Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Provider

The Provider
8 October 2013

I have known some people, who sacrifice a lot to provide for their families.

Most of us do.  Most of us work.  And damn hard too.

The problem comes in though, when your work takes you away from your family and prevents you from having a normal family life.

Some providers, find themselves earning their living in different countries, only coming home a few times a year, for a short period of time.  Some do shift work.  Equally debilitating.  Enforcing crazy hours and never really seeing their families either.

Still others are similar to migrant workers.  Spending their weeks far away, only returning home over the weekends.  And not even every weekend at that, as travelling costs are so high.  And travelling time, just takes so much time too.  Not an easy lifestyle at all.

I have such empathy for these families.  As I think they are trapped.  The second you enter that lifestyle, it has to be damn hard to step out of it again.  People do this kind of work, because the pay is usually quite good.  But we all know what happens.  The more you earn, the more you need to earn.  Within a very short period of time, you find yourself living into that money.  And needing every last cent to maintain your way of life. 

It determines the school your kids go to.  The car you drive.  The house you live in.  Where that house is.  The clothes you wear.  The food you eat.

It makes you put on that DSTV.  Maybe put the kids in private schooling.  Eating out every so often.  Having a built-in pool at your home.  The odd holiday abroad becomes a norm of sorts.  It perhaps soothes the pain of a disjointed family life and compensates for losses incurred, maintaining that lifestyle.

And how to even contemplate a life without those luxuries, and now seeming necessities, must be rather hard.

I am not judging.  I am merely observing.  I feel for people in this situation.  I know a few people, who live their life like this.  I have friends who subscribe to this lifestyle.  Not always by a conscious choice.  But because they don’t have much choice.  But I’m not entirely sure that the extra money has brought them much happiness.

Their houses might be bigger.  Their cars might be nicer.  Their holidays might be more frequent and often overseas.  Their creature comforts sublime.

But they miss out.  On regular family life.  They become a part of a machine that needs to move ever forward.  A hungry machine, requiring more and more moolah.  At no point can they really step off this treadmill.

I think kids are over compensated for the absence of one parent working far away from home.  A parent they don’t get to see often.  It must be hard to enforce discipline and to keep a regular household, if one cardinal member is quite often not there.  And I surmise that often when they come back, they must feel like a spare wheel.  A bit left out.  Not quite needed.  Possibly surplus to requirements.  Special holidays are missed.  Birthday parties too. 

But even more than that – they miss out on the mundane.  The regular everyday stuff, that gets such a wonderfully nostalgic glow in years to come.  Memories are forfeited as not everyone is there to be included.

And so, I might not have all that much.  Materially speaking by the standards of others.  But I’ve most definitely got enough.  My house is small, but it keeps us all close.  It’s not in the best area, but the people around us are lovely.  Public schooling for my kids – and I’m delighted with it.  Eating out is a treat, and is valued as such.  Exotic outings a dream – an appreciated on the odd occasion when we indulge.  Holidays are visits to family – my most favourite people in the world.  The pool an inflatable number that usually only lasts three summers – but hey, it provides variety at least.  The clothes not the most fashionable and branded at times, but it’s not important to me and vintage is chic.

But most importantly of all, the people who are closest to my heart, are all within touching distance, most of the time.  And that beats most things in my book.


  1. Well sean definitely works in the wrong place, our kids are in public school and the overseas trips are non existant, never mind regularly! & kids designer gear comes from ackermans & pep! The truth of the matter is it sux & we hate it but have no choice. & we sob in each others arms every 4mths as we say goodbye, truly not knowing if we'll see each other again. & I know in my heart as I watch him walk away, that he'll be back & we won't be flying to Disney land, but he loves his kids & has so much fun with them & the kids have never doubted his love for a second. So yes we miss out on so much family time together, but we're working on a definite quality not quantity xx

  2. Sorry don't have a clue how I posted the same comment 12 times!!!