Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mrs. Gottrocks

"Success to me is having ten honeydew melons and eating only the top half of each slice."

Barbra Streisand

I grew up in a middle class family.  My father worked full time outside the home; my mother worked full time running our home. Actually, both put in significantly more than full time hours. Two parents, three children. One income.

We owned a home in the "old suburbs" and went to good public schools. We could go to the doctor and dentist for regular check ups. There were piano lessons, dance lessons drama lessons--depending on which child. My mother worked ceaselessly to economize in order to make the money stretch for that.

Some years we had a family vacation. Most years, though, we did day trips to the beach or amusement park. We didn't go out to eat very often, and if we did, it was often to Howard Johnson's, not a fancy place.  My mother scanned the weekly grocery ads, clipped coupons, made every penny count.

We were not rich. My mother used to use the moniker  "Mrs. Gottrocks" to describe what rich people did. Rich people, not us. This was not to denigrate our position in life, but to remind the kids that this is where we we are, so be realistic.
You are not going to boarding school, or getting the enormous stuffed pony you can ride on from FAO Schwartz. Getting treats from the ice cream truck is for rich people.

I say all of this to adequately prepare you for this announcement: today, I am rich. I am rich because I can now afford to stay home in the summer when I'm not teaching. We can afford to join Lifetime Fitness in the summer and work out and swim whenever we want. I am rich because, once in awhile, I can go out to dinner and have the steak, loaded baked potato and the lettuce wedge with blue cheese dressing, $1.00 extra. And Margo can go to two session of summer camp--what riches!

We are going on a family vacation to the beach for five whole days.  These are the things of riches, to me.

I was raised by a frugal mother. This means that sometimes I stress over whether I can afford to buy the name brand product in the grocery, or whether it is okay to buy new clothes for myself when the family might need something more. It also means that I struggle to believe I have money to put in the collection plate.

But, when it comes the bar I set for being "rich", it means I am easily pleased. Sure, it would be awesome to win the lottery and buy that million dollar-plus home with room for an in-house arts space. But, give me time to spend with my family, a refreshing swim on a hot day, with a little money left over for the ice cream truck, and I am rich beyond my childhood dreams.

I am, in fact, Mrs. Gottrocks. Because it's all in how you look at it.

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