I deprive myself of basic things that most people don’t think twice about. I tell myself that I deprive myself because money is tight. Or it just isn’t necessary. But I would LOVE to stop wearing maternity pants and have some clothes that fit me. Or Bras, or moisturizer that promises beautiful skin or makeup that hides my dark undereye circles. These are not necessarily luxuries. I mean, if I lived in the slums in
South America, I would hardly be worried about these things, but they are not the same as $500 shoes or a $10,000 piece of jewelry. But then I think they kind of are.
Every day I choose between deprivation and indulgence. I seem to choose indulgence only when the reward is fleeting, like having a $15 lunch. If I told Ben that I needed some cash for bras that fit my post-baby boobs, he would surly help me out. But I would rather not ask him, and then spend the rest of my day feeling bitter that I can’t go out and get them. Not being fully exposed, nipples and all, every time the kid yanks on my neckline is not really something that I should feel is an indulgence. As that one comedian said “How can ‘instantly improve vision’ not be at the top of your priorities?” And yet, it isn’t. So obviously silly and yet so true. It just isn’t.
It is a strange “neurotic deprivation” and I want to know why I do it.
When I was younger my mother never needed anything fancy. She used generic maxi pads. She used whatever lotion happened to be in the house. She bought pantyhose and earrings at the dollar store. She was not a fancy woman. And yet, every so often, I would hear her arguing with my father and saying things like “Can’t I just have anything nice?...Don’t I deserve something special once in a while?”
I never understood this. We were not poverty stricken. Money was tight but we always had a roof and food and enough to have fun outings. My mother worked and would take me shopping when she got paid and spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothes and toys that would only see daylight once or twice.
I used to call her “the martyr”- always making sacrifices just so that she could complain about them and have everyone feel that she was a Goddamned hero. It made me crazy. I used to drag her into the Women’s clothing sections of fancy department stores and try to force her to spend $30 on a shirt. But she acted just as happy with a $10 one from Kmart….most of the time…
But then there would be a stressful day or my dad would forget Mother’s Day (again) and my mother would get hysterical and I would see that she felt deprived. True, it was often her choice to live like that. In the moment, she felt that she would rather take care of us than take care of herself. But wasn’t she entitled to her own care? If she always gave up nice stuff so that we could have things, who was giving things up for her?
But in truth, it’s deeper than this. I could see it all the time. She walked around like she didn’t deserve to have nice things. Because it was us or her. And we always won. But then she somehow knew that she did. She felt like she was missing out. All the time. She didn’t take care of herself because she had no pride in herself, she showed her pride through me. She loved me more than herself. And even more so she just didn’t give herself things. My Dad wasn’t going to do it. Why didn’t she realize this sooner? Why did she sit around waiting for someone to do it for her?
Is this the curse of motherhood for me?
Am I just doing what I think “being a mom” is all about? Deprivation, resentment and finally reaching a breaking point? Do I think I have to prove my love by not caring about myself? Or is it more than this even?
Because I think it is.