The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, August 29, 2005

My legacy, neatly outlined by dotted lines so you can cut it out and hand it to the cashier

A few years ago, my mother gave me a framed, calligraphed card that she'd picked up at a craft fair somewhere. The ornate letters read "mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all." We laughed when I opened it, both a little unsure whether we were supposed to feel complimented or horrified by the fact that we're so much alike, but both fully confident about the accuracy of the saying.

For the most part, becoming my mother is something I welcome. My mother has a terrific marriage, a wonderfully funny and close group of friends and (if I do say so myself) great kids. She spent a little over half a dozen "formative" years at home with us before going back to work, then back to school, then back to work again. Now, with her kids grown and gone, she has an enormously successful career and has risen to the top of her field. She's a good cook and an interesting dinner companion. She's well traveled and well read. I could do a hell of a lot worse than to be like my mom.

But then again, she's my mom, and by definition that makes her the fuddy-duddy I rebelled against for all of those teenage years. She's the woman who implemented all sorts of overprotective rules (guilty as charged), restricted my television viewing for all of those years (check ) and outlawed all those yummy, unhealthy foods (um, yeah... guess I do that too). As a fellow parent, I can't fault most of her parenting decisions, but as her child, I sure had opportunity to take issue with quite a few of them. Hearing her voice come out of my mouth as I discipline my children or lay down rules of the house is a little unsettling, even as I recognize in my adult self concrete proof that these tactics work.

The one way I have always sworn I would never be like my mother, however, was where money is concerned. I grew up in a household where you didn't spend it even if you had it. My father kept the thermostat at 68 and refused to nudge it up even slightly, even as we all piled on second and third sweaters on cold winter days. My mother clipped coupons, looked for bargains, frequented discount stores and Marshalls and steadfastly refused my frequent, impassioned requests for designer clothing. Even worse than the way she denied me was the way she denied herself, rarely purchasing anything new and never purchasing anything costly. Never, I always swore, would I be that way. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job of living up to that vow. Our home is always toasty warm, my children are always dressed in style and I buy what I want as easily as what I need. My mother's legacy thwarted.

But there's that swingset now sitting in my backyard, purchased only because I got it for a steal. And the fact that increasingly large amounts of those designer wardrobes my children sport were purchased off eBay for a song. There is my newfound love for Kohls (they sell the greatest t-shirts -- they fit my chest and my waist -- for only $7!) And in the past week alone, I've caught myself having 2 conversations with my closest friend -- the first in which she enthusiastically endorsed a Target bra ("just like the Victoria's Secret ones I love... for TEN bucks!") and the second in which she admired my new bread basket ("Longaberger?" "NO! Shop Rite... only NINE bucks!") -- that sounded suspiciously... Mom-like. I even must confess to clipping a few coupons recently. I haven't exactly used them yet. But the writing, I'm afraid, is on the wall.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am a cheapskate after all. At least I come by it honestly.


At 4:13 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

Oh, where to begin? My mother was the one who'd buy something, hide it from my dad, and then positively lie to him about its cost when he did find it. "Oh, that thing? It only cost a few bucks." I love my mother for it, but it took my husband to teach me that that wasn't exactly the best marital politics. Then again, it might just be perfect politics.

I'm a cheapskate now because I have to be, but, rest assured, I'll easily shed those habits when I'm able. They're not habits as much as they are grudgingly accepted fates.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger Steph said...

I've had to become a cheapskate these days out of necessity. Our budget wouldn't allow for anything different. Coupon clipping, yep, I do that too. My problem is remembering to bring the darn things to the store with me!

P.S. - I love Kohl's and Target too ;-)

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

Hee. My mama raised me to always buy the highest quality at the lowest prices. There is something just so satisfying about buying the $100 Japanese Weekend maternity dress for on clearance for $12 -- and knowing I can always gloat about it with Mom afterward.

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Dana said...

*ding* - thats the bell ringing true over here! Thanks so much for the smile and fond memories of my own upbringing (and now my life!) Once on vacation in the US with my parents, one early morning we drove for hours looking for a Shoneys (My dad: "Only $2.99 all you can eat breakfast! What a deal!!")


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