Friday, September 9, 2005

THE AMERICAN DREAM

Yesterday, I read an editorial a man had written called "How Much Living Space Do We Really Need". It was sort of a tongue in cheek piece about how so many people crave a bigger house but don't know what "price" that it comes with. To quote part of his editorial, "To crave a big house is the American way; if you can afford it – or even if it puts you in debt up to your eyeballs – it's your patriotic duty to go for it. What would befall the world economy, and all the new banks 'in our neighborhood', if everyone began to downsize?" I had to laugh at that.

I had been doing some thinking about this very issue myself. My husband and I skipped the big wedding and eloped to Las Vegas. The conversation went like this, "Big wedding or starter home?" The answer was obvious…starter home. No further discussion necessary. After all, we're not flashy people.

We built our first 1800 Sq. ft. home 12 years ago. The neighborhood was new and the homes filled with families with young children. Pregnant women were everywhere, men worked in their yards constantly. Everyobody knew each other. There was a feeling of closeness among everyone. Friday night fire-pits during "happy hour", children ran and played together no matter what ages, Mother's commiserated about their pregnancies and the trials of raising toddlers, men gathered in their yards sipping on beer discussing lawn conditions and landscaping.

As time passed, the for sale signs started to go up. Families were getting bigger and they were moving into bigger homes. It also helped that the real estate market was on the seller's side. The value of our home had doubled in just 5 years. Or, men had advanced in their careers so it was the right financial timing.

After our 7th year, I had my 4th child, we really were outgrowing our house. My husband got a promotion and the for sale sign went up in front of our home. We built a custom home on a large parcel of land in a subdivision that is made up of 74 custom homes on a minimum 1/2 acre lots. Boy were we excited!!! Finally, no more having to blast the television so I could hear the news because our new home had a game room. No more, children sharing their rooms. No more noise at night. No more neighbors stopping by and knowing our business. We had space, lot's of space and we would have privacy! Besides, our new town is beautiful, so much to do, so much to see, so much history, so quaint. It's the American dream!

After being here for our 4th year, I have come to learn a lot about what it means to live in an area like this. I have learned that there are a lot of snobs. The more money you have the more have to spend. You can't shop at Walmart anymore, you have to go to the high-end mall. You wear clothes by Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Ann Taylor, Donna Karon, etc. Purses must be Prada or Coach. Cars are a Lexus or Mercedes, vans are Town & Country, and SUV's abound. My children can't wear shoes from Target, they must be shoes that are worn and made by famous skateboarders or other spots figures. Women never go outside their homes without looking like they're heading to a fashion show and heaven forbid I go to the grocery store or the school without pulling out every piece of jewelry I own. I am often blinded by all the bling, baby, I mean bling-bling!

What I miss the most is the thing I craved the most. A community. If I see a neighbor outside, you wave, you go about your business and that's that. You are very isolated and it becomes lonely. Women don't commiserate about the trials and tribulations of their children, because if you do, it means your kids aren't as good as their kids. Which means, they wont allow their children to play with yours. Men don't talk about their lawns because most people have lawn services, they talk about what they do for a living or where their summer home is. My kids don't play in sprinklers, they go in the in-ground pools everyone has or the indoor pool at the country club.

It's hard raising a family and being a down-to-earth person in an area like this. You can never have too much and you must watch your p's and q's very closely. Your children have to "have" so many things or other kids wont want to come to your house. Dad's are usually never around because they're working 50-60 hour weeks or are travelling on business. Families are all gone during the summer months because they are gone on holiday to their "other" homes or floating on a lake in their boats. No block parties with burgers, ribs and beer. It's a catered affair with amusement for the children.

We have all paid a lot of money to be where we are. Worked hard and continue to work hard. I can't deny that is true. It is pleasant. I love my home, too. I am proud of my husband for achieving what he has and proud of all the other families for their sucesses, too. What we all need to ask ourselves, though, is this: what price are we really paying for this American Dream?

I made a promise to myself, and God, a long time ago when our family started out and we struggled paycheck to paycheck. The promise was that if we ever had money to spare, I would give it away and share it. I wouldn't spend it friviously or just to please somebody else. I have kept that promise. So when my kids want to know why we don't have a built in swimming pool or they can't have every game system on the planet, I tell them to go look in my office where it is filled with military and patriotic items. Where there are items scattered everywhere ready to get boxed up and shipped to Iraq. They remember why they can't have a PSP or iPods once they look. Others need things more than what they want. My constant reminder is "Whatever you give, you will get back 10 time over". That is being an American and living the real American Dream.

"I will make a commitment to keep wealth circulating in my life by giving and receiving life's most precious gifts: the gifts of caring, affection, appreciation, and love. Each time I meet someone, I will silently wish them happiness, joy, and laughter."~Deepak Chopra-The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams (based on Creating Affluence)

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Comments on THE AMERICAN DREAM »

Friday, September 9, 2005

Stacy @ 11:30 am

Cold chills going down my arms right now. This is an excellent post. You are 100% right also. You have raised four fine children it seems like. They will appreciate the little things in life so much more being raised the way you are raising them. I feel the same way that you do about giving to our troops. I find myself spending more and more money, but I sure feel great after I have done that. I can lay my head down at night and sleep so good knowing that I have done so much for our soldiers.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Pamela Reece @ 3:06 pm

Thanks for your nice comment Stacy. You have passed on a gift to me, thank you for that! I wish you happiness and joy!

Pamela

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Snow @ 7:36 pm

What a fantastic, well thought out post!

My husband's salary has more than tripled this past year and I still shop at wal-mart and super target. I spend more than I did but where I shop hasn't changed. *grin*

Again, I enjoyed your post very much and think you have a wonderful outlook on life.

- Snow

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The WordSmith from Nantucket @ 1:46 am

Nice thoughts, Pamela. A life of hard work and living with all things taken in moderation and giving back to the community that nurtured you…these things build character.

You're a good person and I'm glad you belong to the U.S.

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