Brew of the day: Lime tea
Quick maths… If I fed my family processed, de-natured junk food I would save at least £100 a week. I invest significantly in my family’s present and future health and well-being by shopping locally at our organic farmers’ market and making all our meals from scratch. It is, without question, the biggest expense of our week. As a rule we don’t have dessert. The cupboards don’t have biscuits, chocolate, crisps or ready made meals. (poor deprived mites!)
Whenever I want to revamp the budget and look at where I can make changes, I always feel sick to the stomach at the thought of feeding my girls anything less than I do. When I look at what other families are feeding their kids, I have one of my “I’m from another planet” moments. Isn’t it obvious that if you want to fuel a machine you have to put in the right ingredients? My husband once, accidentally, put a tank full of diesel into our unleaded run car. Not a popular lad. Not a cheap mistake! Yet we do this to our kids’ bodies all the time and think they’re ok! How long do we seriously think we can run their ‘machine’ on coke, crisps, that awful gooey, processed, cream cheesey stuff with bread sticks without serious consequences? And why don't mums make the connection between sugar-filled dairy yoghurts (which they've been told are healthy) and their kids' snotty noses? Ain't rocket science, you know?
I don’t often give thought to the fact that I’ve spent the past ten years as a stay at home mum, not contributing in any significant way to the family income. A few days ago I shared an experience with my girls that made me realise the ‘cost’ of being a stay at home mum and feeding my kids healthily and ethically. It can’t be ethical to put poison into another human being’s body day after day, can it?
This week I was in Carlisle in a business next to the new Laura Ashley home design shop. I said to the kids, ‘oh let’s go in there and browse’. I love Laura Ashley clothes (beyond the budget of a SAHM) so knew I’d love their home accessories range. I was right!
We had a fab time browsing all the delicious goodies which give a home that comforting feeling. The three of us visualised having patchwork quilts and lovely thick cushions for our dining chairs, with matching fabric napkins. We ooed and aaed over the gorgeous sofas and thick plush rugs. We couldn’t drag ourselves out of there very easily.
I’m not a shopaholic (though probably would be if my purse was heavy!) and for the most part I don’t have material inclinations. I’m not one to get sucked into adverts (unless it is for the latest feel-good chick flick!). Despite this, I would thoroughly enjoy a beautifully decorated home from floor to ceiling and all the bits in between. Watching the delight on my daughters’ faces as they imagined having such beautiful décor and accessories in their own home, has had me questioning the value of these past ten years. I spent a few days thinking of all the things they’ve been deprived of by me not having earned the equivalent of say £150,000 in the past decade. Gosh, we could have had our own home by now, rather than renting.
How different would my daughters’ lives have been? Is my love, my constant availability to the family, remotely equivalent to £150 000?
So what have they actually missed out on? Fancy bed covers, curtains, rugs and wall paper. Pretty, beautiful, psychologically nurturing. Is it any more nurturing though, than having someone at home to read stories, bake, cuddle, go bike riding with? And what about the annual overseas holidays? We had a trip to Italy a few years ago paid for by someone else as a working holiday mission. Other than that, our two nights away at Berwick upon Tweed last year was the closest we’ve come since.
What did the girls get instead of pretty things? A mum who chose to give up a life of fancy clothes and shoes, fine dining and to stay at home with them so they had the constant presence of a loved one...someone who would care for them no matter what. A dad who was willing to let go of his ideal career in order to be available each day and to enable us to live rurally rather than in a city. I don’t know if my kids will grow up to appreciate the sacrifices which we felt were in their best interests or if, indeed, they’ll compare their childhood to other kids and wish instead they’d had Nike shoes, Barbie dolls and an Ipod.
There are some in the media who take vindictive delight in describing my parenting style as selfish. I’ve always found this confusing. Why is it selfish to put the wellbeing of your kids first? Where else should they be for goodness’ sake?
None of us know how long we’re on this Earth for. My hope is that before I leave here, I will have helped to instil a deep sense of self worth into my daughters that they can go forth whole, happy and free. Their needs have been met as much as I’ve been humanly able to do. And I’m sure that they’ll be equipped to deal with any needs we haven’t been able to meet..
I often think that if I didn’t see my 40th birthday next year, at least I can be certain of one thing. My girls know they were loved with a passion and they meant more to Paul and I than a brand new car, fancy curtains or dinners in top restaurants.
It was no sacrifice.