I faced many struggles while Ron was in prison that affected me profoundly and still impact me today.
One of the biggest hurdles I faced was finding a way to keep my boys involved in sports and other activities that charged a fee. Getting the boys interested in participating was not the challenge; paying the costs to play was the problem.
Many families write a check to cover the cost of their children playing a sport without even a second thought. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me. I had to think about it long and hard. Honestly, I did not have the $20 sign-up fee nor the money to purchase the required equipment they would need to participate. I will never forget the day Blake ran into the house waving a crinkled-up piece of paper at me excitedly. “Look, Mom! Brandon and I are both old enough to play T-ball!”
"His excitement was contagious. I took the paper and smoothed it out on the table to find out how to sign them up... "
I just knew they were going to love baseball! Then I saw it. There it was in black and white, “you must return this form with your payment of the $20 per player registration fees attached before the deadline to be placed on a team. All players must provide their own mitts and helmets” Oh. No. Now what? I did not have $20 extra dollars, let alone $40 plus the cost of buying gloves and helmets. My heart sank.
I looked down at Blake’s smiling face and could not bring myself to let him down by telling him that we could not afford it. I pushed aside my pride and called the number on the form, and asked about scholarships. Thankfully, he had parents who had offered to help pay the fees for other boys. Besides, he had players who had outgrown their mitts, shoes, baseball pants, and helmets and donated them to the city league for others to use. What a HUGE RELIEF!! My boys would be playing baseball that summer. My heart swelled, and the tears rolled.
I knew then that I never wanted to be in that spot again. I never wanted to experience where my sons could not participate because we did not have the resources.
So, I started saving my change that day. Every penny, nickel, dime, and quarter went into a change jar so we would have the money to cover the expense of other activities. It was so tempting sometimes to dip into the change jar for gas money or rent a movie. But I exercised self-control and let it continue to fill up the pot. Miraculously, whenever the boys wanted to get involved in an activity that costs money, the money was there, in change
Swimming lessons, YMCA swims, baseball, and Basketball were all covered by the spare change. I would pick up equipment and uniforms at church and yard sales or the end of the season clearances at the stores. I am so grateful as I share that I did not have to ask for a scholarship again. We donated the things the boys outgrew and learned valuable lessons about paying it forward along our journey.
.Thus, the most profound lesson we learned is that proper preparation prevents poor performance. Saving every little bit put us in a position to have what we needed when we needed it. To be prepared to meet the challenge of paying for the extras, remember these fundamental principles:
- Ask for help.
- Start saving as much as you can, as soon as you can.
- Look for deals and take advantage of sales.
- Pay it forward.
- Be grateful.
I know that having the father of children in prison is tough and that all of the weight rests on your shoulders. As you begin to take small steps toward your goal, you will reduce your life’s stress in a big way.
Those habits will follow you across your life. I still save all of my change, and I use it to bring joy to my children and grandchildren as part of our annual Easter Egg hunt. Every year I am reminded how small changes add up to create the opportunity to make lasting memories for those I love.
Keep your eyes focused on building a better future for yourself and your family, do something different today, and be consistent, and you will be ready to meet every challenge the future may hold.
I am rooting for you!