saving up for a big purchase
, so I've seriously tightened my budget. Staying within my own strict boundaries has been frustrating.
When I get frustrated, I call my mom. Recently, I vented about my finances to her.
She reminded me of her story of rising from poverty.
Here we go again
She grew up poor in China; saved ten grand working part time at the grocery store.
I've heard this story my whole life, though admittedly, I've never really listened.
“How'd you do it?” I asked. Something clicked, making me realize it's pretty damn impressive to
save that much
while earning minimum wage and raising a kid alone.
My mom is no expert. She has no advice to give that we don't already know. But her story
me to stick to my financial goal, and I think that counts for a lot.
“I wore the same clothes every day,” she told me, “because those were the only clothes I had.” My brother and I often spoof this story, teasing my mom for laying it on thick. But this time, I let her continue, instead of offering my usual,
Yeah, yeah, I get it.
“When you were little,” she said, “most people would consider us
. But I didn't. I
what dirt poor is. I remember those times.”
I could hear her voice drifting to a difficult place. “I remember picking up a piece of candy from the ground, that's already been half-eaten, and putting it in my mouth, because I didn't have any food,” my mom told me.
I still thought she was exaggerating, but then her voice cracked. I realized what was a tall tale to me was a very real place for her. This wasn't a “back in my day” story. This was my mother's painful memory.
She recalled an exciting childhood dream she had, which starred a loaf of raisin bread. “A
!” she exclaimed. “You
got a whole loaf! They didn't even
them by the loaf.” In her dream, the sight of that bread made her salivate. She could taste it. She opened her mouth to take a giant bite. Right as she was about to chomp down, she woke up.
“I tried to go back to sleep so I could take that bite,” my mom laughed. “I couldn't. So I was awake, but I bit into it anyway, even though there was nothing there.”