchase just to show some support. When the business didn’t pan out and the cost to fill up began to actually hurt, J decided it was time for a new car. He saw a shiny little number we ended up calling Bianca, very 007. We went through about 2 months of ownership before he realized he’d made the crappiest financial decision of our marriage. In the end, he got a Hybrid Camry and we are in love with it. Despite all the hardships we’ve had with vehicles, there are days where I seriously consider trading in my zero payment, 100% owned Jeep to get something shiny and new. In both these examples, I know that my desires are completely foolish. But when I get the urge to want those things, it makes me…not sad…not down in the dumps…how should I put it…kinda like a cloud just floated by the sunshine of my day.
It’s a tricky time of year to want to live simply with the pressure to buy everyone gifts and live excessively for a couple of weeks. We’re trying to combat all that by buying thoughtful gifts that will either a- mean something to the receiver or b- be of actual use. In the coming months, we’re going to start house shopping so we’ll have to apply the same holiday philosophy to the hunt-practical and right for us. We want stainless steel, hardwoods and granite. But that’s what we want. What we need is a space just right so that we can make and raise another baby or two and big enough so that one day we can get a dog…safe neighborhood and cozy. No McMansion here.