Yesterday was a Parental Surprise day; my parents unexpectedly (to me, expected to them) turned up in Cork and my mother came here for lunch and we all met for dinner. It was nice to have an excuse for a celebratory dinner for my husband’s good news from Friday. My mother suggested having a glass of prosecco, then followed it with “Maybe G. would like a glass of prosecco?” and that left me wondering if she’s picked up on the fact that I’m not drinking at all.

When we last stayed with them I mentioned that I wasn’t “really” drinking “at the moment” in order to lose weight. I guess that wasn’t even a half truth so much as a 5% truth. Like, it doesn’t hurt to lose weight as part of this, but it’s more that putting on weight was one of the many many bad side effects of my regular alcohol consumption, and now that’s in my past, its effects are (very very slowly) reversing themselves.

Dinner was a little later and more time consuming than we’d expected, and the kids were asleep on their feel by the time we left, but other than that it was pretty pleasant. My mother gave me a pair of shoes at the end – shoes she’d just bought! – because she does that! She has a habit of buying things on impulse and then either discovering that she doesn’t like them all that much, or that she doesn’t really need them and doesn’t like clutter around her, so she gives away most of the things she buys within a year of buying them. I guess she also really gets a lot out of giving things to people. And then she wonders how she’s living outside of her means, and then I roll my eyes a little.

My mothers pension is around the same as my salary. My dad’s is at least double that. And yet they seem to live their lives at the limit of what they can afford. I feel like it was always like that. When I was growing up I felt so keenly aware of financial pressures and worries and I never wanted to ask for money, even for “necessities”. If an expense came up for a trip in school or a new book needed, I felt I needed to judge the financial weather before asking for money for it. Often I’d just say I couldn’t go, or try to do without the book or push off getting it for as long as possible. Throughout my entire 4-year college career I bought 2 books. Luckily in college you could make pretty good headway on stuff by using the library.

Anyway, it’s not like I’m permanently scarred by it or anything, but I was possibly more aware of finances than I personally believe kids should be. At the same time, I think other families go too far in the other direction, with no awareness of the cost of living and then no skills for actually managing money when they get out into the big bad world.

My husband’s recent good work news has moved our current family finances from “a little bit worried” to “a little bit not worried” about various financial pressures coming down. So nothing huge will change, but there’s a bit of a sense of a burden having been lifted. Using an analogy that my dad is really fond of: “It’s like banging your head off a brick wall; it feels so good when you stop.”. Head banging has stopped for a little bit – or at least it will have in a short while. Things are not 100% official yet and names have not yet been put on legally binding paper, so we’re holding our breath until Monday. But we’ve no reason to believe things will be anything other than what has been agreed to in principle.

It feels a little like a few dreams are coming true for us at the moment – the house is the other biggie, and that is wending it’s slow progress way through the next steps at the moment. I’m really really hoping that works out. There are so many variables though, so I’m mostly trying not to think about it too much until it seems like it will more definitely happen.

And so, with “nothing” to complain about, my brain will need to adjust and find more to be stressed about. I mean, none of this news has magically decluttered or cleaned my house, or done my schoolwork for me. Life goes on as normal, but maybe with a little bit of an upward kick to its step.

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