Santa Cruz

By the stern look in her chocolate-colored eyes, I found myself on the defensive. It was the same look she and her three siblings gave whenever I royally messed up.

“Mom,” Lauren, my third child, began with a declarative air. “We’ve been talking. Your behavior has got to stop.”

Mulling over my current life, I couldn’t even begin to guess what I’d done that was so bad. It wasn’t like I’d ventured out of my playpen, donned a sparkly tutu, and jumped off the roof to the trampoline below. Those days were over. Now, being dully responsible, my life was that of the mundane: get up, go to work, the gym, home, bed, only to do it again the next day.

But, with armor on ready for battle, I stood in defiant posture.

“What have I done now?”

“While we love you for it, and, of course, benefit from it, you can’t keep spending money on us. We’re adults now. We can take care of ourselves.”

Stunned, tears began to fog my eyes. How could treating the ones I love to dinners out, buying surprises while shopping or enjoying a family vacation on my credit card be so bad? After all, if I couldn’t spend my money on them, who could I spend it on?

Seeing I was distressed, my daughter moved in, but now soothed, “Mom, it’s time you took care of you.”

Later that day, as I sat with her comments, I wondered what “taking care of me” would look like. For the past 34 years, their needs were my needs, their happiness,  my happiness. They were my be all and end all, but did my spoiling nature cripple them? Maybe it was time for some heavy-duty self-evaluation.

As I traveled the twisty turns of memory lane, I began to realize that I’ve never placed much value on money. It’s just a thing; a means to an end. Sure, it helped create fun moments that became fond memories, put food on the table, and brought a sigh of relief when the bills came in.

And, if it ran low, of course, I went into a panic. But being ever the optimist, somehow, I always found a way to rise above: I’d take on Scarlet O’Hara’s persona and “worry about it tomorrow.” From the sound of my children’s concern, tomorrow was here.

I once read “the purpose of an intervention is to break through the addict’s denial so that he or she can experience a moment of clarity, admit the depth of the problem, and accept help.” But, what’s not listed here is the real driver behind any mediation, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or overzealous spending. It’s the basic human emotion that bonds us all together – love.

Remembering the look on her face, I realized her concern wasn’t about the apparent hole in my wallet. Her intervention was rooted in love and her desire to make my life easier. So, I took her words to heart when I created my New Year’s resolution.

In 2016, this Spendy Wendy promises to learn the art of creative finance. I’ll pull in my horns, monitor my expenses, and build a savings account. I’ll take notes from financial wizard Suze Orman’s book “9 Steps to Financial Freedom” and learn to respect my hard-earned money. I’ll desperately attempt to make my resolution last more than a month, but if I blow it, I’m not worried; I’m already a very rich woman. Besides my health, silly sense of humor, and creative mind, I have something no amount of money will ever buy; I’m loved by my family and friends. And, so are you!