It is that time of year, summer is over, school is starting. Here comes the “mom everyone has them dilemmas”. The new school year alone is enough to make me frantic. Let alone having to hear about this bullshit.

We live in a community where the average cost of a home, according to Redfin, in the month of July 2019 was 1.8 million dollars.

The median salary is $111,122.00.

Well, with that being said who can keep up with the Jones’? Yeah, not this mama who lost her job and is trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.

This won’t be a sob story. Listen, my kids don’t want for anything. They live a good life. I try to assure them they won’t die if they don’t have the latest fad, nor will they even remember 20 years from now if they had the latest fashion.

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I hate doing the whole lecture thing with them when it comes to material items. Honestly, no kid wants to hear the whole story about what happened when you were growing up.

However, it is obligatory when you have kids who “need” $200 sneakers because …

My husband felt he needed to tell them about the $7.50 sneakers he had to wear to the first day of school. They were purchased at the A&P by his Nanny. The kid’s half laughed and half hoped they would not be wearing supermarket sneakers.

I had it easy growing up. My parents never said NO.  I had a brand new car for my 16th birthday and a steep allowance. But, we were taught the value of a dollar. We were taught that my parents worked hard for what they had, and we better appreciate the life we were able to live growing up. I never worked until after college and it’s a running joke. (I do attribute a lot of this to my mom being sick and my parents wanting to give us the world)

Recently, I was scrolling through some memories on Facebook. I sat down with my kids. We talked about all the great things we have done in the past and the memories we are looking forward to making in the future.

I try to teach them the real value in life is your friends and your family. At the end of the day, you can’t snuggle up to a bank account. Of course, we need money to live. I always tell them to make sure you pick something to do with your life that you really love and are passionate about. Always make sure you have a backup plan.

I can’t say I really remember any particular item my parents ever got for me, but I do remember the time we spent together as a family. I remember Sunday dinners with my aunt and uncle, breakfast at the diner with our whole extended family every Sunday; trips we took abroad and the fun we had in those countries; the rides upstate to see where my mom and dad spent summers in the Catskills as children; trips to Long Island to see my parents best friends we considered to be family; seeing our family in Brooklyn; the list could go on forever. Those are the things I hold dear to me, not the camp Beverly Hills socks or the Benetton rugby shirt ( I realize only people my age will even know what I am talking about; which makes me giggle ).

I remember late-night runs to Cooks in Mamaroneck with my mom to get her egg creams and the Sunday paper which came out at midnight.

We live in a different time. Social media presents us with a look at people’s highlight reels. We see their good times, their vacations, their dinners and their purchases. I am just as guilty. I am a social media queen. I love to find the latest place to go, the fun desserts, and the out of the way spots. I post A LOT!

However, not everything you see on social media is real. How many of us have bribed our kids to smile for the photoshoot; cursing under our breath trying to get that perfect family shot at the beach, used filters so you don’t see the extra wrinkle or roll? We have ALL done it.

The reality is just because someone is wearing the latest Gucci slides and #hashtag look at my $800.00 shoes that it equals happiness. It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. If you look at what others have you miss out on all that you have in your own life.

I am happy for others, whether it is that they lost weight, got a new house, landed the great job, got a raise, went away; etc.  I don’t want anything for myself in spite of someone else. I can’t, nor do I want to be that person. I want us all to have it and to all be happy.

It is hard to teach that to a child and the value of genuine happiness for others.

I feel like I have rambled on enough (sigh….). My blog this month was supposed to be about something else. But, due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to change it and I did not really have an idea of what I wanted to write. As I finish up and before I hit send, tomorrow I will have an eighth and ninth-grader. Neither of them are the least bit concerned, and I am thankful for that. But, I have the jitters and I doubt I will get much sleep.

I wish everyone a great school year. Especially to the families who have struggles we know nothing about. It is for them I send the most love and prayers for the year ahead. 

Deborah Levine-Powell is a psychotherapist in New York, where she works with teenage girls who are victims of abuse and trafficking. She is a wife and a mom to a tween and teenager. When she is not working, you can find her engaged in PTA activities, a leader at Girl Scouts, having fun with her friends and family, while serving up hot soulful dishes in the kitchen.

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