One of the most unexpected aspects of mothering for me has been the extent to which I am now the family C.A.O. -- chief acquisition officer. Will often brings home milk or needed ingredients for dinner, but only becuase the Co-op happens to be 40 steps from his office. For the most part, if there's a new winter coat needed, a bare pantry, or if we're on our last scoop of laundry detergent, I'm the one who knows it and who takes care of it.
Most of the time I don't mind that this has fallen to me, but what disturbs me is the extent to which it also makes me the chief family consumer. I am the one most of those ads market to. I am the one who probably has a massive file in some marketing company's database. I don't think I'm being overly negative when I say that our society still largely thinks of men as the bread-winners and women as the bread-buyers -- even though more than half of women with children work. And I hate being a stereotype.
I also hate how easily I fall into consumer mode. I don't relish shopping, especially not with 2 kids in tow, but mail order catalogs continually entice me. I HAVE to look for that 4T winter coat, and even if I go to the second hand store, I get sucked in buying a variety of other non-essentials while I'm there. Most of all, I want my kids to have a healthy relationship to stuff, and while we're (thankfully) nowhere near the era of "I-must-have-brand-Z", I know the day will come. The last few years I've gone on a consumer fast during Lent -- 6 weeks of no new books (that's the hard one), no new clothes, no gazing at ads or catalogs. It's always quite freeing. Maybe I'll try it for Advent this year too. Oh, wait. There's that Christmas issue.
Which brings me to a book note: If anyone wonders whether there's anything Christian left about how we celebrate December 25, Richard Horsley's Religion and Empire will give you pause.