I decided to walk to the library, because gas is really expensive and exercise is free. So there I was, strolling through downtown at dusk, looking in the store windows and shopping the "safe" way. None of them were open, you see. So even if I saw something I wanted, I couldn't just pop in and get it.
I made it to the library, stuffed a small book and a DVD in my coat pocket, and made my way back home - taking a different route through downtown. One that led me past the Bike Shop.
And there it was. I stopped dead in my tracks.
Shiny, shimmery pink, white tires, sparkly streamers. And about 24 inches tall. The perfect little-girl bike. Oh it was a sight to behold.
I admired it for several minutes - annoyed that there was no price tag visible.
I immediately thought of Maddie's upcoming birthday. She'll be 4. And I'd like to get her a small bike. I imagined her opening the door to see the bike outside with a bright purple bow on top. I could see her big smile, her eyes wide with excitement. I could even hear her squeals of joy as she ran over to it and ran her fingers through the streamers. There would be days of riding it up and down the sidewalk. We could take her and Reagan to the hospital parking lot in the evenings where they would ride circles around each other. Oh the joy.
I didn't need to see the price tag, necessarily, to know that it would far exceed our birthday-gift-budget. The brand name was perfectly scrawled across the bike. Let's just say they don't sell that kind at Walmart.
Could I technically afford it. Yes. Several times over probably. I mean, it's all about priorities, isn't it?
How much was that vision of Maddie riding that beautiful pink bicycle worth to me?
I walked back home with images pedaling through my mind.
How I would love to give her that bike. I'm not the kind of mama that thinks her kids have to have everything. No sirree. I ere on the side of minimalism, actually. But that bike was just too cute...too perfect.
She'd love it.
Or would she? I love giving gifts. I really love shopping for a gift and finding that just right thing and giving it to someone and seeing their face light up. I love that through the gift I am saying, "I think I know you will love this." However, having children has taught me that even if you buy something they are supposed to LOVE, they might not. Even if it makes perfect sense that said child would adore this certain gift, there's always the chance that they might not really like it. It's a real bummer when my kids open a gift and shrug it off.
I've had a few real "hits" too, of course. These are the fuel to my gift-giving fire. The My Little Pony Castle I bought at a garage sale for $7 for Reagan's 4th birthday gets played with every single day. The Polly Pocket Disney Princess doll set I bought for Maddie for Christmas also gets played with every single day. The stuffed elephant and stuffed polar bear I gave them for Christmas are big favorites.
But often I find myself looking at a piece of clothing or a toy that I think they would love and realizing that really, I'm the one who loves it most.
She'd probably love the bicycle.
She'd probably love it every bit as much as a bicycle from Walmart.
I'm learning more to recognize the times when I want something for my kids more than they do. The more money I spend on things means the harder Brian and I have to work to afford them. More work means more time away from home. And more time away from home means less time watching the kids ride their bicycles up and down the sidewalk.
I choose more time watching the kids ride their bicycles up and down the sidewalk.