Friday, 31 July 2015

Why I Want my Dads' Last Cheque to Bounce

The other day I was sat in a coffee shop reading my book and minding my own business. When I got bored of minding my own business I decided to listen in on a conversation that the man and woman on the table next to me were having. They looked to be about 30-ish and the woman had a huge slice of chocolate fudge cake in front of her. She gets brownie points (lol) for that.

The woman was very animated and was angrily discussing the fact that her mother was refusing to pay for her wedding. My ears pricked up instantly. Over the course of the next 10 minutes the woman went on to describe how selfish her mother was being and how upset she was that her parents had never started a 'wedding pot' for her when she was younger.

"I've been with Tony for 4 years now, did they not see this coming?!", she exclaimed. "Every little girl dreams of the perfect wedding, and I just feel that has been completely taken away from me and she's not even sorry about it". I felt myself getting tense. It was almost painful to listen to. 'Is this the norm?' I pondered to myself. 'Is this what we expect from our parents now?'

I began to think about my own life and all of the amazing ways that my parents have contributed to the person I am today (for better or for worse!). Leaving home at 18 and heading out to University was never a money-related-worry for me. I was fortunate enough to have parents who could afford to box me up with a load of IKEA saucepans, some cutlery and a fancy new bedspread. I didn't have to worry about money whilst I was at University either. I worked a minimum of 12 hours a week every single week for 3 years, without fail. I had money to spend on food and bills with a little left over for Revs on a Monday (when Skint Mondays was at it's very best). I had a student loan to cover tuition and accommodation fees and I'm in the long and arduous process of paying off that debt now.

Don't get me wrong- sometimes I messed up. I remember the dread in the pit of my stomach upon realising that I would have to make the awful "Hi Dad, so can I borrow £100?" call. My parents were always happy (or able, at least!) to help me out, of course, and I've been very lucky to have that especially considering I am one of four children, not an only child. When I signed my mortgage application we had a gap of 4 months where we were essentially homeless- our rent had timed out on our flat and our house was still being built. Hesitantly, Ben and I moved in with my parents for a few months. It was hard, and we all pissed one another off, but it saved our bacon in every way and I'm extremely grateful.

Listening to this selfish idiot in CafĂ© Nero was getting difficult for me. Where in this modern world do family handouts fit? "I know she gave me the money for the house deposit, but I didn't ask her to and I would rather her have saved it for the wedding", the moron spluttered.

I had what I believed to be the perfect answer to her questions. It seemed ludicrous that I could so clearly solve her issue and yet she seemed so blind to any logical resolution. What do you do in order to afford to get married? You go and WORK for it.

The number of people who have assumed that my father is paying for my wedding is unreal. Of course my parents have contributed, and I was ridiculously grateful when they said they wanted to buy my wedding dress for me, but the person paying for the wedding that I decided to have is me. I've been engaged for 17 months now and over the course of those months we've spent every spare penny we had on our wedding. It's going to be beautiful and it is everything I wanted. I haven't skimped out on things or done anything on an extremely tight budget, and I've been able to have everything that I wanted (except for the elephant to ride down the aisle on, Ben put his foot down there). I'm so lucky.

In actual fact I'm not lucky. I worked my arse off. Yeah, I was knackered. My job is demanding and sometimes I'll be online until 10pm getting a proposal done for a client, but I did what I had to do to earn the money I needed to pay for the wedding I wanted.

I know a handful of people who are almost offended that their parents would make any large purchases as they get older. An old friend (who is not a friend now) once described how pissed off she was that her parents had invested in a holiday home in Florida with their retirement settlement money. "They're going to get 10 years of use out of that, and the money is gone. It's almost like they're trying to leave us with nothing". I couldn't stand to listen to her ridiculous rant, but I've heard similar complaints from other people who are old enough to know better.

I never ever want my parents to feel like they've let me down, or not done enough. I never want them to feel pressured to 'assign' their hard earned money to the logical steps of my life. I spent 3 years saving every spare penny I had so that I could get a deposit together for my little three bed house. I'll never ever forget the feeling I had when I collected the keys for the house, knowing that I had earned every little piece. I'd paid for the doorknobs and for the towel rails. I'd spent Saturday afternoons working at home and I had the kitchen appliances to show for it. It felt good.

When I lose my father, I want his last cheque to bounce. I don't want him to leave us with a penny. I want to watch him enjoy his retirement and I want postcards from Australia, and Thailand, and Miami. I want him to convert his entire back garden into a mini-golf course, if that's what he wants to do. I want to watch him whip about town in a convertible that should be driven exclusively by 30-year-old French entrepreneurs. I want him to go eat at Michelin Star steakhouses in the City. I want him to splash out on a watch that he'll never use.

I know first hand that there is nothing more devastating than losing a parent. I can promise you with no uncertainty that when they're gone you're not going to find any comfort in the fact they gave you £10,000 towards your wedding. You're not going to find peace in the cheque you get from the solicitor who settles the estate of your loved ones.

You'll find solace in those postcards which are sat in The Messy Drawer in the kitchen; the messy drawer that is full of batteries and Allen keys because that's what your Dads' messy drawer was full of when you were little. You'll be comforted by the photos of your mum and dad with Super-Soakers in their hands at Songkran. You'll be comforted by the memories of 28 billion Gary Numan concerts that you were forced to go to and hated, but somehow whenever you hear Down in the Park you can remember every word.

I hope Tony dumps you, you utter cowbag.

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