Thursday, December 01, 2011

Awkward Pauses

The trouble with Christmas shopping is... everything for me is on sale too! And it's not as if someone is going to surprise me with the things I really want!

I ordered the most fabulous dress last week.  Had my eye on it for a while, but it was sold out. Then when it was restocked, I put it in my online shopping cart and it was gone before I could complete the order!! So when it was restocked yet again... I HAD to buy it. It's just such a perfect dress - appropriate for work and for church and even an evening out with the right accessories.

Am I right or am I right?!
(from - I do not receive any compensation for mentioning this online store... but I'd be willing if they were offering!! I love love love ModCloth!!) 
Anyway, since it was coming via UPS I had it shipped to work because if they try to deliver to my condo... it takes three exchanges on that silly sticky note to get them to actually leave it for me! Much easier to just send it to work... and then share my excitement with some girls in the office!!

So, the truck comes and there is the box I've been waiting for! Yay! Oh, and it's so pretty... so much nicer even than I expected!

I went to hold the dress up for one of my co-workers to see - and at that moment an older woman from another department steps in, admires the dress and asks, "Where are you going?" indicating that I must have an occasion in mind for this purchase.

I'm dumbstruck. I didn't have an occasion in mind. I just wanted it, knowing it would be timeless, flattering and appropriate almost anywhere. Suddenly, I wondered if I was reckless, selfish, or maybe terribly indulgent.

I manage to stammer out the words... "I just liked it, so I bought it."
That was awkward. 

The woman looks me right in the eye and says, "I never do that. I always get things for my kids or my husband. I never get anything for me."

Um. Wow. Ahhhhhhhh.

Finally, I force a smile and say, "Well, I don't have a husband or kids - so I buy things I like for me. In fact, I still need to attract a husband so it's very important that I look good!"

I desperately wanted out of that conversation so I packed up the dress and went back to my desk. But what I wanted to say was, "Oh, don't be such a martyr! Buy yourself something.  Good Lord woman, your kids are grown - why are you still buying them stuff??!"

Seriously, just last week she was bragging about how wonderful and successful all of her kids are!

I know that moms today take some weird satisfaction about sacrificing EVERYTHING for their kids... which I actually find a bit ridiculous... I mean, yes I know that when the kids need shoes, you as a parent have to wear yours for another season if money is tight... I get that... but I can tell you that my parents never made a fuss about how they had to do without.  As far as I knew we all had everything we needed and much of want we wanted.  We were also told "No." plenty often.

I'm not talking about the difference between a wealthy family and a struggling family.  I'm talking about the odd martyrdom over the whole issue.  Come on, get off the cross... use the wood!

Personally, I don't think it's healthy for a mother to deny herself the little rewards... the everyday things that seem like indulgences once she has a family. Yoga class or time at the gym, the occasional pedicure, a new dress.
I have friends who - once the first kid is in preschool or kindergarten, suddenly realize they need those moments and those "me times", and they suddenly move heaven and earth to make the time for it. Maybe I won't understand completely until I'm responsible for another life... but it seems to me that  moms need to take care of themselves.  Work a few indulgences into the budget. A mom who is stretched too thin is not the best for her children either.

It's motherhood - not martyrdom.  Does pointing out all your sacrifices make someone a better mother?
I don't think so. In fact, I think it makes your kids lose a little respect for you.

Of course, if I were blessed enough to be able have kids, I'd gladly limit my shopping and wear my shoes right through the soles if that's what it took to provide what my children need... but I don't expect sainthood for it.


Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oooo, that's a gorgeous dress! Looks fitted enough to be feminine, but not so tight as to be skanky... a hard balance to find sometimes!

Sorry about the mommy-martyr. Sounds like she was jealous, if you ask me.

Genevra said...

First off, fabulous dress. I mean really fabulous dress. I'll be checking out that website next.

Second, I run across that from women who don't even have kids and use other reasons for it (family, pets, etc.) whatever it is they are sacrificing for and taking it to the extreme, and it puzzles me then too.