Monday, September 8, 2008

All This Affluence

This is my submission for the APLS Carnival on Affluence.

"Affluent Persons Living Sustainably." APLS. That's how Green Bean and friends have chosen to describe themselves, and somehow I added myself to that list. WHAT??

I've blogged about the fact that my kids attend Head Start. That's an income based, government funded program provided to low-income families, my friends. According to wikipedia, "...Head Start is the longest-running program to address systemic poverty in the United States>." Systemic poverty.

The frugality, the repurposing, the recycling, and even the garden I blog about aren't just hobbies for me, they're necessities. It isn't always clear whether I've chosen this simple life or whether it's chosen me. But you know what? No matter how often the line between choice and requirement are blurred, the fact is that I really did opt for this. And that is exactly what makes me affluent.

Now, I know some of you will question why I would choose to "live off of the government" by sending my children to Head Start if I'm so very affluent. Isn't that, um, cheating? Let me explain.

The reason that we qualify for a program like Head Start is because we live on one income. Before the twins came along, I was working as a microbiology tech at an international laboratory. Our income was about double what it is now because we were both working, and we had plenty of money to spare. We were debt free and had a reasonable amount of savings. When our two sweet babies came along, though, our priorities shifted. We looked at the price of daycare for two infants, and it was certainly outrageous. We could have handled it, but at what cost? Our children would have been cared for by someone other than their parents, breastfeeding two babies would have been complicated further than it already was, we would have added to our commutes (I was, at that time, driving at least an hour each way), and the emotional toll on The Husband, me, and the babies was just the final nail in the coffin. I chose to stay home.

How many countries are there in the world where a woman can choose to stay home with their children or continue to pursue her career? How many countries are there in the world where a woman could do BOTH? How many countries even offer a program like Head Start?

And staying home is just one choice among hundreds that I've made in my life to live a little more sustainably, despite my affluence. According to this site, I'm in the top 5.99% richest people in the world. Remembering the long days of summer when my daughter languished in the garden to eat all the baby carrots she could or looking back on how I told my neighbor that it was okay if the squirrels ate my sunflowers because I didn't need them all or knowing that the fact that my garden is just starting and not providing me with all the food my growing family will need this winter does not mean that we will go hungry reminds me that I am affluent indeed. Affluent, rich, blessed, prosperous, plentiful, fruitful (my growing belly says so)...

I'll bet you are too. Think about it.

1 comment:

Apls said...

What a great point - that just having that choice of whether we cut back and stay with our children or have to go to work - is being affluent. And the same with sharing with the squirrels and other things. The fact that we know we won't go hungry if our garden doesn't grow enough this year. Beautifully put.