Who are these elusive Joneses that so many of us find ourselves chasing? So many of our daily decisions are slightly to greatly affected by what the Joneses would do or think. As our children grow older, it seems that we more frequently face the longing for material goods and activities. They are falling prey to the world of want this, want that, need this, need that. Creating an enjoyable environment for them without going broke, without raising ungrateful brats, and while maintaining what little sanity I have left is a full-time job.
Most importantly, I want to raise children who are living for God, not this world. I can no longer worry about what the Joneses think about the decisions I make. We cannot effectively be God's light in this world if we are chasing the crowds, straining to keep up our charade of perfection.
So here's the truth about some choices that I'm making to help us be true to ourselves.
1. Sometimes, my kids go to bed without a bath. I have been known to wipe the kids with a wet wipe if they are exhausted and put them in bed. Some days if they just aren't dirty enough, we skip a daily bath. When we get home late on Wednesday nights, I think the earlier bedtime is more important than the bath but that's just me.
2. We aren't involved in an activity every day. Right now, it's piano lessons and AWANA--two nights a week. We don't do sports because no one has showed an intense interest yet. I don't want to railroad them into a sport at young ages, especially those that involve practice several days a week and endless seasons. I don't want them to feel pressured or burn out just because of a youth sports team.
3. The kids wear hand-me-down clothes. I absolutely love my friends who have given me a constant supply of clothes for my kids! I don't subscribe to the notion that each child needs a brand new wardrobe each season. While they do receive new clothes as gifts, most of their clothes and shoes come from a friend or older cousin. Talk about recycling--first their friend, second my oldest daughter, third my youngest daughter, and if then most school clothes find their fourth home. That fourth home has been beautiful children on our trips to Guatemala recently.
4. We don't subscribe to the concept of egocentric, over-the-top children's birthday parties. I have been known to have first birthday parties with 50 people but as the children have grown older, we have scaled it back to a smaller number of friends at our home with food and games--smaller, more intimate. I want the kids to be able to enjoy their parties and the people that are part of their lives. Oh and by the way, siblings don't get gifts at our house if it's not their birthday. We celebrate the birthday child!
5. My husband and I go on vacations, nice ones, by ourselves occasionally. We really do enjoy each other's company and need to escape to destress occasionally. I enjoy spending time with my husband and our children enjoy time away as well. It's a special treat for all of us.
6. We don't shield our children from the needs of people around us. Our children have gone with us to Kentucky on two mission trips. They have been known to pick up nails, week flower beds, and work as helpers on local projects. We've even tackled discussions about drugs, divorce, and police visits because I'm not afraid for them to be friends with children without perfect families. Although sometimes I wish we didn't live in a world where all this was so prevalent. In a few short months, we'll all be working in Guatemala on our first international family mission trip.
In the end, I hope that we are different from the Joneses and I hope that they realize it. I hope they ponder why we're different and even ask about it.