Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The better choice isn't always the easiest choice

Contrary to what the title of this post may evoke, I'm not going to talk about morality issues. I'm talking about shopping. Yes, shopping!

As you all know (well, at least my Loyal Readers do!), I have always wanted a Tod's D Bag. But I never could bring myself to buy it because:
A. It's frakkin' expensive. Even though I can afford it, I just can't bring myself to fork over P100,000++ for a bag because...
B. I abuse my bags. Place them on the floor, throw them on the sofa, make them pillows. Plus, as a writer, I am always with a pen and I always end up accidentally writing on my bags or with ink spillage, which is sooo painful because...
C. See Reason A.
Well, now that I'm a mommy, another reason has come up:
D. Something always comes up.
Tuition fees. Vaccination fees. Maids who suddenly need to borrow money. And—the real culprit—our delight in spoiling our kids silly. Legos and it's not even your birthday? Sure! Cute Avengers pajamas? Sure! You like all those books even if you can't read yet? Sure!

Sigh. My husband Vince and I really enjoy making our sons happy. We spoil them with our presence (we both work from home so we are with the kids practically 24/7) and we spoil them with gifts because it is so much fun. It's for us—we enjoy the toys and costumes and games together so the money lavished on our family is always worth it.

So anyway, today, after a lunch with the Baby Magazine staff, as I was on my way to meet my Uber car, I passed by Tod's. And found this:

A Tod's D-Bow Bag in the perfect pink, the perfect size, and this time with gold accents. Total cost: P115,000.
Photos from Tod's Fall-Winter 2015 D-Bow Collection

A woman who was also shopping told me, "Don't Instagram it if you're not buying it. Someone will see your post and buy the bag."

It's not the exact D Bag I wanted (I always wanted the greige one) so it was easy enough for me to laugh at her warning and put it back on the shelf. But as I walked out of the shop, I looked back at the pink cutie and thought, "It has my name written all over it. Maybe... maybe..."

But my Uber had arrived and I hopped in because I needed to see my dentist. On the way, I suddenly decided, "Sure. Why not? Sure, it's Reason A but I'm earning more now than I ever did when I was an employee. And, sure, there's still Reason B but I'll take care of it because of Reason A!"

Then, as always, Reason D happened.

At the dentist, I learned that I needed to have my wisdom teeth extracted, a bridge made, and braces installed. Total cost: P111,000.

Perfect Tod's D Bag: P115,000

Perfect teeth: P111,000

You know what I picked, right? Yup. I've already scheduled the procedures. But the braces, I'll need to ask permission from my blog sponsors first because I have videos and photo shoots to do. They might not like the metal mouth. Not only am I practical, I am also considerate. Right? Right. Yey me!

And yet, at the dentist's chair, as I stared at the bright spotlight aimed at my mouth, I fought with this unreasonable sadness. When I was poor, I always had to pick what made sense—what product I can afford, what service is worth it, what will benefit more people (a.k.a. my family), which more often than not meant I had to do without. I didn't have a choice since I had very little money. Now that I'm a lot better off, I have choices but I'm still picking what makes sense. In many ways, this is why my husband and I live the way we do—no debt, comfortable life. We hardly ever lived beyond our means. We are always practical. We aren't miserly at all, okay? In fact, we have quite the cushy life! But the unnecessary things like designer bags and designer shoes are just deemed impractical, even illogical. We do have designer furniture but everyone benefits from furniture so those purchases made sense.

I always made sense.

People tell me, "Ganyan talaga pag nanay na." But I've always been like this. Ever since I was a little girl. And it's served me well so it's okay.

But earlier today, as that unreasonable sadness threatened to overwhelm me, I fought with the thought: "Why don't I ever just throw caution to the wind? Why must I always always be practical? Am I boring? Am I old? Have I always been boring and old?"

Thankfully, my sensibility overpowered that stupid voice inside my head as I penciled in my next dental appointment with the clinic's secretary. I made the better choice, I said. And I did.

I guess I'm just sad because I realized my poor upbringing still makes me think I'm poor. I take care of myself but I don't spoil myself because that's just, you know, frivolous. When my husband brings me to a nice restaurant, I always pick the cheapest item on the menu. I shop for my clothes on eBay. Almost all my clothes now are freebies from brands actually. I refuse to let my husband buy me gifts. I hold on to trash because what if I'll need a square of leftover gift wrapper? I smooth out aluminum foil so we can use them again. When I make sandwiches for my husband, I pack it with slices of cheese and ham or salami but when I make my sandwiches, I put just one slice. When I make Biscoff sandwiches for my kids, I slather the spread on thick, but my own Biscoff sandwiches, I just scratch on a thin layer. Why oh why do I do this?!

Of course, my dental procedures are just as costly as the Tod's D-Bow Bag so I'm not making the less expensive choice. I guess the sadness—the first time I've ever felt this way over a shopping choice!—surprised me because it made me wonder—for the first time ever—if I'm taking care of myself right. It made me realize that I think nothing of spending lots of money on my boys but when it comes to me, I think I don't deserve it. And that's sad. Sad that I think it. Sad that I don't allow others, from my husband to my friends, to spoil me. Sad that I—self-proclaimed feminist/pro-woman/girl power advocate—believe that I don't deserve to have nice things, after all.

Sadness, begone! My teeth need to be fixed! That's still caring for me! Right? Right. Silliness over. A perfect smile is waaaaaay better than a pink bag. Right? Right.

The better choice isn't always the easiest choice, I said, but it is still the better choice. I'll just keep telling myself that!

P.S. Can someone buy me the Tod's Small D-Bow Bag in pink abroad??? It's just P81,000 abroad!

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  1. Somehow, I almost this same mentality. When I didn't have my son yet, I buy my family stuff even if it is expensive because I know it is needed but I could not spend that much for myself. And if I do, I often feel guilty of doing so. Now, I spend almost everything on my son and his needs often forget to treat myself. For me, I guess it is the breadwinner part of me that I just cannot part from. *Sigh* Wouldn't it be nice to treat ourselves with something expensive without having the guilt and without needing to convince ourselves that we deserve it?

    1. Why why why do we do this to ourselves? We are empowered women! And yet we can't allow ourselves to indulge in a little frivolity now and then!

  2. I know exactly where you're coming from Frances. We were so poor in philippines too but fortunately we migrated to Canada. I studied hard and became a nurse, I now live in honolulu with my husband and kids and although I only work part time to take care of the kids I still make enough money to live comfortably. I've bought my share of designer bags but I know that feeling or questions if Its worth it. My husband always says I can buy whatever I want but I always buy smart, I love outlet malls lol. You're right about the kids, I have 2 boys and my son's preschool is $775 US/month, so guess what I cannot buy that LV bag this year. Maybe next year? Lol. But I'm happy and comfortable, no debts, we own our cars and the house almost paid for, travel 2x a year and able to help our relatives in Philippines. We're just smart right? Maybe after your dental procedure you can get the bag because you deserve it!

    1. My goodness! Ang mahal ng preschool. Nakakaiyak!

      But wow. Congratulations! Yes, you DESERVE a huge hug on top of all those designer bags and purchases from outlet malls! How amazing your story, and the fact that you have no debt and can even help out your relatives. BRAVO! =)

  3. Thank you so much Ms.Frances for sharing your thoughts to us! You the deserve the best things in reward yourself sometimes with good things. :-) You are a great mom and wife, you need to take good care of yourself too, so you can continue giving love to your family. :-) Being practical is great, so don't feel sad about something that you did, just take it easy and enjoy... you can have everything that you want in the right time. :-)

  4. Very smart! That's what you are! You don't need any designer stuff to shine. You're already a gem! God bless! :)

    1. Aww! Thanks so much! One day, one day, bibili rin ako ng Tod's D Bag!!! God bless you, too!

  5. Uy Frances, tagal na you've been blogging about that d-bag. And the pink is gorgeous. 4 words for ya - just buy it already! go go go

    1. Haha, since 2008!!! Nakakaawa na ba ako??? Kahit si Vince, rinding-rindi na sa akin. He's always like, "BUY IT NAAAAAA!!!" And all my friends offer to buy it for me when they're abroad but hindi pa talaga kaya ng puso ko. Kaya naman namin bilhin pero I keep thinking, "Aba, Hong Kong Disneyland na rin yan. Or Legoland sa Malaysia. Uunahin ko na muna yon!" =D

  6. Hi Frances! Been reading your blogs for a while now. Not sure where you got the 81k PHP price from. I do personal shopping for friends there and here in Canada (and charge a shopper's fee). This is how much it is via Net-a-Porter: you may be better off buying from there than in the US (with shipping and duties) - Sasha :)

  7. Frances I don't always get to read up on you and Beauty & Sparkle all the time but whenever I do, I am totally floored. Your are always so candid, adorable, honest and totally unpretentious that your everyday-life posts always somehow make sense of both the simple and not-so-simple aspects of the human condition! LOVE LOVE LOVE! And also MISS YOU :)

  8. That was the wiser choice �� I hope you still get your bag someday soon ��

  9. When we were kids, my mom would put a measly teaspoon of Milo in our mugs to eke out the pack. I knew we were fortunate to even have Milo when kids around me didn't have the option. But I never liked Milo then, tasting that way. I'm glad I can now put 3T in a mug when I want to drink it. That's how I treat myself because Ghirardelli cocoa is out of reach, haha.


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