I Guess I’m Doing Alright As A Mother

I grew up poor.  At one point we didn’t have a refrigerator.  That winter we kept our perishables on the window sill.   We are talking really poor.  So you can imagine my confusion at the conversation I had last year with the very the mother who raised me this way:

“Gavin needs an iPad.  You are getting him one for Christmas, right?”

“WHAT?  He’s two!!”

“He knows how to use it and he loves the games.”

She clearly interpreted my blank stare to mean “please continue” rather than “has Steve Jobs been reincarnated and taken over my mother’s body?”

“The games are mostly educational!”  She looked at me with disdain at the notion that I might deprive my son of such a vital and basic need.

Just to recap: no fridge = acceptable for daughter, but no iPad = unacceptable for grandson. Glad we’re all on the same page.

I won the argument last year and no one got an iPad.  But this year I was unprepared for the onslaught of things people thought my kids “needed.”  One of these items was a miniature battery powered kid car.

I’ve blogged about it before, my son is big into cars.  He walks around calling out every make and model parked on a NYC street.  His favorites include mini-coopers, smart cars, and anything he dubs a race car.   This boy has a particular affinity for certain types of rims.  So when he spotted a black Dodge Viper in the Target circular I knew his mind was set.  However, the thing cost as much as my entire Christmas budget for both kids.  My mom offered to kick in.  So did my grandmother.  Ian was all for it.  I was the lone dissenter, suggesting maybe if he still wanted it next year I would reconsider.  My argument fell on deaf ears.  “It’s Christmas time, Carinn!  Come on!”

It’s not that I don’t want my kids to have nice things, but I want them to appreciate them.  I want them to know the value of a dollar.  I want them to cherish time and family and experiences over “things.”  Thankfully on Christmas I witnessed all that and more.  My kids were thrilled with their presents.  They hugged and said thank you and showed off their interests with unbridled excitement.

Merry Christmas

If Gavin missed the Viper he never showed it.  He was so happy all day playing with his sister, baby cousin, and beloved grandparents.  After the kids napped, the rain cleared, and the sun came out – hours after the Christmas morning frenzy died down – we told him there was just one more gift waiting outside.

The look on his face was absolutely priceless. He couldn’t contain his joy.

He even stopped and smiled for a picture, which he NEVER does anymore.

Despite the freezing weather, he rode around all day that day and the next and the next until the battery needed charging.

Of course you know what happened at 9pm on Christmas Eve?  There was a last minute run to Toys R Us twenty miles away to get Chloe a younger and much cheaper car equivalent.

You cannot imagine how much she loved this crazy thing

It was a holiday of highlights and proud moments.    All my fears of him throwing a fit because he didn’t get everything he asked for, my worry that I would be “ruining” Christmas if I didn’t buy the car he wanted, my concern that I was raising spoiled brats did not come true.  They are really good, funny, polite, not-spoiled, sweet kids.   I cherished every moment watching them with such love.  And then decided I no longer* want two more (this parenting thing is expensive!).

(*this is subject to change at various times of the month.)

Hoping you had a wonderful holiday with loved ones!

15 thoughts on “I Guess I’m Doing Alright As A Mother

  1. I put my camera on just my oldest daughter when she got to that ONE BOX. And she did not disappoint. Even her twelveness couldn’t contain her glee. At the same time, I still want to teach them the value of money, that these things are just things and that the time we spent just eating together and laughing before opening gifts means more than any pair of tennis shoes or purse or gadget. I don’t want them to know specifically that I didn’t pay all of the electric bill (or the water or the gas or, ok, nothing — but that’s not any different outside of Christmas) but I do want them to know we made sacrifices. I’m glad that our kids haven’t figured out that the water has been cut off or that we were using space heaters (just this year) when the gas was turned off. At the same time, I kinda want to tell them so that they understand (life?) a little better.

    I’m glad your son liked the car; I know the look on his face was worth it. For what it’s worth, neither of my parents listen to me about what not to buy my kids. (Also, I still want one more.)

    • How do you consistently crack me up with your comments? I’ll tell you, I was very aware of the sacrifices my parents made and it made me appreciate every little thing even more. They never made me feel like I was carrying any of their burden but I was aware of money from a young age.

      I love that you caught your girl in all her glory. Those moments make it all worth it.

      • OK so I am embarrassed to admit this (and also slightly tipsy, sshhhh), but: my oldest is seemingly immune to the sacrifices so I specifically say immature things like “I can’t believe I just spent $90 in Macy’s. That was grocery money.” It’s true (oh, damn, is it true) but I don’t really want her to know that. OK, no, wait, I do. I want her to know it, but I want her to glean it, not have me ram it into her eyes with “look! Look! That cute jacket? THAT’S YOUR EGGS FOR THE NEXT THREE DAYS UNTIL I’M PAID AGAIN.”

  2. Proud moments, indeed! Well done, Carinn! I tend to hold the reigns tightly also and appreciate that my husband helps me let go. If it were only up to me, I never would I have gotten our 9 yo yet another American Girl doll for the same reasons you described. My husband was the voice of reason, and I’m grateful I was willing to listen. I don’t need to control everything (much as I’d like to) – my kids are wonderful, kind, creative human beings who know what they want – what a gift! Now about your mom … my mom didn’t buy us a lot of stuff growing up, but she sure has a lot of ideas on all the stuff my kids should/shouldn’t have! What’s up with that?! Great piece (as always). Happy New Year!

    • Thank you Mary. I guess Christmas is a fair time to loosen those reigns (I hold them tight too). But being aware of your kids instead of depriving them just for the sake of depriving is probably a better parenting style. Happy New Year to you too!

  3. Just precious. And after witnessing my 16 year old niece having a fit because her parents wouldn’t buy her $300 worth of Lululemon clothing on the spot (they planned on getting it for her for Xmas), I emphasized to my husband how we have to make sure our son doesn’t grow up as a spoiled brat!

  4. It is so funny what happens to the most frugal or strict adults when they become grandparents – lol! All of a sudden, kids can do no wrong and “need” expensive gifts. It’s kind of a beautiful thing though, it’s a grandparents reward for surviving raising their own kinds, they get to spoil and enjoy grandchildren! I grew up really poor as well so I understand your hesitation and wanting to make sure your kids have manners and are grateful for whatever they get. You’re such a good mom, extra big holiday gifts won’t ruin all the work you do all the rest of the year :) Glad you guys had such an awesome x-mas!

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