Nealene, my heart fluttered when I read your response. I’m a mom to two kids as well, paying for the house to live in the neighborhood with the good schools and putting healthy (more expensive) food on the table for the family.
Remember this if you can while you’re going through your day. Your kids will be more than fine if not everything you buy is organic. They don’t have to get gymnastics classes at the best gym. They don’t have to get the latest Apple products to feel worthy. You are teaching them everyday who you are. They will become amazing, more resilient people if you teach them the realistic lessons in life of striking financial balance and making sacrifices to reach a higher goal while they are young. It’s hard to do. They need to get as much practice time as possible from you. This would be one of your greatest gifts as mother. Plus, on a pragmatic level, every dollar you spend today is a dollar you will not have for their future.
We think as moms that we need to give them everything they want to be good moms. But they don’t feel that. They may say that when their friends are flaunting the latest gadget in their face, but they don’t know yet what they need to become successful people. They’re taking their cues from the outside. They need to build the strength of their inside.
They need to know that you love them. And you do. Full stop. Forgive yourself on the rest. There’s actually nothing to forgive.
A side note on the school and the $1000 annual donation. In my experience, the most underpaid heroes of our kids’ lives are their public school teachers. They work so hard to teach not only our kids, but have to answer to entitled parents, demanding principals, and a broken system overall in order to do what they love — mold our kids into the finest contributors to our world as they can be. To feel that you can’t pay the donation with your whole heart would truly be a miss.
Evaluate what is really important to your family. Perhaps you can sit down with your husband and have an honest “reset” conversation on your family’s financial path. You’re the mother of the household, damn it. Your thoughts on the situation matter.
I have no idea of your personal story. This is simply a situation I’ve seen often. Try to cut down on any extras you may be spending on for the wrong reasons — to please the kids short term, to keep up with the Joneses. Drive the less expensive car and mix up the organic with the conventional food, and see what happens to your finances over a few years. Consciously show your kids your love for them, but don’t try to buy it. Your future may start to change.