I don’t know where in the United States this place exists, but when our retirement age sets in it’s where you’ll find dear hubby and I alongside dear friends. Friends that literally would give you the shirts off their backs. The kind of friends that would proudly stand nude and laugh in the face of public embarrassment just to make you more comfortable if you indeed needed a shirt.
I envision this place to be where the perfect balance of ocean and mountains meet. It will be a place of daily and nightly shenanigans wherein perhaps the orderlies turn a blind eye. A place where the walls are painted with laughter and where Jell-o isn’t a daily staple. A place where the breeze always blows just right and where a hint of all four seasons come and gracefully go. A place where everyone’s political beliefs are politely cast out of conversation. A place where all are welcome yet only those who will break into a dance on a city sidewalk are drawn.
Why am I talking about this now? Well, when one has children one must plan for their children’s needs and futures (and yes, some of their wants – you’ll cave – you’re a parent, and your kids know how to push your buttons to get some of the things their hearts desire). Those futures may include boundless extracurricular activities, first cars, proms, college tuitions, college books, college life, weddings, potential setbacks, grandchildren, etc. What you plan to pay for may be far different than what I anticipate, and that’s okay. This difference is what makes the financial world turn and turn and turn.
I made a promise to my own parents before I even had children that I would someday do the same for my children that my parents had done for me. This is what they asked of me when I finally thanked them for sending me off to college. They gave me the best that they could which was more than they ever had, and for that I am eternally grateful. Dear hubby fortunately had the same experience in his youth. His parents gave of themselves so that he could someday also give to his children what he had and then some. As grandparents our parents now sugar coat our kids and send them on their way, and it’s awesome. We are determined to give our children the best that we can while we can but yet we are also determined to try our best to keep them on this side of rotten. Society can determine what side that is, but to us they’re always going to be our babies.
When one plans for one’s children’s futures and the things one’s children will have that one never had (or even fathomed existing), one must not overlook planning for one’s retirement. Fingers crossed that one gets to live a full life, actually retire someday, and enjoy the dollars and cents saved over years of giving to 401(k) Plans, IRAs, and the like. With a family there are daily pressures. So many that one’s head spins, and in turn, one forgets that there is also so much in this life to look forward to. Given the daily conundrum we face as we try to figure out what this life is all about it is important to put that aside and tune into moments. Moments where the innocence of a child can teach you a lot about patience, guidance, where knowledge comes form, and unconditional love. Remembering to tune in (& knowing that Shady Acres awaits you and your dear friends) makes years of hard (sometimes unappreciated) work, lots of planning, burdensome schedules, dying sod, being a ship passing in the night to your spouse, oodles of dirty diapers, tantrums, financial headaches, infinite laundry mountain ranges, scraping by month to month but saving what you can, and not keeping up with those darn Joneses worth every waking second.