Friday, February 17, 2006

When in Doubt, Turn to the Mick

At my house, when my son starts whining for something he doesn't have, I have just one way of handling it. I start singing the Stones.
"You can't always get what you want..."
Inevitably, I get the "Awww, Mom..." or a nice teenager sort of eye roll from my annoyed six-year-old.

But, this wanting what we don't have seems to be such a big thing right now. It is everywhere. Have you noticed?

Case in point...there's a certain show to which I have suddenly become re-addicted, thanks to our DVR. I am not sure I want to admit this publicly, but it is on daytime television. It is very immature of me. Oh, heck! I'll just say it. I've started watching my old favorite soap opera again by recording.

Ok, stop it! I can feel the disappointing looks right through your computer screen. I just can't help myself! My daughter naps about that time and it is my one time of day to put my feet up and relax.

You see, it all started when Bo and Hope's son was accidentally run over and killed by Bo's daughter, who didn't know she'd run over him. The plot twisted this way and that and I was hooked again. I spent many of my teen years rushing home after sports practice to flop on the couch with a bag of pretzels, a nice cold coke and my recorded VCR tape of Days of Our Lives. I was enamored by Jack and Jennifer's love affair, felt a connection to Jennifer's relationship with her Grandmother, and I wanted hair like Marlena. (Actually, I still do!) In fact, my beloved late Grandmother is the one who got me hooked on the show. So, really this is her fault, God rest her soul.

So, today while watching, I suddenly realized something about this show and why it is so preposterous really. No one is happy. No one is married to the person they love and living happily ever after. Oh sure, I know everyone has problems in their life--you can't pay the bills, you want to lose some weight or you argue with your spouse over disciplining the kids. But, does everyone REALLY go through their life in relationships where they covet another as they do on this show? REALLY?

Billie wants Bo, who is in love with Hope, but Hope has thrown him out. Patrick wants Hope, but can't have her because really she is married to Bo and not interested. Jennifer wants Frankie, but won't admit it, because she's still grieving for her husband, who has died so she can't have him. Lucas AND Austin want Carrie, who doesn't want either of them. Sami wants Austin...same deal. Oh, and don't even get me started on the Shawn/Belle/Phillip/Mimi debacle. They are just one big incestuous pool of mess there!

Tonight, I flipped on my other daytime recorded show, Oprah. And, she's now on the crusade to help people eliminate their debt. It was a fascinating show and a series that I will definitely follow. But, as I was watching, I heard story after story of people getting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt because basically they want what other people have. One of the experts described our society as celebrity-obsessed, adding that we are all trying to live a celebrity lifestyle without a celebrity paycheck.

I can buy in to this, actually. People who know my husband and me, might consider us to be tightwads really. Most of the people on our street spend massive amounts of money fixing up their houses and on services like decorators, maids, lawn care, and so forth. We do not. That is not to say we don't spend elsewhere, because we definitely have some fat that could be cut from our budget. But, one thing that shocked me from the Oprah show was when one of the experts said that approximately 70 percent of adults are living paycheck-to-paycheck with under $1,000 in savings. 70 percent? Are you SERIOUS? Now, I'm remembering a neighbor who was recently laid off and, after a few beers, confided in my husband that they only had about two month's worth of money to live off of until they were in very big trouble.

Suddenly, it all made sense. It's that damn coveting thing. We want what we can't have, so we keep spending to try and have it all. How do we stop this really? All week long I have been listening as friend after friend tell me of their spring break and summer vacation plans. One friend is going on a whirlwind romance of a cruise, the other is off to San Francisco one week then hitting Hawaii for 3 weeks this summer. Heck, I was even jealous of another who was just going to Arkansas for a week with family for camping. "Why couldn't we go somewhere?" I whined to my husband, already knowing that the new paint job on the walls was in fact the reason we can't do much this year. (And, yes, I wanted that after I went into a bunch of friends' houses and liked their new paint jobs.)

This coveting thing is really out of control. I want to have the fit body of my aerobics instructor. I want to have clothes that are trendy and don't reek of a suburban mom who has given up. I want as orderly of a house as my neighbor who pays a maid to come once a week. I want passion, devotion, and total excitement in my marriage all the time. I want to lose weight and get off of diabetes medication. I want my DAMN BLOG to not get criticized and for everyone to love, love, love everything I write!

See what I mean? When you get right down to it, we are truly so blessed to have a roof over our shoulders and family and friends to love us. So many people in this world do not.

At some point, we have to realize what is happening to us, as a society. And, I'm going to try and take the first steps with this in my own life. I'm adding an amendment resolution to my New Years' list. That is, I'm going to try to stop wanting what I can't or should not have and start being happy with what I do have. It may be the hardest resolution I have ever made to keep, but I can think of no other as important in the long run to my happiness. And, like Mick says, if I can't always get what I want, maybe I'll just find that I get what I need instead!


Blogger Vanessa said...

You are my new hero for writing this. I learned this lesson a few years ago, and I try to live within my means. I really, really try and am somewhat successful. I drive a PAID FOR car that's seven years old, and when I see people I know who don't make any more money than I do, driving brand new cars, I just feel pity for them, not envy. I hope this doesn't sound self-righteous, because that's not my intention. I just learned that it's a lot easier to sleep at night when you are not in debt up to your eyeballs.

As for Days of Our Lives, my grandmother, who is 90, watches this show every day. She calls it her "story" and plans her hair appointments, doctors' appointments, EVERYTHING, around her "story!!"

8:35 AM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I definitely dream of having more money, but I feel like I'm also happy with what I've got. I've become the tightwad around here because I'm so desperate to stay home with my baby. I'm always afraid that if I spend too much, I'll have to go back to work. And the thought of putting her in daycare scares the shit out of me- because I've never done it before.

9:56 AM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger daysgoby said...

I loved this post.

I can't believe Hope and Bo are still part of the DOUL equation - I used to watch them in high school!! (a million years ago, I tell you!)

I too am the pennypincher in our home - I cut corners most of the year so for two weeks in the fall I can take my children and my husband to see my family - and I feel guilty about that expense the whole time.

I like your sentiments. I should paste that up in the corner of my mirror so I see it every morning.

"to try to stop wanting what I can't or should not have and start being happy with what I do have."


10:24 AM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Tamara said...

Here, here. Whatever happened to layaway? Remember saving up for what we wanted as opposed to charging it NOW and incurring debt? We are too, too spoiled as a society. And since our kids were born, we have been singing to Mick too on principle, dancing the do-without shuffle.

11:34 AM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Babs said...

I absolutely LOVE that you sing that song to your son! That'll be a great memory for him. :) And you brought up another reason that I like Oprah... 70 percent live in debt? Holy crap! But when I stop to think about it, I have to remind myself: "There but for the grace of God, go I."

1:29 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Moonface said...

70 percent? That's scary! I am a complete tightwad - and don't believe in spending what I don't have. I couldn't bear to live with a debt over my head.

2:42 PM, February 18, 2006  
Anonymous andrew said...

I totally agree with you. There is a lifestyle called voluntary simplicity, in which people decide they don't need to spend tons of money to be happy and content. I'm close to living that way, but I need to spend less money on restaurants, CDs, and electronic toys.

5:11 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Chrixean said...

Uhmmm, i left you a long comment on this post, but it's no longer here.....Anyway, i'm having a party over at my place. you're invited :-)

8:04 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Alessandro_PPG said...

Muito legal o seu blog! Espero estar sempre me comunicando contigo! Adoro fazer amigos pela internet! Abraços Ale!!

8:18 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Now this is a first. Can anyone translate that last comment for me??? Bizarre...

8:22 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

No habla Espanol.

We are going no where for Spring Break. Why? We are going to San Diego (tagging on to hubby's conference) this summer. AND, we are building THE DREAM HOUSE and breaking ground in about 3 weeks. Some will think WOW, look at that house. But, we have saved over 6 figures to even start and have all the 401K and other savings in place. We have been patient, waited and saved AND my hubs had a really good job. But, we have done without and not spoiled our kids for a long time.

My grandma called them her "stories." I used to watch All My Children but now with all the TLC, HGTV and stuff I never watch anymore!

8:36 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Alessandro_PPG said...

Legal o seu blog ! Gostaria de fazer amizade contigo! Se quiser é só tc!!!Abraços!!!

8:52 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Alessandro_PPG said...

Feliz Aniversário! Muito divertido o seu blogger! Abraços!!!

8:56 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Shelli said...

This is absolutely one of the most brilliant posts that I have read. Ever. Anywhere. I mean it. And it is absolutely timely for me. Thank you so much!

9:46 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

I hope y'all understand, I had to put on comment moderation for a bit. Just in case the influx of Portuguese messages continue...

11:16 PM, February 18, 2006  
Blogger Dipu said...

Living paycheck to paycheck and having less than $1000 in savings reminds me of those days when we worked together, because that was probably the case for most of the people in our department. But the thing is, we were all young and either single or married without kids. And I know that's not true for 70% of adults. I can't imagine being in that situation and having a mortgage and kids and all that. I had the opposite situation, where I had to learn to be okay with accruing even a tiny debt. I guess there's one advantage of being raised by frugal Asian parents...

11:23 AM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger Lazy Daisy said...

Nicely done!

1:12 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger Lisa said...

Looks like you've found a whole new following MomCat! And, they don't even speak English. This must mean that your message in this posts translates easily. ;-)

This is a great post. There was a great article in our newspaper here about all the debt in our area. It really is a slippery slope for many people.

1:23 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger karla said...

Well I don't care what you say, I'm not going to stop wanting to eat white chocolate and fettucini alfredo without gaining weight.

3:42 PM, February 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so guilty of this. SO GUILTY. I applaud your effort to change this about yourself, I know how difficult it can be.

6:42 AM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Theresa said...

Fabulous post!

8:23 AM, February 20, 2006  
Blogger Tyra said...

Great, great post!

8:59 AM, February 20, 2006  

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