I remember in the early part of our residency thinking often, either by myself of with my husband, about the things that would be different when we actually graduated from residency (and now fellowship), and paid off those student loans, and had some money to spend (at least that is the promised payoff for all this work, right?)
We live in a house that is 35+ years at the moment. My dream has always been to buy an old house and have Tom Silva and the crew from the PBS show This Old House restore it. My husband on the other hand doesn't want anything to do with old. He likes they way some old houses look, but he wants it to be new. I think he's tired of maintaining this old house! I assured him Tommy and the boys would do a great job. I think at this point we have settled on a new house that looks old.
One day while visiting the home improvement store, which is where you spend a lot of time when your house is older, my husband purchased a magazine for me. It was the October 2007 issue of HOME and in it was my dream home, complete with floor plans. I've been saving this magazine for the last 4 years!
On anther trip, this time to Sams Club, dear hubby picked up a vacation brochure with exotic locations. I think the advertising party was Pearl Resorts in Tahiti. We've picked out our big vacation already: Bora Bora. The beaches in the photos were stunning. One day maybe we'll actually go on that vacation. Our first vacation we've already decided would be a family celebration: Walt Disney World or Disney Land, depending on what side of the country we live on.
And then for my husband there are the cars. I already mentioned that he is a car guy. Whether or not he will purchase one when he has the opportunity and means is yet to be seen. But he does like to look at them, talk about them, pretend he is buying one online, etc. It must be in his blood. On his father's side, and to a lesser extent on his mothers, the men have all have been fascinated by beautiful, refined machinery. My husband likes to tell me that he'll buy me a certain vehicle and then I have to remind him that most of those cars don't fit a family of 6. Maybe it can be my weekend, run errands by myself car.
Most of my dreams are of a far lesser scale.
- hire a gardner/landscaper so husbands home time isn't consumed with yard maintenance.
- have a standing day/time/babysitter so we can go out together.
- drive cars that are new enough to not need the constant maintenance.
- be able to furnish and decorate our home with stuff we pick out instead of what we've been given, or what we've made do with(out).
- be able to treat ourselves to little things without fear of breaking our budget.
- give gifts to each other that aren't under $50.
- fly our parents out to visit us, and fly out to visit them more often.
- when something does break, or go wrong, have the ability to fix or replace it immediately.
It seems like we weren't the only people to get in on the act as I can recall my mother even sharing some suggestions! It was during a particularly rough patch when all I wanted was to be near my family so when I was having "one of those days" I could call and someone who would come to my rescue without me having to explain. I don't remember her exact words, but it was something to the tune of "one day you'll have the money to afford someone to come in a few times a week and give you a break". That's a great suggestion, but what about today! While I don't remember the words exactly, I remember very clearly how I felt. My mother just told me to buy myself the help that she gives my sisters for free. The underlying message being that money would solve all of these insignificant problems I was experiencing now and would be for the next several years. How was the thought of being able to pay help in 7 years going to help me today when I actually need the help? Since I was already feeling stressed and tired, I am sure I took her comments to be something other than they were meant to be. I got over it - you have to.
Which brings me to my final point about day-dreaming. I hope in the future our financial situation will be brighter. I hope that we'll be able to have the resources to enjoy many of the things we have sacrificed through this long journey. But those are still distant, albeit closer every year, dreams. Reality is we have to live our life now, not on promises of tomorrow. And the truth is you can't purchase a family, some things cannot be substituted or replaced.
Every now and again I slip back into the day-dreaming mode, but it isn't nearly as often as it used to be, and I don't hang out there as long. Some days it helps to lift my spirits and other days it doesn't work. Today is real. Tomorrow is still a dream.