Me, the Dreamcrusher
Our oldest child, J, is four years old. She loves dance. She loves gymnastics. She loves swimming. Or so she says when I ask her what activity she wants to do in the fall. She seems to have no recollection of the mornings I have to bribe her with a peanut butter cup to get out the door to dance, or the ice cream cone I have to promise to her after swimming. Even though I remember these struggles more clearly than her , I still want to give her what she wants. I love to see her master a summersalt at gymnastics, learn to float on her back in swim and beam with pride on stage at her ballet recital. There are two things, though, holding me back from signing her up from all three. First, there's all this research on kids being overscheduled. She's 4, and already goes to Montessori during the school year. Three activities in addition to school does seem a little excessive, even if each activity is only 45 minutes once a week. Second, and harder to swallow is, since we've made this decision to step away from our careers for the present and near future, it's just not in our budget to pay for three classes. While the money may currently be in our bank account, in reality we can't afford that lifestyle anymore. This is the side of "living our best life" that feels more like a punch in the gut than I would like. It turns out, while I can give my children what I hope is a (somewhat) idyllic life in the country, I can't also give them the chance to participate in every extracurricular activity that sparks their interest. Stepping back I can see how this is healthy and normal, and that it's actually good for my kids to understand our money isn't endless, but when faced with it up close and actually saying "no", I still feel like I've somehow failed them.