I went to Wal-mart this evening to do my monthly shopping and I had an interesting discussion with my checker. As she started scanning my groceries, she stopped and said, "You must have a big family!"
I smiled and said, "There are six of us." Then I explained that a lot of this food is for the whole month. She couldn’t imagine buying enough food all at once to last a month. (I don’t actually buy everything for a month either. We go to Sam’s once a week for milk, eggs, juice, Cheerios, and other things that we get a better deal on there.) So I explained that I planned out our dinners for a month. By this time, I’m beginning to feel like I have two heads.
Then she said, "What do you for a living?"
To which I replied, "I stay home. (I wasn’t going to mention homeschooling if I didn’t have to.)
She then proceeded to ask me what my husband did for a living. I was still trying to be friendly, but I was getting a little bit annoyed at her nosiness. After I told him my husband was a teacher, she was even more amazed that a family of six could live on one teacher’s salary. Then she wanted to know what we did about holidays! I was getting a little flustered at this point so I not so eloquently said, "Oh, I guess maybe we don’t buy as much as other people."
As is typical for me, as I was driving home I realized all the ways I could have told her that we have lower monthly expenses than many families.
- We drive old, paid-for vehicles
- We do not have cable TV
- We do not have cell phones except 1, $7/month emergency phone
- We do not go to the movies
- We eat out extremely infrequently (once every 2 months or so)
- I do a lot of cooking from scratch
- We buy most of our children’s clothing at consignment sales
- I cut everyone’s hair (except my own, which hasn’t been cut in over 6 months.)
I could have told her all that stuff. But, I’m kind of glad I didn’t. If I had said that it would have sounded like I was complaining. But I’m not at all. Because we have given up those things:
- We have a comfortable home that we enjoy.
- We spend time as a family going on hikes, visiting museums, and playing games.
- I stay home and am the primary influence on my children’s lives.
- I have the privilege of homeschooling.
- Our children are not materialistic. (We have a terrible time thinking of gift ideas for them. They never know what they might want.)
I would never ever trade the opportunities I have at home just to be able to go to dinner and a movie every week. Really, what is more important? So what if everyone thinks we’re weird.