by Louise

Totebaggers, from the brand post, it seems that only a few of us care for brands. Many of us value experiences. Experiences aside, are there things we are vain about? My old neighbor, a regular guy who couldn’t care about brand names, did all the work around his house and yard himself, drove a very ordinary car, had two fine looking old convertibles in his garage. He drove them in the summer and I was always taken by those cars when he went past with a jaunty wave. These days, I see vintage open bed trucks with families driving to Starbucks on a Saturday morning.

Like these gentlemen, do you have something you are vain about? Do you have great hair for example, that you wear just so? What about a fit figure? A pretty garden? Any signature dishes you make? Any collections you are proud of ? What are you vain about?


59 thoughts on “Vanity

  1. I think the question is more what do you pride yourself on?

    So I do pride myself on looking pulled together when out in public, looking good for my age and having a fit figure, making healthy home cooked meals every night/making sure my kids have nice breakfasts and being somewhat well read.

    I would like to say that I pride myself on a well maintained and beautiful home, but have been a little behind on that aspect of life for the past few years.

  2. I’d say travel, both for business and with family. First class, suites, upgrades, etc all at no cost to me or the client of course. I like being able to work the system.

  3. Food. I can cook and bake well. I am good at having a small or large group over and cooking for them. I haven’t given anyone food poisoning yet.

    I also am very proud of my oldest. He had a tough start in life but is such a happy and charming kid. I wish I could have had a hundred kids like him.

  4. In trying to distinguish between pride and vanity I ran across this quote. These are not dictionary definitions, but seem to ring true.

    “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

  5. “I have pride in my good taste in books, music and movies.”

    I think I sometimes take a perverse pride in my poor taste!

    I am probably both proud and vain about my kids. I do like it when others think highly of them; I feel judged as a mother even though I shouldn’t.

  6. I am proud of my cooking, and of my ability to spend the time I want with my family while still having a career. We also throw great parties.

  7. Judging from all the kid related bragging on FB (and yes I do it too – that is the main point of being on FB, IMHO), most people are both proud and vain about their kids

  8. I am vain about my brain. I am not proud for two important reasons. 1. My mental gifts are no different than my brown eyes – what I was dealt. 2. I was a poor steward of my gifts. I could have done so much more with so much less pain. How do I know I am vain? I had a full neurological workup at 58 because I couldn’t remember a word or a name once in a while. Of course, there was nothing wrong physiologically, and I tested well off the chart in the all day cognitive test (I had a little trouble with the timed algebra, oddly enough, but did better on the patterns and puzzles than I used to do as a young person – one’s strengths may change.)

    The puzzling (to me) external judgment is that others have often said how proud of me or impressed they are by the fact that I took the brain and the gumption out of deep storage at 38 and embarked on the life that I have today. I just think, what else was I to do, and regret the detours and choices that made a hard reboot so necessary.

    As for my watch and mid century artifact collections, I take pleasure in those, rather than pride. Without ebay and its cousins, I would never have had the patience to learn about all that and amass the items I have.

  9. I am proud of my grown children and their accomplishments as well as those of my now ten year old. I take pride in my knitting, volunteer teaching and the new electric car that replaced my old car from the 60s. I should have bought new car sooner. I will replace this one in four years . driving a vintage car was as it turns a great time suck , the money saved was not worth the effort. I could not repair this one if I tried, another plus of the new car.

  10. ” I feel judged as a mother even though I shouldn’t.”

    I never in my life felt as judged everywhere I go as I do now out with my DS

  11. You feel judged because you are, no group of people are more judgemental than those who are know nothing of you or your situation. Remember you are making The best possible decisions for your life with the knowledge you have, no one can ask for more of you .

  12. Re: Mom judgement–DD is still little enough that I haven’t felt a lot of that while out, but I do feel like I need to go out of my way to ensure anything I say related to childrearing is not judgmental. It is so easy for things to be misinterpreted! For example, talking about my experience needing a lactation consultant with other new moms, I felt I needed to specifically acknowledge that while breastfeeding was my own personal goal, of course formula was a good option, too.

    I like Meme’s distinctions. I take great pleasure in watching DD hit milestones, but am trying not to feel excessive pride at this point because there isn’t anything to pat ourselves on the back about. I truly believe we could do everything the same, but a different baby would be on a different timeline so we shouldn’t take credit. But I will happily take in comments about what a smiley baby she is, and someday hopefully can take pride in how we help her to navigate life. :)

  13. Meme– I’ve often felt the same way about situations in asking, “Well, what else could I have done?” But I have seen that not acting *is* a solution a lot of people use. I had a significant recovery from being hit by a car, and people kept telling me how proud of me they were. The alternative was to sit, miserable, and feel angry, resentful, and limited. So I vowed to recover as much as I could and pushed at it. I don’t really feel proud of it, because it’s just who I am. I’m glad I did it, obviously, but I also recognize from various professionals who helped me that it can be an outlier thing to be a fighter.

    I’m mostly proud of my cooking, less vain. I don’t tend to point out to other people what I’ve done, etc. but I’m sure a bit of that creeps in from time to time. Mostly it’s just something I take a lot of pleasure in doing and miss when I can’t.

  14. I pride myself on being very competent in various areas of life. I have a mental task list in my head and each task is tackled and checked off. I rely on my memory a lot and I am known for rarely forgetting. I identify with Meme in that if I were to forget, it would be cause for concern.

  15. Two really selfish pride things – I’m proud about how quickly I bounced back from pregnancy and that I’m a working mom. On how I look, it’s borderline vanity. And I almost don’t feel that twinge of guilt or modesty when others point it out. The working mom thing stems from balancing the high risk pregnancy with a new job, and that my son has needs that are, at least at this point in his life, atypical.

    I’m proud about normal things, but they are normal to me, so it’s “yea I did/have this. whatever.” Example – PhD. That’s pretty special and cool, but to me, it was just a thing I did. Nothing to throw a party over (even though I did).

    On a silly pride thing – I’ve kept a cookie recipe secret from my friends for 9 years. They all love the cookies, and want to know the secret. I don’t tell them that the base of the recipe is boxed cake mix. They aren’t eating cookies – they are eating cake.

  16. I do get the parental judgement thing – and I have experienced it. I try to let it go. Like Anon said, these people only see that one moment, not the whole picture. My favorite is getting judged on DS’ size. I feel like every time someone says he’s so little, I feel like I have to qualify it.

  17. Rhode–I absolutely think you should feel very proud with how you and your DH are handling DS’s needs! Whenever we have a little hiccup in the MidA household, I think of how strong you all are and buck up myself. :)

  18. Rhode – I used to hate questions about how old my son was when he was a baby. Either people would tell me he was so tiny in a disapproving way or I had to go in to a big thing about how he was really 10 months old but developmentally only 7, blah blah blah. I just started shrugging my shoulders and telling people that he seemed really big to us. Because he did!

  19. Rhode – my DD has short stature was extremely ahead of the curve for verbal skills (all related to a medical condition). When she was 3 she was the size of an 18 month old, but talked like a 6 year old. I would get comments all the time over how tiny she is, what a great walker, and what a genius she must be. I’d just smile and tell them we are blessed. Let people think what they will. I always got a kick out of it.

  20. I also think people say stuff just to say it. I was at the grocery store earlier today with my baby. She is on the smaller side (10-15 percentile). Someone told me she was huge! What a big baby! I just smiled brightly. I think most people just want to say something.

  21. from wiki

    Vanity is the excessive belief in one’s own abilities or attractiveness to others. Prior to the 14th century it did not have such narcissistic undertones, and merely meant futility.[2] The related term vainglory is now often seen as an archaic synonym for vanity, but originally meant boasting in vain, i.e. unjustified boasting;[3] although glory is now seen as having an exclusively positive meaning, the Latin term gloria (from which it derives) roughly means boasting, and was often used as a negative criticism.[4]

    Pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered, on almost every list, the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins: the source of the others. It is identified as believing that one is essentially better than others, failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, and excessive admiration of the personal self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God); it also includes vainglory (Latin, vanagloria) which is unjustified boasting. Dante’s definition of pride was “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbour”. In Jacob Bidermann’s medieval miracle play, Cenodoxus, pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride (his desire to compete with God) was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the penitents are burdened with stone slabs on their necks which force them to keep their heads bowed.

  22. I’d just smile and tell them we are blessed.

    That’s an incredibly useful sentence. Other people can say whatever they want, and you can just reply “we’re very blessed”. It kind of leaves no space for insulting followup. And I agree, Cat, I often think of the Meaning of Life song from Monty Python:

    “Is life just a game where we make up the rules
    As we’re searching for something to say?”

    I also like Eddie Izzard talking about being a teenage boy trying to make conversation with a girl he likes: “D’ya like…bread? I’ve got legs.” We either need more elaborate social rules about chitchat, or it should just be acceptable to say, “I see you’ve got a baby there.”

  23. I remember going to Baptist church with my grandmother when I was a child and a sermon on pride. You weren’t supposed to have “pride” at your accomplishments because of your God (or nature) given talents. This goes with what Meme was saying.

  24. To all the posters above with little kids – at some point you cross over to being the parent of a big kid, what this means is that the kid is increasingly evaluated as their own person and less as a reflection of you as a parent. It is great, I tell ya !

  25. I am proud of my MBA and CPA. Proud and not vain. Not for bragging rights , but proud that I made it through both.

  26. I was proud of the career success I had achieved by age 31 in my formerly chosen field. Now, I am proud that I have found the strength to pick myself back up after being laid off 3 times in 4 years and keep working toward a new career, develop new professional connections and friendships, and keep myself from falling apart with my marriage. I am also proud that I have not been afraid to ask for help from my friends & family and to ask for what I want in the breakup. I’m not proud that I still can’t use the D word – but I still don’t have a formal separation agreement yet. ;-)

  27. SWVA: You go girl! I’m so happy that you’re doing ok in an incredibly difficult situation. We are all rooting for you.

  28. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that life is not fair and sh*t happens that we have no control of. Illness, job loss, divorce. This has decreased any pride I feel in my accomplishments. I know that my accomplishments are not the result of talent or hard work (though these are important), but of luck.

  29. I am proud of my even temper and ability to remain calm. I am at the core very emotional, but have worked hard to be able to remain unemotional, and it it just habit now. When people comment on how calm I am it makes me laugh, because my internal monologue is as crazy as it’s always been.

    I also am familiar with the mom-judgment thing. My son went through a period for a year or two when he had behavior issues related to his learning issues. All other parents knew was that he was getting in trouble in school, but not why. It would have been ridiculous to try to explain, but I found it isolating. It has made me much more supportive of people who seem to be struggling. No one needs one more person piling on.

    On the strange things people say when trying to make conversation – I had my very skinny, blue-eyed, red-headed son out for a haircut, and my green-eyed, brown-haired daughter with us. She is 4.5 years older than him. The haircut lady asked me “Are they twins?” The only possible answer was “Why, yes they are. Thank you for noticing.”

  30. “Are they twins?” The only possible answer was “Why, yes they are. Thank you for noticing.”


  31. “I’d just smile and tell them we are blessed.”


    MidA- thank you from the bottom of my heart. This whole experience is our normal, and hasn’t been smooth sailing (Rhode house is known for its bumps… and the aftermath isn’t always pretty), but it’s been a journey with more happiness than sadness.

    DH was the one who pointed out to me that I was qualifying DS’ size. One day he just said to stop. Yes DS is small, but he’s doing everything he’s supposed to be doing. I’ve also taken to calling him our “hard-fought victory”. He is – we fought hard to have him, hard to keep him, and hard to get him healthy enough to come home. And he fights hard right along side us.

    SWVA – you should be very proud of all of that! To start completely over, which is essentially what you are doing in professional and personal ways, is a feat. You’re a young Meme in that way – and both of you should be proud of how far you’ve come.

  32. SWVA – you should be proud! That combination would have knocked a lot of people on their behinds. I hope you get quickly through the hardest part and into a new “normal”. Like Houston said, we’re all rooting for you!!

  33. MBT – glad to know I’m not the only one with the internal monologue on speed. Like you, not many people know when I’m panicking because I don’t really show emotion unless I’m at the end of the rope, and it takes a while to get there.

    How did your “twins” take that comment?

  34. Tulip, I think you’re right that the typical Totebagger response to a setback is to make a ten point plan to fight it, and the typical human response is to sit back and see what happens next.

    Cat S, all three of my kids are so small that they aren’t on the percentile charts for height or weight at all. We get a fair amount of comments like “wow, you’re kidding, he can’t be that old, he’s soooo tiny!”

    Usually people are just trying to make casual conversation and put their foot in their mouths.

    DD is tired of the commentary about her size that she has started to butt in to the adult conversation and say “well, look at my mom, she’s a lot smaller than YOU.”

    You might not want to offer that response to your DS, because it doesn’t always go over well….

    I wish that as a society we spent a lot less time talking about how kids look, especially in front of them, but the lady behind us in the checkout line is hardly going to ask what my favorite Austen novel is ;)

  35. The proper response to “Are they twins?” is “No, I saw one of them sitting in a cart at they grocery store and thought, “Heck, why not?”

  36. Go Sky’s DD! I am short. One of my sons is tall and muscular. One is short and wiry–strong but skinny. When he was a baby, he was always in the 5th-10th percentile in height and weight. What is interesting is that both kids were born having the same length and within 2 oz of each other in birth weight.

  37. Thanks y’all for all the support, but I don’t pretend that what I’m going through is nearly as tough as what Mémé did. I look to her story, and others I know of, to remind me that it could be a lot worse so I should just buck up and get over myself. I am pretty blessed if I look at it from the right point of view.

  38. I used to be very proud and vain about my securing very coveted jobs. Subsequent events have made me appreciate the role of luck in that.

    I also used to be proud of being relatively well read but going to law school and being surrounded by extremely well read and articulate people changed that too.

    Nowadays I am only proud of my laid back attitude and not letting things get to me.

  39. Sky– I love it! That comment could seriously backfire, but innocent kids get away with that better than adults.
    WCE–Except I really don’t want to pick up any more kids at the store, I’m busy enough with the 3 we have!

    I got a lot more tolerant of the randomly obnoxious things people said when I realized how much of it was just an opening gambit at conversation. I still have to bite my tongue regularly, though.

  40. “The proper response to “Are they twins?” is “No, I saw one of them sitting in a cart at they grocery store and thought, “Heck, why not?””

    I might modify this for the career-driven people who question me having kids… it’s absolutely priceless!

  41. I’ve long thought that kids that are small for their ages, especially kids that are bright and mature for their ages, would be great candidates to be models and actors.

    This sort of work would allow them to start contributing to Roth IRAs.

  42. “Usually people are just trying to make casual conversation and put their foot in their mouths”

    It helps to keep this in mind. People are often just trying to be friendly and don’t mean to be mean.

    And since Rocky didn’t say anything, “feet.”

  43. SWVA, you just didn’t dig yourself such a deep hole by failing to enter the workforce or having a lot of kids. It is so hard to decide to leave a marriage, especially when the other person doesn’t actually give you externally validated “acceptable cause”.

    There are quite a few Totebaggers vying for this year’s fortitude medal.

  44. It helps to keep this in mind. People are often just trying to be friendly and don’t mean to be mean.

    Yup. I find it interesting how many people (especially mothers) feel like they are always being judged, yet so few people admit to judging others. It could be that there really isn’t that much judging going, just that people perceive it where it’s not intended.

  45. “yet so few people admit to judging others”

    I think people won’t admit to judging others, because it’s not considered “nice”.

  46. I judge others and I expect they judge me. We all try to make choices about what is best for our families in light of our values and traditions. I liked the discussion about whether equally shared parenting should be a social value promoted by government. Most women on this board would not want to be me, but I sense support for a variety of life choices.

  47. SWVA – Hang in there !

    Regarding kids heights, in my DH’s family he and his siblings turned out taller than their parents. DH’s cousins’ kids are turning out taller than their parents, inspite of some of those parents being short. In the family, there is at some level parental pride in having tall kids when really it is the luck of the draw. (Some of it sounds almost like – you were not providing correct nutrition, therefore your kids turned out short). I am short so there is a lot of guessing (and not in a nice way) as to where my kids will land.

  48. Paging L. Do you check the ljuggleattny address? I have a question about general best practices for a particular issue.

  49. RMS – yes! feel free to email. May not check until tonight but I am around. :)

  50. RMS – we got tickets for ds and a friend to see Eddie Izzard last night. He is a huge fan, and Loved the show. One of our most successful birthday gifts in years.

  51. Happy Father’s Day to all dads, stepdads, grandfathers and godfathers. Hope you have a great day!

  52. “This has decreased any pride I feel in my accomplishments. I know that my accomplishments are not the result of talent or hard work (though these are important), but of luck.” — Wow, that resonates. Yeah, that. Except I’ve gone a little the other way — I grew up attributing *all* of my success to luck (being “born smart”). Getting more life experience taught me that it’s possible to be smart and crash and burn, which helped me realize that maybe I can be proud of myself once in a while, at a minimum for not effing it up too badly.

    What I’m really proud of right now is DD. OK, not this actual minute, given the Giant Flaming B she was yesterday (sigh), but, say, this week. We just finished the new psychoeducational evaluation, which made it clear exactly what a big gap there was between some of her innate cognitive skills (95+ percentile) and some of her executive function skills (auditory processing = 8th percentile for her age). And yet her teachers aren’t noticing much behavioral stuff, and she pulled all As and one B. The doc’s comment was that she is basically doing better than she should be, given the test results. And that really brought home how different things were just a few years ago — at the beginning of MS, *every* teacher would have given her much worse behavior ratings, she literally couldn’t sit still or be quiet; and just a couple of years before that, homework was 2 hrs of screaming fits for 15 minutes of work. And now here she is “passing” as normal. And that’s all on her. Freaking awesome.

    @Rhode/SWVA — I haven’t said much lately, because I’ve been catching up on the blog after-the-fact, but you guys have really impressed me lately with what you’re dealing with on a personal level and how you’re just managing everything so matter-of-factly. FWIW, I think that’s something to be proud of, because not everyone can do so (me, for example).

  53. Also, way late but I like this topic. I am definitely vain about some things (looks or rather how I clean up well, voice, and other stuff when I was younger) but mostly I only think about those things when I have time on my hands and am not worrying about something else, so not often!

  54. LfB – that’s great news about your daughter. As a parent, there’s not a whole lot you can do to help them overcome deficits that show up primarily just in the school setting, and it can be painful to watch the struggle. I’m glad for her, and you, that she’s figuring out how to manage it.

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