Wearing The Bottom Of Your Trousers Rolled.

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Is it possible to pinpoint an exact moment, or even a period of time when we graduate from one generation to the next?  I don’t remember ever filling out an application form or seeking a nomination, but somewhere over the past while I have found myself doing things that are only done by people of the next generation up from where I have been hanging out for the last 20 years or so. Maybe you’ve found yourself doing some of these too?

Do you wander the house mumbling to yourself as you turn off lights and appliances in empty rooms?  Is the mumbling a commentary to yourself about it being easy to know who doesn’t pay the bills in this house? Do your kids look at you like you’re a loser as the vein throbs in the side of your forehead as you rip open the latest electricity bill?

Have you stashed a pair of reading glasses in every room of the house, yet can still never find a pair when you need them, only to realise you have a pair on your head and another hanging from that very becoming glasses string around your neck?

Do you struggle to understand how anyone would waste their time and money going to a nightclub?  Does the very idea of having to shout to be heard while drinking warm overpriced alcohol send a shiver down your spine?  Why would you when you could be in your local boozer having a quiet pint of a Saturday night? Ah, heaven.

Does every cough or cold, every lump and bump make you stop to think that this could be the beginning of the end? Do you understand what the blood pressure numbers actually mean?  Is your body slower to get going every morning and craving bed by 10pm?

Do struggle to resolve the fact that Ed Sheeran can be that bloody talented and mature a songwriter and singer and still be only 24.? And how can Taylor Swift be 27. Sure she only had her first hit yesterd……oh wait…. right.

Do you wonder where all those lunatic drivers on the road have come from?  Do you find yourself treating the speed limit as a limit not a target?  If somebody tailgates you, is your response to pull in to let them pass, rather than giving them the finger in the mirror and putting the boot down?

When you go to the barbers, do you find he spends more time chatting to you than cutting your hair?  And when he is cutting hair, its mostly from your eyebrows and nose?

When you’re waiting at the school gate to collect your kids and you are wondering why so many of the students aren’t in uniform.  You then realise it’s because they are the teachers.

You have used the phrase ‘back in our day’ and not while making a joke.

When you have to make contact with someone, do you still occasionally use your phone as a phone?  Instead of texting, Tweeting, Facebooking, Snapchatting, WhatsApping or Vibering, do like to hear the sound of the voice of the person with whom you wish to converse? Do you still find that what would take ten minutes of to-ing and fro-ing on a messaging service can be achieved in a fraction of that time by short phone call?

Do you find that you now use your weekends to recover from the week’s work and not the other way around? When you do misbehave and go on the lash, do you find the hangover from a Saturday night session and the little black dog that goes with it is only truly fully gone on Wednesday morning?

Does every fish and chips you look at require you letting your belt out another notch?  Is it easier than breathing to put on weight?  Does it take an ever more disproportionate effort to keep the weight under control, and whereas a run or two a week in your thirties would have kept the love handles at bay, now it takes a superhuman effort of healthy eating and exercise just to keep the scales from shredding its springs.

There is a lot of fun to be had in getting to this next stage in life.  Do you find you’re more comfortable in your skin and couldn’t care less what so and so thinks about you? Are you quite happy to have a small circle of good friends rather than a huge circle of people you go on the lash with?  Do you cherish the Sunday late afternoon film on the couch, or walk on the beach with your other half and the kids?  

But underneath all this submission to the effects of ageing is there not still a huge love for the act of living, and deeper enjoyment of the things that matter, family, friends, home, the pursuit of knowledge and peace.  I love how Aldous Huxley summed it up when he said;

ˇA child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.”

Life is good.

The Clock’s Ticking For The Deise Greenway – Use It Or Lose It For Another Year

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Just received a piece of information which feeds into the article below.

“The major deadline the council have at the moment is to have the entire line cleared of vegetation before the 28th of Feb.  The nesting season is from the 1st March.  If they can’t get the injunction lifted in the coming week, they will be unable to work on it till the end of the year, so effectively another year lost.”

Thanks to Garvan Cummins from Deise Greenway for that insight.

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A decision is imminent on one of the most important developments in decades in Waterford’s Tourism infrastructure, the Deise Greenway.  At a recent meeting of Waterford council the County Manager told the gathering that the next two weeks is crunch time, and that while access to the old railway track remains problematic in one or two cases, court action is still on the table if this isn’t resolved during the course of next month.

That the outstanding issues are so few is reassuring and praise should be given to Michael Walsh and his staff for succeeding to allay the concerns of all but handful of the home owners and farmers who’s land borders the 48kms of disused track from Bilberry on the outskirts of the city to Dungarvan.

Court action is always the last resort in the resolution of disputes. The only winners tend to be the lawyers, so all credit to those involved on both sides in the quiet and resolute and protracted mediation process that has brought us to this stage. Michael Walsh chose his words carefully when he addressed the outstanding issues when he said “We are very nearly there. If we don’t get agreement we are going to court, and we are going as quickly as possible, and I’m very confident that we will win in that environment.”

Nothing is done until it is done, and we need to keep the bubbly on ice for another few weeks, but it is time to start getting excited.  Earlier this year Waterford was not included in Wild Atlantic Way and we were reassured that a separate tourism offering was being developed that would include us.   We have through the hugely successful Sean Kelly Cycle had our name put on the map for cycling.  Plans are at an advanced stage for substantial mountain cycling trails in West Waterford near Dungarvan and the Bilberry to Dungarvan track would be the icing on the cake as a cycling destination.

The type of tourist attracted by these cycling facilities are precisely the type of tourist we want coming to Waterford.  If we can attract them they will stay, they will eat, they will cycle and they will have a few pints afterwards in one of our hostelries.  All along the route of the track the potential exists to provide services to these tourists.  From bicycle hire, to food and drink on route, to B&Bs this should be a huge boost for the county, and especially parts of the county that wouldn’t necessarily have benefitted from the tourist euro in the past.

As a family we regularly walk the stretch of the Greenway between Ballyvoyle and Durrow through the tunnel. Each time we’re on it the kids ask us why it was they stopped running trains on the track, and we tell them it was because  by the mid sixties the car had become more affordable, the economy was better and petrol was cheap.  Each time they tell me it was a silly decision, and I have always agreed with them that it was.  However every cloud has a silver lining and the lining on this particular cloud is beginning to become particularly shiny.

According to the Waterford & Suir Valley Railway “when it was opened on 12th August 1878 the stretch between Waterford and Dungarvan was considered the most scenic route in Ireland with the most amazing views of the ocean and the lush green countryside through which it travelled.”

It was also the most expensive line to be built in Ireland at the time, because of the hills and curves along the coast.  The very features that cost so much to build a nearly 140 years ago are what make it so attractive as a tourist feature today. The Durrow tunnel and viaduct, and another at Ballyvoyle are all superb pieces of architecture which add to the beauty of the route, and this beauty has not been fully appreciated by the general public since the 27th of March 1967 when the Waterford to Mallow railway close permanently to all passenger and freight traffic.

Can I finish with an appeal to any of the outstanding land or home owners who might be reading this and are still concerned about the impact of the Greenway running near their property? Please, when you are negotiating with the Council’s representatives over the coming week or two, consider the opportunities inherent in this facility not only for the promotion of Waterford and its greater good, but for yourselves and your families. I know change can be difficult, but this change viewed properly should bring with it all sorts of benefits.

Waterford can become as attractive for tourists as West Cork or Connemara.  We have the natural and built heritage and the Deise Greenway will be a huge addition.  From there we need to market ourselves aggressively to the wider world and put and to this reputation we have as being Ireland’s best kept secret.

It’s Only A Mid Life Crisis

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As midlife crises go it’s probably not the worst. When I turned forty five back in April one of my so called friends kindly pointed out to me that I am now more than half way to ninety. That stuck in my cranium and created for itself a rather large compartment where it has bounced around with a surprising level of energy ever since.  A midlife crisis used to mean the kids were grown and gone, you were in a job you had done for thirty years and probably would do for another twenty. You were married and had the mortgage under control, but none of it was enough to stop that creeping existential angst from blindsiding you while you read the sports results in your armchair on a Tuesday evening.  That moment when you ask, is this it?  I’m happy to say that very little of this applies to me apart from the being married bit. My kids are far from grown, the mortgage is far from being under control.  I actually like hosting radio programmes, and I don’t have an armchair.  I do however have a couch and it was probably on that couch that I was blindsided by my midlife crisis not long after my birthday.

So being a mature man, I did what all mature men do when they are confronted with an issue that they should talk about and tease out.  I ran off into my little man cave in my mind and buried the thought as deeply as I could. But as is the habit of repressed thoughts, they squirt through the cracks and present themselves as stuff other than what they actually are.  This is the point where middle aged men begin to get a bit silly. They do things like having affairs with much younger women to prove to themselves that the best of their lives is not behind them and that they still have the elusive “it”, even if they don’t have much of their hair anymore.  I’m happy and relieved to say that I have not had an affair and have no plans to do so, but I did do something that smacks a bit of desperation.  What did I do?  Without discussing it or indeed seeking any realistic input, I bought a motorbike.

Now, just to keep the record straight, this is not me returning to a passion I had for years when I was in my teens and twenties but had to give up when the mortgage and the babies arrived along.  No. I have never owned a motorcycle. I don’t know how to ride one. I do not possess a motorcycle driving licence. The last time I attempted drive a motorbike was in 1993 and I fell off after 100 metres.  Yet, on the August Bank Holiday Monday, I borrowed a van from a friend and neighbour and drove from Dungarvan to Ballybrack in Dublin to buy a 33 year old Kawasaki GPz 550. Then I drove the complete loop of the M50 motorway to Portmarnock to buy a set of black Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront-esque leathers to go with it.  Could I be screaming MID LIFE CRISIS any louder right now?

The bike was in a large number of pieces. I spent the first week I had it reconnecting whatever I could reconnect. Farings, mudguards, ignitions and so on. Did I mention I have no mechanical skills or experience either?  When I had done all I couldn’t do, I called in my friendly local bike mechanic who very gently broke it to me that I had bought a bike that would need serious investment before it ever saw the road again.   I got the impression that I wasn’t the first middle aged man he’d met who’d bitten off more than he could chew just to try to snatch back some semblance of control in his life. The way he let me down would suggest counselling middle aged men is now part and parcel of the everyday life of a bike mechanic.

And that’s what I think this whole episode has been about.  There does come a point in all our lives, when we stop and look and acknowledge to ourselves that no matter how well our lives have turned out, that where we are now doesn’t quite match up to the dreams and aspirations we had for ourselves when we were 22.  

I have a really good life. I have a lovely wife and fabulous healthy kids. We’re getting along fine and are better off than 80% of the people on this planet, yet when the halfway to ninety struck with it came the meaning of life questions.  And I don’t think I am alone in this.

I’ve sold the bike. Not because I wanted to, but because it was going to take too much money to get it where I wanted it to be. Money that will be better spent on the children’s teeth, and school stuff, on paying the electricity bill or getting the car through the NCT. But it doesn’t mean I won’t buy another motorbike.  I will. But before I do, there is that little matter of getting a licence which means a theory test and eighteen hours of compulsory basic training just to get on the road, and a driving test to prove I’m still safe on the road despite my advancing years.  I’ll do it too. I’ll be on the road by next summer, and as I said to my long suffering wife, a motorbike is a lot cheaper and a lot less damaging to our relationship than an affair. Bless her saintly features, she just threw her eyes to heaven and muttered a little prayer.  Well, I’m pretty sure it was a prayer.

How To Predict Your Financial Future….Using Cars.

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If there’s one thing I just don’t understand and never will, it’s superstition. How can the number 13 be any different than 12 or 14 when it comes to luck, good or bad.  How can walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror mean you’re damned for ever more?  It’s all totally irrational.  That being said, for as long as I can remember I’ve predicted what the year ahead would hold for me financially based on the make and model of the first new registration car I saw in January.  Ridiculous, isn’t it?  How could seeing a new reg Nissan Micra mean I was going to have a crap year money wise, but a new BMW 635d means my ship was about to come in?  Well, that’s a very good question, but do you know what?  It hasn’t been the worst predictor of my finances.  In fact it’s been pretty damn accurate.

Living in Dublin during the Celtic Tiger years it was hard to go wrong.  Guaranteed, as soon as the first new reg cars rolled out of the showroom each January I would see one and pump the air with delight. Jags, Beamers, Porsches everywhere.  Year after year going from strength to strength.  The odd year I’d have to make do with a Volvo or an Audi A4, but most years it was the big guns, the Lexus 400s and Range Rovers.  Then at the beginning of 2008, the first new reg car I saw was a Ford Focus.  It’s a fine car in its own right, but as the prophesier of my financial fortune for the year ahead it was as welcome as the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

And it all went downhill from there, to the extent that one year, bang in the middle of the recession the first new car I saw was the Dacia Sandero, the cheapest new car in Ireland. €9,999 and it’s yours to drive away.  I don’t mind telling you my blood ran cold when I saw that 12 D reg enter my line of vision. I did everything I could to unsee it, to fool myself it never happened, but it couldn’t be done and financial penury followed as sure as Autumn follows summer.

For the last couple of years I’ve tried not to pay any heed to the new car regs, and when they split the registrations into January and July, 131 and 132 in 2013 I was sure the spell would be broken.  But no, nothing could break this damned curse I’d created for myself and the quality of metal I’ve been subjected to at each registration change has been distinctly average, a Kia Ceed here, a Suzuki Alto there.  I’m sure they are are all great cars but that isn’t the point. A cheap car meant a poor year, a medium priced car would mean a nothing to write home about year and I desperately needed a top of the range humdinger of a car to dig me out of the morass.

So you can imagine, for the last week or so I have been on tenterhooks. I don’t know if you ever read that story about the guy who was so depressed he wanted to die, but he didn’t have the guts to take his own life, so he hired a hitman to kill him. As soon as he did the deal he fell in love and wanted to call off the arrangement, but the had no way to call off the hitman,so the deal was final and he knew he was going to die, but didn’t know when. I’ve been a bit like that since the new year, knowing that sooner or later my eye would land on a 151 reg, but I didn’t know when or where, or to what make or model of car it would be attached. It has been misery. I’ve hardly slept and when I do I have this recurring dream that the first 151 reg I see is on the back of a 50cc moped.

Last Thursday, walking through the square in Dungarvan, it happened. I was heading past the Wine Buff to cross at the traffic lights towards the Bank Of Ireland when this powder blue majestic Mercedes E class wafted towards me, all regal and shiny and new. Proudly pinned to the front bumper, beneath the three pointed star was a 151 W registration plate.  I think I may have blubbed. Those tears were a mixture of joy and relief, and more relief than joy to tell the truth.  I don’t think I could have handled another year of being financially under the kosh.  But it’s all ok.  The registration plate has spoken, and 2015 is going to be a good year for me. The mortgage will be paid, the kids will be fed and there may be talk of a holiday now that I’m not going to have a minus in front of the figure on the bank statement anymore.  I can’t tell you how happy I am, and how grateful I am to the owner of the powder blue metallic 151 E class for being in the square at that moment to make it all ok. Because not thirty seconds later I saw my second 151 reg car of the year………a Nissan Micra.

Surviving an Irish Winter

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The months between now and Easter are always the toughest of the year in my experience, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way.  For months now we’ve been getting up in the dark and going home in the dark, but at least we had Christmas to look forward to.  That is now a receding memory in the rear view mirror.  So how can we sustain ourselves and keep the chin up and the dogs at bay until spring springs?  Oftentimes a good idea is to observe the happiest people you know, examine what they’re doing, and copy them.  The happiest people I know are my children. From one end of the day to the other they immerse themselves in exactly what they are doing at that moment in time.  If they’re eating breakfast, they’re eating breakfast. If they’re on the way to school in the car, they’re not thinking about the day ahead of them, they’re singing along to the songs on the radio or answering the quiz questions. When they’re playing they’re completely absorbed in what their doing, even if their game makes not a jot of sense to me or whoever is watching them play it.

I have this theory about heaven and hell.  In the bible Jesus said “Let the little children come on to me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I don’t think heaven is a place you go after you die, nor is hell.  Both are at hand right here, right now, and the best demonstrators of how to achieve heaven is as Jesus said, to observe how children are.  “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” means they know how to live continually in the moment.  It is only as we grow and become more self aware or conscious that we begin to live in the past and the future and not in the present.  So isn’t it in these states that all the dissatisfactions of the world exist?  In the future worries and the past regrets? That I believe is hell.  Heaven is the here and now. When we engross ourselves in it, we’re happy.  It’s why we play sports and have hobbies, it’s also why we drink and take drugs.  Sport and hobbies take a bit more effort than drink or drugs, but the benefits are more real of course.

Speaking of future worries and past regrets, did you know that in the Vietnamese language there is no subjunctive case. In other words, there is no would have, could have, should have, or what if. I came across this piece on information on a TED Talk recently by a guy named Phuc Tran whose family were one of the last out of Saigon in 1975. The story he tells is of him as a very young boy waiting with his family to be taken by truck to the heliport for evacuation. He was kicking up such a fuss, that his family got off the truck and let another family take their place. The truck they had been on was hit by an artillery shell and everybody on it died. Phuc Tran went on to be educated in the US and many years later asked his father how he felt about their good fortune and the bad fortune of the people who died. “What if I hadn’t cried, what if you hadn’t made the decision to wait for the next transport?”  His father looked at him not fully understanding him and replied, “But you did cry and I did decide to wait. That is all”. 

His father who had been a lawyer and an aspiring politician in Vietnam went on to drive a dumper truck in America to make ends meet, but never felt hard done by.  In his view of life this is simply the way things are, and all because of the lack of the subjunctive tense in his mother tongue. 

We have the subjunctive, and I use it regularly.  I think we all do.  What if I hadn’t said this?  What if I’d done that instead?  It might be the source of much of the creativity of our western culture and the font from where great works of fiction flow, but it’s downside is that it is a tense capable of torturing us into the blackest of  hells.  And the alternative is so simple. Be here, be present. Don’t do regrets and don’t fear the future.

As the ancient prayer goes, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”.

Speaking of wisdom, do you know what’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom?  Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad. My nine year old told me that one. She thought it was hilarious, and so do I.


Beir bua.

Which should I listen to, my head or my heart?

I’m feeling a bit emotional at the moment and I could use your help. I have a big decision to make and I’m not finding it one bit easy. I have to decide whether or not to end a relationship I have been having for the last six years. But this relationship is not with a person, it’s with a car.

 

Six years ago when I knew I’d be putting up a lot of miles each year, I went across to the UK to buy a 5 year old BMW 525d estate. It was a top of the range model with leather interior and an automatic gearbox and loads of buttons and gadgets. It was going cheap because it had big mileage on it, 120,000 to be exact. I did my homework and the service history checked out. It had one company owner from new and had four new tires on it.  I had fallen in love with the car on Autotrader before I ever saw it real life. When I arrived at the home of the man who was selling it, and saw it in the driveway in the autumn sunshine, I knew this was the car for me.  The test drive went perfectly. I never thought I would be able to own a car this luxurious and powerful, but all I had to do was hand over the cash and it would be mine.  So I did, and after paying the VRT and the flight over and the ferry back, this silver beauty was mine for a little under €13,000.

 

Fast forward six years and this week the car’s odometer has just ticked over the 200,000 mile mark. Over the 80,000 miles we’ve owned the car it has never missed a beat. All that has ever been done to it is routine servicing. Just oil and filters, brakepads and tyres.  It has done a consistent 40 miles to the gallon and taken us all over the country and abroad in complete luxury. I’ll admit that I have spent money keeping it looking top notch as the photo shows, but when it comes to reliability this car has performed above and beyond the call of duty.

 

But then last week I noticed that the right rear corner of the car was sitting lower than the other corners. A check underneath showed that the self leveling air suspension was in trouble. If one side goes, the other is most likely not far behind. This is not a cheap problem to fix. On top of that the car is due a service and also needs two new tyres. The extortionate yearly road tax of €1,080 is due now. My dilemma is whether it is worth investing the bones of €2,000 into an 11 year old car that has already done the equivalent of eight trips around the world. When the work is done the car should make around €2000 when I sell it. So I’m asking myself should I just cut my losses and sell the car for what I can get for it and take out a loan to buy a newer model with affordable tax?

 

The short answer is, I don’t know.   What I never realised is how attached you can get to an inanimate object. Wrapped up in the relationship with the car though are dozens of family memories. When we bought the car our daughter was 2, our middle fellow was only a few months old, the small guy was just a bold thought in my head. We’ve watched our kids grow in the backseat of that car.  All our trips together as a family, all our holidays have involved that car ferrying us around the place. Sure we’ll make more memories if we get another car, but will we forget the ones we made in this one?

 

Of course what I would love is to do a Lionel Richie on it.  He has every car he has ever owned in a massive garage beside his house. From the Datsun 280z he bought when the Commodores started to make it big, to the  Mercedes 450 SEL he bought along with 5 other Mercs and a Jag for his bandmates when Three Times A Lady launched them into the big league, to his current fleet of a Range Rover, a Mercedes S550 and a Ferrari Scaglietti.  But unless I suddenly get a gift for writing power ballads that sell in their millions that is unlikely to happen.

So, the head says that we will have to change the car sooner or later. The heart says it is one of the family and should stay. The head says the tax is ridiculous on it, the heart doesn’t care. And consequently I can’t make a decision and I could use your help. Will you drop me an email to noctor@wlrfm.com and tell me what you think I should do. Your intervention could help me maintain my sanity a little longer.  Thank you.Image

Are we really better off than our parents’ generation?

We may be going through tough times at the moment, but as a people, as a nation our standard of living has come on in leaps and bounds since my parents set up home together in the 1960s. My mother tells the story of when they first moved into their three bed terrace in Abbeyside in the early 60s. Like any young wife she was thrilled to have her own house and set about turning it into a home. And as was typical of the time, Dad would hand over his wages on a Thursday and she would manage the finances, and could make a pound stretch as far as a fiver. Over the months and the years, the tea chests and orange boxes were replaced by tables and chairs, painted wood floors got carpeted, and planks of wood masquerading as shelves were replaced by dressers with the wedding china proudly displayed on them.  Times were tight, but there appeared on our road at least, to have been an equality of income among the guards, clerks, crystal and forestry workers who populated our cul de sac. Every family had a second hand car. We all got a week’s holiday somewhere in Ireland once a year, and Santy tended to bring the same type of present to each boy and girl at Christmas.

Fast forward to today and we approach moving into our first homes together very differently. When my now wife and I first decided to live in sin together, it was in an apartment that had furniture vans waiting outside as we got the keys to the place. Within a week, you would have thought we were living there for years. Every conceivable appliance and soft furnishing was in place. Her good taste could have graced the pages of “Elegant Living”.

 

But of course all of this comes at a price that may be social as well as financial.

My generation is definitely better off in terms of material things. We have more stuff than our parents generation had. But curiously, it is taking a lot more effort to pay for today’s average standard of living than it did in our parents’ day.  Nowadays it takes two wages coming into the house to keep the ship afloat. It takes two wages to pay the mortgage, and the car loans, and the holidays, and the health insurance and the kids’ back to school costs, and you have to ask are we as a society suffering as a result? Maybe we are, maybe we are not.

 

Mothers at work are excellent role models for kids, especially girls. Daughters seeing their Mums go out the door to their job in the morning instills a work ethic. It also proves to them, as if proof is needed that they can do any job a boy can, that they can be anything in life once they apply themselves to school and onwards. The downside of it though is it’s not as if it is a choice most people can make, whether one parent stays at home or not. It is not the 1970s, and most mums are not at home when the kids come in from school. They are out earning the money to pay the mortgage and the bills, just like dad is. That is, if they are lucky enough to have jobs.

 

Is it possible though, if a family puts its mind to it, to live on just one income? If we truly believe that it is best for their upbringing to have Mum or Dad at home when the kids come through the door from school, could we do it?  It would take sacrifice. Gone would be the Saturday night takeaway and the bottle or two of wine. Gone would be the annual holiday. You’d have to get rid of one of the cars. Bouncy castles and school tours would have to go too. To survive on one salary would require paring back our lives to the bone. And then you have to ask, if you do that are you denying your family formative experiences?

There is no easy answer to this one. If you go the one income route, you are making a decision to deny your kids and yourselves experiences that your friends and extended family are probably having. This can lead to resentment. Why can’t we go skating?  Why can’t we go to the cinema? Can we go out this Saturday night please? Weigh this up against being there to do your kids’ homework with them when they come in from school, to be able to listen to their accounts of their days and help them work out any little issues they might have, in a way no childminder ever can because they are not their flesh and blood.

 

These are the conundrums we are faced with in 2013, and that is if we are lucky. There are many people reading this article who would love to have to make a choice between one or two parents working.  There are many reading this article who would love to have even one parent working so they could get their lives, financial, social and emotional back on track again.

So in a nutshell, I suppose the message I’m trying to get across is that each of us should be thankful for what we have, because while there are always people better off than us, there are always people worse off than us too. Maybe what we have right now is not better or worse than our parents’ generation, maybe what we have right now is enough.Image