Friday, February 04, 2005

Sickness Sucks

OK, I know that I’m stating the obvious here. But still, I feel impelled to declare that Being Sick Sucks.

The thing that sucks the most, to me personally, is that I am not able to just lie down and sniffle miserably to myself when I get sick. Because I am (dramatic music here) Mommy.

Yes, that’s right! Cape streaming in the breeze, Wonder Mum must boldly go forth and do her duty, even if she is breathing through less than a quarter of one nostril and has the lung capacity of a flea!

My being sick does not exempt me from such things as creating meals for the Denizens. It also does not cause the laundry to do itself, or the bathrooms to suddenly self-clean. Groceries will not be delivered, and they certainly will not be putting themselves away. Bills must still be paid, even if I’m so muzzy with cold and flu medication that I have to use the calculator to figure out what 2 times 20 equals.

Worst of all, the baby will not decide to simply nap until mommy feels better. No! Quite the contrary! Bacon Bit has in fact developed the same cold I have, and is not only not napping during the day, but spending a considerable portion of the night wailing and crying, too.

He is doing this because he feels like shit. But it feels an awful lot like persecution to me. Especially at 1:15 in the morning, when I’m up for the third time trying to comfort him back to sleep. My husband, usually a lot of help in such times of trouble, also has a cold. For him, being sick imparts the most amazing ability: he can lie in bed saying, “Let the little fart cry himself to sleep! I’m too tired to deal with it!” whereas I’m pretty sure that if I listened to him cry for more than, say, five minutes my spleen would actually implode inside my body.

Hard not to feel as though the entire world hates you at that point. And Bacon Bit was so frustrated with his own shit-feeling-like-ness that he was flailing at me with his little fists, grabbing tiny handfuls of hair and yanking, and kicking and arching his back as if he wanted nothing more to do with me – except, of course, that if I set him down even for an instant, his screaming would intensify until every piece of glass in the house was quaking ominously, ready to shatter.

I looked down at his tiny, six month old self, and I thought, You ungrateful little twerp!

Of course, I can’t stay mad at him. Plagued with empathy, I know just how he feels. His head hurts, his throat hurts, his nose is all plugged up and he doesn’t get the concept of breathing through his mouth very well.

He wants his mommy, but yet mommy just isn’t doing him that much good. I can solve everything else that upsets him, so obviously I just don’t understand his problem. I know! I’ll yell louder, maybe then she’ll do something about this…

The good news is, colds only last for so long. The kid who gave us all this disease is over it, so I figure we’ve got another day, maybe two at the outside, and then the husband, baby and myself should be feeling better.

At which point, I suppose I’ll have no further excuse for not getting the lawns mowed…

Frugality in the New Century

If you tell someone that you are embracing frugality as a lifestyle, they will likely laugh in that way people have when they aren’t entirely sure if you are serious. It seems as though the word has acquired a certain quaint silliness, putting a polite or humorous spin on what would be more commonly called a tightwad or a skinflint or a pathetic waste of a loser who is probably going to bum twenty bucks off you before the end of the evening.

So, just for the record, here is my dictionary’s definition of it.

Frugality: (n) Prudence in avoiding waste.

You know what I like best about that definition? The ‘prudence’ part. Prudence. Prudence means ‘careful management’. So, someone practicing frugality carefully manages what they have in order to minimize waste. It goes far beyond mere money, touching just about every aspect of life.

Practiced correctly, frugality does not make a person into a Scrooge-like miser perched in rags atop a pile of coins. It will, however, produce a person who knows precisely what they really want and who truly savors the things they have.

I can’t tell you how often I meet people who lament about their sheer inability to make major life purchases, like a home. Both of us working full time, and we can barely afford the rent. We just can’t seem to get ahead…

It is usually because they do not practice frugality correctly. Frugality is a lot more than turning shampoo bottles upside down to get that last lather-rinse out. It is about having a clear idea as to the relative value of what you are purchasing.

There’s nothing wrong with owning a Hummer. There’s also nothing wrong with owning a house. Ditto having the new spring wardrobe in time to step out at the annual Ladies Who Lunch Spring Fling. Or having a lusciously funded college fund for your kids, or retiring at age 55 instead of laboring on into your 70s.

Where it goes wrong is if all you ever want out of life is to retire early, but instead you’re driving a Hummer. Or you want nothing more on this earth than to have a roof over your head that actually belongs to you, but then those darned sales kept happening and instead you’ve got a collection of shoes that makes Imelda sigh with envy.

Frugality is all about knowing what you want, and in what order you want it. Which is more important to you, home ownership or driving a new car now? Which is more mortifying, having to tell your kids it’s Scholarship or No School, or having to wear (gasp) The Same Dress Twice In A Season?

Personally, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong. That different people have different values should be pretty obvious to most thinking people at this point; and that nobody has the One True Way should be equally obvious.

The only wrong thing is to never bother to think about it. So take a minute. Your time and your money both are finite – in order to use them wisely, you have to use them with awareness. Be frugal with them. Enjoy them, each coin and each minute, to their fullest and then sit back with full boasting rights to say, “That was worth doing!”