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?
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