Splurge or Investment?

July 22, 2009

When is a purchase an investment and when is it a needless splurge?  I have been struggling with that question A LOT over the past few months.  It has been a struggle in terms of a number of potential purchases: clothes that actually fit, shoes that don’t make my feet hurt, a jogging stroller.  I have been wracked with guilt about spending money on these things that I see as selfish, especially since I haven’t been bringing in much money.  It has sort of felt like I don’t deserve them.

The thing that has made it especially tough is that while my husband thinks that I am being silly and that I should get things I need, the truth is that we are paying much closer attention to our bank account now that we are pretty much living off of one salary.

This anxiety all came to a head this past weekend, though, in terms of the jogging stroller.  I had been thinking about getting one for over six months.  While I love my umbrella stroller, my daily (and sometimes twice a day) walks were definitely slowed down by it.  And this got pretty frustrating, especially since I use exercise as an emotional outlet.  So I had been looking on craigslist, scoping out yard sales, the whole deal, but I just couldn’t get myself to actually buy one- it just felt too extravagant to have two strollers.

And then my mom came into town for a long weekend.  She saw how crazy this whole search was making me and also how important a jogging stroller was.  So, after a day, she told me that before she left she wanted to make sure that I had a jogging stroller.  We searched on craigslist, on ebay, on overstock, etc.  And then, on Sunday, we headed out to Babies R Us.  Initially the plan was to just try the different strollers out so that I could decide which one I really wanted to hold out for on craigslist.  But, of course, we ended up coming home with a brand-new jogging stroller and not only that, we came home with a nicer, brand-new jogging stroller.  Not a $300 one, but expensive enough.

I was wracked with guilt.  Did I really need to spend this money? Was I going to put it to good use? Was I just being a consumerist yuppie?  And then went for a walk.  A walk I would never have been able to do before with my umbrella stroller.  And it was great.  Since then I have gone for a number of walks and am really happy with the stroller.

Do I still feel guilty?  Yeah, a bit.  Do I think it will help me stay sane?  Definitely.  Did I come down on the right side of the Investment or Splurge continuum? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

Over the weekend I made what, to me, was a BIG purchase.  I bought a jogging stroller.  I had been thinking about buying one for seven months and had been looking around on craigslist but kept getting cold feet and avoiding actually buying one.   I just felt like it was an extravagant purchase, something I didn’t really need.  What is perhaps even more important is that since my big contract hasn’t come through, yet, I felt like it wasn’t responsible to be spending money like that.

A Sense of Obligation

July 13, 2009

I had lunch today with a very good friend of mine who is starting to plan her wedding.  She is very excited but also paralyzed by a sense of obligation to have the “right” kind of wedding.  What she really wants is a very small event with just close family and a few friends, but she has this feeling that she is obligated to do something bigger and more traditional.

As we talked about it and I argued that it is more important to have the right wedding for them- a small gathering with fried chicken and ribs- than it is to invite the cousins you barely know and colleagues you don’t really like, I realized that these feelings of guilt and obligation that she was describing are very similar to the feelings I get about working/life balance.

Many of us, I think, are often so focused on our intention to do what is “right,” that we are unable to do what is right for us.  While I am not a fan of the overly entitled, “it is all about me” attitude that is on the other side of the spectrum, I do think that part of becoming a true grown up is learning how to balance obligations and what feels right, especially when those two things don’t coincide.

I was just approached about doing a very large project for one of my clients.  While this is exciting, I am also aware of the fact that it would mean a lot more struggles in terms of work/life balance.  It means figuring out how much I can honestly take on and also how much I am willing to commit to, given my desire to be present for the little one and working at the same time.

So here comes the challenge of practicing what I preach and making sure I figure out that balance from the outset…

Spring Fever

May 1, 2009

Every Spring, as it starts to get warm, I get nostalgic for high school.  Driving with the windows down, singing along loudly to cheesy music, playing hooky from class, etc.  But I must admit, though, the spring fever that these two caught totally makes my Friday… I mean who doesn’t love a drunken couple getting naked and doing it on the lawn of Windsor Castle?  It puts Michelle Obama’s faux pas with the Queen to shame.

More Goop

March 3, 2009

Another thought on the goop hatred… No one likes a know-it-all.  While other working moms are struggling to figure out how to balance it all and prioritize, she is there telling us the best way to cook, shop, travel, and make time for our kids (if only we all had unlimited means, a support staff, etc.).  It’s kind of like in high school calculus when you were struggling to understand rotations and the math genius kept trying to explain it to you by saying, “it is so easy you just…” I hated that kid.

Hasta La Vista

February 12, 2009

The fam unit is headed out to the West Coast for six days.  If possible, I’ll post with tales of six-hour flights, weddings, and the search for baby food in an unknown city.  But more likely I will be chilling out and/or dealing with a jet-lagged baby…

Am I an elephant?

December 12, 2008

I was online today trying to find an article in the women’s health section of the Post.  Couldn’t find the article but did find something else interesting.  The fifth article listed isn’t about women, it isn’t about children, it isn’t even about humans.  It is about elephants.  

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Now, it has always bothered me how children’s health articles often get put into the women’s health section.  It seems to imply that all women are mothers and that mothers should be looking for information for their children rather than themselves.  But elephants?! Really?!

In college I took a class called Women, Medicine, and Biology in which we learned about the many ways that women have been marginalized in medicine throughout the years.  It was one of those consciousness raising classes that every young woman should have in college.  My work life has focused, in large part, on feminist issues.  I keep up on feminist writings, theories, etc.  So I consider myself to be pretty darn aware of the inequalities that we face.

But today, seeing the elephants article just made me realize- it is so much worse than I thought.  One of the nation’s largest newspapers can’t even get their content together enough to have the articles in the women’s health section of their site be about women.  

So where does that leave us women?  In the grasslands, I guess.  Foraging for our own information.  So let’s join together as a pack and do it together.  Now, in this time of change, maybe it is the moment to reinvigorate our own movement.  Let’s make these peanuts into peanut butter.

Happy Halloween

October 31, 2008

This has been a year full of firsts- first baby, first year in my thirties, and my first Halloween since moving away from home where I might get trick-or-treaters.  So I did the whole thing- carved a pumpkin, got the bowl full of candy ready, saved the pumpkin seeds to turn into a fun snack, and got a costume for the baby who has no idea what is happening.  And suddenly tonight as I put out the pumpkin I felt very suburban.  Am I rapidly becoming the  crafts projects and healthy snacks mom?  Not that those things are in and of themselves bad things, not at all, but sometimes I wonder how I got here.  Sometimes it feels like I stumbled into bed one night after having one too many long island ice teas and woke up as a 30-year-old new mom.  Talk about spooky…