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Recession Over? Still No Spas or Salons for Some Moms

By Meredith Carroll |

Spa treatments

Would you choose a facial for yourself over a month of ballet lessons for your daughter?

Lately it seems the headlines are blaring “Recession Over!” and I keep waiting to hear a scratchy old phonograph blaring, “We’re In the Money,” while people skipping in the street yell, “23 Skidoo!” although neither has happened yet.

We’ve been in recession mode for over three years, and while we were in the thick of it, it never seemed as if we’d go back to where we were before, as if the rubber band being stretched, stretched and stretched some more would never regain it’s original elasticity. Even as news that the country was in recovery mode emerged, not much felt different. If the ATM was supposed to start dispensing a bonus $20 bill with every withdrawal, credit card offers in the mail were supposed to start tucking a little something extra in the envelope or restaurants were supposed to start paying us to come inside and eat, apparently no one told them.

The reality seems to be that even if we can relax a little more about money, we’re still very tense about the state of the economy. If anything feels different, it’s that talking heads and pundits keep telling us the recession is over, and now all of the things we put aside for fear of the unknown during the recession are piling up in front of us with their hand out, waiting to be fed.

When I was single and living in New York, I used to go to a neighborhood salon every week or two for a pedicure and sometimes a manicure. The money I spent was negligible and the reward of being pampered seemed priceless. I look back on those days now green with envy.

These days I get pedicures once or twice a year, and only when my husband presents me with a gift certificate for our anniversary or Mother’s Day, because the reality is that I can’t imagine being so frivolous as to spend any money on me on something I don’t need.

It’s no joke that raising a child can drain your bank account faster than you can blink. And I’d rather ensure my kids are provided for, and pampered, before I take or do anything for myself. The vast majority of my life has been childless, and now that I’m a mom, I sort of feel like one of the goals of having children is to provide them with as good a life as possible. I wish we were in a position to spread the love around, like dance and music classes for my daughter and a date night once a week for my husband and me — not to mention starting contributions to our retirement funds once again.

But one date night can also be an entire month of gymnastics. And with those occasional “double-dip recession” whispers in our ear, we’re just not willing to chance that our entire family can start living the high life. Besides, isn’t being a parent about making sacrifices? I might not be able to cook as well as a chef at a restaurant, but I guarantee the service in my dining room is better, and if nothing else, I can shop at the supermarket with a little more ease than last year at this time.

I’m just looking forward to the day when maybe I can wait for my daughter’s dance class to be over at a salon while someone is fussing over my nails. I just know that it’s going to have to be based on my timetable and economic forecasts, not those of the TV anchors or newspaper editorial boards.

Do you feel like your family has bounced back from the recession?

Image: Creative Commons

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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Recession Over? Still No Spas or Salons for Some Moms

  1. Meagan says:

    “And I’d rather ensure my kids are provided for, and pampered, before I take or do anything for myself.”

    I really disagree with this. Pampering kids is not necessarily the best way to provide for them. What does it say to a child if you do everything in your power to give them what they want… To the deprivation of themselves? By all means, if you are struggling to put food on the table, maybe it’s a parents job to eat half rations for a while to give the kids adequate calories, but if it comes down to dance class and alone time for mom and dad? Totally different life balance. A date night is one of the top recommended ways to keep a marital relationship healthy with kids. On the other hand, in all likelihood, your daughter is not gearing up to attend Juliard on a dance scholarship. Which do you think is ultimately going to benifit your daughter more: a couple years of ballet classes, or mom and dad having a strong healthy relationship?

  2. Meagan says:

    I meant “yourself” not “themselves.”

  3. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Meagan — Thanks for commenting. It’s a choice we’re making — I don’t think sending my daughter to dance class is pampering her — I think when we decided to become parents, we knew that meant we wanted to provide a good and fulfilling life for our children, even if that meant making our own sacrifices. We do have a strong relationship, which is based partly on the satisfaction of raising having happy, well-rounded kids.

  4. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Meagan — I hear you, but this is a choice we’re making at this point. And we don’t feel as if we’re suffering as a result. It’s not like we’re indulging anyone shamelessly, either, just trying to provide what we think parents should. We still find time for ourselves, we just try to make it not cost a whole lot of money.

  5. Meagan says:

    “the satisfaction of raising having happy, well-rounded kids.” Who think their wants should
    come between everyone elses needs?

    I’m not questioning the strength of your relationship, or even insisting that providing your kids with dance lessons is the wrong thing to do. I just have a problem with the idea that in order for kids to grow up happy and healthy we have to protect their interests at all costs. Kids are a part of a family, and when the family is on hard times its ok for them to ALSO have to make sacrifices. If you assume that your kids will also someday be parents, isn’t it good to model that it’s ok to sometimes take care or your own needs? Or is your wish for them to run themselves ragged to send their kid to astronaut camp, when they haven’t been able to afford a night out in over a year?

    Of course everyone wants to give their kids everything. I just think you need to take care of yourself TOO.

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Babble Strollerderby and Jim Brotherton, Meredith C. Carroll. Meredith C. Carroll said: Recession over: Spas and Salons or Ballet and Soccer? [...]

  7. Rosana says:

    My kids are only 1 and 3 years old and not spoiled with gifts. I pamper them with my love. I read to them, watch movies with them, give them baths, cook with my son, go out and have fun with them. Like you, I only get pedicures when my husband gives me a gift certificate for Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc. and makes an appointment for me, but not because I have to choose between spoiling my children or myself but because I am so busy that I forget to stop and make an appointment.

  8. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Rosana — Who said I was pampering with gifts (I don’t actually believe it lots of gifts, even at birthdays or the holidays), or that bathing, reading and cuddling children meant I couldn’t also provide opportunities for them? We spend most of our days reading, playing and hanging out, but I don’t pat myself on the back for any of that, or for bathing a child — those are my duties as a parent! I’ve never considered providing extras for my children as “spoiling” them — I think it’s only considered spoiling if they don’t appreciate it or are brats, which mine are most certainly not. We’re thrilled and proud to be able to provide opportunities, which was one of our goals becoming parents — to provide a nice, well-rounded life for our children.

  9. Gretchen Powers says:

    I think its normal to shift priorities from when one is young and single after one gets married and has kids. I used to go to very expensive celebrity gym before I met my husband, who talked me into quitting to help save for our home. I used to get massages every month, now I get them for free from my husband. I think it just really depends how much money you have to burn and your personality. I think all members of the family deserve little treats when they are affordable. I was pondering preschool for my kid next year, telling my husband I really could handle just having her around all day, she’s very easy to manage, etc. and we could save some money, but in the end, preschool is GOOD for her and worth the money. Not that preschool is a “treat” but…everyone has to decide where their money is best spent.

  10. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Gretchen — I agree.

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