It's no secret that when you get married and start having a family, you sacrifice many things. Free time, your body, discretionary income. This Christmas will be the fourth my husband and I have celebrated together. The first year, we were engaged, planning a wedding and had his two kiddos to buy gifts for. Needless to say, we never even thought to get each other any gifts. Not even a small, homeade gift. This tradition seemed to continue, as we both found ourselves taking a pay cut over the next, we had another baby and money seemed to always be tight. Birthdays, our anniversaries, and more Christmases would pass, without even the mere mention of gifts.
I never really thought much about it, until this year. We are making more money these days and able to pay our bills and have money leftover. However, there is always something that needs to be paid for, new coats for the kids, debt to be paid down, the list goes on and on. As I was budgetting for the month of December, I told my husband that this year, we are going to do something for each other for Christmas. So we decided that instead of buying each other a gift, we were going to give ourselves a much needed, much anticipated, no-kid, dress-up night out on the town, complete with a hotel room. We never do things like that. We've never been to a restaurant together that cost more than about $10 a plate. We've never just gone somewhere just to stay in a hotel. We didn't even have a honeymoon. This seemed like a good idea, a great night of memories to last us for a few months until our next night out, which doesn't really happen all that often.
I was so excited about this and so was my husband. He had planned on surprising me, picking out a restaurant in advance, checking us into the hotel and having my bag there and ready to go. We have been talking about it for days, so excited about spending a real, planned, pricey night out that we've haven't had in four years.
As the days get closer, I find myself having anxiety. I find more and more things we "need," as I always do, that can't seem to wait until later. I find myself beginning to feel guilty about spending money on ourselves. I told my husband that maybe we should just do a cheap dinner and movie, something less extravagant. Normally, he'd tell me "OK, that's fine with me." This time, he looked at me and said, "Why are we always the ones who get the shaft when you look over the budget? Why is our time, our gifts, not important, even one time a year? We work so hard for the money we make, yet we never do anything for each other, it seems like just this one time of year, we could find a way to pull money from something else or just wait on getting stuff you think we have to have right now."
That really stopped me in my tracks. I began to wonder if I was the only mother like this. Surely, I am not. I am not the only mother who thinks that any bit of discretionary income shouldn't go to myself. I sacrifice, even when I don't have to sacrifice. It's one thing if you have a choice of say, a night out with your husband or a new coat for your child. That's not even a choice. It's a clear need. But I will find myself spending money on things for the house, for the kids, like an extra pair of shoes that are cute for them, and find myself with shoes that are falling apart.
I am not one of those sacrificial mothers, am I? Those mothers who give everything they have to the "cause" of children? I hope I am not, but lately, as I look in the mirror at a woman, with clothes that barely fit, shoes that need to be replaced, toenails that are halfway painted and who is ready to give up her one and only true night-out-on-the-town this year with her husband, I can't help but wonder just how far into this "sacrificial motherhood" thing I am going to go before I realize that the only person asking me to sacrifice the things I need and want is me.
No one is asking me to give up things. My family wants for nothing. I will spend $40 an something new for the house, but think it's a waste of money to spend $20 on a pedicure. I started thinking more and more about this and realizing how incredibly ridiculous it was that I had this mindset. So, I am changing it. I am not saying I need to go nuts. But I am saying I am going to enjoy that $50 steak, that $10 martini, and that hotel room as much as a hard-working mother should, guilt-free. I think ultimately, that is really a small price to pay.
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