Call it my cheap Asian genes, but I have a hard time actually using the things I buy especially if I got a good deal on it. After all, who knows when I’ll get such a good deal again? So, I have lots of perfume, candles, and lotions, etc. that I have yet to open because I find the item “too precious” to use. This has even carried over into the things I have bought specifically for the children. I have hoards and hoards of stickers that I am reluctant to break out and let the kids use because they’ll just blow through fifty of them and stick it on their shirts and then throw them away almost immediately.
The other day, however, it was rainy and I was cranky and tired. So, I broke down and handed my kids an entire bag with hundreds of stickers in them. Cookie Monster and Gamera were practically ripping them out of my hands. I want to say they went through at least twenty to thirty stickers each. The kids had a grand old time placing the stickers all over their clothes, their hands, their feet, their faces, their cars – basically any surface they could conceivably stick a sticker, they stuck it.
I was mentally calculating how many stickers we had left when all of a sudden, I realized something. What was the point of even having the stickers if my kids didn’t use and enjoy them? Who cares if ten, twenty, or sixty minutes later, they are hung over on stickers and I have to pick them off their clothes when they take a bath so they’re not unintentionally ironed onto their clothes after a trip through the washer and dryer? I have them playing with stickers that I have kept since I was a child. SINCE I WAS A CHILD.
Let’s take a look at that statement. How sad! I was so scared of “wasting” these stickers that I never got to enjoy them! They were stuck in an envelope for decades until I finally bit the bullet and let my kids run rampant through them. The stickers were finally being used for their sticker-y purpose. Can you imagine if these stickers had sentience and wanted to be used for their very stickerness and I just benched them for decades? Some had lost their stickiness due to the cruelties of time! The ephemeral nature of stickers didn’t mean they were wasted when my kids used them as they were meant to be used. The stickers were only truly wasted when I stuck them in a drawer, too scared to enjoy them.
I know. Stickers don’t really have feelings. But my kids do. How awful if I ended up teaching my kids that stickers were to be hoarded and shoved in a drawer somewhere because they were afraid. Afraid that we would run out of stickers and no longer have the means to procure more stickers. Afraid that enjoying something would be wasteful. That somehow, we were made for these stickers instead of these stickers being made for us.
Every time I cringe that Cookie Monster and Gamera leave bits of dried up play doh all over the floor (other than the fact that I hate cleaning up smushed play doh) because now we have less play doh and it’s wasteful to lose it is living life as if resources were scarce and hard to come by. Every time I get annoyed that Cookie Monster is smashing his cars together and playing and having a raucous good time, I am buying into the lie that nice things are to be set apart and not enjoyed and used.
What’s the point of having toy cars if not to be played as toy cars? Or play doh? Or stickers? Or anything?
How often do I play this out in my own life? Not wearing nice jewelry, my favorite perfume, or clothes because it’s not a “special occasion.” Or saving that fancy chocolate or cake or something yummy until a more appropriate time only to have it rot? Somehow, I’ve got it in my head that using lovely items as they are meant to be used is wasteful and extravagant – when truly, what is wasteful and extravagant is not using items as they are meant to be used!
Before I met Hapa Papa, I used to save my favorite parts of the meal for last. I would eat my cheeseburgers in a circle, eating all the parts where it was just bread so I could end up in the juicy middle where all the pickles and toppings and deliciousness was. Well, one day, Hapa Papa wanted to try my burger and instead of eating it like a normal human being (in a spiral towards the middle), he took a huge chunk out of the center where it was most concentrated awesomeness. I was livid. He was confused. He said, “I assumed you didn’t like that part of the burger because you were avoiding it. I thought if you wanted it, you would’ve eaten it already.”
Once, Hapa Papa snapped up a piece of bacon I’d been saving and when confronted, fed me that same stupid line about him thinking I didn’t want it. Exasperated, I yelled, “WHO DOESN’T WANT BACON?” He said I was stupid to save it since I knew he would steal it so it was my own fault.
Because he did this to me so often (and I was, apparently, a really slow learner), I finally started to eat the things I liked first out of self-preservation. My stomach was transformed. Too many times I had first eaten all the things I didn’t like only to end up being too full to enjoy the parts I did like. No more! If I wanted dessert first, by golly, I’d eat it first. No more delaying gratification until an uncertain future (especially with Hapa Papa around). It was time to be bold and savor what I loved when I wanted vs consuming my food with the fear that I would run out of yummy things to eat.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean we should all be extravagant and blow through our stash of nice things just because we can. But we are also missing something if all we do is hoard things and not use them due to fear of running out. I am certainly not advocating a “Feast or Famine” type of lifestyle. I am, however, encouraging us to indulge in more of what we love without guilt or fear.
As a SAHM, I am often tempted to put off the things I want for a better time. Let me be perfectly frank. There will never be a better time.
Go ahead and eat that chocolate you’ve been hiding from the kids (even if it means you have to steal away to the bathroom to do it). After all, you never know when the kids will find it and tear through it before you even have the chance to rescue a crumb. Or as luck would have it, a million ants discover it first and render all that lovely chocolate inedible. I confess. I have eaten the chocolate anyway. Isn’t chocolate covered ants a thing?