I have always been frugal, some might even say thrifty or cheap. I don't like to squander money, and feel a sense of comfort when my credit card balance sparkles green and my bank account balance is a number greater than my age. My favorite places to shop are discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, and regardless of where I shop, I always gravitate towards the sale racks.
At first glance, you'd never guess any of these things about me. When I sit down next to my son at the park and pull a baby wipe out of my Louis Vuitton, you'll make a passing judgment about me. And, because I'm a stay-at-home mom, your assumptions will include one or all of the following:
- I'm carrying a fake;
- I married rich; or,
- I am financially irresponsible in the shopaholic Rebecca Bloomwood kind-of-way and, therefore, am carrying a significant amount of credit card debt.
In all three assumptions, you would be wrong.
However, you're not wrong for raising your eyebrows at my bag. After all, as a stay-at-home mom, doing my taxes is a breeze: all arrows point to zero. So it really is a wonder why I'm sporting a handbag that comes with a price tag that gives the phrase 'sticker shock' a whole new meaning.
I have a few material prized possessions. They all have one thing in common: they didn't just fall into my lap as luxurious gifts from boyfriends past. While my fellow Generation Yers were out spending money on alcohol and club cover in their early 20s, I was diligently saving a small portion of my modest teacher salary to splurge on my first designer bag. When the baby came along, I had to decide whether I would be trading in my Louis for a polyester, air-tight and stink-proof diaper bag. The reason I decided against it is very simple.
When you look at me, you see a mom. The baby, the stroller, the postpartum pooch, the ponytail, the track pants, and comfy shoes are all indicators of this title.
When I look at me, I see a woman; a woman whose present version is inclusive of the woman she use to be. The woman who had a career that didn't involve baby wipes, who once enjoyed wearing heels and ridiculous amounts of eye makeup, who spent an hour straightening her hair, and who thought the best accessory was the perfect handbag. While that woman ceases to exist for the most part, I'm not ready to write her eulogy. The truth is, I don't see why I should ever have to.
My priorities may have shifted, but under all the mommy clues that meet the eye, I am the same person I was before I was blessed with my beautiful baby boy. I may have grown in ways that are incomprehensible to me and have learned to love in ways I never knew were possible, but it doesn't deter from the fact that I arrived at motherhood's doorsteps with nearly three decades worth of life experiences that shaped me into the woman I am today.
That's precisely why I am willing to accept the eyebrow raises in exchange for this small reminder that I am more than a mom. "Mom" is an addition, not a replacement, to the acronyms and titles that flock under my name at the end of every email. My bag is an attempt to break out of the rigid mommy mold that society imposes on me and show the world that I am a woman like any other who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.
Anjali Joshi can be found sharing her tales of humor and love at The Adventures of a New Mom.