This assertion may be self-evident, what with the economy circling the drain, the cost of everything from healthcare and to college skyrocketing, holes in the ozone, oil leaks in the ocean, and all of those other big ticket items that keep parents from sleeping at night. Then there are those seemingly trifling sources of stress. Tasks that once seemed so straightforward, in those glamorous days of pre-parenthood, have now devolved into intricate challenges. Cleaning my house, for example. Never, before children, did I expend so much energy in the futile struggle to maintain order over my belongings. Never, before children, did I spend so much time scraping Spongebob Squarepants stickers off the floor.
The desire to be able to provide the very best for your family is an understandable product of this wild trip called parenthood. Of course we want our girls to be able to attend the college of their choice, toting the Cadillac of healthcare plans, having been raised in an orderly house (presumably made that way by a full-time housekeeper) in a pristine community that has never felt the rumblings of environmental degradation.
But that’s not exactly our reality.
(We’ve done the best we can on the pristine community part, at least.)
I realize, regrettably, that many of those things we aspire to provide our family with – for their health, wealth, and well-being – require the one thing we don’t ever seem to have enough of. And so, our dearth in the wealth sector seems only to exacerbate our existing parental stress-levels.
People who study this kind of thing say that concerns over money surpass every other across-the-board issue that causes stress, that murky being that makes you irritable with your spouse and short with your kids, and exude a general air of doom-and-gloominess.
This, I also realize, is no kind of habitat in which to raise a happy brood.
Emme’s birth three months ago put yet another binding dent in the family’s financial resources, but it also revitalized my family’s allegiance to aspiring for those attainable things that make for true wealth – emotionally and spiritually, at least. Craig and I have committed to leaving the stresses of work and the world outside with our shoes when we return home from a stressful day. And if we can’t seem to shake those tensions bouncing around within our brains, we have devised a very effective family stress-buster: the family dance party.
It began spontaneously a few weeks ago; Craig’s favorite rap station was playing an especially bouncy Snoop-Dogg tune, and Elle couldn’t resist swinging her little booty to-and-fro. Soon, Emme and I were bobbing, then Craig too, and even the dog (ours, that is, not Snoop,) eventually joined in. And then it got silly, in the way things can only get silly when you live with a 2-and-1/2-year-old. We danced with such abandon, there in our basement office, that had we been at a real dance party we surely would have been thrown out. Our moves consisted of lying on the floor with our legs kicking the air wildly, followed in short order by spinning a little girl around by her ankles then bouncing up and down on a giant stuffed animal.
We danced until we five were spent, climbing the stairs together to our beds, cribs, and doggie mattresses, tired and smiling (or drooling.) And 100 percent stress-free.