Well, not so's you'd notice, but it was a year ago today that I started this blog. Back then, I was coming off a sabbatical. I was full of math ideas and blog ideas, and my husband was urging me to write. Child care was relatively easy: K-daughter had just moved in with us. We'd had J-son in the home for something like a year, officially adopted for about a month.
Now, a year later, I really want to find a way to do more math. I kid you not. I love my job. It also looks like I'm going to need to spend a lot more time with my children. And blogging, well, it's fun, but it's like another job. Coming up with posts consumes energy and time that, I've decided, I want to spend on math. And that I ought to spend on my sons.
I don't think I can give up cold-turkey; I'm going to cut back to three days a week for the summer and see how it goes. Being frugal with my time, if not with my money. (Besides . . . heh-heh . . . like any good professor, I found a graduate student to pick up my slack!)
I thought my original post from last May 23, 2011 would seem weird to me, after a year had passed. But I think I still like it. Here it is:
I'm not actually a miser, but it's true that I almost never spend more than $1 on any of the clothes I buy, whether for me or my children. I cook from scratch. I do my own plumbing repairs.
We live in a world that thinks the proper thing to do is spend money on ourselves -- as that advertisement goes, "Sure it costs more, but I'm worth it." Intentionally scrimping on ourselves is counter-cultural. But I believe that we're happier if we spend our money on things that are bigger than us, things that are outside of us. I want to be able to help a friend in need, or to donate to a cause I believe in, and to tithe to my church.
It's one thing to agree in principal that we should deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow grander visions. It's another thing to figure out how to do that when we're wandering with our kids through the mall or pushing that cart down the aisles of the grocery store: do we not buy food? Do we have to dress our kids like thrift-shop hobos? And isn't our own time valuable enough to merit those conveniences -- who really has time to mend a pair of pants?
I know it's not easy at first to live a life of thrift and discipline, but most great things aren't easy. Like making music or excelling at sports or learning to cure illness, living a life of frugality takes practice. It's something I teach my kids every day, and they're just about as good at discipline and thrift as they are at playing the drums (that is, they're still wild and loud, but they're getting there).
But it's a joy to be able to deny ourselves well, and this blog is about that joy.