Bugged by Bugaboo
You can spot them from a block away, despite the many knock-offs on the road these days - those ever multiplying Bugaboo strollers. The ones with the price tag that starts around $700 without accessories. You may disagree, but I think there is something creepy about them. Or perhaps just embarrassing. They scream "I drastically overspent so that I could compensate for the fact that I don't know if I'm giving my baby enough of what he needs". They shout "I've been ripped off by the great American advertising machine". They yell "Whee, look at me - millions live in poverty but I spent almost $1000 on a stroller".
Okay, maybe there is something about a Bugaboo stroller that I'm just plain overlooking. Perhaps they are truly so rugged that their owners will never, ever buy another stroller - no jogger, no featherweight umbrella style, no double-wide when the second kid comes along. Somehow I doubt this though. I'll admit it - I'm an anti-Bugaboo snob with a big, bad attitude.
Now, I read on AlterNet that Maclaren has topped this extravagance with its new limited edition $4200 stroller. Stumped by this, I'm left wondering the big Why. AlterNet's author theorizes that Generation X was raised with so much materialism that they respond in kind when they become parents. They think, says this article, that money proves love.
I think the issue is much more complex than this. It may have something to do with the perception that buying a fancy life for our babies says we've got it all together. It presents a perfect exterior for the world to see - the world that judges us harshly as good or bad parents, or so we assume. Much is written about the high anxiety of modern motherhood. Perhaps by just quickly buying that Bugaboo (or heaven forbid, that posh Maclaren), we can at least cross one thing off our Good Mommy lists?
Ah, but we all know deep down this is baloney. Our babies couldn't care less if they are bundled in an expensive stroller or in a paper sack, as long as they are safe and loved. Some of us have money to burn, even after charitable giving, and just want a Bugaboo - and I know I need to drop my own judging attitude as one comes down the street. But I may still wonder whether the purchase might be tainted with pathology just the same.
What if Generation X does have a problem with spending and its (non)connection with loving our families? As debts mount for this generation with all the things we elect to spend our money on, what if we decided instead to spend our money on earning less? This may sound crazy, but I mean spending less time breadwinning for our families and more time hanging out with them. To do this would mean we'd probably earn less money, and instead of buying material symbols of our love we'd have to relabel loving behavior as 'time' and 'attention'.
I feel rather preachy today - sorry! Generation X loves its children deeply, and wants balanced lives. The trick is figuring out how to achieve this balance, and how to love without buying.