Friday, July 8, 2011

Turning 2 and Mommy-Guilt

Maybe you've heard of that new TLC (of course) show, "Outrageous Kids' Parties".  It's where TLC finds a different genre of bottom-dwellers to showcase and mock, in this case, parents so affluent and entitled that they throw their grade-school children birthday parties costing tens of thousands of dollars (more than many of us spent on our weddings).

It is in conflict with this "anything for my baby" cultural mindset that I presently find myself.  See, I went birthday shopping for my son the other day.  I got all his presents in one big trip.

I spent $60.

Now, that's not as the result of any sort of budget I set for myself.  If I had seen more that I would have liked to get him, I would have gotten it.

But, and I know every cheapo mom says this, my son honestly already has everything.  I don't have a big enough house to buy him many more toys.

Now, I'm cringing as I look back at how much I overbought for his first birthday, and this past Christmas.  Wanting him to have everything his little heart desires, I bought him two big presents on his birthday:  a play workbench, and a spring-horse.  He loves them both dearly and plays with both of them multiple times a day, but I could have stretched those presents out some.  Honestly, he's not going to outgrow either any time soon, and would it have really hurt to wait to give him the workbench until, I don't know, he was at least walking well on his own?

And, as much as I hate feeling like I went cheap on his birthday, I'm not going to buy him things just to buy him things.  He already has a plethora of toys in all his favorite categories:  instruments, books, stuffed animals, things like light up and play music, Tonka trucks.

And I'm not going to overspend on things he doesn't care about.  My son is turning 2, and he couldn't care less about brand names, or whether something is secondhand.  So why buy the flashy stuff?  So I can somehow make myself feel all mommier-than-thou?

To give you an idea of how I spent for his birthday, let me give you the rundown of my shopping trip:

First things first, I knew I had to go to Toys 'R Us.  There was only one gift I was absolutely sure I had to get my son, and that was an age-appropriate toy space shuttle.  The kid is obssessed with "rockets", and will watch endless videos of shuttle launches, doing the countdown along with mission control.  One of his favorite phrases is "Blast off!"

Let me tell you something...Most space and astronomy-related toys are for middle school kids or older, not toddlers.  Finally, on a shelf towards the back of the store, I found a fully-stocked facing of a Fisher-Price LittlePeople space shuttle.  I honestly think I was the first person to buy any of them.  Even better, it plays rocket noises, and comes with an astronaut and moon-rover.  It was also under 20 bucks.  Baller.

I looked around some more, but nothing really grabbed me.  A collection of die-cast "Cars 2" matchbox cars caught my eye, but I remembered that my son didn't care if his toy cars were made by Disney or not, so I decided to hold out for some generics.

It was a good thing I didn't spring for the "Cars 2" cars, because when I made my purchase of the shuttle and left, I found something even better at my next stop, Kid to Kid.

In case you didn't see my full interview with them, Kid to Kid is this awesome, family owned consignment shop.  It's also right near Toys 'R Us, so you barely have to drive across the parking lot to save crazy amounts of money.

Sure enough, one of the first things I found in Kid to Kid was a small set of matchbox vehicles for $3.  Even better, they were tough, boy things, like construction equipment, and a scale model of my son and my husband's favorite monster truck, the Gravedigger.  So you know I snatched that up.

In the same section of the store, I grabbed a set of little rubber dinosaurs, also for $3.  (Seriously, imagine anything stereotypically little boy, rockets, dinos, trucks, etc., and my son loves it.)  There was a nifty construction equipment peg puzzle I picked up as well, and a new Zhu-zhu pet (looking like the original owners had never even taken it out of the packaging) for my niece who had lost hers.  I went ahead and grabbed some much-needed clothes as well, figuring we'll just let him open those first at his party and get the boring stuff out of the way.

So...that's how I ended up only spending $60 on my son's birthday.  And while I know that I'm being practical and that there's no reason to spend money unnecessarily, I do sometimes feel the pressure of "mompetition".

:sigh:  Whatever.  I'll save my money for when he's a teenager and wants a specific brand of holo-phone, or whatever will be the thing then.

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