I didn't grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. We weren't living in a van down by the river, but money was always tight. I never felt like we were deprived if we didn't have an Izod alligator shirt or Members Only jacket (must-haves in the early to mid 80s). But I went to school with kids whose parents could afford those things and it was hard not to long for what my peers had.
Thanks to a good education and strong work ethic, my daughters have been blessed to grow up in a home where money (or lack thereof) hasn't been a cause of anxiety and worry. It's something I try not to take for granted since I've seen the flip side. Because we're upper middle class, we don't have to save in order to pay for things like prom. Our senior didn't need to get an after school job in order to buy her dress. I don't have to charge her shoes on a credit card where we can only afford to make the minimum monthly payment. I'm a fortunate momma, not having to decide between paying the electricity bill this month or needing to throw that money at prom expenses.
And let me tell you, it's just ridiculous what it costs these days. I bitched about this last year, but I have yet to put my foot down about the mounting bill this year because it's what the rest of the senior's friends are doing. Baa, baa... here's my best sheep imitation, following along with the rest of the flock. Everybody has a nice dress. Everybody rides in the limo. Everybody is getting a stylist to do her hair, makeup or maybe both. Every time I turn around, I have to cough up some more cash.
It's a slippery slope for me. We can afford these things for the senior and so she expects them. But does she need every little thing... or truly appreciate it all? And is it setting a good example to the younger daughter or sending the right message to the senior when we get swept along with this attitude of spend, spend, spend just because we can.
This is why I've made a personal commitment to try and do more for folks in need. I'm not called to this sort of work, but the Lord has given our family the means to finance others who have committed their lives to it. We've always given in the past, but we should be doing more. I don't need another designer purse to add to my collection. I don't need a big expensive house with a bunch of "museum" rooms we don't use. I don't need a zillion shoes since I can only wear one pair at a time.
What I do need is to keep in mind how fortunate I am. I need to be leading by example, remembering to guide our girls to acts of grace and charity instead of driving them to the mall. Leading them away from "stuff" and steering them to experiences that will enrich the lives of others as well as their own. They need a better grasp of why it's a privilege to share our financial blessings because the Lord has blessed us. It's an important message that gets lost in our society of conspicuous consumption, difficult not to mosey along with the herd and do what a lot of other folks are doing. Once our sea container arrives home in Texas, the senior and I are going to gather up her semi formal/formal dresses and take them to the Donate My Dress organization branch near our hometown. It's a little step, but it's definitely one in the right direction.
If you and your daughter would like to donate gently used special occasion dresses, then click on the link below to learn more about this organization and what it accomplishes for teenage girls across the US.
Donate My Dress