Monday, July 28, 2008

Motherhood in the Country of Consumption

Motherhood in this country is making women neurotic.  I think I can make that statement with some objectivity too, because I have been to another country in the past few weeks to witness motherhood on foreign soil.

The more women I meet world wide, the more I'm convinced that We are super sizing our lives to the breaking point.

Women in Bermuda seem happy with their lives, despite the fact that they live in tiny homes, drive compact cars and spend $15 on a $4 watermelon & $4 on a cheap loaf of bread that costs Us $1.10.  So, what do they do different from us?  For starters, they don't buy things they don't need, they don't over pack for a day trip to the park, and they don't buy excess groceries because it's not practical, or even realistic, to waste food.  When I think about how much food I throw away, it kills me.  Either as leftovers or rotten produce, I would estimate I throw awaya minimum of $10 of food a week.  I don't know about you, but I could use that $520 a year to put into my retirement account.  I bet a lot of women could use the extra money, and yet, none of us really seem interested in saving it.

Take Dee of example.  She lives in a gorgeous neighborhood, in a nice but not overly large home, in one of the most prestigious school districts in the state, and all she talks about is more.  More space, more yard, more neighborhood, more deck, more car, more needs and more money.  And less weight.  My wish for Dee would be that she wakes up tomorrow is happy with all that she has, and instead of living in the "want-mode", she would spend a little more time parenting her unruly children.  I blame Pottery Barn Kids, LL Bean, J.Crew, Disney, McGolden Moo and the Va Lottery for her want-mode.

Yes, LL has to share some of the blame for constantly sending catalogs full of wants to her home.  No, she doesn't need anything from LL, we live in the temperate climate of Richmond, not the wilds of Alaska or Maine.  Never the less, she browses, peruses and purchases from these catalogs.  Nor does she need designer clothes from J, or a 7 night cruise to D, but society tells her she needs these things.  She believes and so she spends money she doesn't have acquiring the needed symbols.  Like GirlScout badges on a vest, we collect souvenirs from our pilgrimages to D and LL and even the golden Moo, and proudly display them throughout our stuffed homes, on our feet, and as for the Moo? Well while our kids play with their Cheery Meal Toys from China, we wear the Moo on our bodies as excess.

The same marketing campaigns that are telling our kids that they need fruit by the foot and pop tarts for scholarly success are informing us that our kids need these things for self esteem to fit in with their peers.  I'm sure that most American adults remember pieces of their childhoods where they wanted something because everyone else had it.  Ranging from Fruit Rolls Ups all the way up to the Illusive Cabbage Patch Dolls.  Now we are a society of "can't say no" to our children.  If that isn't enough to make you neurotic, consider this:  Our behavior is producing an entire generation of "want-mode" children who will grow into "must have" adults.  

While I think it's time for all mothers to take a stand against over consuming, I somehow doubt it can happen.  Over consumption feeds on itself, and until I decide to homeschool my kids (doubtful given I'm not that organized), go vegan and eat granola, I'm not even sure I can tame my own super-sized lifestyle.  I guess if i could make a pact and stick to a plan that would ensure that I "Stopped Consuming Unneeded Items", I might save a few dollars, do some good for the environment, lose a pound, or maybe, just maybe, I could feel a little more in control of my life and a little less neurotic.

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