i refuse…

…to any longer feel bad about my financial situation. I have zero dollars in my bank account, mostly due to poor planning on my part for not taking into account the bureaucratic ineptitude of a certain university financial office. We will probably owe the IRS a shit-load of money this year, due to not understanding the fellowship and stipend tax rules or realizing that I could pay the taxes during the year. But even if I did consider this current situation my fault, I think I would still refuse to feel bad. Why is it that we place such high values on people “living within their means” instead of questioning the consumer culture that drives most of our taste? Should I feel bad for desiring a Starbucks latte simply because I may not be able to afford it? Should I more harshly judged for purchasing such drink than a rich(er) person who can afford it?

…to feel bad about what my children DON’T have rather than focusing on what they DO have. For example, not having the specific foods they want for breakfast. Due to the above money situation, the grocery store has not yet been visited. Therefore the beloved oatmeal is not available for consumption this morning, and the last beloved banana had to be split and shared. But there are other things to eat, including yogurt, Cheerios, and crackers. There is waffles and juice. My heart aches that the kids can’t have exactly what they want, and I know that I’ve created an expectation, but damn, a little disappointment now and again cannot hurt that much.

…to feel bad about my “brand” of motherhood. My kids watch TV, and don’t get a bath every night. Breakfast is not always hot cereal, but rather cold stuff. The kitchen and bathroom floors are dirty, and clothes remain unfolded for days. We don’t make our beds. We slap hands and butts every now and again. I yell and fuss. Many nights, I leave the house to do my work, and my kids are aware that I’m leaving. I enjoy spending time without my kids. I have no desire to be a stay-at-home mom even if I could be. I hate living in the suburbs. Doing well in my career means a lot to me, working for social justice means a lot to me, and I want to see all kids have opportunities in life, which means that I may not do exactly what’s best for my kids if it also means that it disadvantages some other kid, especially if they are black or brown. But God entrusted these kids to me, to raise them as I see fit.

I’m “irresponsible” with money because I have average tastes and below average money, I don’t give my kids what they want all the time, even if their requests for oatmeal are perfectly reasonable, and I sometimes place social equality above giving my kids all of me by devoting time to the cause rather than to them. But I’m the mama they have, so everyone just has to deal.

7 thoughts on “i refuse…

  1. No apologizing necessary. You’re a great mommy. You love your children. Oatmeal is overrated — just ask my kids :). Your concerns for social justice will filter through to your children thereby making the world a better place. You know how I feel about cleaning. I once read that cleaning a house with young kids living in it is like shoveling snow in a blizzard. I wholeheartedly agree. Your financial situation is not permanent. Things will get better. Drink your coffee — it helps keep a student sane.

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