Making a living, and having a life.

December 28, 2013

paycheck (Photo credit: owaief89)

I mentioned in a previous article that my father worked very hard when I was a kid.  He worked a lot of overtime, and before ASARCO closed down we had a very comfortable life.  Things got pretty tight after, but we still had what we needed.

More importantly, I can’t remember my father having even one single day off, where he didn’t do something with us.  I’m sure it happened, but my memory of my childhood is absolutely packed with memories of family outings.

I learned from example, the value of hard work, but also the necessity of family time.

As a conservative, I passionately support these principals, which of course means advocating legislation that either encourages hard work, or provides said work, or both.  I also take particular initiative when I come across bills, or even just discussions on proposed actions that in anyway erode, or otherwise diminish family values.

Unfortunately, these particular waters can be pretty murky at times.  Sometimes there are side effects that deserve careful consideration.

As I’ve also mentioned in a previous article, as long as there is anything I can do about it, my children will not be raised by strangers.  Back in 2008 my wife took on a part time job for a few months, just to make things a little easier, but when she was at work, I was at home.  In August of this year she had to take on a part time job again, because we just plain weren’t making it, but again, when she’s at work, I’m at home.

We have a very modest lifestyle.  All of our furniture was given to us, by different people at different times, and family outings are rare, but we aren’t absolutely miserable.

We have the basic necessities, but my household can claim something else that I would argue is nearly as important, that many other households don’t have.  My eldest daughter gets teased in school on and off, because I don’t go out and buy her, the popular things of the day, which we all know changes about as fast as folks change their socks.

My children are learning through living, what is actually important in life, and what isn’t.  I don’t give them expensive junk, I give them my time.  I play with them and talk to them, and they are happy.

On the other hand, I often reflect on a couple my wife and I are personally acquainted with.  They are good people.  They both have jobs, and they also have 3 children, but they have a lot of the things we don’t.

They don’t own their home, they rent, but their house is very nice, a lot nicer than mine anyway.  They have a nice flat screen TV, and other higher shelf household items.  They are doing well for themselves, by most standards.

The thing is, as I said, I believe in hard work, but there has to a balance.  In my opinion, it would be better to live in a cave with my family, than in a mansion without them.

This couple is a prime example of what I would call, having everything, except what you need the most.  They’re miserable.  There really isn’t any other word for it.

I won’t condemn their efforts to provide, but things are not well.  There are many things that I won’t say about it.  I do believe they love each other, but they always appear irritated by each other’s presence.  It’s the same when they interact with their children.  I’m sure they love their kids, but they appear uncomfortable, or maybe just awkward around them.  It honestly reminds me of how I feel around other peoples kids, I know what to do because I’m a parent myself, but they aren’t mine so it’s awkward.

As I said, these are personal acquaintances, my wife and I have known them for more than 10 years.  The thing that really gets me is my household is frequently compared to theirs, in a negative way.  I usually don’t even respect those assertions with a comment.

These comparisons are always made by those who, by all appearances and of course by their behavior, seem to lack the very same sense of living, as the couple to which my wife and I are compared.

Objectively, I can imagine how one who has never known the feeling of family unity that is prevalent in my household, wouldn’t understand my counter opinion.  That’s the really sad part.  It’s too common already, and getting more common all the time.

However, there is another side to this situation.  From my observations it isn’t quite as common, but there are others out there that use family time, as an excuse not to work enough, or even at all.

In my opinion, this is just as harmful as the opposite.  Children learn best from their parents, which means they need exposure to their parents, but it’s pretty hard to teach your child how to provide for themselves and their future family, if you don’t do it for them.

There will be wealth to spread around to the motivationally challenged in our society for some time, but unforeseeable circumstances will always be a risk.  Natural disasters, terrorism, even full blown wars are just a few things that can put dependent individuals in a very bad situation, often without any kind of notice.  Regardless of the situation, an individual who is already well accustomed to providing for his or her self is far more likely to find a way to survive.  At the same time, an individual that has been raised with a strong sense of family, is far more likely to take that extra initiative in an unforeseen situation, to not only do what they can for themselves and their own, but for others who may be in need.

Although Christmas has just passed, when it comes to our children, there is no season for giving.  In my opinion, an evenly balanced understanding of these concepts is probably the greatest gift a parent can hope to give their children.

With the New Year just a few days away, I’m doing what I usually do.  I don’t know where the tradition of making a New Year’s resolution came from, but this time of year, I make a point of reflecting on what I’ve done, and what more I can do.

If by chance anybody out there is still thinking on their New Year’s resolution, I’d like to make a suggestion, if I may be so bold.  If you’re out there working your rear end off to provide for your family, you have my sincerest respect, but make the time, and make it often, to make sure you are giving your family, yourself as well.

Regardless of how the current political and ideological conflict turns out, whether we win, lose, or find some sort of compromise in our time, our children are next in line to fight the same battle, and new ones.  Our grandchildren and great grandchildren will either enjoy the rewards, or suffer the consequences of our children’s decisions.  We can’t make them for them, but we can show them the right motivations to consider, when the future is in their hands.

Wishing everyone a happy New Year,

Glenn W. Uncles Jr.

Helena, Montana


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