When I was a kid I used to wonder why my Dad never bought himself anything – not tickets to cool concerts, not shiny “man toys” like power tools or golf clubs, not even a boat (which I know he wanted above all else). I just didn’t get it – especially when I spent my days trying desperately to convince my parents to buy me the latest Nintendo game. I vowed back then that when I was a Dad and had control of the checkbook I would buy myself all kinds of cool stuff and it would be awesome.
Well, guess what? Now that I’m a Dad and have control of the checkbook (you know, when Heather lets me see it), I never buy myself anything either.
Turning into my Dad is a somewhat recent transformation. When I was a single dude in my twenties I spent money on myself all the time, and even bought fancy label jeans (a ridiculous thing to do when the ones sold at Costco for twenty bucks are just as good, says the dad in me). But when I got married and started a family that all changed. I began to worry about money, and it wasn’t long before I was going around the house shutting off lights and picking up pennies found on the street.
Today, when something I would like to buy for myself comes on the market, there’s a little voice in the back of my head that always talks me out of it. (Note: the voice sounds disturbingly like Rick Moranis.)
“Yeah, it would be cool to buy that,” says the Rick Moranis voice. “But think about how many diapers you could get with that money!”
“Lots and lots of diapers,” I admit. “Two months worth, easy.”
“More like three or four. But forget the diapers. Imagine if you and Heather ended up short this month… You’d feel terrible you wasted money on a ‘man toy’ then, wouldn’t you?'”
“Yeah. That would be awful.”
“It sure would. But even if that doesn’t happen, is it wise to spend money on yourself when you could put it into Annie’s college fund instead?”
“No, Rick Moranis, it probably isn’t.”
This kind of internal dialogue probably isn’t unfamiliar to other parents out there. We give up so much of ourselves for our children – our time, our TV, even our music in the car – that it’s easy to not even realize when we’ve gone a long, long time without having done anything nice for ourselves.
And that isn’t good. Neglect yourself too long and you start to feel like you’ve turned into Brandon and Brenda’s boring parents on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” who only ever appeared drinking coffee in scenes set in the kitchen or TV room.
“Wait!” you scream at the heavens. “This can’t be! I used to be Brandon! I had the long burns and a closet full of cool, unbuttoned shirts! How could I have turned into the bald dad?”
Okay… I may be alone in my fear of turning into Jim Walsh, but you get the idea. While Annie should always come first, that doesn’t mean I always have to put myself last. I’m not the best at convincing myself it’s okay to do something for just me. Luckily, Heather recently insisted I buy a ticket to a concert I really want to see (The Beach Boys… how’s that for Dad music?), so that’s a step in the right direction…right?
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to shut off any lights in the house that may have been left on. That ticket’s not gonna pay for itself.