I miss buying nice things for myself.
There, I said it.
It sounds so materialistic and self-centered when I consider all of the blessings in my life—especially my two biggest (and littlest) blessings—but there it is.
I didn’t even realize that I missed it until the craziness of Christmas had died down and I went to Lord & Taylor to exchange some clothes for my mother-in-law. Maybe I was more awake than I normally was after a fabulous, extremely rare nap the day before, or maybe I was excited that I had finally fit into some of my slightly roomier pre-pregnancy clothes 21 weeks after having my daughter. Whatever caused it, the feeling kind of knocked me over.
Suddenly, I was looking at soft, pretty sweaters. Sparkly party tops. Form-fitting dresses. Pants that didn’t have a stretchy maternity panel and—gasp!—pants that weren’t designed for yoga.
It felt heady and breathless and lustful.
I know it’s ridiculous because these are just things, but they were things that reminded me of the me of long ago. The me of five years ago, to be precise—before pregnancy expanded my waistline, made me unable to keep my balance in high heels and caused my boobs to leak. The me who didn’t want to go bankrupt but who wouldn’t think twice about splurging on an investment piece or two (or 10).
These days, nice things seem silly. I mean, these are clothes that are likely going to be covered in spit-up, pureed peas and worse within the first five minutes that I put them on. These are shoes that cost the equivalent of a semester of baseball classes for my son—and if they’re really amazing, probably also a music class. Sure, I have a handful of go-to clothes for a meeting or an audition, but my normal daily life of tending to the kids and working while they’re sleeping doesn’t really require the good stuff.
Life has changed, and I have changed with it.
The new me is better in a lot of ways: I’m much more centered and grounded, I have perspective, and I am happy in a way that I never knew I could be. But I could certainly use a little (er, a lot of) improvement when it comes to taking care of myself and acknowledging that I have needs, too. The thing is, if I’m not taking care of myself, how can I properly take care of my kids? What kind of an example am I setting for them? And how can I teach them to love and value themselves if I don’t do it myself?
When I was younger, I used to hate when my mother told me that she would rather buy things for us than for herself. And it made me sad when she’d empty the dishwasher while we were starting dinner instead of joining us right away. She deserved better. She deserved to sit down once in a while. She deserved nice things.
And now, here I am, doing the exact same thing. I have literally turned into my mother.
So…what now? Well, I’m not going to clean out the college fund (or even the activity fund), and I’m certainly not dressing up for preschool drop-off like that U.K. principal recently suggested. But I am going to make a more conscious effort to scout out some sales and buy myself a few new things. Some shirts that aren’t threadbare in spots from holding the baby, jeans that actually flatter my new mom-of-two body right now, not if/when I’ve lost all the baby weight, and—the best part—a ridiculous pair of shoes that are way more stylish than sensible.
These things aren’t luxuries. They are key components in maintaining whatever’s left of my sanity and myself. Because some day, the kids won’t be here…and where will I be? Will I even recognize myself?
So…I’m going shopping! And I’m taking my mom with me.