I propped my head up with my hands at our kitchen table as my 3-year-old daughter scribbled in her coloring book. It was just one of those days where our modular home felt too small, our secondhand furniture felt too beat up, and I wasn’t seeing the silver lining in all this “frugal living” stuff.
We’ve been on a journey as a family of four living on a single income to save up for our first house. Some days, that goal seems just around the corner. Others, it seems nowhere in sight.
This was one of those days.
I looked at my growing child, tried to imagine her future, and asked, “Do you like living here?” The next nine words left me slack-jawed. Without looking up from her coloring, she said,
Yeah, because it’s where my mommy and daddy live.
When my husband and I first got married, we’d talk endlessly about all the things we could do and places we could live.
I’d think of every place I ever wanted to visit: Hawaii for our anniversary, New Zealand because I love Lord of the Rings and Dontae loves Flight of the Conchords, Japan to visit my brother and his family, Germany, South Korea, did I mention Hawaii?
Then, I’d look at my husband in that dreamy, newlywed way, and say, “I go where you go.”
Now, my daughter was, in essence, saying the same thing. “I go where mom and dad go.” Yes, legally we are her guardians, so she does go with us. It’s different when she willingly chooses it above all other options, though.
Here we are, four years after we took our wedding vows and danced back up the aisle to The Jackson Five’s ABC’s. We rent a house with no garage in a little town in the Midwest where our two children have to share a room. Guests have to walk through the master bedroom to use our only functioning bathroom.
My husband works hard to provide for us, often leading him to work long hours with little time to travel. I’ve even begun making some money from home.
It’s a normal and wonderful life, and I truly wouldn’t change a thing.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
Let me rephrase that.
But that doesn’t mean I never have a crappy attitude about it.
Friends with bigger homes, fancier cars, or the freedom to travel bring out the less patient side in me. I start tapping my foot and wonder, “When will all these adventures begin? My family deserves adventures!”
Don’t I sound so mature?
Don’t answer that.
The truth is, the antidote for jealousy is contentment. That’s what my daughter taught me that day at the kitchen table.
It’s amazing how the mind of a child can snap you out of your pity party and make you a better person. Do I want to have our own spacious home some day? Yes. Do I want us to travel the world together? Absolutely. Do I want those things so badly that I’m willing to push aside the most important things in my life? What I mean is this: My daughter’s words forced me to refocus.
It was like she was saying:
It doesn’t matter how big our house is, as long as we’re together.
I want to live with mommy AND daddy. No matter how much money you make, your union is far more important to me.
I’m more content with people, not things.
My 3-year-old isn’t holier than other children. She didn’t sit and ponder the depths of our conversation, as I have. But I’ll bet most kids pop out of the womb with a pretty person-oriented happiness drive.
So, why do we, as adults, derail the contentment train so often? What are your thoughts? Share in the comments below.
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Photo Credit: Josh Felise (UnSplash)