Growing up my mom always made sure that we had clothing from trendy stores if we wanted it. She grew up very poor and as a result endured a lot of teasing from her classmates over her often ill-fitting and out of style hand-me-downs. It meant a lot to her to save us from that.
In the early years of my childhood, while my mother was still in college and we were surviving on one income, my mom provided us with these things through personal sacrifice. If buying that brand name pair of shoes for myself or my sister meant she would have to wear an old pair of sneakers for a while or buy a cheap pair she found on clearance, that’s what she would do.
Time and time again I watched my mother put her own needs second. It is a reality that must have crawled beneath my skin and embedded itself in my brain because until the last six months of my children’s life I have adopted the same practice. Except, in my case, it is not so much driven by our finances as it is the belief that what I give to my children should always be better than what I give to myself.
Without a second thought I will spend top dollar for a new pair of brand name jeans or pay extra for the shoes that light up for Anders and Danica, but when shopping for myself I stick to the clearance rack. Even then I still cringe a little when swiping my card at the register. It always feels oddly self-indulgent. As if by spending money on myself I am somehow taking it from my kids.
A few months ago, I decided to attend a conference, an occasion where I would be meeting lots of new people and one in which I wanted to look my best. When I went to my closet to figure out what I should pack I realized for the first time just how much I had neglected my personal appearance.
What I found hanging in there was a dozen identical v-neck cotton t-shirts I purchased on sale, a few pairs of yoga pants, a handful of dresses that hadn’t been in style since I was in college, and two pairs of jeans that looked like they had been drug behind the back of a truck.
I turned away from my closet and looked in the mirror. My roots were out of control, my eye brows were a real situation, and my nails hadn’t been manicured since my senior prom. Enough was enough. I left the children with my husband. I booked a hair and nail appointment and I took a trip to the mall.
For once I ignored that nagging feeling that I was doing my children a disservice by spending money on myself and I was surprised to learn that my self-esteem plays a big role in the way that I mother. I feel better about myself when I’m taking care of my appearance and when my mood is lifted I feel more like playing with my children, like taking them out to the park instead of sitting in our living room.
Anyone else struggle with feelings of guilt when you splurge on a new outfit or manicure? Do you feel like your self-esteem and well-being affects the way you parent?