Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
Despite the fact I no longer have the means to support my once world-class shopping habit, I still like to engage in some serious window-shopping. My ever-supportive spouse indulges my inclinations by driving me to the mall and nodding agreeably as I “ooh” and “ahh” my way up and down the corridors.
On one particular “shopping” trip, we arrived at my premier destination — an upscale department store that carries all the major labels — and I stood staring, trying to decide where to start.
“I'll take the kids and walk them around,” my husband said with an amused smile. “Have fun.”
I wandered around the store alone, and the fact that I was neither pushing a stroller nor begging a bored six-year-old to keep up allowed to me to get lost in a veritable sea of high fashion.
In a couture daze, I glided up to one of the expensive handbag counters and marveled at all the offerings.
“Would you like to see it?,” a perfectly coiffed saleslady offered as I stared at a buttery yellow purse.
“Yes, please!” I said, trying not to salivate as I began to smell the leather.
She presented me with the bag and, as soon as I touched it, I knew I had to have it. The color? Gorgeous. The size? Ideal. The way it hung on my shoulder? Perfection.
Just then, my family reappeared. When my husband saw me admiring my reflection in the mirror as I observed my purse from different angles, he chuckled.
“Uh, how's it going?,” he asked.
“Is this beautiful or what?,” I asked him in response. “I think I'm going to get it.”
“OK …” he said, trailing off as he picked up the price tag.
When his eyebrows disappeared into his hairline, my conscience suffered a major pang of guilt. Suddenly, I felt like Nicolas Cage in “The Family Man,” trying on a $3,000 suit as his wife offered to use the kids' college money to pay for it. I sheepishly handed the bag back to the saleslady and backed away from the counter.
Without saying another word, we left the store, walked out to the parking lot and loaded the kids in the car.
Too embarrassed to talk, I sat in the front seat and stared out the window. I couldn't help but think that, while spending a lot of money on a purse was a bit silly … I still really wanted it. Eventually, I decided that voicing my thoughts was the only way to escape them.
“I miss not being able to buy stuff,” I blurted out.
My husband looked over at me with what appeared to be a hybrid of sympathy and frustration. And then he surprised me.
“Me, too,” he said simply.
I'm not sure why, but his concurrence put me at ease. It was clear that, in our role as parents, we were both making sacrifices. But we were in this together, putting everything we had into our kids. And that was the kind of gratification no purse would ever bring me.