Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Getting and spending

The main purpose for my weekend activities was a Saturday-Sunday trip to Philadelphia, where my friends S and R and I were getting together for our second annual girls weekend (no spouses, children or pets allowed). Given that Philly is so (relatively) close to my parents' house, I decided that I'd drive down on Friday and spend the night with them. They've been dying to see the pregnant version of me, and my mom wanted to take me shopping for maternity clothes. And on top of all that, I'd get to see my grandparents, who aren't getting any younger.

So Friday morning I hopped in the Prius at 7 am and made the 400-mile drive to my parents' house in six hours, which I believe is a North American land speed record for travel involving circumnavigation of both Boston and New York. That left plenty of time for shopping. So my mom and I headed to the mall, where she planned to buy me some clothes for Puerto Rico (eight days away, and not a moment too soon). Bizarrely, none of the stores that sell maternity clothes had summer stuff, except for Motherhood, which I hate due to their draconian return policies. Still, I was able to get a couple pairs of shorts and two tops, all of which my mom paid for. (She kept exclaiming, "This is fun!" I'm not sure I agreed -- trying on clothes when six months pregnant was not my favorite activity...)

It's been a while since we did something like this -- shopping for me, but with her shelling out the cash. I felt a little bit of a flashback to college, when I'd come home destitute and my parents would take pity on me and buy me some stuff. And that feeling continued through the rest of the day. (Though I will say that I paid for my own damn bras -- according to the nice ladies at Macy's, I've gone up an entire cup size, which would explain why I am so incredibly uncomfortable most of the time. Unfortunately, the bras that felt so roomy and comfortable in the store did not stand up to the test of a 12-hour day yesterday, so it's back to the mall for me.)

Later that day, we headed to my grandparents' for takeout from a local Italian restaurant. And that's where the college flashbacks got quite a bit stronger. Over dinner, my parents and grandparents announced that they're going to buy us the glider we want for the baby -- a $500 purchase we were resigned to making ourselves. Then my aunt called to ask me what I really wanted from our registry. I hemmed and hawed for a moment, then remembered the Skip Hop diaper bag. She loves to buy purses, so thought that was perfect. The NJ shower isn't until the weekend of Mother's Day, but she went ahead and ordered it online and had it shipped to our house; it should be here in a week or two.

Then my grandfather, who doesn't hear well, caught on to the fact that Darren and I are going to Puerto Rico next week. He stage-whispered to my grandmother that he'd like to give us some money, and would that be ok? She replied -- not able to whisper, because he'd never hear her -- that if he wanted to, that was fine, but that he should remember he's going to be writing a check for half of the glider soon. He nodded, and scurried off to his office. A few minutes later, he pressed a check into my hand, telling me we should use it for taxis on our vacation. (I didn't have the heart to tell him we're going to be renting a car....) Later, when I peeked at the amount, my mouth fell open: He gave us $200. That's a lot of taxis.

As quick as the visit was -- I left before 9 the next morning in order to catch a train to Philly -- I was glad I'd seen them all. But I felt very, very strange about everything that was showered upon me. On the one hand, it's certainly welcome; our finances are rather tight since I switched jobs, and we've got a lot of stuff to buy over the next few months. On the other, buying things for myself once I could afford to was a big marker of independence 10 years ago. So it feels a bit like we're going in reverse, even though I know the gifts are for the benefit of the bambina, and thus far there are no strings -- other than a request to send postcards from Puerto Rico -- attached. We'll see how it goes.