“Together! Together! Keep your legs together!” (and other mama advice)

So – my mom had lots of fun ways of giving advice when I was growing up. The above, she actually said as a cheer before every single date I went on until the day she died. I can still feel my cheeks turning a ridiculous shade of red when I’d hear her chanting, “Together! …. Together! ….” Once a dork, always a dork – even when she was trying to impart serious advice.

One of the other pieces of advice that has always stuck with me (though less out of trauma and more out of comfort) was this: “You can always make more money.” Having said this, I want to make it clear that my mama was by no means a spendy girl (nor am I). In fact, she seemed to get more pleasure out of telling me how little she spent on gifts she bought for me than in actually giving me the gift itself. (“Can you believe this shirt was only $2!?!?”) But when it came to experiences – at least ones she wanted me to have – she wanted me to be open to spending what I needed to have them.

This came up a lot in college when I tended to live like a prisoner saving money for my next great adventure. I lived a different place every single year I was in school (England … Berkeley … Austria). And yet no matter how hard I worked to get there, I was super cheap about letting myself enjoy it when I did. I’d go to Paris and be afraid to spend money to enter the Louvre. I’d visit London but be afraid to buy a pair of Doc Martens or plaid bondage pants or some other memorable Brit-Punk item I’d always dreamed of, just because my psyche couldn’t let me do it. On a daily basis I’d go without 3 of the 4 food groups to try to keep my grocery bill to $10/week. She’d get *so* annoyed. “You deserve to enjoy this. You can always make more money.”

I’ve kept that advice close over the years. I tend to be a girl who spends money on traveling and experiences more than fancy clothes or “stuff.” We live a pretty simple life here, and I’ve always loved that. The beach is free. The sun is free. The beauty of California – it’s all free. But lately that concept that I can always make more money is making me question – should I?

Basically, I’m at a point where I wonder what is best for my family. I’ve been so, so blessed to work for myself for coming up on three years now. It’s given me incredible freedom to spend time with my monster, and to explore my creative side, not to mention meet some really awesome clients/people. But when it comes down to it – yes, I probably could make more money if I were to go back to the corporate lifestyle. And I’m not sure at this point in my life which is more important – having that freedom to make the family life I want for the monsters, or making more money so that we can move on/move up to bigger things in life.

In Simplicity Parenting, there is a point where they say, “Think back to the vision of what you wanted for your family when you first found out you were going to be a parent. How do the actions you take each day go back to supporting that vision?” The way we’re living now, I can honestly say they do. I love spending time with B. I love working, but having the freedom to take family trips, or pull B out of daycamp if I miss him too much. I love not having to ask someone permission to do those things. (I’m not sure it’s even in my spirit to do otherwise.) I love that Blake already has a huge college fund, and tons of possibilities open to him, and yet he doesn’t live like he needs a grandiose life.

Still, knowing that I could make more money, it makes me wonder what is best for the monsters. Would it be better for them to have a bigger house? To have a big yard? To have more room to run around and be monsters? Which is more important to them in the long term – having a mama with freedom to love them (and having enough money to live and enjoy life), or having less time with mama and having “more” overall.

I guess I’m just not sure what’s best for them going forward. I wish my mama was here to make things sound simple with one of her dorky cheers. Maybe I’m just over-thinking … but I just want to do what’s best for da boys … and to spend as much time with those chubby cheeks as possible.



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