Friday, August 9, 2013

Dear Sons, I'm So Sorry I Won The Lottery, Here Let Me Give It Back

Like most overworked, overstressed parents there are times when I let my mind wander, sometimes a little TOO far into fantasy. It happened Tuesday morning and I'm still reeling from the effects three days later.

Dear Boys;

All I ever wanted was to see you all happy, for each of you to have a life of substance and purpose and meaning. I really screwed that up didn't I. See, I didn't mean to win the Lottery. I wished and wished each day that we struggled to get by for just enough relief so that we could have some breathing room and enjoy the fruits of our labor. But that wasn't meant to be, not when all this cash fell into mommy's unprepared lap.

It happened instantaneously and I couldn't keep track of all the bills that could now be paid off - but wait! Priority! Priority! The house! Pay off the house! Shoot forget this house, we'll buy another one! No! Wait, grandma needs a house, let's do that first. Well, we'll get to that later. Why there's the uncles and aunts and oh wait, we have cousins we can't leave out. My lifelong friends who were there helping me by baby-sitting for you. I can not leave out the people that were there for us when we had nothing to our names. Sure they did it out of love but nothing says I love you back like here's a wad of cash right?!?

The emails and cellphones would start ringing and mommy would be overrun almost immediately by everyone she'd ever met! Whoa, I know I'd met a lot of people but damn! People who had some serious nerve looking for a handout??? REALLY DUDE! You kicked me in the Third Grade!

This is when it began to sour for me boys because what came over me made me ill. I started a list. Yes, a list of the relatives who weren't around when times were tough, you know who, the judgmental ones who spent more time talking about us, of the friends who really weren't friends, who I was going to have the pleasure of NOT helping out. It started to get even bigger, this feeling of power and meanness. All the frustration of not being taken seriously just came to a head. Wanting to teach a lesson to those who marginalized your mom when all she wanted to do was matter and make a difference. I was going to give a vacation to our dentist's receptionist who was so cool to us but I was going to spurn away any attempts at helping out that postal delivery guy who always threw our packages recklessly on our porch.

Mom went a bit off the path with this need to validate herself by "punishing" those who made her feel less than. That's not what a lottery is for, is it? To wag cash in the faces of those who don't have it? To inch a few people up on another rung of the imaginary ladder of society's definition of "success" above some others. I was losing myself in trying to make myself feel better after all those years of feeling trounced upon that soon I forgot all about the charities I wanted to donate to, the organizations I wanted to join.

The job I was ready to quit turned into the place where I could wield my lucky (?) lottery wand and as I sat in my cubicle I wondered who from this god forsaken place would I save and who would I leave behind. As if it was my job to save any of them?? But no, I wanted to see the looks on the faces of the knuckleheads who treated your mom like crap for 20 years, when I, like an Empress changed forever the life of a co-worker, simply because they were cool enough to get me a coffee with cream every once in a while. Oh kids, I was done for and I hadn't even cashed the check yet!

It grew worse this Lottery Fever that gripped me and my soul! I envisioned paying off each of your college tuitions at first, this way you'd have nothing hindering you from concentrating on your studies and then all of a sudden I was taken over with this notion that if I just gave each of you a small fortune you wouldn't need to even bother going!!! WHAT??!!

Oh the injustice! In one fell swoop I had damned you all to a life of material consumption, without a strategic plan or compass that would give you the answers when trials and tribulations arise. I had left you with only a bag of cash as your arsenal. SMH. A path with no goals, no milestones to really create out of wonder or need, just sailing in an ocean and no map to guide you anywhere. The hours of study and focus and learning of skills that would enhance your lives and the lives of those you touched and met along your own journeys lost and replaced with hours of leisure and hedonistic adventures. Where would you find your passions if there was nothing left for you to desire???

Mommy was in a tail spin and she was flushing all of our futures down the drain just for the sake of a little bit of financial relief! Our lives lost to wanting too much of just one resource, one tool! How I longed for those times when we all pitched in when the times got hard. How wonderful you are were when I explained which bills could be paid and which ones couldn't and why some of the things you wanted I couldn't get because it was not within our budget. How proud I was seeing your understanding faces and how my heart still tugs when you all hugged me and said it would always be alright and we would stick together and get through it.

And then it happened! The truth so clearly in my face! The longing for financial relief was real but the hunger for riches was gone. I was richer than any of my wildest dreams boys and you all know mom's got one heck of an imagination! So times get tough, ok then. Mommy is going to come home and we'll sit down like we do and we'll talk about what we can have and what we can't - for now - and we'll get through it. We love our life, tough as it can be sometimes, and I'll squirrel a few dollars here and there so that when that tuition bill comes around you won't have to work too many hours to make up the difference. You'll all go to your respective colleges, all state or city, you'll find your passions as you go out and meet people and go places and see new things. You'll be too busy figuring out what you love to do to spend that bag of currency. Because that's all it would have been. A bag of currency that would have led to passions put aside for that rush of immediate gratification, then an addiction to that.

Boys, I gave it all back. The dream of some relief turned into a nightmare of vindictiveness and petty revenge, of coddling and corrupting, of power playing and punishing. Too much of a good thing isn't good...darn it who said that? So I put back the lottery tickets, the money is going into your Tuition Plans. THAT IS THE SUREST BEST I KNOW I'LL WIN!
You'll struggle, we all do, but you'll have your own journey to experience, not one preordained by my selfishness. Of course if it gets too hard you have me to lean on... So, you see, I gave it back. All of it and I can't wait to get home and tell you all, just how amazing we have it, tough times and all!



pilar7 said...

So true!!!! and beautifully written! People spend most of their lives imagining a world in which they not have to experience, a world in which they don't have to invest themselves, because investment too many times meant pain,hurt and heart break. What they fail to realize is experience is the absolute only reason we are here. Our souls don't want cars homes or to make other people suffer. Our souls want to experience anything and all the universe has to offer.

Marie Roker-Jones said...

This is so powerful! Sharing our truth with our kids is one of the best gifts we can give them. Looking forward to the series!