The Finest Things

Sacrifice. Life requires so much of it, especially when you are married, or otherwise partnered. Especially when you have children. Things don’t go smoothly unless you are willing to sacrifice something, be it something you wanted to do, or be, or have. And even if you are used to sacrifice, even if it’s been drilled in you from childhood and culturally because as women of color we are supposed to be long-suffering and give up everything for our men and our children, sometimes sacrificing sucks. Hard.

The second half of this year there are a lot of things that either my husband or I want to do. Combine that with things that we both want for the children, like swimming lessons and enrollment at an elite preschool, and you come up with an expensive docket. On a grad school budget. I’ve committed to one trip that’s a wedding for an old friend, and another that’s a wedding for a near and dear friend, but there are five others looming. One is a writing festival in Aspen that I’ve gotten a half scholarship to attend, but travel and lodging are not cheap. And it’s just for me – nothing in it for my husband or the kids. But the other five things are family things that aren’t especially important to me – weddings and reunions for friends of my husband, things that happen once in a lifetime. Things that you can’t just not go to when your husband, who never goes anywhere, who never spends money, really wants to go. And we can’t do it all.

But I want to go to Aspen.

I want to go like temper tantrum want to go. I want to shout and yell and lay on the floor and pound my fists and kick and scream until I’m hoarse. I want to wear everyone out so the universe finds a way to revolve itself around me to make what I want to do possible. I want the universe to just figure it out so money grows on trees, people get things based simply on how much they want them, most importantly I don’t have to sacrifice what I want. I want the universe to figure it out because sometimes I feel like I’ve gotten a raw deal and any bit of sunshine and happiness shouldn’t be denied to me when I can capture it just because I can’t afford it. It’s not fair.

But of course things don’t work that way. As one of my fellow law student colleagues said to me callously one day, life isn’t fair. Deal. I’ll have to take a big girl pill and suck it up and spread what little we have around and get a little bit of what I want so they, the people I love and want to see happy, can get what what they want, what they need. In the end, in lieu of a miracle, four days in Aspen will pale in comparison to seeing the joy on my husband’s face at seeing his friends married or celebrating his ten-year reunion, or knowing my children are being stimulated in a school to reach their highest potential, or are learning an essential skill like swimming that I still don’t have.

Everyone sacrifices something, sometime, for someone. They’ve sacrificed a lot for me to be here, doing this. I have expensive taste, but they – my husband, my children, my friends – are my finer things in life.

3 thoughts on “The Finest Things

  1. I can absolutely relate to this type of sacrifice. There were a lot of things I gave up when I got married and started a family. Sacrifices were made for the greater good of the family. It began to wear on us both, as we began to feel we were losing who we were, or not taking enough time and resources to do stuff just for ourselves as individuals. I think there needs to be a balance. You have figured out what is most important to you and sacrifice to that end. You’ll have your Aspen though… one day soon enough.

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  2. “Everyone sacrifices something, sometime, for someone.” So true, Toya. It’s not always easy to determine when we should be sacrificing for others, or they for us. I supposed it’s always a balance. I think a key to figuring it out is how it makes you feel inside. It’s it’s tit for tat, something is not working. And if it’s about martyrdom, that’s not working either. But if we know that it’s the right thing to do, that someone we love deserves our sacrifice, that it will bring us joy to see their joy, then that has to be a good sign. I like to believe that the universe is watching, and will ultimately reward you for the gift you’re giving to your husband and children.

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