“Dave, I can’t find it! And now we owe a late fee!”
“Can’t find what?”
“The water and electric envelope!”
“Just pay without the bill. They’ll take it at the drive-thru.”
“No, Dave! I lost the money! $200! I took your paycheck and used that stupid Dave Ramsey envelope thing! Now I’ve lost $200 and we’re late.”
Dave chuckled at me in the way I once saw him laugh at an environmentalist who chided us for using styrofoam cups.
We ended up overdrawing our account, because I couldn’t find the envelope anywhere. I searched our entire house.
Fast forward a few days.
“Where is that wretched envelope?” We were at Walmart. I couldn’t find our envelope to buy hygiene items. I thought Dave was going to divorce me. Right in the checkout, where celebrities (who divorced for less than losing an entire paycheck divvied up into envelopes) donned magazines we couldn’t even buy with our lack of cash. All we had was the change in Dave’s pocket. We had to use our emergency credit card to buy toothpaste.
We found a smattering of envelopes almost three months later. I had put them in a different purse. No idea why I’d split them up, but I found several hundred dollars in a purse I rarely used. One envelope said “Car maintenance” and we had already changed our oil.
We learned that month that we are debit card people. On payday, I tithe and then pay all our bills a few weeks early. Then we figure out how to use the rest. It’s not a life-changing system, but it’s worked for years now.
I spent decades trying to copy things that I thought I was supposed to be doing. My first year teaching was all about copying my mentor. My second year, I copied a female co-teacher. By my third year, I started to do things my way and it worked. It wasn’t without flaws, but it was me.
When I became a parent, I tried to copy other moms. Celebrities. Strangers in online forums. I did what I thought I was supposed to do to the point of crying out, “I hate bathing this baby!”
Graham loathed baths. Partly due to his personality of being contrary, but mostly because babies sense when you are stressed about something and they cry. Their lives are confusing, and they take their cues from us. The cues I was giving off were ones of lavender-infused sleep-deprived insanity.
My mom walked up to the bathtub. “Why are you giving him a bath? He’s not dirty. He didn’t have a poop blowout. Have you been trying to bathe him everyday?” I was in tears. Graham was screaming. “Yes. I read that he’s supposed to get a bath to help him relax. He needs a routine to sleep better.” She chuckled at me in the way I once saw her laugh at an environmentalist who chided us for using styrofoam cups. Different guy. Strange, I know. “Lyndse, that’s obviously not working for ya.” My mom scooped Graham out of the bath, dried him off, put on his diaper, and told me to nurse him.
“Lyndse, you’ve gotta stop trying to do everything ‘they’ say to do. The books and your friends and people online. Just stop. Being a mom is hard enough without adding all the things they throw at you. Don’t even listen to all the stuff I say! I’m sure I gave you too much advice, too! He doesn’t need a bath everyday. Unless you both like it. Then give him a bath everyday.”
The classroom management plans. The daily baths. The envelopes I couldn’t keep track of. It was all stuff I was trying to copy.
I’ve gotten better over the last few years, but this blog is proof that I was still trying to copy and listen to all the people ever. Failed challenges. Failed sponsorships. Failed writing schedules. Failed book reviews. Book reviews are supposed to be easy to implement. It’s your opinion about a book you read. I couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t me. It wasn’t working for me to review random free books they sent to my mailbox and inbox.
I’m 34 now. And it’s getting easier to say no to all the voices of friends and strangers. To stop jumping on bandwagons. To realize that even great things that don’t work for your family aren’t great. They’re just getting in the way. We can’t implement everything we see and hear.
There are other things that I would love to work into our schedule and budget, but it’s just not the right time. Maybe someday I’ll be wearing lipstick that doesn’t rub off when you eat. Not sure. Can’t afford it right now. Our homeschool routine is all us. It’s a mix that fits our family personality really well. Maybe we’ll attend a co-op someday. Who knows? It doesn’t fit us right now. I will never go back to daily baths. Nope. Never. Non-negotiable. Maybe those cash envelopes would work if we tried them again. No idea. Dave banned them for life. Can you blame him? They work well for thousands of people. But that doesn’t mean we need to use them.
Off to put away laundry. Still haven’t found a system that works. And I’ve copied every single one out there. But we all have clean, albeit wrinkled, clothes. So we’re winning in my book.
Heck, sometimes our clothes even coordinate. But not very often. Which breaks another Mom Expectation I used to copy…