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Friday, March 8, 2013

An Attack of Mommy Guilt

Today I went out and bought myself the ExerSaucer Triple Fun Life in the Amazon (shortened to Triple Jungle for obvious reasons!). This was not a planned purchase. This was the mommy-anxiety-induced-impulse-buy that marketing professionals dream of. In other words, I bought it because I felt guilty.

There are so many advertisements out there with hinting lines, tailored specifically to make the parent feel like they aren't doing enough (and that buying the product would fix that). Think about it. Commercials are full of one liners like "Doesn't your baby deserve the best?", "We want your family to feel safe, do you?", "She's more precious than anything to you, why don't you show her how much?". Why don't they just go ahead and say it: "We know you think you're an average parent, why don't you buy our junk so you can feel like you made an impact?"

I have never been a supporter of advertising that makes a parent feel like they aren't doing enough, and usually I'm strong enough to shrug off the passive-aggressive pitches. But today I got hit from a different angle while I was taking a survey about my financial security. The survey itself didn't actually ask whether my purchases had been for baby, but one line asking about "extra" purchases stuck with me. I realized that we no longer have extra purchases. We just can't afford them. My job sadly pays very little (I saw a total of $95 in the last two months, and expenses that are about three times that). And with my husband's paycheck getting eaten up each month by our bills, it's all we can do to make it most months.

I happened to look over at that moment and see my little girl sitting in her homemade quilt in her second hand bouncy seat. I was hit hard with a wave of guilt - my son had gotten new toys and anything and everything he wanted. As a grandchild he got spoiled beyond belief. And without any major expenses at that time (and two solid incomes), my husband and I gave him some sort of treat almost weekly. I got a sad image in my head of a little girl that had never had a new toy, who wasn't as smart as the first child because she hadn't been given all the educational toys, who was raggedy and holding a used teddy bear... well you get the point. In a moment of weakness I thought up a sob story.

Now this may have been building for a while or this may have truly just been a one-snap breaking point for me, I just don't know. But what I do know is that I ran out of the house and zipped my credit card through the scanner at the Toys R Us before my husband could say anything! By the time I got it unpacked and put together, I was calmed down... and disappointed when my daughter batted at one of the toys and promptly fell asleep. Not that falling asleep isn't a good thing, but after all my frenzy, I had expected something... more.

I know I'm not the first parent to fall prey to a guilt-induced shopping spree on behalf of their children, and I'm sure I won't be the last. (Heck, it's probably not even my last.) But the way I see it, feeling guilty about making an impulse buy isn't any better than feeling guilty about not buying her something. So I've made peace with my kind-of-bad-decision, and I'm hoping that the resale value stays up until she grows out of it. Plus it helps that she's been fast asleep for the past hour and a half. Hmmm... maybe it's a toy for parents...


  1. I have the Fun Life in the Amazon play mat...for exactly the same reasons... and she promptly ignored it for almost two months before it finally became the coolest thing in the world.

  2. Aren't babies funny like that? I'm glad to hear that your little one finally loved it though ;D