I was on a hunt for a nice shirt for Aidan for Easter, and I walked into a department store that had a mad sale going on. After getting accosted by a saleswoman trying to get me to look at shoes or maybe running shorts or just give them my email, I dashed by the women’s department on my search for the toddler boy section, no matter how small it was.
But I stopped short. I saw a dress. A beautiful dress with what looked like- Focus. Focus. Focus.
Off I ran to the toddler boy section and looked at the three racks squeezed in between the bloated baby girl section and the overstuffed toddler girl section. Luck was with me because I found a cute, blue, plaid, button-up, short-sleeve shirt for Aidan. It was also on sale because I would be hard pressed to spend that much money on a toddler’s shirt.
I walked back down the aisles, enjoying the peace of not scolding, nagging, yelling, dragging, waiting, pulling, pushing, snarling that always happens when the boys are shopping with me without a shopping cart. (For some reason, those shopping carts help ease the tension. Maybe because gripping the shopping cart gives me a physical release for the frustration of dealing with three tornadoes in public.) Before long, I saw the dress.
I was right. It had the same cut and style as the dress I’d been admiring at the sew shop. I was thinking of tackling it, but I have sewing issues. Like picking out a material I won’t hate after I make the dress. Liking staying interested enough to finish it. Like being calm as I resew a seam because I can’t cut or sew in a straight line. But I digress.
It was cut to flatter a woman’s body. It had straps. It was white with large pink flowers. Well, I would definitely spill chocolate on the white. And pink. Could I handle pink again after so many years of avoiding it like the pox when I outgrew princesses and Barbies? Though the girl in the T-Mobil ads always looked cute.
I checked the price.
It was on sale. 60% off.
But I couldn’t. It’s just too much money. I just bought Evan several pairs of shorts, and he’ll need more. I needed to buy Aidan new clothes for his birthday. I just went over budget with Easter. I needed to buy good sandals for myself. I needed to buy the boys sandals. Aidan will need new shoes soon. And that dress was over half a week’s worth of groceries.
I walked away with my mind on the dress.
I checked out, thinking I should’ve looked at the tag for washing instructions.
I walked to my car, thinking I should have at least tried it on.
I pulled out on the street, thinking of places and reasons I could wear the dress.
I stopped at the stop light and remembered saying earlier that day, “It’s forty bucks. Just get it.”
I wanted to get a Pandora charm with an A on it. The dress cost just more than that. I wanted to buy a color deck. The dress was the same price. I ended up buying iTune gift cards at nearly the same price point as that. I’m sure I spent the amount of the dress on used books for the boys and I over the last month. It was cheaper than the thing I told someone to buy.
I saw the dress as a frivolous want. Something that wasn’t practical; something that wasn’t a need; something that was unimportant because I wanted it. Never mind that I would have worn it other places, other times. I was sacrificing for my family. And I’m good at that.
And that, folks, is innocent side of co-dependency. I could have bought it, but I didn’t want to waste the family funds on me. I wanted to sacrifice for my family for no reason but to sacrifice. It’s really silly. I know it’s not the first time. I know other mothers do it. I watched my own mother deal with it. I’m a little disappointed that I did this to myself. I’ve been working so hard-
Scratch that. I haven’t. I made little strides, and I kept those. I go to out with the girl’s once a month. But that’s the only time I have to myself without putting kids to bed or turning on the TV. I’ve started spending money on books again. But only at the used bookstore. The DVDs I’ve bought recently are for the kids. I do get away once every couple of months, and I manage to feel guilt-free on that.
It’s time for me to work a little harder on this co-dependency thing. There’s a place for self-sacrifice, but it means little if it is done just because. I need to leave the house more and let the ex handle the kids. He deserves that. I need start balancing my wants in with all the needs. I think I’ll call a friend who is amazing in the thrift stores to show me a how she does it. That would kill two birds with one stone quite nicely.