Friday, September 23, 2005


I was speaking with a friend last night (Hi Susanna!) who reads my blog and she told me that while she wouldn't spend $65 for a pair of shoes for her daughter, she does enjoy buying her things. It makes her really happy, she said, to buy cute clothes for her. She spends all of her money on her daughter, rarely spending a dime on herself.

I started thinking about that--because I definitely don't feel the same way. In general, I hate shopping. Buying clothes for anyone--the kids or me--makes me feel guilty. I don't like spending the kind of money that is generally required when one shops anywhere but the discount stores. It rarely gives me pleasure to buy a cute dress, a fun toy, or a fancy new pair of sneakers. About 4 years ago, I spend $280 on a dress I needed for a wedding. It is a very flattering dress, and well-made, but I have had guilt about that dress for years. Only after wearing it to every single dress up event in the last 4 years have I accepted that it was probably worth the money.

All this stems from my up-bringing, I'm sure. My parents were very big on the "value of a dollar" thing. We knew, from a very young age, what things were expensive and thus out of our reach. We knew that many things we wanted were too expensive for my parents to afford. When my parents were finally able to send us private school, we knew what a stretch this was, and knew to do the best we could, or risk wasting our parents' efforts. Whenever we received a gift, especially if it was expensive, we were well aware of the sacrifice my parents had to make to get it. In a way, we learned that wanting things made our parents suffer. We also learned that money is really important. Or at least, that's how I internalized it.

I don't want my kids to feel guilty if we buy them a computer for Christmas one year. But I do want them to appreciate it, and take care of it, and recognize that it is not just something they get because of who they are. I don't want them to grow up feeling entitled to things. At the same time, I'm not really sure that feeling guilty everytime you buy your son a new shirt is a real healthy way to live.

So that's the balance I'll have to walk with Isaac and Vivian in the years to come. Who knew that so much of parenting would be spent on a teeter-totter?


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