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Why am I so cheap with myself?


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I am plenty willing to spend "kilobucks" for my oldest to compete in gymnastics. I am also willing to get him music lessons soon. But yet I have a hard time bringing myself to spend $40-100 per month for me to do my hobbies. We can afford it, yet I still hesitate.


As best as I can figure, it might be related to my childhood. My parents had plenty of money, but made me pay for soccer with my own money. I could afford that, but I couldn't afford private music lessons or an instrument better quality than the beginner one they bought me in 4th grade. As a result, by 9th grade I wasn't making any more progress on my instrument (the band teacher was flaky and those that continued to improve had private lessons and/or better quality instruments) and I quit after 10th grade.


I know my parents were trying to teach me to work for money, and they did provide money making opportunities. I just wonder if it somehow resulted in me being cheap with myself, even though I spend money on the kids and encourage DH to take music lessons.

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When our emergency savings were low, hubby and I were reluctant to spend on ourselves. After we have more savings, I did kind of budget fun money to splurge on myself. So I could spend on some wants like ice cream for myself without money worries.

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I think it's a common "mom" thing, but it's also seen in any relationship involving a primary caregiver with certain personality traits. To me, it's mostly about personality and position. And those are subtly influenced by childhood experiences, which undeniably come into play throughout our adult lives.


My MIL has this personality. She's dedicated her life and resources to her husband and children. She will deny having had any interests of her own; she'd say her interests were her children and nurturing THEIR interests. And I believe her! She's not one to feel deprived that her own interests and needs were pushed aside (for decades). But she's now in her 60s and finally making time for long dormant interests. And her family thinks she's having a mid-life crisis or mental breakdown, so they're holding private meetings about "what to do" because it's so foreign an idea to them that she'd have her own interests outside of ... THEM! Meanwhile, I have more ceramic doodads and knit pot holders than I know what to do with - with no end in sight! In a way, she has gone a bit nuts - maybe making up for lost time? LOL She's trying to do EVERYTHING and EVERY HOBBY she ever had a (self-quashed) interest in. Fortunately she doesn't know about Pinterest. Yet ...


I do not have this personality. All of my kids are deeply involved in extra curricular activities - most of them do competitive sports which take up a lot of time and money. My hobby is painting, which takes up a lot of time and physical space, and isn't something I can easily do "on the go" during their practices or games.  None of my kids share my interest, but at some point all have spent time in my studio painting alongside (or posing for) me. I participate in art shows that sometimes conflict with the kids' schedules. It's hard - and most of the time I'd rather attend their stuff than participate in my own. But not every time. It's been good for them to see that I'm a person with my own interests JUST LIKE THEM. I'm not a robot without interests that excite or ignite me! When I'm working on a piece, they share (and relate to) my emotional highs and lows. It is my joy and honor to be their mother, but it is my mother's joy and honor that I am (still) Gidge.


Both my parents had life long hobbies, and I appreciate the example they set for us: becoming a spouse or parent is a priority but doesn't (and shouldn't) mean losing oneself to the role. In fact, in balance it can be more beneficial for family roles and almost certainly beneficial for one's own emotional health and growth. I think there's a wide spectrum ranging from martyrdom to selfishness (we all know a parent who neglects the kids to pursue an interest at the expense of his or her family). I think the overwhelming majority of us fall somewhere in between - even my MIL.


If you have an eye at moving more towards the middle of the spectrum, I hope you go for it! You're worth it - and it may be worthwhile for your family, too!  :hurray:




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Take a pass on the psychoanalysis and just go do something fun and interesting for yourself. Who really cares at this point in your life why you feel reluctant to spend a bit of money on yourself. Just do it and see how you enjoy it. If you find out that you'd rather keep the cash and stay home or be a taxi driver for your kid, then at least you know you aren't missing something you'd rather be doing.

Edited by wintermom
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