I had the honor of being the Featured Writer for the Studio 30 Plus online magazine, where this article was first published. Be sure to check out the other featured writers at S30P… a very talented group of people!
My family lives in a very small apartment, 400 square feet for 4 people. It is a tight squeeze, but we love our little home. We have learned to get along, even when one of us is feeling grumpy, and we do most things together. We are not wealthy, obviously. We can’t even call ourselves “financially stable” most months, but we do have plenty of creativity and we give the girls every extra second of time that we can.
In this, I feel that my children are rich beyond measure. Their bedroom walls are decorated with handmade photo and magazine collages, their pencils collected in glass Ball jars wrapped with bright colored ribbon, and many of their stuffed animals are hand-knitted. They wash their faces with knit washcloths in a rainbow of colors and they wear Grandma-made nightgowns to bed at night.
In the afternoons, after homework has been done, the girls occupy themselves with watering the garden, feeding and petting the kitties, and checking the fairy house to see if any treasures have been left. They read a lot of books, often sitting outside on the porch with kitties in their laps.
The girls are used to David sitting at his easel in the living room on his days off, drawing his latest beautiful picture. They are used to me, writing at the computer or sitting cross-legged on our bed/couch in the living room, knitting socks. From these positions, we can see the side yard through our large sliding glass doors, and the girls come in and out as they please, bringing us honeysuckle bouquets and found treasures.
When it rains and they can’t play outside, they do each have a Nintendo DS, courtesy of their father, but they don’t play these long before they get bored. They much prefer making pinch pots out of clay, stringing bead jewelry and weaving potholders & quilt squares on their loom.
These children learned long ago that Mom & David cannot afford to buy them every video game that their hearts’ desire, but they also learned that if they want to paint, or knit, or draw, or build a fort out of cardboard boxes, we are more than happy to help. Some of our best memories as a family are snow sledding, fishing, and hiking through the woods down to our “secret pond”.
I have learned not to feel even a little bit guilty for not being able to buy gadgets to entertain them. Unlike their friends from school, Lakin and Addah know how to identify different types of leaves, bugs and trees, and they are not afraid to climb trees and charge into the woods behind our house looking for sticks and rocks for their latest fort or playhouse. It fills me with pride that my kids point out the gorgeous sunsets and the way the light glints off the raindrop-soaked flowers just after a shower.
I feel we are richer, for being poorer, and even if we suddenly find ourselves rolling in money, we will continue on, just the way we are…. except maybe with the bills paid in a more timely manner.