Kids make do. Most families from the 1950s and 60s experienced at least a decade of making do with what there was. I don’t recall much complaining. It just seemed to fuel the drive to make a living happen with some future in mind. Those parents became the grandparents of todays 20 somethings, maybe some of them did well enough to invest in their own legacy.
We were married in the early 80s. Married for love, the practical ideas of sharing a life, maybe raising some kids and finding some things to do we both enjoyed. We have made do. There were no vacations or luxury homes. There was a brand new car once, I got really tired of driving a 40 year old car that you could see the road go by in the floor. It was cool, but it was making do. I have never bought paper towels or paper napkins for the kitchen…I just always figured it was a few dollars we could divert to the expenses that seemed to turn into luxuries as we rounded the 2000s. Like internet and cell phones. Listen to people who don’t worry about monthly expenses tell you those are things you can do without….and suddenly, you can’t make do in a job search without internet or a cell phone. Really, you can’t. It’s not a far fall from making do to not making it if something unexpected happens.
I made do without air conditioning in Phoenix, Arizona. Made do with cloth diapers. Made do by gleaning fields for produce. Made do by relocating (which really ended up costing us more) when there was a layoff. Made do by not hiring babysitters, having clothes drycleaned (heck, I was hanging clothes for that matter). Made do by being proactive in our family’s health, eating a whole diet with few processed options. Made do with one wage earner, thinking we could swap after 30 years. Made do with student loans that are now garnished at an interest rate that would mathematically be paid off in 2058, assuming we live to be 93 and also assuming income didn’t change. Oops. We didn’t count on a child with cancer. We didn’t count on a severely disabled baby that year, either. There were more layoffs, more making do…giving up savings, paying hospitals.
We weren’t reckless or living with abandon. There was no new furniture, not even matched sheet sets. We didn’t run from the outrageous hospital charges. We didn’t conceive of how unlikely we would find ourselves to make that flip after 30 years. We didn’t imagine all these years of making do ontop of making do would stop today. A mass in my husband’s chest has stopped all the making do.
We have to begin again, with what we have….realizing what we will give up. The hardest give is peace of mind. That went with his paycheck.