I've always known I wanted to be a mother and a wife. There was never a doubt in my mind. As a young girl I embraced all things domestic. I remember convincing my brother it would be fun to clean and organize the laundry room for Mom one afternoon. I was eight. My brother was five. It would be a few more years before my brother wasn't such an easy sale, and I had to play "house-dork" alone.
I assumed I'd have two children, probably because that's what my family looked like. My childhood friend, Samantha Kelly, and I concluded that all little girls had a tiny baby in their stomachs, and when we grew-up, the baby would be ready to crawl out our belly buttons and join us in life. I don't recall which one of us initiated that theory or how we explained the arrival of subsequent children.
When I learned the truth, like many young girls, I was mortified. I decided I would get married, do what needed to be done to have two children, but only if I was completely sedated both times I had to do it. [Funny. I have three children so I actually did it THREE times.]
Whether it was a college dorm room or an apartment, I liked my environment to be fresh, homey and organized. My roommate, Em, allowed me to grocery shop for us and knew I didn't mind cleaning and cooking. Some of it was my need to be in control and do things "right", but I also enjoyed it.
When Chris and I were first married, going to the grocery store was one of my favorite weekly chores. The Sunday paper was worth it's weight in gold because of all the coupons. I'm an ROI kind of gal, so the money I saved with coupons more than paid for our newspaper subscription.
I cut coupons, organized them by category and date, and used them faithfully. Basha's, a grocery story near our first apartment that I knew so well I was able to make my shopping list in the order of the aisles [some call it OCD, I call it efficiency], had a Bargain Booster program similar to the S&H Green Stamp program I grew up watching my mother participate in. When I noticed someone manhandling their stamps, I politely asked if I could have them. Some days, with a combination of coupons and filled Bargain Booster cards, I was practically paid to purchase an item.
Because money was tight, I often shopped on Thursday nights after work. Friday was payday, and twenty years ago, floating checks really worked. No instant electronic transfer, thankfully.
Once or twice a month I treated myself to a magazine like Glamour or Allure, justifying the purchase with all the money I'd saved using coupons. I read every word of every article and advertisement. Several times. It was decadent to me.
The simple things in life truly made me happy.
Sunday afternoon, as I schlepped around parking lots with dirty slush from melting snow and carts not placed in the cart returns, trying to find more room in the back of my car to unload yet another stop's purchases... I felt tired and burdened. Costco, the grocery store, PetSmart... then home to cook dinner. All after sledding with Chris and the boys earlier in the day. Chris had been out of town the week prior. We were all tired.
I don't cut coupons anymore. The payoff hasn't been worth the time it takes to sift through them... at least for grocery items. Occasionally I'll find coupons for the children's museum, a haircut, or other service. I like those.
I'm not as organized as I used to be. Or clean.
In spite of the busy days, complicated schedules and routines, heavier housework, fatigue, and the words "wash me" on the back window of my car in one of my son's unmistakable handwriting, I have to remind myself to remember... this is what I've always wanted.
It's good, sincerely, but I'm not going to be sedated for a fourth time... unless Chris has a coupon.