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.

Gobs of Goop

March 2, 2009

Poor Gwyneth Paltrow.  Both she and her Goop have really been getting panned recently.  It must be hard to be so “fortunate” and to not be taken seriously as a lifestyle guru.  

All sarcasm aside, though, I actually find the attacks to be a bit much. The thing is, while I actually agree with much of the criticism and find the site’s content to be close to intolerable (her description of her expression of emotions to her children makes me cringe for poor Apple and Moses!), I also find the attacks to be a bit disingenuous.  The truth is, she is just doing what many of us bloggers are doing- albeit without the comments.  I mean, really, what is the difference between her practice in narcissism and my own (or of that a crafting blog or a parenting blog or an exercise blog) other than a whole lot of money to make it look pretty and professional and insane connections?

Sure, she has a whole host of people writing for her and all kinds of “experts” sharing their “wisdom,” but it is basically a site chock-full of thoughts and suggestions on fashion, cooking, travel, parenting.  Perhaps what makes people unhappy and uncomfortable is that her narcissism is so blatant and reminds us that we are all guilty of the same thing- believing that we have something special or some gift that needs to be shared.

In any case, I say if we are going to do our thing then we have to let her do hers. Just cause it is out there doesn’t mean we need to follow her detoxing regimen…

Urge to Radicalize

February 25, 2009

As I struggle through these days of professional wasting (work has been super slow) and have been trying to come to terms, yet again, with the decision I made to slow down my professional life for a while in order to be around more for my kid.  I am still committed to walking the line between the two worlds- working moms and stay-at-home moms- but sometimes I really envy that clarity and even radicalism.

Sometimes I really wish that I was either a hard-core working mom or a super-duper stay-at-home mom, even if it was logistically or financially more difficult.  Sometimes I wish that I was one of those women who was so clear that what I was doing was right that I scoffed at the other side.  Just to have that kind of clarity would be awesome.

In the meantime, though, I’ll keep limping along, trying to navigate the netherworld, hoping that in the end it will pay off and I will have the type of family life and career that I am hoping for.  And I’ll resist the temptation to shave my head, turn vegan, and join a collective of back-to-the-earth moms.  Carob brownie anyone?

Salma Hayek Rocks My World

February 11, 2009

As I was reading through my favorite blogs today I came across discussions of Salma Hayek breastfeeding a starving one-week-old baby while on a humanitarian mission in Sierra Leone.  

First of all, while this could have been a god-awful-holier-than-thou moment for her.  In fact, she was gracious, warm, and just flat out maternal.  It came across as a truly genuine act- not a play for more camera time.  And, really, that is what humanitarian missions should be about (you listening, Angelina, Jessica, etc., etc.). So props, Salma!

It also got me thinking about the raging debate over breastfeeding and the concept of wet nurses.  Now, in this case, I think what Salma did was really wonderful and if I were in a similar situation I would definitely offer up my services.  But overall I think that wet nurses and breast milk banks cross a line. 

 

Can you say "

Can you say "Moo"?

 

I know breast milk has all kind of wonderful nutrients and anti-bodies and I know that it is helpful for babies in many, many ways.  But I just feel like sometimes we get so wrapped up in the virtues of breast feeding that we throw out the good for the perfect.  And that, perhaps, formula serves some important purposes too.  

Our baby has recently started the weening process and I have got to say that the non-breast milk bottles are not only really nice for me (I am increasingly feeling less bovine in nature), but they are great for my husband and baby too.  It gives them quiet and meaningful time together that is not dependent on what I produce with the help of My Friend Medela.

After a not-so-pleasurable trip to the dentist this afternoon, I arrived home to find a giant box at our front door.  So I put the baby down, made sure the cat wasn’t trying to escape, and then lugged the box over the threshold and into the house.  Knowing and dreading what was inside I avoided the box for a good hour– nursing the baby, calling my mom, eating a snack, etc. When I did get to opening the box it was just what I had feared it would be: another toy!!

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Now, I know I should be grateful for all of the love that people are showing our child by buying him lots and lots and LOTS of toys. I am, in fact, incredibly grateful for it all and the thought that has gone into all of the gifts.  But it has got to stop.  

I can’t take any more versions of “If you’re having and you know, clap your hands.”  I can’t take any more ugly, garishly-colored plastic monkeys.  I can’t take another “developmentally appropriate,” activity-driven machine that actually prescribes what my kid should be doing rather than just letting him play and explore the world around him.

What is wrong with his plastic mixing bowl and measuring cups? What’s inadequate about his blocks? Didn’t kids play happily and develop appropriately with those toys for years and years?  Why do the toy companies have to play with our insecurities and push these new toys and being necessary?

And let’s be honest, it isn’t as if the Fisher-Price Sing-Along Toy is going to guarantee my child’s entrance into an elite college or university (even if that were the end all, be all).

Sell Out?

January 7, 2009

 

mediabistro.com

Image credit: mediabistro.com

 

 

So I have been back in Type-A City for a week now.  Back from Hippie Town, USA. Ever since the baby was born I have really struggled with leaving the family out in Hippie-ville and have resented Type-A land a lot.  The same has been true this time but to a lesser extent and I couldn’t figure out why.  In many ways, coming back this time is worse- worse weather, don’t know when I will see my parents again- and yet I seem to be more upbeat.

And then, this evening, I realized why it has been easier.  I have been working. 

I got a big contract over the holidays that will be keeping me busy for the next couple of months.  And while it has been very hard to balance parenting and working from home with a mobile baby who has become obsessed with the stairs and all things on shelves, I still feel more at home in my own skin.

It is good to feel like I am using my brain more.  It feels good to be contributing to something outside of the house.  It feels good to be contributing to the household income.  And it feels good to be so busy that I don’t know how it will all get done.  

Does this play into a lot of the expectations and beliefs that are so prevalent in Type-A City?  The expectations and beliefs that I have been rebelling against?  Yes. Does this mean I am a sell out? Perhaps.  Am I ok with that?  Right now, I am.  

For now, I will embrace my yuppie-ness but will hold on tight to my hippie qualities.  I am like a crunchy-granola-yuppie.  Pass the organic, omega-3 fortified soy chips, please.