“It’s nice to meet you, what do you do?” She asks.
“I am a stay-at-home-mom” I reply, wondering if I should throw in information about my college degree and prior work experience, just to portray myself with a little more value in the eyes of my acquaintance. I don’t have the chance to go on, however, as she responds quickly.
“Oh, wow, you are so lucky to get to stay at home,” she replies, “We could just never afford it.”
“Money only stretches so far,” I politely relate, though slightly cringing at her assumptions, “We are certainly blessed with the ability to make this work for us.”
Does she assume we’re wealthy, I wonder. Surely she understands we’re not, right? Surely she understands it is a trade-off? Does she really think it’s “luck” that made this decision for us?
She’s right, though, in a way. I can afford to be a stay-at-home-mom and I am wealthy enough to afford a great deal of valuable things. Things that are so precious, in fact, that the things we can’t afford pale in comparison.
I can’t afford a second car, but I can afford long walks with little ones on beautiful weekday afternoons.
I can’t afford to own my dream home, but I can afford to fill our rental with the sounds of laughter, comforted tears, and the pitter patter of little feet all day long.
I can’t afford cable television, but I can afford to read to my children for more than the recommended 20 minutes a day.
I can’t afford new clothes each season, but I can afford to teach my children to value what they have and take care of all they have been given as I care for and mend the clothing we are blessed to already own.
I can’t afford to take my family to a nice restaurant, but I can afford to prepare meals that fill our home with the scents that will one day make my adult children long for home.
I can’t afford regular lunch or coffee dates with friends, but I can afford to invite friends into my home and demonstrate Christian hospitality to my children as well as my guests.
I can’t afford a professional hair style or color; but I can afford to embrace natural beauty as my children watch me twist my hair into a fast bun and hurry out of the bathroom to join their fun.
I can’t afford a manicure or pedicure, but I can afford to play “This Little Piggy” on repeat to the content of fascinated little minds, looking into their eyes as we play and smiling with them as they learn.
I can’t afford a gym membership, but I can afford to live a healthy and active life in front of my children and teach them to do the same.
I can’t afford to enroll my child in private lessons of various kinds, but I can afford to invest time in knowing their dreams and abilities better than anyone else and coaching them to use those abilities to honor and glorify God.
I can’t afford to get a babysitter and go on long dates with my husband, but I can afford to serve him diligently at home as his helper and love him in ways that help him honor God at his best.
I can’t afford to travel the world on family vacations, but I can afford to be the person who is always there and ready to answer their questions when they are curious or confused about the world around them.
I can’t afford a mountain of gifts on Christmas morning, but I can afford a mountain of love and truth all year long.
I can’t afford to host giant birthday parties at popular venues, but I can afford to spend every single day reminding my children that they are valuable and worth celebrating.
I can’t afford the latest and greatest toys and electronics, but I can afford to diligently train creative minds to explore, imagine, experiment, and create.
I can’t afford to pad a savings account with the recommended 6 months of necessary income, but I can afford to pad a future of unknowns with faith and trust in God’s provision and teach my children not to worry in times of trial.
I can’t afford to provide my children with the things they want, but I can afford to teach them that they have everything they need.
I can’t afford to spend my time making money, but I can afford to make my time worth more money than I could ever spend.
I can’t afford a lot of things, but none of them will ever exceed the value of those things that I can afford.
I am not lucky, but I am blessed.
I am not rich with money, but I am wealthy.