To my son who wants a bigger house


Dear Holden,

We are rich. With happiness. No, I know that’s not what you meant when you looked at the new house two doors down from us and said you wish we had THAT house. Duh, I mean look at it. It’s like three or four stories with a three-car garage, practically has turrets, and it’s MASSIVE. Its bonus rooms have bonus rooms.

I see a house like that and I get heart palpitations thinking about what the utility bills must be, but I know people who build houses like that don’t have to worry about utility bills. And if they do they can just sell their Tesla or their Louis Vuitton luggage or rent out a room in the East wing.

So yeah, I understand why you want that. But I’m serious when I tell you to be happy with what you have. A souped-up Porsche doesn’t make you happy. Well, maybe it does. But it doesn’t make you the kind of happy we are when the whole family piles into bed together on a lazy weekend morning. Or the kind of happy we are when throw together an impromptu campfire to roast marshmallows with friends who popped by because they heard you guys running around in our backyard. Our unlandscaped backyard with hand-me-down furniture and a grill with a broken handle that’s been duct taped over and over again.

You can drool with jealousy over what you don’t have or you can smile with happiness over what you do have. You get to choose.

Being rich is not about having the biggest house or the fastest car or the shiniest diamonds. There are people who live in one-room apartments who are rich with happiness. There are people who walk around with all of their possessions on their back who are rich with happiness. There are people who sleep under the stars and only own a bicycle who are rich with happiness.

So no, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a house like that when you get older, as long as you know that what’s more important is what’s on the inside. Not the stuff that’s from Crate and Barrel or Restoration Hardware or Neimans. I’m talking about love, laughter, health, peace and happiness. The things that really make a person rich.


Your mom

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And you don’t have to be rich to get my book I Heart My Little A-Holes right now because it’s only $1.99 on Kindle. Holy crap, $1.99 for a shitload of laughter. Now that’s a bargain.

There are 12 comments for this article
  1. Meg at 10:17 am

    Ugh! I feel you. My kids do this too. ‘That house is so beautiful, wish we lived there’. Or, ‘so and so has a really REALLY nice house, it’s like a castle, I want to live with him’. I know they mean no harm. I am in this alone since their Daddy passed away a few years ago, they have a roof over their heads and food in their bellys, but those comments still feel like a kick in the gut.

    • BabySideburns at 10:25 am

      Oh Meg, I’m so sorry for your loss!! As hard as I’m sure it is, I’ll bet he’s looking down on you smiling at what a good job you’re doing.

    • Julie Dawson at 10:43 am

      Very sorry to hear of the loss of your kids’ dad, Meg. It’s hard being a solo parent in any case, let alone while grieving, and never planning to be one! Kids say stuff and make wishes, but I’m betting they know the value of a real mom, who’s right here loving and providing for them. You are planting seeds and teaching them right – hard as it is – just know that. While I can’t say I know all of what you are going through (I’m a solo parent, but not for the same reason as you), I can say that I care, and I’m sorry for what you are experiencing.

    • Cynthia Carr at 11:57 am

      I am so sorry for your loss…nothing can compare to your situation. It sounds as if you have a good Handle on things, but still, words can hurt terribly even from the innocent mouths of our kids. A time will come when they will truely understand and know they got what really counted from you.

  2. Julie Dawson at 10:32 am

    Love this post, and the way you handled this subject with Holden. I only get this comment from my son when he’s referring to us living in someone else’s CLEAN, UNCLUTTERED house, where for instance, you can WALK without tripping or stepping on something painful! 😀 Then I have to point out to him that we’d need to get rid of a SHITLOAD of his stuff if we want to live in a house like that (well, okay, we’d have to get rid of a shitload of mine too, but I keep that part to myself, to make a point that he has a lot of — probably too much — nice stuff). But he gets pretty quiet after that… Relatively the same message though – appreciate what you have!

  3. Cynthia Carr at 11:42 am

    My feelings, exactly! I’m 63 years old and one of my happiest memories is of our two sons snuggling and tickling with my husband and me in our bed on a Saturday morning. Oh, so precious. You can’t buy that. Thank you, as always, for your posts. While I may delete someone else’s on a busy day, I ALWAYS read yours! Keep it up, young woman. We need your voice!

  4. Peggy Wolf at 1:00 pm

    You are so gonna hate me. It’s like I have a the perfect kid or something. He walks in from kindergarten, looks around and says, “I looooove my home. It’s the best home in the whole world.”

    Let me describe this “best home in the whole world.” It’s a trailer, not one of those doublewides that are real-house wannabes. It’s just a single wide 70ft long trailer where he shares a room with his older brother. The upgrade is that it’s not situated in a trailer park, but in the middle of three acres of woods, but the beauty of nature is lost on him because he’s more of an inside guy. His best friend lives in the ginormous log home at the top of the hill. We go up there sometimes when we feel the need for protection from ice storms and strong winds. But it’s OUR home that my son loves.

    With passing years we did move into a much larger real house and my perfect son morphed into an eclectic young man. He now attends grad school at Northwestern where he rents a space in one of Andy Spatz’s “spaceship” looking properties. He claims he loves his new home in Evanston.

    • BabySideburns at 7:41 pm

      I am so NOT gonna hate you. I’m impressed!! You’re raising a good one. Or I should say you raised a good one. That is awesome.

  5. Paula Sears at 1:04 pm

    Thanks for this! Instead of my son saying this, I find myself saying this….
    I’ve book marked this page and will reread it in those weak moments when I think my house is too small. My house is perfect! And even more importantly, so is the family that lives in it!

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