Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pay it forward

My parents arrived on Sunday for a week-long visit. They brought with them four suitcases, two of which were full of years' worth of collected baby items. Pretty much as soon as we all got home from the airport, my mom and I sat down on the bed in the guest room and sorted through all the clothes that she brought in addition to the ones that I've purchased. And, um, I'm pretty sure that Piglet is almost set, clothes-wise, for the first six months of his life. Which is kind of too bad, because I'm not sure that I'M set, shopping-wise. In fact, yesterday we went to the mall and I bought two more baby items. But they were on sale for super cheap! And they were so cute! And that makes it worth it, right?

It's lovely to have parents visiting. I am not very good at the phone, as in, remembering to call people regularly and have long chatty conversations with them, and being pregnant and exhausted has made me even worse at the phone, so it's nice to have face time to chat and say all the things that it wouldn't occur to me to say over the phone. And being bought dinners out doesn't hurt either. And the huge piles of baby stuff definitely don't hurt either.

Plus, my parents are incredibly generous. They don't just buy us dinners and baby clothes--they are also buying us the glider that we want as a baby gift, and they offered to buy us another piece of nursery furniture as an early Christmas gift. Now we are just torn about what to get--should we invest in a nice dresser/changing table combo and get a cheaper bookshelf? Vice versa? Get both for cheap? Splurge on nicer versions of both?

It's frustrating because this year we have no income, but last year we had income and next year we anticipate having income again, but this is the year we're shopping for the nursery and so we can't just decide that nicer furniture is worth the extra cash because it will last forever and drop the money. But we also don't want to buy cheap crap just because of the bad timing.

So far we've avoided the issue entirely by buying nothing. But, it's less than four months until my due date and that means that at some point soon we are going to need to make some decisions. Dear me. It is amazing how time just absolutely crawled during the first trimester and has been flying ever since. Piglet is definitely reminding me of his presence more and more by kicking harder and harder, too. But I really shouldn't complain because soon enough he'll be making his presence known through ear-splitting screams, and I'll look back fondly on the days when he couldn't make any noise.

Anyway, I seem to have gotten sidetracked. My original point here was that my parents' visit means both good company and incredibly generous gifts, and I love that about them. And I love that very shortly I myself will also get to be a parent and will get to pay forward all this generosity. I am really looking forward to that.

And also to the tiny baby who will wear all the tiny baby clothes that we are busily amassing. I am really looking forward to that, too.


  1. That is super generous of your parents, baby Piglet is a lucky boy! I can't wait to get home to be closer to mine - being away is HARD sometimes. I'm glad you could spend a week with yours to catch up. (Yay for baby kicks!)

  2. This post really encourages me. My husband's parents are just like your parents, so generous and giving and asking nothing in return. My parents, however, are the exact opposite. Because they had nothing when they were growing up, they felt like they didn't owe their children anything. I'm glad that you're having such a a good time with your parents :)

  3. First of all, I got so excited for you at the idea of going through all of that baby stuff!

    I have some thoughts on all of this...

    First of all, try to buy bigger sizes when you see something cute. I know it seems like FOREVER until Piglet is going to be able to wear these things, but there is nothing more gratifying (to me) than going into the closet and having an entire stash of the next size up of clothing.

    As for the nursery furniture, I would splurge on the bookshelf/changing table because that's something that you can have for a long, long time. For the crib, I would buy something that you like, but not worry about spending an absolute fortune since it's somewhat of a temporary item. Just my two cents, do with that what you will.

  4. When our first baby was born, we had very little flexible income. What we did was a combination of:

    1. Getting handmedown furniture from other people, which we could gradually replace later, and

    2. Buying something in between "cheap crap" and "our ideal": we found there was plenty of good, sturdy furniture that didn't cost much, if we could keep ourselves from feeling like we had to choose the thing we liked best of all. There's a huge difference between "cheap" (falling apart, not worth it because it breaks and has to be replaced and ends up costing more than the expensive thing) and "inexpensive."

    My mom had a saying she used to repeat to herself in their poorer years (when she was a SAHM and my dad was a minister of a small rural church): "Our children don't have to have the best of everything." She said it could be very painful to want so badly to buy things that were good! and good quality! and would be good for us! and had genuine value!---and yet not be able to afford them. But then my dad that thing to her one day (in a GOOD tone of voice, not the potential horrible one), and she took it to heart. YES it would be nice for us to have the high-quality educational wooden children's toys that were out of their price range, but we didn't actually need them. YES it would be nice for us to have matching room furniture that didn't have scratches or dents on it, but we didn't actually need them. (And I still have that scratched bureau, which is in Elizabeth's room!)

  5. It's so funny to compare our pregnancies. You've taken great pleasure in buying little things when they go on sale. I've completely avoided buying clothes (can't even fathom thinking about it), but have instead focused on the bigger things, like nursery furniture. Sure, our financial situations are slightly different, but I like to think that even if you were in a different place financially, you'd still be buying lots of clothing items and I'd still be buying none. ha.

    My vote is to scour craigslist for some solid furniture pieces that won't cost a fortune.

  6. Throwing out my usual disclaimer: I am abnormal and would rather spend money on my kid's big kid room furniture that they'll use for years than on its nursery furniture it will use for 2 years tops. I would say to hunt craigslist for a cheap bookshelf and a dresser you could use as a changing table and paint them white and ask your parents to consider giving you a late Christmas gift when you know what you need after the baby comes. As far as nursery furniture goes.

    I'm anti-changing table: you only use it for a year tops until the kid is easier to change on the floor anyway, and after they're out of diapers it's a useless piece of furniture.

  7. We were lucky, in that my parents bought us our crib (now Lucy’s daybed) and my FIL got us the changing table (now used as a dresser) and dresser which, obv, still used.

    Aside from the going home outfit, with Bud, I bought no clothes at all. Like it never even occurred to me. My family bought quite a bit though, all the way up to 12-18 months. I had to buy very little for his first year or so. With Lucy though, I went CRAZY on the clothes and continue to do so for both girls today.

  8. Nice!Love it when parents visit. :) I'd get a cheaper bookshelf - we got the kids' at wm and they are fine. I'd splurge on a nicer dresser because it's a bigger, more important piece of furniture and will have it's drawers opened/shut/slammed/crawled in, etc.

  9. Yay for generous parents!

    I'd be the wrong person to ask about baby furniture since technically my children did not have a nursery. Living conditions (small apartments! shared bedrooms!) did not warrant it. My father bought my crib, and that's basically what we had. But I will say this, I never had a changing table, and I never felt as if I needed one. But I know folks who felt as if they had to have one and others who loved it.... To each his own.

    My daughters are currently sharing a dresser that I had as a baby, a child, a teen, a college student, a married (and even shared with baby #1).... Scratched up, but still useful!

    Swistle put it best: you can get decent, nice stuff without having to pay a fortune for it.

  10. So very sweet of your parents! I like them so much.

    I would vote for cheaper (but still pretty well made) things unless it is something can be used after the babies are babies. A beautiful bookshelf will always be useful, but unless you can use the dresser/changing table combo for the years after the babies are babies, I would vote against it.

    Have fun with your parents! :)

  11. hooray for grandparents! :) my gosh, 4 months seems like forever and NO TIME AT ALL at the same time.

  12. Your parents sound like mine! My parents live across town and we never go to their house or have them over here when they don't arrive for something with our daughter. Sometimes I have to tell my mother what I've already bought from stores so she won't accidentally go out and buy the same stuff LOL! And even though my husband and I are gainfully employed and can afford to pay for our own dinners, we're the "kids" and I have to twist their arm to let us pay occasionally! I love my parents and they are terrific grandparents and it sounds like yours are going to be too!

  13. How to neat to think about paying it forward since soon (so soon!) you will be a parent. Enjoy your time with your family and don't worry too much about the furniture. It's just stuff. ;)

  14. How touching, so great to have friends who have 1) been through it before so send you stuff you'll actually need 2) can save you some expenses by providing you with hand-me-downs. Now the all important question - was the Moby Wrap purple?

  15. Wow - that was supposed to go on today's post, no clue how that happened. Sorry!