What Living in the Boondocks Has Taught Me About Entitlement

I just wanted to say a few things in response to my article last week about entitlement and stay-at-home moms.  I got a few comments about making assumptions and pre-judging.  Let me be clear, I wasn’t intending to condemn anybody or point fingers.  I just wanted to put out some food for thoughts.  Yes, I believe what I write, but you may not agree with me in every area.  That’s okay!  I believe that thinking through and discussing what we believe is an incredibly important part of being firm in our beliefs.

That said, my sister-in-law brought up a good point on Facebook (you can only see her great insight if you’re friends with me on there, unfortunately).  She brought up the point that it seems that materialism and the feeling of entitlement is rampant across the board, not just involving moms.  I feel this too.  In fact, I see it in my own life.  Smartphones, blu-ray players, high speed internet, new clothes…all these things entice me as “necessities”.  Don’t we all feel their pull in some ways? I just wanted to bring up how this plays into our everyday lives…and many moms’ decision of whether to stay-at-home or not.

Maybe it’s the way I was raised.  Both my mom and my mother-in-law worked when their oldest kids were babies.  And both realized how much they were missing and made the big decision to quit work and stay home with their kids.  I was raised that way, and I value the sacrifices that my mom and dad made.  Many of my friends’ moms stayed at home too.

But my view about stay-at-home moms and entitlement comes from much more than that…especially since moving to the boondocks.  I was raised in a western university town of about 60,000.  People there liked to call it a “small town”, but now that I actually live in a small town, I know better.  No town is small if it has three McDonalds. 🙂

Growing up, and eventually going to college there, things were easily accessible.  Going to the movies on Friday night, the mall on Saturday, and Starbucks on Sunday afternoon were all very doable things.  And that’s what everybody did.  In college, I attended an on-campus Christian group.  Every week, they would encourage us “poor college students” to just give a dollar to the offering.  And then we’d all retire to Starbucks, buy $4 lattes, and talk until 3 am while wearing our brand new boots and jeans.  It was just the way things were.  These things were necessities, right?

And then I got married and moved to a tiny little town in rural Arkansas.  At first, it was quite shocking to find that we had to drive a minimum of 45 minutes to a movie theatre, and hour to bowling, and 2 hours to any real shopping.  There was no Starbucks, no Kohls, or nice Italian pizzeria.  Cell phone service, television, and internet were all limited.  And you know what?  I learned to make do!  I learned that I don’t need a Chai latte every week (and neither does my body), that I don’t have to see every new movie that comes out in theatres, and I don’t even have to have high-speed internet in the home.  Living in an area where you don’t have access to everything, you start to appreciate things a lot more.  Getting to drive to Little Rock and go to Olive Garden becomes a very special treat.  And that Chai latte is so refreshing the couple of times I year I get one now (although, surprisingly, not as good as I remember).
And yet, I believe that the the percentage of working moms here where I live is much higher than it was in liberal-saturated Flagstaff.  In fact, I can probably count the number of stay-at-home moms I know here on my fingers and have some left over.  I’ve even heard some of the working mothers claim that the stay-at-home moms are “lazy” because they aren’t working.  And yet, while there are a lot of poor people in my area, many of the working moms I see really don’t have to work.  They live in nice houses, drive nice cars, go on nice vacations, wear nice clothes, and get their hair done once a month.  They spend money on nice manicures, tanning beds, and eating out several times a week.  And all I can think is, “Why are they working?”  Yes, if they quit working they’d probably have to give up a lot of those things, but I think they’d be a lot happier.  They’d probably get more sleep, be less stressed, and have more time for their families.  The fact is that all these things we feel entitled to today won’t make us happy.   

As modern Americans, do we feel entitled to things?  You better believe it.  But maybe our lives would be a whole lot happier if we let go of all these things we feel entitled to, and just started living.  It’s a challenge I want to strive for.

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