Like many people, especially those of our generation, Tim and I seem to be in a constant battle with finances. We get by, we budget and we generally get there, but it will be a very, very long time before we have the chance to buy a property, go on regular holidays or simply just have the money to "splash out" once in a while.

And sometimes, knowing that every single little purchase has to be justified, can really get you down. Sometimes, you just want to be able to splash out and treat yourself when you're finding life difficult. Money doesn't make you happy, but treating yourself can!

But then, it only takes a little something to put it all into perspective and make you realise just how much you truly have…

ROT

I've recently been re-reading Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, which I first read for my GCSEs (so at around the age of 15). I went on to read the next book in the epic (Let the Circle Be Unbroken) a few years back, but have unfortunately never read the ones that follow. But these two books are plenty enough to remind me just how lucky we are in today's society, for all the problems that still exist.

Now, there are plenty of things which have helped me gain perspective about how lucky I am, including recent events in Japan and Libya. I know I am lucky to have a roof over my head and live in a country where a dictatorship is impossible to imagine. But I still don't think those things bring it home enough for me, as they still seem distant from me in some way.

But reading the story of Cassie Logan and her family, as they struggled to survive in Mississipi in the 1930s really speaks to me far more. The Logans are lucky, in that they have a strong family unit, and that they own their own land in a time when so many had to work another's land for a pittance of a wage. They had a lot to be thankful for and they knew it, but that didn't stop them struggling with the way of life.

It was hard to meet the payments and taxes, and their father had to go away to work on the railroad. There was a constant threat of acting the wrong way around the "whites" and getting into serious trouble. And all the while, the family are trying to keep faith in a better future.

Circle

I love the fact that the novels are written from the perspective of Cassie, as she grows into her teen years and has to learn the way of life. Her anger and inability to understand why she should be treated differently to the "whites" is exactly how the reader feels looking at the events from today's point of view. I get angry for her, even knowing that life did get better for families like hers. 

And this gives me the perspective I need… life may be hard in many ways for us these days, but I don't have to worry about half the things that Cassie had to. And if the Logan's, with all the difficulties facing them, could be strong and happy and stick together and be a positive influence on those around them, then surely I can do the same when my challenges are so much less.

This is why I love reading so much, and why no matter how much I watch the news it will never bring this perspective to me in the same way as a personal account will. The tale that Cassie tells is based on the stories that the author's (Mildred D. Taylor) own family used to relate to her, which gives it such a personal edge that you are sucked right into the world with Cassie and her brothers rather than watching from a distance. 

If you've never read these books and are looking for a different read, why not consider picking Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry up and seeing what you think. I swear that it will not only cheer you, but also break your heart. And when a book does that, then I consider it well worth a read!

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21 thoughts on “A Little Perspective”

  1. How are you going to afford to bring up a child. Do you have any comprehension as to how much it costs? Thousands.

  2. I read this at GCSE too: we were the first in the school to do so (teacher was new) and, though I was a die-hard Sharpe or fanstasy/sci-fi only fan at the time and thought this sounded pretty boring, it was AWESOME. It was the first (and last) book I actually enjoyed taking apart like you have to in literature classes, and gets 10/10 from me!

  3. I read this series of books as I as a teenager growing up in Alabama. These books really keep you focused on the important things in life. You are going to have a wonderful time in the coming future. You are blessed in so many ways.

  4. Wow! I *loved* this book when I was a kid! Fabulous read.
    I have to point out that, whilst it clearly takes thousands in the long run, raising a child is actually surprisingly inexpensive at first. If you can, breastfeeding is a wonderful and cheap path, cloth diapers are brilliant moneysavers, and… well hasn’t anyone ever heard of “make do and mend” these days!? It’s possible to get very nearly everything you need second-hand, often in brilliant condition.
    Your child is going to be enriched more than I can say by your attitude – money ISN’T everything. Love is the most important thing a child needs… and if that sounds corny, go and look at the research that supports loving interaction and response as the most important stimulus to children. Your baby will have plenty 🙂

  5. As someone with children and who works with children I agree the most important thing is a loving family, but I do think it is irresponsible to have children when you are in a fragile financial position.
    Unfortunately children from poorer from families do get a rough ride at school. You can say that love is the most important thing, but kids don’t see it like that.
    I feel sorry for kids who grow up with second hand stuff. Surely your kids deserve the best? I am not talking completely over the top, but if my daughter wants something and its a reasonable request I want to be able to provide it without worrying about financial implications.
    I don’t want to be mean because you seem lovely, but I think you’re being naive and you are in for a rude awakening.

  6. “”Unfortunately children from poorer from families do get a rough ride at school.””
    What a massive generalisation! Yes of course they do, so do kids from all walks of life. My daughter and I are v poor indeed. We are alone ( her daddy is re married) and we have little money for anything. She is happy as larry and no issues at school. As a child I came from a middle class affluent family and was bullied mercilessly for 7 years.
    “”I feel sorry for kids who grow up with second hand stuff. “”
    Why? Does that mean you feel sorry for practically a whole generation of people during the war years? How blinkin patronising. Many of them had nothing but I know my parents remember their childhoods playing in the sunshine with sticks and a bottle of water and some jam sandwiches with real joy.
    Life is what you make it, what you create…it isnt about having the most expensive X box and barbie doll. Gracious me, if i might judge as you have ….your morality seems very squewed towards perfection. I am hoping that your kid/s dont pick up on this. Kids need love, acceptance and joy in their lives. These qualities cannot be bought. They do not come out of packets, from shop shelves, from having “the best” ….they come from one’s heart.
    Love and kindness to each other are fabulous qualities to espouse and teach.

  7. Wow Felicia. I don’t know who you are or why you feel so harshly towards others, but gee you have made some pretty big assumptions about me and others, haven’t you?
    Excuse me if I take offence at being called “naive” and “irresponsible”, but do you really honestly believe that my child won’t get “the best” just because it won’t always get what it wants straight from the nearest shop?
    I’m not stupid. I know raising a child is going to be hard. But I also know I can do it, because you know what? I grew up with second hand stuff and it never did me any harm. In fact, it is the budgeting skills I learnt as a child from loving and devoted parents that taught me how to survive when the recession hit, when jobs were lost and money became tight.
    If you can always afford to give your children whatever they want without giving a single thought to the financial implications, then you are just *luckier* than most of us, not smarter!
    You might not want to be mean, but you seem extremely judgemental and I take offence at the insinuation that those of us with less money are irresponsible parents. Who gives you the right to make that assumption?
    By all means, say what you like, but don’t expect me to give any credit to what you say. You’re entitled to your opinion, of course you are, but I don’t take very well to those who judge others harshly. There is a big difference between supportive suggestions and condescending remarks and I don’t think you quite hit the right mark this time!

  8. What is it the child experts say? The greatest gift one can give ones children is ones time…and that’s “free” !! 🙂

  9. Hi felicia. I’ve just had a baby, she’s 4 months old & has no idea that most of the clothes she has are second hand from a friend at my work. When she’s old enough to understand I don’t think she’ll care. It’s true that love can’t buy nappies, wipes or a cot, but love can teach a child the value of money, to be compassionate to others & what a true friend is when you need it the most.
    If we’re going to play the judging & name calling game let me put a couple of thoughts to you.
    Loving your child is not giving them a present whenever they ask just it’s a reasonable request. All this teaches them is that they get what they want when they want it & not to appreciate what they already have.
    Loving your child is not teaching them that having second hand things is something to frown upon or arrogantly feel sorry for someone over.
    Loving your child means loving them enough to teach them what’s really important in life & the value of what they already have. Giving in everytime they want something new they’ve seen raises them to be nothing but a brat.
    One final thought: kids can get bullied at school for any number of reasons & you are correct in saying that this can be horrible for a child. In my experience however it’s usually the bratty little kids who get whatever they want that DO the bullying in the first place. I’d say you need to take a look at your own parenting skills before judging everyone else.

  10. If you wait until you can afford to have children you will never have them. We was going to wait, but decided not to. Thank goodness we didn’t because 5 years later my husband had a bad accident which left him disabled.what I’m trying to say is you don’t know what’s around the corner. You may be finacialy secure 1 moment and have a child, then the next minute you have nothing. I believe money dosnt come into it, it’s wheather or not your mentally capable of having a child.

  11. Felicia, I can see where you are at. of course money makes being a mum easier…jeez if i had more money life with my beautiful daughter would be MUCH easier. So I do understand where you are coming from.
    I think what i am taking issue with from what you are saying is the implication that its best to wait til you’ve got “enough”….what does that mean?
    Wait til you can afford a new computer game every week? wait til you can afford the best house in the best school catchment area? Wait til you can afford a private education for the children? Wait til you can afford Oxbridge for a bachelors, masters and PHD?
    I mean, really and truly if we all waited til we could afford the VERY VERY best for our children no one would have kids! lol
    I know there are some people who seem to have babies like shelling peas!! One does sometimes wonder why they need to have quite so many when they patently cant afford even one…but I guess if we could walk a mile in their shoes we would understand. As we cant perhaps projecting our own beliefs onto them is inadvisable??

  12. As a teacher and coming from a relativly poor family myself (and having had to wear second hand stuff all the time) I can say that I don’t see what you are writing about at all Felicia… I was and am very happy with my upbringing..much happier in fact than my friends at school who had “everything” they wanted for… but had this because both parents worked and they never had time for them. I am quite glad my parents decided against that and instead I had the luxury of them having time for me and my siblings…
    There is so much more I would love to say on this topic but to be quite honest..your post made me sad and mad at the same time (and I am having difficulties expressing myself in English right now!)..so taking a break for the moment to “calm down”…

  13. I’m truly sorry to hear that your life experience has taught you to be so cynical Felicia. You must have had some difficult times. But, as documented in other posts… your experience does not seem to be the norm and so I hope this will be an opportunity for you to see that there are other possibilities in the world… and your own life.

  14. Felicity you may be more priviledged than most materialistically speaking but you are missing the true meaning of life. You have never realized that your family and friends are more important than wealth.
    I grew up poor with 2d hang clothing. Getting new clothes was a treat my 5 siblings and I looked forward. We grew up growing our food, which everyone needs to start doing again. My siblings and I are all educated and responsible adults. My husband and I started out poor. But we raised our daughter with love and respect. She is getting a college education and is very responsible woman. She is also a wonderful mother herself. My grandson is the thriving and he is light of our lives.
    You have are very cynical and egotistical thinking that someone is niave when you do not know her or her husband. They are budgeting their limited finances and they will do everything for their child that they can. Most couples started out with limited finances that get better as they get older and are together longer. They both educated which you apparent do not think so. They are young and newly married. Most newly married couples do not start out with a lot of money. To call them irresponsible is silly. Their child will never lack for the love and respective of it’s parents. This beloved child may not have the newest clothes or toys, but it will help the child grow up wanting a better education and better position in life. Not the other way around.
    I feel more sorry for you because you need a reality check. Judging others is keeps you stuck in narrow mindness. I suggest you examine your own life and find why you feel the way you do. Obviously you grew up poor and feel everyone would should live the way you do. Most of the posters here I know and I can tell you we come from many walks of life and many countries. We love and support each other. We do not appreciate your attack someone you do not know.

  15. I apologise in advance to everyone who knows me, and those who know of me,before I make a small comment to Felicia.
    I am the Mother of Amanda, and the future Grandma of the *Little Angel*.
    I was born in the 50’s and grew up in a very loving home being taught right from wrong. I met and married a very kind and caring man. We brought up Amanda and her sibling to also know right from wrong.
    You do not need to have named clothing on your body or expensive phones and ipods to get on in life. What you do need is respect.
    Our 2 lovely daughters grew up to respect everyone whether they were rich, poor or disabled, unlike a lot of youngsters of today.
    Yes, money will be tight, but the Love, Care and Affection will always be there for thier child no matter what happens.
    If you honestly think that a child that grows up with second-hand things is any worse off than a child that has everything then I feel very sorry for you.

  16. Felicia,
    i am in no postion to coment on anyones parenting skils but feel the need to say that if you had read amandas blog properly you would have realised that amanda and her husband have very personal reasons why they feel that now is the right time to have a child and you would also have seen that for them acheiveing pregnancy and other goals in life has been very challengeing therefore I suggest you reread the blog before making such judgemental coments and serriously recondsider the impact your coments have on amanda and her family

  17. Too be hoenst we did read the blog properly. But we also know our friends which you do not. Weall kn ow the issues they have endured which you obviously do not. They are excited about their little one and they know it will be challenge but they will always love and provide for their child. They have the help of their family and friends and they will be wonderful parents. I love them dearly and if I can help them I will.
    I hope for you is that you learn to make assumptions when you are not walking in the other person’s shoes.

  18. Amanda,
    After reading your post and the subsequent blog comments, I debated on whether or not to leave a comment here because I do not wish to focus too much attention on the misguided comments that were made by a commenter I won’t mention by name.
    After reflecting on it a bit, I decided to proceed with making a comment.
    First of all, the commenter who insulted you clearly does not know you from a hole in the wall. If she knew you even slightly, she would quickly realize that her assumptions about you had been incorrect.
    The idea of anyone labeling you “naive” or “irresponsible” would be comical if it weren’t for the fact that such remarks are hurtful insults to make to a couple who has been through what you and your supportive husband have been through to make it to where you are now.
    I may live across an ocean from you but I have gotten to know you quite well these last couple of years and I know that the insulting remarks made to you have absolutely no basis in fact. Therefore, I would urge you to give them no credence.
    Those of us who know you are fully aware that you are highly responsible, practical, kind, caring, compassionate, and loving.
    While I am truly saddened and angered by the attacks made on you out of the blue from someone who doesn’t know you, I am trying to feel compassion towards her. Whether she is unhappy herself (for whatever reason) or simply misinformed, I do not understand why anyone would attack a pregnant stranger and insult her with such incendiary comments.
    In my experience (having written a blog since 2008), people who engage in such personal attacks (in blog comments) sometimes do so because they enjoy getting a rise out of people. Others do so when they are jealous of the person they are attacking. The potential motives could be endless.
    Let me close by saying that anyone who values materialism over love and compassion may wish to re-evaluate his/her priorities.
    Amanda, you are well-known for your honesty and candor. In this case, your honesty about finances (an anxiety shared by so very many people around the world at this time) has been pounced on as a vulnerability to be exploited by a faceless person who no one on this thread seems to know. Please don’t let this upset you in any way.
    You have a fantastic support system of family and friends. You and your husband work very hard, love children, have planned and given everything an enormous amount of thought, and will make outstanding parents.
    Jeanne
    “It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly”.
    ~~ Thoreau

  19. Again, I have to disagree with certain comments! I too work with children, and have a child, plus another on the way.
    I was raised with very little money, and worked weekends since I was 14 to pay for my clothes. I put myself through university by working night-shifts. It wasn’t pleasant, or easy. But it can’t have done too much harm, since I graduated from a prestigious university (UK top 10), and won 2 major scholarships whilst studying for my MA.
    I now teach at an extremely prestigious school. The kids there are no happier than any other kids I’ve taught, despite the fact that they are extremely wealthy. The major complaint they and their parents have is that it’s often hard to enjoy time together.
    Although I’m a working mum, I do think that more money often equals a trade-off, and spending less time with your child. Hence the reason why I work a flexible schedule over 4 days a week, for less money. I’m lucky enough to be able to afford to do so… probably because my husband, who also comes from a fairly poor background, has an amazing career.
    More importantly… I would also like to echo the comments made about the personal reasons why Amanda and Tim have chosen to have kids now. I’d also like to add that, if you work with children, you’ve surely spent time with some who are suffering from severe illnesses and disabilities. I find it hard to believe that anyone can see this and truly think that new clothes are so important.
    Finally, Amanda and Tim are not planning on staying in a difficult financial situation. As mentioned before, most babies I know don’t particularly care whether they’re dressed in Nike or Tesco. By the time they’re a bit older, Amanda and Tim may be in a position to buy them things which actually are important – like travel. You know, things that open your mind. I’ll refrain from further comment, as I don’t want to be mean… you seem lovely.
    Love to you, Amanda xxx

  20. Amanda,
    I just wanted to comment in show of my support for you. You are a wonderful woman and you will make a fabulous mum. You would never say mean and hurtful things to anyone. Your child will be blessed to learn about the important things in life from you and your husband.
    xo

  21. Hi Amanda! I remember you from Cherry’s original forum I think – so glad to have found you again, through Cherry’s blog again. I just wanted to say how THRILLED I am that you’re having a baby! I remember the problems you had/have in that department and this is the best possible news. My love to you & I’m going to start following the blog now I’ve found it! As to the comment that’s caused so much upset…money is great, but love is indispensable and you have that in spades. Things will be fine, I know…ignore it! The only thing that matters is your child’s happiness…and children are born knowing nothing of material things. It will all work out because you will be wonderful parents! xx Rachel

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