Monday, January 21, 2013

Sacrifice and the stay at home mom

Read me on the Holmes County Bargain Hunter

Sacrifice: Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim. To give something up.

Do we know, in this materialistic high-reaching world we live in, what true sacrifice is? Finding a great deal on a clearance item is a whole different ball of wax than scrimping and saving for a year to buy a used car that your family might need. Let’s clarify. Take family number one: This family of four has two incomes, a big house, and some extra money to burn. The mom likes to get some great deals so she shops the clearance racks at Target and comes away with what we consider a few steals. Fifty percent off on kids shoes and clothing, a vacuum cleaner marked down that was needed, and so forth. 

Now consider family number two: Also a family of four, small rented house, and living on one income. They have made the choice for the mom to stay at home while the children are small and they live on a very strict budget. Each month for the past year, the mom has set aside X amount of dollars from her grocery fund to save up for a new washer and dryer so they don’t have to use the old ones about to fall apart. Money is already tight, but by sacrificing certain things, they come up with the amount needed to buy a reliable set that goes on sale in January.

Both families are equally good at finding a good deal for their families. They seek out what they want/need, consider it, and buy it. We all deal with the cards we’ve been given. Some must work harder than others to break even. Even though family number one has extra money to buy simple things on sale, the money she spends out of that cash overflow is probably never even considered. She sees the clearance and the money is spent. Family number two, who doesn’t HAVE the extra money, siphons money away from budgeted groceries so that they can purchase something they really need. Two separate scenarios, but who made a sacrifice? Does it really matter?

I have heard many women lament the fact that they want to stay home with their kids instead of working outside the home. I’ve written on this before, and in the end I’ve always concluded that it’s a choice. Period. What puzzles me, though, are the ones that say they want to stay home – the ones that I can see the pain on their faces from being away from their kids. They are afraid to make the plunge because in the end, it’s about lifestyle. Can we keep what we’ve always had and still stay at home? The luxury of being able to go out and shop, eat, and dine at will – or staying at home with our children and having less of that. This is where the heart of the choice lies. For some, there is no wrestling with the choice. They know they will go back to work and that’s that. For the others that struggle, though, I tell you this: You can make it.

I chose to stay at home. This does not make me a saint, it just means we made that choice. God has made us all different and I was simply wired to be a stay at home mom. It’s something we need to find out quickly because life can be a drag every single day we’re away from our kids – if we don’t want to be. There is no happy medium if you long to be at home and you’re working. 

This is where the sacrifice part of this column comes in. We have forgotten how to live with less. We have been raised in a society that heaps praise on the newest of things, puts value on that fancy car, or looks down on the beater you’ve been driving for years so you can afford other things. When other people were buying new furniture every five years, or brand-name shoes for their toddlers, I was out scouring consignment baby stores for the same things. You would have never known that my kids didn’t have a personal account at Gymboree because with a little pluck, we found the same things for a fraction of the cost. Instead of buying that new couch (which I’ve written about before and still do not own), I purchased cloth and made slip covers so it would look new. Pillow cases of vibrant design were stitched and tucked over worn out pillows so the entire effect would look cozy and warm. I didn’t miss a new couch because I was too busy reading to my kids on the old one. The choices and sacrifice are there for the taking – if you aren’t afraid to do it. Lifestyle changes can be painful and full of tedious choices, but in the end, if you know you’re meant to stay at home you will. You will sacrifice everything just to snuggle that little bundle in your arms. No new designer purse or fancy outfit can ever take the place of that – that is, unless you become a stay-at-home entrepreneur and figure out how to have it all. But that’s a column for another day.