Four years ago, I discovered a pile of unopened utility bills on my husband’s desk. They were buried under a pile of sweet wrappers, junk mail and cat food samples. As a SAHM I decided enough was enough –it was time for me to take over the family finances, a decision my husband would live to regret.
Every month, I take our combined wages and create a watertight budget. We know exactly where every cent will go, from milk to the mortgage, from fish food to the Friday night curry. When we live within the budget it’s a beautiful thing. Yesterday, my husband lodged a funding application for new underpants, which I firmly stamped ‘DENIED’. Before I entertain any cries of sympathy, one must understand that he’s recently split eight pairs of boxer shorts at CrossFit, and I’m teaching him a valuable lesson.
Funny then, that I managed to find an extra $379 today for a shopping spree at Bed, Bath and Beyond. My compulsory purchases: A new patchwork quilt, a totally unnecessary Sherpa blanket, a clothing rack to replace my floordrobe, two wheat packs, a bonsai tree for the bathroom and a metal frog holding a sign saying ‘welcome’.
On the drive home, I knew I would need to justify these purchases to the man indoors. It got me thinking about what defines an ‘essential’ purchase. Sometimes when you’re a parent, an essential purchase is anything which puts a smile on your face and lets you dream for a moment that you’re free and unfettered by responsibility.
As parents, we sometimes force ourselves into scrimping and saving, making do and spending that little extra on the kids. I don’t generally advocate splashing out on the credit card, but the occasional trolley dash is so good for the soul. As a mother, treating myself without guilt or worry has been an incredibly important element of my parenting journey. It’s been vital for my children to witness that mum has likes, needs and wants and moreover, mum works hard and deserves rewards just like everybody else.
I know the average reader is thinking, if treats are so important, why on earth can’t the father have new underpants? The answer is elementary. Because not only am I the mother, I’m also the boss and I said so. Nobody ever said that women live by logic and rationale. Besides, my husband gets to go to work for some peace and quiet five days a week, which is, in itself, a treat. The fact that he may soon have to work commando is an issue I’ll address when we get there.
So now, that I’ve totally managed to convince myself that I was in the right today, it’s time to put the kettle on and unwrap my goodies. My husband, might, just might … find himself with a $20 clothing allowance. It is Queen’s Birthday, after all.