OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is currently a 23% unemployment rate in Spain.

A 21% tax is added to everything.

You don’t even want to know the price of gas.

Times are tough for the Spanish. And I am acutely aware of my privilege.

I can buy gas, products, and food at a discounted rate at the base. I can travel, and opt out of working. The American government is subsidizing our rent.

We are so very blessed.

And yet,  I worry. I fear that my children will become entitled.  We lived modestly back home—no garage or walk-in closets.

And then, we moved here. And my children watched, as we rented a home with a twisted, marble staircase. And they watched, as we bought a new leather sofa, and a new queen size bed. And they watched, as we traveled to Sevilla, and stayed in hotels, and went out to eat without discussion.

We do this, while all the while some of our Spanish friends gaze at their children, and pray they will find employment, stability, happiness. In spite of it all.

How do I ground my children?  How do I help them understand that in real life, both parents work, and people budget, and there isn’t a cleaning lady?

Well, Owen and Joel make their beds, and do the laundry. They clear their plates, and pick up the dog mess.

We say “no” a lot. We say “no” to consumption and waste and plastic debris. We say “yes” to experiences, family, and compassion.

I’m giving my kids the gift of the world in living here. We will see things and hear things and taste things. We will learn another language, and recognize that different isn’t bad.

And along the way, I hope they open their eyes. I hope they recognize that many of the Spanish, despite the economic turmoil, are so very rooted.

There is heath, and music, and food. There is family, and sunshine, and fiesta. I mean, a people that covertly plan Carnaval during dictatorships? They have their priorities straight.

So, I work on humility, and on living with less. In order to live with more.

I hope it’s enough.


4 thoughts on “Rooted

  1. I recently had a conversation with a family member, and was sharing with him about our lack of finances in recent years leading up to Shayne’s pay raise, and how we learned to be content with food, our home, our health, and to be okay with having to say no to extras. “But there’s more to life than that,” he said. I agree, but his “more” and my “more” were different. I know the more that I want. As you so perfectly put it: “…living with less. In order to live with more.”

  2. You’re doing it right 🙂 Being somewhere that you can afford different luxuries than you could at home doesn’t change the type of people you and Paul are, and your boys will look to the two of you and see your work ethic, compassion towards those less fortunate, gratitude for what you have and what you value in life. Cleaning lady or not, they’re growing up in an amazing home.

  3. I think you’re more than equipped to help guide your kids through those waters. You’re halfway there even having the questions in your heart.

    I’ve said to you before that I’m happy yo have you and your family representing the best of who we are as Americans: bright, strong, kind people with compassionate souls.

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