Sunday, November 9, 2008

I have a visceral reaction

If you are not aware, I am a nonconformist. We live in an old house. We live in an old small house. KD is a teacher, I am a consultant. We are both well educated. Our parents were well educated with advanced degrees. We each come from affluent towns. Our old small house has no granite, nor stainless steel and is not on a cul de sac. We have 1/2 an acre on a busy road in a small town. We have 3 bedrooms, although one is classified as a bedroom, it is not. Our children share a room. We have 1 and 1/2 baths. Our entire house is 1,100 sq. ft. This small space is attached to a barn which is equal to or larger than our entire house. This was one of the selling features of this house. The barn still has the original beams, ala trees, for support. The house, once we stripped back all the faux wood panelling and dropped ceilings, has all the original wainscoting and wide pine floors. We love our house, albeit a work in progress.

We could not afford to live in the towns we grew up in and I suspect that it has more to do with our lack of planning than our finances. Although our lack of planning directly effects our finances. For the record, I would not want to live in the town I grew up in, as it has turned into a place where people live because of the zip code. I want to raise my children to be solid, confident human beings, who respect other humans for their souls, not for the granite in the kitchen or the label on their clothes. I also want to ensure that my children fit in from a social perspective. Although I do not shop at the Gap or Gymboree for their clothes, Old Navy and Target have some pretty hip, economical clothes and it is a great alternative. I have also hit Children's Orchard and scored huge there. As their mother I feel it is my job to take this one potential social pressure out of their hands and since they still let me pick out their clothes, it works.

I share all of this to demonstrate my provenance. I believe some of the above explains why it is that I have such a visceral reaction to something like this:

"Four bedrooms, four bathrooms and way too many handbags."

In today's society there exists such a materialistic way of life and I do not subscribe to this on principal first and finances second. I prefer to be the nonconformist who can have it all on the cheap through, in the case of our house, sweat equity and in the case of our children, creative solutions to ensure they fit in.


Mandy said...

This post just really resonated with me. In a time where excess is the norm, it's fun to be creative and thrifty about how we live and WHAT we live. It can be tough at times, but I know in the end these values are what will sustain me.

Impoverished Preppy said...

Dying to know where that quote came from... it seems familiar, as though I had read it on someone else's blog...

DH and I are both teachers who come from families where our parents were both well educated, and well off. Sometimes I am bothered by the fact that I cannot easily provide my children with all the things I had growing up.

DH and I struggle to control our materialistic impulses, and we are not always successful. Still, we've managed to set aside the money to send our daughters to private school, something we feel is important. Part of the reason that we are teaching at a prep school is because we want to offer that education to our children, and teaching there means being able to do so for much less.

I think the last twenty years have seen a ridiculous acceleration towards gross materialism and consumption, but I hope, that the recent collapse of the market will lead our nation toward a sense of personal responsibility and financial prudence.

Your post is a good one, and a sign post of the way things are headed for many of us.

Ladybug's Picnic said...
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