My eBay auctions are over, and the most memorable part that will remain in my mind was a woman mailing me to ask if my shipping cost on an item was a typo. I mailed back that it was not, and she responded telling me that she hoped I could sleep at night, despite the fact that I was “ruining eBay for everyone” with my “outrageous inflation.” I mailed her back a somewhat civil explanation of the weight of the item and calculated cost, then asked her to please not bother bidding on any of my items, because I felt her attitude was ruining eBay for everyone; but that she should have herself a pleasant evening.
As I weighed the box and printed out the shipping label, tonight, I discovered that–and I assure you, it’s sheer serendipity–the actual shipping cost to the winning bidder? Is exactly what I charged. I’ll be sleeping just fine tonight. I suspect that woman, however, will be kept awake with her righteous indignation and the neverending job of patrolling the world.
All that anger over a few dollars. How much do you want to bet Indignant McEBayQueen has plenty of money?
I have to tell you, when I had plenty of money, I didn’t appreciate it. I’m not proud of that. Sure, I was frugal then, as I am now, but I didn’t realize how blessed I was to not have to worry. I didn’t give enough of that money (or my time, for that matter) to people who had less. I gave to charity. I volunteered my time. On my terms. In a way that was comfortable for me and didn’t require any sacrifice on my part.
And then money became an issue, and EVERYTHING felt like sacrifice. My safe, comfortable lifestyle was gone and I panicked. Everything revolved around money. Making sure there was enough; enough to pay the mortgage, enough to meet the other bills, enough to not always have to say to the kids, “Not today” or “We can’t.”
I have been working my way towards putting money in its proper place, for the last few years. It’s been an interesting journey for me, and one I could probably talk about at great length (but as most of you have already fallen asleep, I’ll refrain); the bottom line is that I’m in a different place, mentally, even if not fiscally. It’s not that I don’t worry at all, it’s that I trust that if I do what I need to do, it’ll work out.
So far, it has. The bills are being paid. I’m giving more of my money and my time than ever before to others. I’ve figured out that I have plenty. It’s enough. Too many people cannot say the same.
Remembering that is a good way to quell any fleeting desires for an iPod, or a vacation, or even for pretty shoes that aren’t on clearance!
In the meantime, sometimes my beautiful children come to me and jabber on and on about how they SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE without this or that item and they must have it and when can they get it and–
–then I think that OBVIOUSLY I am doing something VERY WRONG, because my children are materialistic STUFFHOUNDS and whatever example I am setting is nothing more than me standing between them and the television for a moment while they are trying to figure out which toy they require to stave off imminent DEATH BY COOLNESS DEPRIVATION.
Occasionally, I think I’m getting through to them. And then it’s back to the status quo–I want, I need, why do I haaaave to, and I don’t want to eat that. Then I take a break from my charitable involvement to beat them senseless until they feel grateful, dammit.
So the latest battle is this: Many of the kids’ schoolmates have fancy birthday parties involving venues that cost an arm and a leg, and then they invite the entire class and end up with so much loot the parents have to rent a small truck just to haul it all home. I wrote a few weeks ago about a few against-the-grain parties that appeal to me as a mom trying to instill a moral compass in my kids. Of course, as I casually tried to chat up those ideas to my own children, I was met with a variety of reactions, and I don’t think a single one of them was “Oh boy! I wanna do THAT!”
Chickadee’s birthday is coming up, and every idea she’s had involves more kids and more money than I feel comfortable agreeing to. And then came a potential solution to our impasse–a benefactor (with a license to spoil) offered to foot the bill for the “fancy” party she’s been begging for, as her birthday present. This was fine with me, as it would get me off the hook for throwing a party, and be something “special” she wouldn’t get otherwise, and not result in MORE STUFF.
I approached her with a bargain: She could have her party, and her extended guest list, IF she didn’t get presents. I challenged her to pick a charity to sponsor. Chickadee was unconvinced.
We’ve gone back and forth on whether or not this is what she wants to do. And her latest idea was to ask her guests to donate to my 3-Day account, which I appreciate and all, but it felt… I dunno… wrong. I can’t explain it; it just seemed a little self-aggrandizing to do that, even though it’s for a good cause. ["Wow, I'm really excited about Chickadee's birthday! She's going to have cake, and ice cream, and a martial arts demonstration, and she's raising money for BOOBS! Isn't that GREAT?"]
Today my church was recruiting people for an upcoming CROP Walk and when I was asked to walk, I pointed out that I’ve already hit up everyone I know for money for the 3-Day. But it’s a 6-mile walk, which would be a good training jaunt for me… and probably not too far for an 8-year-old….
So. The upcoming birthday party will be an extravaganza, and if Chickadee’s friends would like to sponsor her for the CROP Walk in lieu of a present, that would be great. We’ll be doing the walk together, the day after the party. She’s already planning what snacks she wants us to take along (she’s all about the important things, my daughter).
I think she’s going to have a memorable birthday. I hope that when it’s over, she’ll have had a great day with her friends, and have made it through the walk, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she has enough. Because, damn, I’m getting tired of beating her.