Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Dawning of Understanding

You would be surprised where I come up with some of the thoughts that I write about here in my blog.  I have been writing in this blog since 2012 when I moved from Atlanta back to Florida.  You know it never dawned on me to question my daily existence till seriously till today.  What I am actually talking about is that I have never questioned in great detail why I have struggled so hard with money.  Of course like everyone I have toyed with it and complained about it but I never really truly took the time to actually explore this other than cursory.   But, tonight as I was walking out to the dumpster taking my kitchen trash out I got to thinking about the money problems my parents faced when I was growing up and began to compare them to the troubles that I have with my own expenses.  I came up with something a little bit startling.  I realized that the same problems my parents faced over and over again are no different then what I deal with from month to month, with one very big exception, instead of 4 mouths I am only feeding 2.  However, that is by my own choice and something that I have been thinking about a great deal lately.

I am now 47 years old and for the past 24 years or so, I have been supporting myself as well as others, these may have been family members, or people that I chose to help but all in all the absolute truth is that I was supporting them and they were living with me by my own choice.  As I have gotten older I now understand the sacrifices that my parents made to provide for me and my brother.  How they had to go out with things just so that we could have the things that we wanted and needed.  I am amazed at the strength and the commitment that went into the decisions that they made in order to work as hard as they did and pretty much just turn over that hard earned money to me and my brother so that we could do the things that we wanted to do when we were growing up.

My parents are some of the last baby boomers that generation that is now entering their late 60's and early 70's.  They worked all their lives and are just now getting to be able to retire. Unfortunately, for my mother she is now disabled and cannot enjoy her golden years like she would like too.  But, still the truth remains that I now understand some of what she and my father went through to make sure that there was always food on the table, a roof over our head, and clothes on our backs.  Not, only did they provide for those things, they went out of their way to make sure that we had allowance money, cars, and were able to go out and do the things that we desired to do.  Yes, I used the word desired! because in all reality, they probably couldn't afford to pay for the concerts that I went to see or pay for the rollerskating that I was fond of doing on the weekends.  Yet somehow the money was always there.  Yes, my parents bitched and complained, but I honestly think that they hid the worst of the financial issues from us kids and sheltered us from the harsh reality of bills and responsibility.

At first in my 20's I didn't understand why I was so sheltered and I often resented the fact that my parents were so strict and controlling.  But, let's face it money doesn't grow on trees and some of the things that I thought I should be able to do and experience, they probably just couldn't afford.  Now, that I have had this epiphany, I wonder if I didn't always know this on some level and maybe that is why I never rebelled too much when I was told NO?  I think in a dim recess of my mind I did know and I will be ever grateful to my parents for the things that I was able to do, things that some of my friends never had the privilege of doing because they came from homes that didn't have a dual income like mine did.

I worry about the young people today, that are having babies and children at such a young age.  I wonder how these young parents are going to be able to provide for their children in today's economy.  It is hard out there to find a decent job that pays sufficiently to raise a family on.  Especially when minimum wage is still so low.  Some states like California are making strides to try and help those young families by raising the minimum age to $15.00 per hour.  But not every state is in a financial situation to raise the minimum wage, and now that the food stamp program has been revamped to try break the cycle of people being dependent on the assistance.  However, what happens when the job placement programs fail to lead to sustained employment.  Or worse yet, what happens when that employment doesn't pay enough to keep these families fed and housed?    A band-aid fix is not what is needed in our country, we need more programs for job creation and a stronger economy. We tend to forget that America was once a manufacturing powerhouse and that factory and other blue collar jobs were easily found.  Skilled labor and tradesmen jobs used to proliferate our nation and allowed the birth of the middle class.  With today's inflation, national debt and soaring unemployment rate, the middle class is essentially evaporating.  There is a huge disparity between the lower and upper classes, and less middle class  to insulate the nation's economy.

Maybe you should take a good look at your own childhood, acknowledge the sacrifices and struggles that your parents went through.  Thank them for their efforts and tell them how much they appreciated everything that they did for you and that you finally have a dawning of understanding to what they went through while raising you.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B