Even though it is a simple question, it does not have a simple answer. Everyone's life situation is different, and everyone's values are different. For some parents, it may be really important that their kids get into competitive sports because they saw the value of athletics in their own lives. For others, it may be that they had fond memories of growing up going out to eat at a certain restaurant as a family and want that for their own kids too.
|On our way to a Kansas City Royals game, courtesy of my cousin's generosity and some free tickets.|
As an Air Force brat, I grew up in a fairly simple home that changed every few years. While we would drive down to Florida to see my grandparents and swim at their pool for a few weeks, generally speaking we almost never flew anywhere for vacation. Birthday parties were small, quiet family affairs with a yellow Betty Crocker Stir n' Frost cake baked in a cardboard box with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. All three of me and my siblings have birthdays in the same week, so sometimes we would just have one big celebration and cake and open our presents.
My kids have been blessed to have relatives who sometimes pay for us to fly out to California. We have paid for the tickets when we could afford it, but as the kids get older and are involved in more activities, we are realizing that we can't afford to fly out every summer if we want to be able to afford other things like swimming lessons, Awanas, and general items like clothing. Sometimes when our kids are invited to birthday parties at venues, they wonder why we can't do that too.
|Getting ready for the annual Cow Appreciation Day's free meals at Chick-Fil-A|
I don't feel like we are depriving our kids, though, because ''meaningful experiences" have a different meaning for me. Laura Ingalls Wilder, for example, did not go to Disneyworld, and yet look at the volumes of books she wrote about her life on the frontier. To me, a meaningful childhood is filled with creative activities, learning skills that will serve you well in life, learning how to serve others, and most importantly, spending time with people.
|My son's Darth Vader embroidery|
Who's to say what they will remember? I went to Disneyworld many times as a child because my grandparents lived near there, but one of the best memories I have of my childhood was from fifth grade making homemade valentines with my mom for school. My mom helped us design templates of Care Bear bodies that had the different bellies, and to this day, that is one of the highlights when I think about growing up. I think it was because it was a cool craft, but also because my mom was there with us as we made them.
I hope that my children understand one day that we were trying to do our best on a limited budget. I hope that they remember things we did together, even if they didn't cost that much money.