I was bought up in a very working class family. As a child we had nothing spare at the end of the month. All my parents’ wages were eaten up on paying for our damp and mouldy 2 bedroom terraced house, with no central heating. If we wanted hot water, my parents had to light a fire. My clothes came from charity shops or if I was lucky, I would get new clothes from the market.
My Mum worked so hard she forever looked tired and run down. She passed away young and I do believe that our lifestyle played a part in that. Holidays were few and far between. I was fortunate that I used to visit relatives for a week in the summer and this would be my yearly holiday. My parents had no such luxury. Sometimes Mum didn’t eat after Dad left. She always said she had eaten earlier or wasn’t hungry, but in truth she couldn’t afford to feed us both and she would have never seen me go without.
Fast forward to today and life is very different for me. I watched my Mum struggle her whole life and while there were always people (and still are) in a much worse position than us, I knew from a very young age that I wanted more than to merely survive, as my Mum had done all those years ago. My partner grew up in a single parent family and things were tight for them too, so despite us coming from similar backgrounds, we both knew that wasn’t what we wanted for our children. We wanted more.
And we worked hard and we got more. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I have more now than I ever dreamed of. We are still very much working class, but we have a very comfortable life. We have a beautiful 3 bedroom home, in a lovely area. We don’t need to massively budget when it comes to food shopping, although we are sensible. We go on holiday a couple of times a year and that includes one holiday abroad each year. We are in a good position financially and most importantly, as a family we are happy. We have none of the pressures our parents did. We can go to bed and sleep at night, knowing that we have everything we need. We have no idea what the future holds, but for now we are loving our life together and what we have created.
I am sure I am sounding very materialistic, but that’s not the case – if it was all taken away tomorrow, then as long as we still had each other we would manage, without a doubt. But is it really that wrong to enjoy the things we have worked so hard to achieve? To be proud that we can offer our children more than we ever had? To not have to worry how we will put food on the table or keep a roof over our heads? We’ve been there and done that as children ourselves and it’s no fun!
Sadly, not everyone sees it that way. We seem to have lots of criticism from family members in particular. They seem to think that we are snobs, because of what we have got, and it kind of makes me sad. I’d never show it, but sometimes the words hurt. I’m not a snob, I don’t look down on people, and I would never comment on other people’s lives in that way. Comments such as ‘if only I had your money’ in a sarcastic tone or commenting on us affording things that they can’t. My partner works long hours to provide these things for us, and we aren’t exactly rolling in it. We just have enough to get by on without having to worry. Why can’t people just be happy for us, rather than trying to put us down, or make us feel like we are doing something wrong? Why does it even matter to anyone else how we live our lives?
Have you made a similar experience? Do your family or friends criticise you for your lifestyle and spending? How do you deal with it? Any tips would be appreciated!
Images by Pixshark and Thomas Tolkien