I suppose our goals, and by extension our priorities and do’s, change over time. Once upon a single life ago, “waxing” secured a vanguard position on a daily do list, with “new outfit” scrawled in second. I’d make an afternoon of loot-loss at Olive & Bette, Pookie & Sebastian, Foley & Corrina… and a whole host of other ampersand boutiques; it was a way to pass the time. But priorities shift when you go from me to we. And “pass the time,” becomes something other, as irregular and foreign a luxury as mid 17th century moiré. The lacy demi-cups and loungewear are replaced with coffee cups and shapewear. Almost.
I still have wants, only now I prance them about like needs. “What? Sorry, but I need a mandolin that cubes!” And with babies, I genuinely didn’t need to argue over expenses because—even though I never ever thought I’d see the day—my focus shifted off of me. Naturally. No one had to tell me to do it. Nesting, full on. Strollers, changing tables, onsies, videos, books, college savings. Yes, I spent, but it wasn’t for me.
Before kids, when I was much younger, I remember thinking, “Why would you have a child before you have everything you want?” I admit, I don’t even think I meant, “before certain goals are achieved,” or “before I’m established in my career and have somewhat of a nest egg.” I meant, quite simply, why bring another person into the equation when you’ll then have to spend money on her clothes and crib in lieu of your personal lust-list of textiles, upholstered settees, and photography trips to Cape Town? Why would you invite someone into the world who’d compete with all that? Who’d now need her own blankets and bathtub? Bergdorf’s would become that store I’d eye with hunger from across the street, too tempted for a close-up peek into its windows, for fear of it stealing my now supposedly selfless soul.
I could just picture it. Me in brown rags (or ill-fitting clothes from Daffy’s), temporarily escaped from Ms. Hannigan, with a teething infant aggressively at my bosom. The two of us shivering, like homeless children in Christmas films, pressing my careworn face against an upmarket restaurant window.
What I didn’t know then, what I was too young to feel, was that the stuff buying feels delicious for a few days, weeks at most, then the giddiness gets sopped up by a new need-want. And then, despite everything you’d thought about your own happiness and desires to travel in grand luxury, creating a family becomes your need-want and no amount of tissue-wrapped purchases can quell the want.
“There’s never a perfect time to have kids,” people say. There will always be a reason when someday in the future makes more sense. When you’re more financially stable, when you’re happier in your career, after the promotion or at least after bonuses.
There will always be a reason to wait.
But eventually we die. Eggs break while bank accounts flourish, and relationships stop relating.
I don’t have buyer’s remorse for all of the cockamamie purchases of my past. Schweitzer Linens was, by far, my favorite me-only purchase: something that was grandfathered into my marriage, an item I could never justify buying to Phil today, but something I’d buy again without a moment’s hesitation.
I come upon things now—my KitchenAid mixer for one—and as I look around me, I’m surprised by the things that fall into the totally worth it category, and by those that are among the pile of what a waste (list to come tomorrow–now posted here).
Money levels off if that makes any sense. It’s a necessity for freedom. But in terms of the giddy-factor, it wanes. And while you are appreciative for all that you have, you set your sights on something new. It’s not that you actually set out to do this. It’s just that magazines and blogs basically diddle with your want-sensors.
From “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”
HAPPINESS IS FINDING A PENCIL.
PIZZA WITH SAUSAGE
TELLING THE TIME.
HAPPINESS IS LEARNING TO WHISTLE.
TYING YOUR SHOE FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME.
Lasting happiness, I’ve found, doesn’t even come from achievement. Because then you’re always looking to achieve more. That’s not a state of bliss and contentment. It’s competition, if only with yourself.
No, real happiness is teaching. It’s giving of yourself to someone who needs—whether they know it or not. It’s taking pleasure in the smaller things—the way Lucas sucks his thumb and picks his nose, singlehandedly, when he’s tired. It’s making new memories, learning new things, and it’s occasional non-work-related travel. Travel enriches our soul, gives us a “reset” and a new perspective. Travel is a feast. Gotta say gluttony is my favorite of the sevens. I’ve got to find a way to get to Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam with the top of my worth it list (aka my family). Or, at the very least get to Epcot.
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