Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the tag “Money”

Is There Ever Enough?

Baby Girl came into bed at 6:30 this morning, and insisted on sleeping on my neck. But I didn’t mind. The wind was cooling the room, and the sky was the over-cast helmet of a day of rain. Perfect napping weather, except I had to crawl out of my cocoon and start the day. I smiled at my Sweetie as he read his iPad, the blue glow on his face. When I’m like this I’m all haimish and happy. Then, I get up and the spell is broken.

I worry.  And worry and worry.  Will there be enough?  Enough to cover piano lessons, enough milk in the fridge for cereal, enough time to remember the project for school before they dash out the door?  Will I have enough patience not to snap, not to shout, to jump in the air for the 40th time that day and pretend to be surprised when she stomps up behind me and yells “Boo?”

Who will pay for our retirement?  What if something happens to one of us?  Maybe I should go back to work and help out around here.  It’s so hard to always say “no.”  No, you can’t have that.  No, it’s too much money.  No, we don’t have time today.  No, your Father and I don’t think it’s a good idea.  So, no.  Face falls, shoulders slump.  “I knew you’d say that….”

For years now, I’ve been researching the ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino de  Santiago de Compostela (the Way of Saint James), which crosses from France over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain.  It is my Sweetheart’s and my dream to one day walk it together.  A common thread seems to unite the reflections of the pelegrinos (the name for all “pilgrims” on the route) is that the Camino is life, and life is the Camino.  Everyday you get up and keep walking.  Did you have great day?  Super!  Now, keep walking.  Things going bad and everything’s wrong?  Rats.  Keep walking.   Just like daily life with it’s tiny victories and humiliations — just keep walking.

But what is so illuminating about a physical pilgrimage, is that it’s pretty hard to hide our decision to stop walking.  By Day 3 of your “Rest Stop” sitting in a Pub in some picturesque Spanish village, it has become apparent to everyone, including yourself, that you are going nowhere.  In the river of daily life though, it’s easy to be caught up in some little ebb and happily bob along there until it is too late.  The race was run and all you’ve got to show for it is a really awesome DVD collection, and a decent on-line gaming personae.  Trying to avoid the pain of the step after step after step, you missed the entire journey.  The gnawing in the pit of your stomach that you took the easy way out.

It seems I can walk the Camino without ever leaving home.  (This is awesome, because with trans-Atlantic flights costing what they do, I feel like we’ll be using walkers by the time we save up enough.  But who knows?  Maybe by then it will be Wheelchair Accessible.)  The question is whether I can keep going, step after packed lunch after messy room after bill to pay after step.  And if I don’t look at the big picture, but just do the little bit in front of me, well, I think — I hope — I can.  Just do the next thing and somehow we’ll all get to where we are supposed to go.

Update: I realized that I should have listed some of the Camino resources/reflections that I stumbled across that might be of some interest to you all.  As Brother James mentioned in the comments, there is the excellently reviewed movie The Way, which is hovering at the top of my to see list.  However, the rest of these I have had the chance to check out personally:

I just recently read this reflection by Dr. José Pereira, a Palliative Care Doctor at the Nothing More Beautiful Event sponsored by the  Archdiocese of Edmonton on May 10, 2012.  It is not a description of the Camino but a spiritual reflection of the impact the journey had on Dr. Pereira and his faith.

I was struck by several similarities to a programme on CBC Radio 2 I had stumbled on a few Sundays previous.  The program was called Inside the Music and it highlighted the work of fiddler/composer Oliver Schroer (1956-2008) who walked the Camino and recorded his own work in various Churches along the way  and collected in the album Camino.  The description of “keep walking” was a paraphrase of (what must of been previously recorded) Schroer’s.

Finally, if you are looking for a well-written travelogue with some wry commentary on just how weird thing can get with a bunch of women, get a hold of Jane Christmas’ What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim.  This book has a lot of great information on the nuts and bolts of the Camino, and some “funny now that it’s over” observations on traveling en masse with fellow females.

Death by a Thousand Cheque Book Paper Cuts

Hey -- you enjoy that! It cost good money.

Back in the day, my Grandma would call Trick or Treating “Shell Out” (she would also call Canadian Tire “The Tire Corporation” for some inexplicable reason.) As we donned our homemade costumes, she would be at the door. “Shell out, shell out,” she’d call. I thought it was strange and embarrassing back then. Little did I know she was warning me what my life would be like in 30 years.

Oh, I lie to myself. “Now that school has started Liz, the expenses will drop off.”  “It’s just Christmas. When January comes you’ll be able to save LOTS of money.” Yeah, whatever. The cheques are ripped out and handed off.

Scholastic Book Order

RIP

Girl Guide Sleepover

RIP

Pottery Field Trip, Museum Field Trip, Skiing Field Trip

RIP RIP RIP

That was a skiing and snowboarding trip, remember?

Right – RIP

School Christmas Gifts

RIP RIP RIP

Winter Activity Registration

RIP

School Book Fair

RIP

Should I put the 4 and 3 year old in Kindermusik?

RIP-RIP-RIP-RIP-RIP-RIP-RIP!!!

I don’t begrudge giving my kids stuff, and all of these expenses are worthwhile.  They’re all educational, memorable, and brain building.  That’s the problem:  How do you say “no” to the good stuff?

I’m not wasting money on kids temporary hair die, or those plastic straws full of sugar.  It’s the costs of all the great trips the school organizes, thank you’s to great teachers, birthday party gifts for great kids.  This is all the stuff that you want to say “yes” to as a parent.  And it’s not just an issue because I have a ton of kids.  When I just had two, I had them enrolled in music, dance, swimming, and gymnastics.  We went weekly to the bookstore, and bought a shelf load of Sharon, Lois and Bram CD’s.  It’s easy to say “no” to the candy aisle, and a lot harder to say it to cello lessons.

But at some point, you have to.  Even if you are a stay-at-home mom with two nannies and a gazillion, billion dollars, it is humanly impossible to buy and do everything of value that will cross your kids’ path.  You can’t fit that much activity into a 24 hour day, and where are you going to house all those math games?  Parents today are both blessed and cursed — blessed that we have so much to help us parent and enrich our children’s lives, and cursed that we have so much to choose from and have to say “no” to.

So, I have a confession to make:  I recycled the book orders this month.  I did cave on Sweetie Pie’s new Christmas Dress, but she needs it for the school Christmas Concert.  The same concert that I bought fundraising raffle tickets for.  And we did stop at the book fair, but I limited the kids to one book.  A piece.  Plus some for the kids at home.  And some erasers.  But I swear that’s it, and I mean it.

I’m going to go order some more cheques now.

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