Genies, rugs, wishes, and work
I just shampooed a $1,000+ area rug in my driveway*. It’s wool and silk. I hope I didn’t ruin it!! But, it was really only valuable to me if it was CLEAN. Thus, one pass with (homemade!**) detergent, plus FOUR rinses. The water was still black in the water-collection tank, and the rug could probably benefit from another four or five rinses, but my arm is about to fall off, and the fingers on my right hand are trembling from endlessly squeezing that dumb trigger to release the water.
For years, I had admired the rug in the lobby of the office of my husband, Martin. It’s the sort with deep, thick pile, and I could imagine sinking my toes into it. Lovely, intricate design, too, though it appears that the exact model has been discontinued by the manufacturer (similar one at right). But, my tastes almost always exceed my budget, so I’d simply gaze at it with a sigh and a dream…
Then, the company decided to redecorate its lobby, and offered all the items for silent auction to its employees. Martin got the rug for $30. Thirty bucks.
However, the thing was pretty dirty; I doubt it had ever been cleaned.
My children were watching Yogi on Boomerang this morning, and a particular episode aired where Yogi and BooBoo found a genie’s lamp. It got me to thinking that the whole idea that one could find an object that would grant all one’s wishes probably originated in the same quarter of the brain from which sprung the idea for lotteries. In other words, the bit of one’s mind where you find yourself dreaming that someone would just drop several million dollars into your lap, thereby solving all your woes. In other other words, the concept of something for nothing.
What a fallacy.
While spending some time studying simple machines with my older boys in science*** this year, it was impressed upon me, yet again, that you just can’t get something for nothing. Sure, a block-and-tackle pulley system is going to make it loads (no pun intended!) easier, in a sense, to raise a heavy object a high distance. But, the trade-off for the ease of function is that one has to pull and pull and pull and pull. Yes, you obtain a mechanical advantage with the pulley, but you spend more time and pull more rope over a longer distance to obtain it.
Same with walking vs. running. Did you know that you burn the same amount of calories walking a mile as you do running? Running is faster (and harder on your knees). So, you gain time — and perhaps also gain knee surgery — but you expend the same amount of energy.
My thought train, as I was endlessly shampooing the above rug, led me to think about being a stay-at-home mom. Since we (essentially) live on one income, there are a great many things that I need to do with my own power, since we don’t have the money to hire it out, or buy it ready-made. To wit,
- the only time we ate out on our recent 11-day vacation was when someone saw us in church, admired our family, and slipped my husband a $50-spot with the instructions to take all of us out for lunch. Otherwise, I made everything myself in the kitchen of wherever we were staying (or at home, in advance).
- We love hand-me-downs and Freecycle. I probably purchase new 10% of my children’s clothing, tops.
- Since we started having children, lo these 13 years ago, we have never paid for someone else to do our yardwork.
- I’ve never hired a maid or a cook, though I’d like to!
- I spend extra time both in preparation, and while shopping, often driving to four or more grocery stores in one trip, so I can use coupons and store sales to the best advantage of my family’s food budget.
Really, the above list could go on pretty much endlessly.
The point is, I “pay” for being at home. We have to economize. Often, my “exercise” comes in the form of some difficult manual labor! And, I can’t purchase $1,000+ area rugs!
But… I can purchase a formerly pricey rug, now used and dirty, and then spend a couple of hours in hard work cleaning it up.
Do you know what I mean?
It can be looked at from the other perspective, too: If I worked outside of the home, I would likely have money to drop a couple hundred bucks each season at Old Navy, and my kids would be stylish and cute at all times. I would be able to purchase $5 loaves of pre-made gluten-free bread. Someone would come in and clean my house from top to bottom each week! And so on… But, at what price?
I know this sort of veers into another topic, but whilst purchasing groceries the other night, the cashier, the manager (it was at night; he was helping to bag), and myself got into a conversation about mothers being happy that their kids are going back to school. Truly, it was all I could do to hold back the tears. I certainly have my challenges in parenting, and things often don’t go as smoothly as I’d prefer, and, golly, I’d like a few hours to just kick my feet up and read a novel, but I like my kids enough to want them to be home with me!!!! Oddly, many mothers in America see their children as an interruption to their real life. ~Ahem!!~ YOUR CHILDREN ARE YOUR REAL LIFE!!!! I don’t want to pay the price of having someone else**** raise my own children just so I can have “me” time and have a house that perpetually stays clean because no one actually lives in it.
There’s no “something for nothing.” Sure, you can have extra money, but it comes at a price! Sure, you can have hours of “me” time, but that comes at a price, too!
Everyone pays a price; it just depends on what your priorities are, how and where that price — time, energy, money, whatever — gets paid.
I will remember that, next time I look wistfully at commercials for “all inclusive” resorts or maid services, and the next time I see a cute outfit in a magazine that I could never buy… 🙂
* The actual price tag on it says $898, probably purchased a decade ago. But when I was looking up the same carpets by the same manufacturer, the same model and size — even discontinued clearance ones — are today selling for $1,100 or more.
** I have re-worked my homemade laundry detergent recipe, and should be posting it, soon.
*** “Simple machines” would actually fall under physics, but it was in their science textbook; thus, we studied it.
**** “someone else” meaning, the school system.