Never will I . . .

by Rhett

Cordellia mentioned that her house has three water heaters because as a child she promised herself she’d never take a cold shower as an adult. I grew up in a house that was hot in the summer and freezing in the winter so I promised I’d always have powerful HVAC.

What are some of the things you’ve promised yourself as a child that you’ve achieved as an adult? What are some of the things you haven’t achieved?


201 thoughts on “Never will I . . .

  1. While I think that having brothers has been a beneficial thing to me, I had to share a bathroom with them growing up. It was traumatic. My daughter (age 2) has her own and always will if I have any say in the matter. I always wished (and still do) that I had a sister and I am sad that my daughter also will not have one, but that one is outside of my control.

  2. I will never say “I can’t afford XYZ” when what I mean is “I choose not to spend my money on it.” I grew up feeling some financial anxiety because I thought $$ was pretty tight. I was stunned as adult to learn my parents were really well off, just strong savers.

  3. My childhood was such that I was everyone’s favorite but I also had lots of responsibilities put on me. My parents just assumed I would figure it out. It was very painful to have to grow up so quickly, without emotional support. Along the way, I decided to be more available for my kids and give them the support they need. The responsibilities will come but childhood is not forever.

  4. What came immediately to my mind is that I vowed I wouldn’t make my daughters have short hair! I always wanted long hair (since practically every other girl had it), but my mom always made us have a short bob. By the time I was grown up and could have it long, I didn’t really care anymore.

    I let DD have her hair long, and she actually chose at different times to cut it short and grow it out again.

    That control issue was always something I held against my mother – and of course she made comments about DD’s long hair occasionally!

  5. As a child, a good deal of decisions were because I said so or they were so opaque that I had no idea they even occured. I wanted my DDs to understand the decision making process and how that aligned with our values. One example, my dad was out of work when I was a high schooler. We were on what seemed like the 90th night of chicken for dinner. I mentioned it – at the time not having a clue about food costs- and asked why we couldn’t have some variety. The response was a version of because I said so, but not so politely stated. When my partner was out of work, my kids were 1st and 3rd grade. My 3rd grader knew when her classmates dads’ were out of work many of them left the private school. I told them, their dad was out of work, but we had enough money to stay in our house, eat, have clothing, pay for 1st grader’s medical care and pay for school. However, we wouldn’t be eating out as much, we’d be being more careful about other things we bought, and some of the extra activities we’d been doing, we would put off for a while.

    My dad was a yeller who quickly lost his temper. I never wanted to be “that parent”. Mostly I have done pretty well. But, when I really had to ramp up care giving for my parents without a lot of support from my partner or kids, I had a very hard time keeping my temper from flaring. Now that they both have passed, I find that is back under control again.

  6. I’ve mentioned in the past about growing up with sparing use of air conditioning, so I’m in heaven as an adult when I can keep some form of indoor climate control on throughout the year while also using my porch whenever I want. Also, as a kid, our house was often a bit on the messy and disorganized side. Not CPS-worthy by any means, but not company-ready, either. Yet my parents would entertain regularly, so we would have these mad-dash cleaning sessions beforehand, and it would look great for a few days, then slip back. At some point, probably as a young teen, I decided that I would eventually outsource regular cleaning, both for the obvious grunt work as well as the recurring motivator to make us tidy up. The example my brother gives is that in our houses now, if someone needs a pair of scissors, you can be reasonably sure where to find one. That’s never been the case wherever my parents live, and likely never will be.

    But a lot of these “nevers,” such as A/C or heat or hot water, and the satisfaction we derive from achieving them, have been made a lot easier by the steadily decreasing costs of energy. My Mom has reminisced that when she was a teen, my grandmother would give her a hard time about taking such frequent showers, even after swimming at the beach, banging on the bathroom door and complaining about using all that expensive heating oil. And it was expensive! The same could be said of housing square footage and extra bathrooms — it’s never been so affordable.

  7. Most of my “never will I” comments had to do with parenting, and I have broken pretty much all of them. E.g., “I will never give my kids an early bedtime because it sucks and is so unfair.” All I can say is karma’s a bitch.

    One thing I have followed through on is not forcing all generic equivalents because they’re “just as good.” Because, a, sometimes they’re not; I still remember the table-top pool table Christmas present that had such a dip in the middle every shot was a curve ball. So if my DH wants a certain brand of OJ, and he tries others and can taste the difference, I will buy him the one he likes.

    But more to the point, b, for some things the specific “thing” mattered more than the quality. Not many. A Big Wheel. A bike with a banana seat and Y handlebars like all the cool kids had, or the cool blue one with the little white wheels I loved at the store. One freaking alligator shirt to provide protective coloration in 8th grade. I thought at the time we couldn’t afford them — that was the stock answer, after all. But in retrospect, we could have (except the Big Wheel). It was just my mom’s anti-commercialism streak, together with her unshakable confidence that she was the best judge of what was best for me.

    Yeah, I do still buy mostly cheap/generic for my kids, because let’s face it, most kids’ stuff is designed to be used/worn/played with for only a fairly short period of time. But if DD desperately wants eyeglasses that aren’t on the cheap rack, I say ok, because I know how much ugly glasses can affect a kid’s confidence.

    As an aside, I think I need to get my mom a tombstone made from Corian, because I hear it’s just as good as granite. . . .

  8. It was not in my childhood, but when I was in my first real job out of undergrad I took BART (SFBay regional rapid transit) to work. One day waiting there I said to myself that these people much make $50,000/year. When I get there I’ll be set (making just under $1000/month at the time). Well, somehow, I got there in a few years, but somehow I was not quite “set”.

    I really can’t think of any creature comforts lacking in my youth that I vowed to avoid as an adult. I never thought of us as wealthy, or even well off / comfortable, but looking at this table: I think our household income was ~25-50% above the median in 1968 ($8000 – $10,000 real income).

  9. Never will I embarrass my kids by taking the cheap way when I can afford not to. That will broadly encompass taping broken glasses, soldering broken glasses at home, making a long dress for first formal dance date my middle schooler is invited to, making my daughter wear a dress she has already worn to other things to the homecoming dance, and other such first world horrors.

    My husband grew up having to build/fix everything they needed. That included re-roofing his mom’s house while we were dating, with my unskilled self as the only assistant. As an employed adult, he chooses cars that are not in danger of breaking down and newer homes, and has no illusions that it “builds character” for our kids to drive something that leaves them stranded.

  10. @ ssk – I thought of the same thing with the mandatory bob when I was younger.

    @ Kate – my daughter does not have a sister. Are there certain ages where you found yourself wishing more you had a sister or just an overall wish for one? I love having sisters, but it seems like my daughter will be closer to me than I was to my mom as a child. And she’ll be daddy’s only girl, so there might be some benefits.

  11. My first comment didn’t post but the gist was that I lived with my dad as a teenager after my mother remarried. He is a total messy bachelor and does not care about cleanliness, good food or home decor and I always wished our house was more comfortable feeling so I’ve made it a point to make sure our homes have been nicer and made sure the food was better. My dad worked late a lot of nights so I was on my own for dinner and so I ended up eating at my boyfriend’s house a lot.

    I had promised myself things like if any of my kids wanted certain clothes I would most likely buy them for them, but my oldest just does not care what she wears still at age 9. I remember pining for stirrup pants and Guess jeans in 2nd grade and the answer was always we couldn’t afford those things.

    Also, I vowed to be better and more responsible with money than my parents.

  12. Never will I serve or consume food that I dislike for some sort of external healthy reason (Liver every other Thursday. Cooked frozen spinach.)

    Never will I force my kids or grandkids to eat anything they don’t like after the initial taste.

    Never will I force my daughter to wear a borrowed yellow dotted swiss southern belle dress to the senior prom because I said she was entitled to only one party dress that year and she had used up her allotment. (She got a beautiful black cocktail dress that she wore for years afterward).

    Never will I only praise perfection in my kids, not just effort or coming in second. (Epic fail early on when my mom’s voice came out of my mouth. I got somewhat better.)

    Never will I squelch a child’s desire to try something outside the box. (Another epic fail – kid wanted to try out for a play and I discouraged her. She was plump and wore glasses – I never got parts – they went to the pretty girls. She tried out – and got the major female part – a comic character role. The ingenue was a minor role.)

    Some of my promises to myself were made based on experiences in my twenties, not just in childhood.

    Never will I drink powdered milk again (my equivalent of Scarlett O’Hara’s radishes).
    Never will I be unable to support myself or anyone under my care on my own earnings or savings.

  13. ssk – YES. I always had short hair until I put my foot down to my mom (age 11?). Now I follow the kids’ opinions re: their hair and put up with my mother calling them “ragamuffins”. Same with clothes now that #1 is old enough to have an opinion.

    Also, we let our kids watch a really wide range of stuff on TV. The older 2 have already seen Guardians of the Galaxy. This is in contrast to my never being able to watch a PG movie until I was 12, and similar restrictions on TV (PBS only). Probably a lot of what we let the kids do stems from my desire not to be too strict – like buying sugared cereal when it is (gasp) not a school vacation week. :)

  14. Up North – I think it bothers me more as an adult than it did as a kid. Especially as my parents are getting older. As the only girl I do/did have a special role in the family. My dad and I have a very different relationship than my brothers have with him. And my mother says that it is very different with me than compared to my brothers wrt wedding/grandkids/etc.

  15. Also, this is a later-in-life thing but having seen major empty-nest depression in my mom after we left home, I cling strongly to my own identity, in addition and apart from being Mom.

  16. I promised myself that I will keep my house stocked with junk food when I grew up! Our pantry is stocked with Kettle chips, Oreos, Chex Mix, etc. Fridge had several types of soda. My parents are very, very healthy eaters, even now. College was awesome–I could eat anything I wanted.

  17. Never will I use green or brown, especially plaids, in home decor. I do wear green clothing sometimes, depending on the shade. This stems from the school uniform I wore in grades 1-8. I had a good school experience, but I grew to hate the uniform.

    And never will I let anyone cut my bangs so that they look like this.

  18. My parents could afford to and generally bought us what we wanted. We had the opposite issue – when clothes shopping with my Mom, I would look at the price, decide it was not worth it and would want to leave right away. My Mom would go from rack to rack, urging me to try clothes but I just wanted to leave. Same with my sibling.

  19. Thanks, Kate.

    I also experienced the extremely short bangs! Haven’t done that to my daughter yet : )

  20. “That control issue was always something I held against my mother”

    This is the fundamental issue, writ large. I vowed to give my kids more choice where it didn’t actually matter.

    “Also, we let our kids watch a really wide range of stuff on TV. The older 2 have already seen Guardians of the Galaxy.”

    Me too — my mom was very anti-TV, except for PBS and O’s games, so I have clearly gone too far in the other direction. I’ll see your Guardians of the Galaxy and raise you Zombieland. :-)

    And the biggest personal one was very Scarlett O’Hara: I will never be poor again. I didn’t affirmatively chase the highest buck, but I figured as long as I didn’t know what I really wanted to do, I might as well start down the path that provided a good paycheck until it no longer fit. Probably the closest thing to overt rebellion in my college-prof family. :-)

  21. CoC – yes to the bangs!! Add home haircuts to my list!

    Also, the not forcing people to eat foods they hate. Seriously, what is the possible benefit of yelling at a kid not to dare throw up as they sit at the table gagging while trying to swallow Brussels sprouts? That is a battle I have no interest in fighting.

  22. I vowed never to be cold in my own home again. DH however has taken to channeling my dad (“Put on a sweater”) so a battle over the thermostat rages (quietly but constantly) in my home.

  23. My parents put a lot of responsibility on me, and by age 10, I was responsible for watching my sibs for long stretches of time. I never felt safe or in good control of them, so I swore I wouldn’t do that to my kids.

    When we lived in MA, we had a septic system and well water. I said, Never again, and I have stuck to that.

  24. DH and I battle over the thermostat too. It’s due to a large difference in what we each view to be a comfortable temperature. The size of our electric bill is not a factor in these ongoing skirmishes.

  25. I vowed never to have only 1 child. I had a love-hate relationship with being an only child. Now, as an adult, I wish I had someone else to help with elder care issues, bounce ideas off of, and who would just get me. When my parents die (probably not for a long while, but they are at the age where they go to funerals more frequently), but I will be alone. My cousins have already started to move on with their lives, and the likelihood of being “remembered” will be small. I never wanted that for DS.

    LfB – I have a blue (more sky-light blue than dark) Corian counter I hate. If you want a jump start on your mom’s tombstone, let me know.

  26. I still derive significant joy from waking up in the morning to a warm house. The kids have no idea this is anything other than life as usual.

  27. Many of you have already given my answers, which can be summed up as having enough resources to meet all of my family’s needs and almost all of their wants. Rejecting the notion that nice things and experiences are for other more worthy people.

    So yes to the damned alligator polo shirt.

  28. For me:

    I’m in the top decile in terms of career and finances among my peer group. My dad was always at rock bottom and it really bothered me and caused a great deal of family strife and struggle.

    I also have a totally draft free home with powerful HVAC. I grew up almost always too hot or too cold and always drafty.

    As for things I’ve not done? No ice and water through the door. When I was a kid I thought it was the coolest fanciest thing ever. As an adult it’s on the to do list but hasn’t happened yet.

    Also, I don’t have a really fancy car: RS7 or S550, etc. My kid self would look at where I am and be horrified by the car situation given my resources. But, I have a decent car that’s paid for and at 9 years has 50k miles so it just doesn’t make sense.

  29. “Seriously, what is the possible benefit of yelling at a kid not to dare throw up as they sit at the table gagging while trying to swallow Brussels sprouts?”

    What you describe is extreme. But try to imagine that you’re a working-middle class family in 1948 and you’re spending 40% of your household income on food, and that is without getting any prepared foods or dining out. The options for vegetables at your grocery are extremely limited. Your kitchen is tiny and there are not a lot of different widely known preparation methods that you can look up on You already spent time preparing these Brussels sprouts (boiling them while you were hanging the kids’ wet underwear on the line to dry, since buying a clothes dryer in addition to the washer would probably cost an additional $5k in today’s equivalent) in addition to trying to put something together something appetizing with whatever leftover meat and bones you had from Sunday.

    I don’t know about you, but given those circumstances, I’m not going to be so eager to just say “Oh, take one bite and throw the rest away if you don’t particularly care for it.”

    And we say parenting (“parenting”) is soooooo much harder today. The Hell it is.

  30. It is hard to hold some of the indignities of childhood against my parents because they were so young and they had no money for a long time. But still…
    Growing up, my mother cut my hair, and she did the truly awful straight bangs (she use scotch tape to mark where to cut, so you can imagine how awful it was). When I went off to college, I insisted on getting my hair cut at a real beauty shop, and I have done so ever since. And I am mega fussy about my bangs (my mother was right in that I do need bangs, but I insist that they be spiky and not linear).
    We also were stuck with the cheapest crap tennies imaginable. Even my mother wore cheap tennies. So now I spend money on my shoes.When I was in college I wanted to have Frye boots like all the other cool girls, but couldn’t even dream of affording them. They got popular again in the last few years, so I bought myself a pair, finally. And I love them

  31. Milo,

    I think it’s more like hazing. People felt, “Our parents did it to us so we need to do it to our kids.” The 1948 parent could have just made fewer brussel sprouts. In terms of dollars per calorie, it’s unlikely brussel sprouts were the cheapest option.

  32. Yes, but that would probably mean ignoring all the government public service films about making sure your kids get good nutrition with plenty of vegetables, and that they get all their “vitamins” (a term that didn’t exist until about 1920).

  33. My mom always made me have short hair, because it was so much easier. I hated it, and desperately wanted long hair. My girls can have their hair whatever length they choose.

    She commented on my hair length until I was in my late forties. That was really irritating.

  34. From adulthood: Never will I drive an unreliable car. When we were first married in our early 20s, I had a car that broke down all the damn time. It was financially stressful and emotionally stressful. This was when you had car phones, but they were truly car phones. If the car wasn’t on, the phone wasn’t on. So every time it broke down I’d have to walk to a gas station and call someone to come get me, and call to have it towed. We finally were able to get me a new car after 2 years and then the same thing happened to DH over and over again with his car. More financial and life stress.

  35. I think that those of us who grew up to discover that the privations or strictures imposed on us in childhood were part of our parents’ depression era history and not because the wolf was actually at the door had the most desire to let our kids have stuff and their way when it “did not matter.” In my case, I actually did not have the disposable income when my kids were in the house and it was hard to know when to say yes and when to say no on things and when to insist that they finish a course of lessons that we paid for in lieu of some other use of the money. We had a hair trimmer for the boys and men. Elder son got so good at it he did fades and such for his friends when they were teenagers. But my kids tell me that because I served just enough for the family at dinner and milk was only for mornings – water at dinner – they were always worried that there would not be enough (and in those days nobody was particularly overweight.) So you never know what will get on the next generation’s “never will I” list.

  36. Oh no! In 30 years, my daughter is going to be posting on some message board about me trimming her bangs and the trauma that I caused her. Am I really supposed to take her to get them trimmed? I have to do it every 2-3 weeks.

  37. It is funny that so many women had short hair and wanted long. It is the reverse now. All girls universally have long hair. Having short hair is a real act of rebellion. I have a daughter who wants short hair, even though she is teased for it. She is the only girl in her grade, year after year, with short hair. Now, she has this very dramatic style that is side parted, very short in back, and long on one side in front. She wants to dye the long part blue. I told her I am all for it (it is very much something I would have done). We have one small complication – she picked up ringworm this summer on her scalp and is taking medicine for it. The spots are improving, but I told her we can’t think about hair dye until she is off the meds and no longer had to use antifungal shampoo.

  38. I am another who swore that I would never be without good HVAC. I hate being hot, and I was always sweltering in the summer. Having the house cold in the winter didn’t bother me as much because I run hot & I like cuddling under lots of blankets anyway.

    I swore that I would not tell my kid how to dress (e.g., put on a sweater because Mom is cold). Kids above the age of 5 can regulate their own temperature with proper clothing, and people run different temperatures.

    My parents’ house was also always messy & definitely not company-ready. I swore that I would have a cleaner, uncluttered house, and to a certain extent, I do. I also swore that I would live in a big house, and I don’t. But priorities change.

    Like LFB, I swore that I wouldn’t chose a profession where I knowingly made a lot less money than I could. (I also came from a family of academics.) I’ve eaten that one a bit while finding the right balance between work/money/family/leisure, because I have definitely turned down more lucrative paths. But I’m okay with that too.

  39. that they get all their “vitamins” (a term that didn’t exist until about 1920).

    That doesn’t mean the vitamins weren’t there. I think malnutrition, especially in rural areas, was a bigger problem back in the day. So yeah, the moms all wanted to make sure the kids would grow up big and strong. Isn’t there some story about the military recruits for…WWI? WWII? being so malnourished that there was a big push to make sure kids got better nutrition?

  40. Refusing to eat the brussel sprouts (it was usually a casserole not brussel sprouts) also meant you were ungrateful for what was being provided. So dang it you were going to eat every thing on your plate and show some respect. A lot to lay on a little kid.
    (Dinners were not the best times in my family.)

  41. Hey, PTM, someone said on the other days post that you chose your handle in an attempt to poke fun at the uber-respectable mores of this group. It sounds to me like an insult, but on second thought, I don’t know. Why did you choose that name? I can’t recall ever seeing you explain it.

  42. +1 for the long hair. Oh how I wanted long flowing locks. That’s probably why now my hair is longer than is seemly for anyone, let alone someone my age.

    +1 on the AC but I have adopted my dad’s thermostat in the winter. The colder the better.

    I will never withhold information from my children. My mother is always keeping things from me like times my dad was in the hospital, when family members died for a variety of reasons “mostly didn’t want to upset/worry you.” always makes me feel like she doesn’t think I can handle things. I think she thinks this because I am the most emotive member of the family so I think she thinks expressing feelings = not dealing with it which couldn’t be further from the truth. This has caused me to miss out on opportunities to attend services or express proper condolences and worry more than I should because I never truly know what is up. There is a good deal of resentment on my part and limits our relationship.

    I would never and have never banned certain words in our home a la “We don’t say shut up in this house.” as I believe you can be just as hurtful without hurtful words. It is about how you say what you say and yes I curse like a sailor. Nice thing about having teens is being able to relax with that. They know when you can say those words and when you can’t and that is a more important lesson than just simply outlawing them.

  43. Hey, PTM, someone said on the other day’s post that you chose your handle in an attempt to poke fun at the uber-respectable mores of this group. It sounds to me like an insult, but on second thought, I don’t know. Why did you choose that name? I can’t recall ever seeing you explain it.

  44. I vowed to never buy margarine, always butter. Even when my parents were well off my mom could be incredibly cheap with ingredients – if a recipe called for butter and cream, she used margarine and milk or evaporated milk. She liked convenience foods – mashed potatoes from a blue can, canned or frozen vegetables, dried onions, she didn’t like to do a lot of prep. Guess you could say she didn’t like to cook but put dinner on the table 7 nights a week.

    Another dad with the thermostat no one else could touch. Didn’t mind the winter – don’t like a hot house, but summer sucked. Also like to take a longer shower than my parents thought was okay.

  45. “Guess you could say she didn’t like to cook but put dinner on the table 7 nights a week.”

    Yeah, lots of people today who “love to cook, and from scratch!” love to do it just a couple times a week, then fill in the rest with prepared dinners, takeout, or fast-casual restaurants.

    I thought margarine was for perceived health benefits, not necessarily cost savings. Everyone laughs at it now, but they’re still buying tons of “almond milk.”

  46. We buy candy. And we eat it, every day.

    I did make DD cut back a bit when she needed sealants on her molars, because the dentist told me no taffy or sticky candy for her.

    DH did not have much growing up and wants the kids to have lots of toys. They have lots of toys. Lots and lots and lots of toys. Between the unlimited candy, ice cream, snacks, and toys, our house is popular. (Well, at least until I start correcting grammar and manners :) )

    I vowed never to spend too much time cleaning and ironing. I still clean, but I iron so rarely that when I took the ironing board out to put on some scout patches the other day two of our three kids asked me what the iron was.

    What I vowed to do that I did not: Leave this town forever and shake the dust of it from my feet. Totally miscalled that one.

  47. I too have many of the “never evers” already posted and like LFB have broken many of the “parenting” ones. One I won’t break is I don’t lie to my kids about what is in their food. I HATE onions and thankfully so does my husband. My mother would use them and then tell me they weren’t in the dish and I of course would find them and she always responded oh those are small and you can’t even taste them. I always did and still to this day have to pick them out of my food when I eat at my parents’ house. So I don’t lie to my kids about what is in the food nor do I force them to eat something they don’t want. Though I do try and encourage them to expand their palates.

    On the refusing to eat what was served, we were never forced to eat anything but neither could we have food after dinner was served. We usually had two veggies, a protein, and a starch at each meal and if you made it a salad. Needless to say many times I only ate the veggies/starch or a salad if I didn’t like the protein (meatloaf with lots of onions), my brother would cover anything he didn’t like in ketchup and my sister did the same with applesauce. For our kids I try to make something each meal that they like so I don’t end up being a short order cook because I won’t do the you didn’t eat and the kitchen is closed.

  48. Margarine was invented in the 1850s in France as a cheap alternative to butter. Became popular in US during depression because of cost. Many kids grew up with bread spread with margarine and a sprinkle of sugar for lunch and snacks. When WWII came along there was not enough butter to go around so margarine was pushed by the government (don’t know if butter was rationed in the States). During the Korean war doctors doing autopsies of soldiers were concerned that so many young men showed clogged arteries. This started a debate about beef and dairy products being bad for heart health. Big push in 60’s to move to margarine and 2% or less milk.

  49. My mom gave up her cushy job because my father wanted a sah wife. As a direct result our financial situation was always tight. I vowed to be financially independent and the goal is to leave our kid with some inheritance. At the same time, it is a hard balance between wanting to live a decent life with good cars etc. – because life is short, and saving enough to leave an inheritance because life, after all, can be long and expensive.

    I also want to give my kid all those things peers have. From personal experience, it is one of the most important factors for a kid. The trick would be to find peers that do not have an expensive lifestyle.

  50. I grew up with parents who helped found the natural food co-op in our town, made their own bread, and bought this horrible natural peanut butter that you had to stir forever. As a result, I vowed that I would never buy peanut butter that you have to stir.

    I too remember how precious the one Izod alligator shirt I had when I was growing up – and as a result, will buy the kids brand-name clothing if they want it.

    I let the kids choose their hairstyles. When I was 11, my mom made me get a very short haircut. Horrible. I actually had two separate strangers walk up to me and ask if I was a boy (just the sort of thing you want when you’re 11).

    I will never willingly live through 6 months of winter again.

  51. “Oh and I will NEVER EVER freeze bread or milk!! NEVER!”

    Interesting . . . if I didn’t freeze bread I’d have to throw out 2/3 of the loaf. I like having bread in the house but we don’t eat much of it, and it’s just more convenient to freeze it. It’s not a cost issue.

    Now I NEVER buy the powdered milk we used to have when I was a kid, except for the times I’ve gone backpacking.

  52. I remember so many times sitting at the kitchen table long after dinner was over because I hadn’t eaten my veggies (because they were always plain and terrible). I think my mother thought that she was being lenient because her father had made her run laps around the house when they didn’t eat their dinners. So I don’t make my kids eat (they have to try everything but if they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it) and I don’t make dessert contingent on finishing their dinners (we have it a few nights per week). I also don’t do the you don’t eat, you don’t get any more food thing anymore. I make soup once per week and that’s their least favorite night and I do let them have a banana before bed if they’re still hungry. I’ve become a lot more lenient but my kids will be on a message board in 30 years complaining that I didn’t let them have cereal and that DH cuts DS’ hair.

  53. Milo – margarine came to the forefront during WWII – shortage of butter. And forever after (at least when I was growing up) it was a lot cheaper than butter, so it remained popular.

    Some recipes call for margarine in baking, but otherwise we use only butter.

    Interestingly one of my SILs is married to a guy whose company (food industry) gives all employees 6 lbs of butter every Friday. Obv they don’t have to take it, but that’s a deminimis fringe.

  54. And I didn’t know you could freeze milk.

    “I will never willingly live through 6 months of winter again.”

    This may be my future “never”.

  55. Things I have deliberately changed from my family of origin:
    my DH should get what he prefers in the marriage at least half the time, with no drama, and we should talk honestly and kindly about what’s important to us
    I do not repeatedly note people’s mistakes for years (or decades)
    I try to understand why other people think the way they do
    I do not deliberately ignore information that contradicts my worldview (although I may interpret it in a nonstandard way)
    I think my kids are largely good kids who will largely make good choices, and one error is not the superhighway to perdition
    I chose a major that would help me get a job that paid decently and that I don’t hate, even though the major itself was not particularly interesting

    Things I haven’t changed enough on:
    yell at kids more often than I should (yelling is always going to happen when they’re upstairs and it’s 5 minutes till the bus comes, until they reliably check the clock on their own; I’m not opposed to yelling in principle)

    repeat myself too much (with people in general)

    refuse to spend money on fun frivolities (have abandoned it as a principle, but still struggle to find balance; much easier now that we’re through the paycut/layoff/medical bill years)

    On messy houses:
    My kids don’t seem bothered by the level of mess in our house but it bothers me right now. I know it will lessen when Baby WCE no longer drags shoes, toys, laundry, etc. all over and I can get through another few months until she outgrows this stage. I have friends who are both better and worse housekeepers.

  56. This is a vow I’ve made as an adult but I’ve vowed never to get as out of shape as my mom. Her weight and lack of exercise made her final years more difficult than they might have been.

    Also, my mom would never admit when she was wrong or had made a mistake. If I am wrong or make a mistake, I do my best to be very open about it with the kids.

  57. I freeze what’s left of the milk when we go away because I like being able to thaw it and use it for breakfast when we get home without having to go to the grocery store.

    I also freeze bread/English muffins/bagels/pita bread because I don’t go to the store often enough to keep them stocked and fresh. (I don’t freeze them long term, maybe 2-3 weeks at most.)

  58. OM – That’s fascinating. There’s a great little history on margarine on Wikipedia that talks about how it tasted so much like butter, but it was white like lard, so the manufacturers dyed it yellow, which made the dairy farmers panic and they lobbied for laws prohibiting the dyeing of margarine. So the margarine companies would sell a tub of white margarine with a packet of yellow food coloring to be mixed in by the customer. The law was ultimately repealed in the 1950s.

    The comments about nice cars and unreliable cars made me wonder if there really even are any consistently unreliable cars in the United States. While there are surely some exceptions among the working poor, I would guess that’s more often than not a function of not being able to afford simple repairs that are relatively easy and effective. But at least for the working-middle class and up, unreliable cars just don’t exist. My Dad and I were recently discussing cars, and his father considered himself very frugal in this regard, but they would buy something about two years old, drive it for four more years, working on it regularly, and then it was totally shot, as in ready to be crushed. So they had a ’49 Plymouth that was junked and replaced with a ’55 that was junked and replaced with a ’61, or thereabouts. And all throughout this time, you just lived with issues like they would go to the beach and get caught in a rainstorm, but the car just would not start because water would get into the ignition points. Nothing to do but wait for it to dry. This could be a three-year-old car!

    Compared to now, those who are proudly frugal by choice might drive something until it’s 15 or 20 years old, and something might start going wrong and they’ll call victory and write on the MMM forums that they “drove it into the ground!” when in reality, that car is more often than not making its way to Baltimore and getting loaded onto the enormous car carrier ships to start a second life overseas.

  59. As a side note on hair – I got my hair colored last week for the first time in about 12 years, and it is so expensive! I got the free-hand highlights and it was $200. :-0 Now I will wait until I start going grey to do it again.

  60. The bread & milk freezing made me laugh. Freezing milk is one of DH’s “nevers” I think.

    I freeze bread all the time to make sure we don’t run out & so that I can buy the double-packs at Costco. I’ve never noticed any decline in quality, but we only freeze for a week or two.

  61. those who are proudly frugal by choice might drive something until it’s 15 or 20 years old, and something might start going wrong and they’ll call victory and write on the MMM forums that they “drove it into the ground!”

    The 2002 e-class that our 17yo now drives has ‘only’ 143,000 on it and it runs great. I bought it for $10k 5yrs ago with 68,000 on it. Now it looks like a car that’s been thru ~15 winters up here with obvious rust spots, but otherwise good to go. To Finn’s point: no it does not have all the latest safety features, but it does have airbags all around. He’ll drive it for another 11months until he goes to college (no car freshman year, too much of a distraction IMO). I did not ‘need’ to give it up to him when he got his license in the spring, but I just wanted a new car by then. When he leaves, it’ll be the winter-beater for my commute for a year. I expect it’ll provide reliable transport for several more years barring crashes. Looks somewhat ugly, but hey, it’s practically free to him. At some point I will sell it to a local junkyard for probably $500 and they can part it out.

  62. DH grew up in a more frugal household–he grew up without a lot of toys, games, and presents. So it was important for him that our kids have generous birthdays and Christmases.

  63. I’m with my mother today for a doctor appointment, and she mentioned something I used to hate as a child. its not an issue with today’s cars, but I never want to sit in a freezing cold car while it warms up.

  64. My parents were quite lax. We were encouraged to eat all types of foods and meal times in later years meals were eaten in front to the TV since color TV was new and prime time coincided with dinner.
    I read a lot of books and watched a lot of shows that weren’t quite kid appropriate.
    My kids point out to me that I am taking to a probably not appropriate movie for their age :-).

  65. “So you never know what will get on the next generation’s “never will I” list.”

    Yeah, this. Best parenting tidbit I ever heard is “don’t worry, no matter what you do, it will be wrong.” So while I am blazing my way through my own “I wills” and “I won’ts,” I am also trying to maintain a little perspective/empathy about my parents’ and grandparents’ circumstances that led to some of those choices.

    E.g., Milo’s tidbit about the Brussels sprouts. My grandparents were Depression-era, so my mom grew up as a founding member of the clean-plate, children-are-starving-in-China club, so she became anorexic and vowed never to put that kind of pressure on me. She absolutely did not force me to clean my plate; and yet she still spent most of my life thinking my pickiness was a power play and not an actual visceral reaction to certain flavors/textures. Meanwhile, my dad grew up where you grew or hunted most of your own food, so I still got the “you will sit there until you eat your peas” from him.

    It’s like generational pinball, where every choice is a reaction to what came before. You mimic what your parents did that worked for you as a child, and you do the opposite of the things that did not. Each of those choices reflects what you believe to be right. But the small humans in your house to whom you apply those choices are Not You, but rather are independent beings with their own personalities/drivers/(dis)likes. As a result, those same choices will almost by definition not be “right” for them in some critical ways (or may be right for one but not the other(s)). All you can do is make your best choices, pay attention to how it’s working, keep a little humility about your all-knowingness, and try to have a little empathy for how your parents came to be the way they are. And hope that your kids will do you the same favor when it’s their turn.

  66. I never thought about the home haircuts being a problem. Mr WCE cuts all the hair in our house and it’s primarily because of hassle, not cost. I can’t tell that my boys look different from any other little boys and Mr WCE is way faster than the stylists I’ve had do it and at least as accurate. (This is a man who solders chips at 88 pins to the inch…) DS1 screamed at the sound of the clippers (since birth, also screamed at the vacuum cleaner) and Mr WCE not-too-grumpily uses only scissors to cut his hair. The twins don’t mind the clippers and everyone gets ice cream or chocolate pudding at the end.

    (Haircut for me = Please take about 4″ inches off- the ends are getting scraggly about every 6 months.)

  67. “Oh yes to the no homemade outfits and the home haircuts. I loathed these as a child…. I was the only one at the yacht club who had them. ”


  68. I freeze bread but not milk. The bread thing is likely from being in a high humidity environment. Mold grows quickly in south Florida. My biggest splurge is good fruits and vegetables and quality meats. My parents eat a lot of cheap crap and subpar fruits and vegetables. They are frugal most of the time on little stuff but probably blow through $100,000 per year on travel, second home and boats. My dad thinks I am spendy but I once let slip how much we had saved and he stopped making comments on our spending habits.

    On the main topic, I got a lot of verbal abuse from my dad as a kid about how I was stupid, would never be as successful as him, never as smart as my sister, etc. I will never do that to my children. I do celebrate their strengths and encourage effort to improve the weaker areas but I hope they never get that level of negative feedback from me. They are good kids and smart enough to do most anything they want if they have the drive and put in the effort. I credit the fact that I had a lot of family friends that gave me positive feedback and support so I knew my dad was wrong from the start.

  69. WCE – We never did home haircuts, but I remember my Mom taking us to the generic barbershop or salon, and they would ask her “So, what are we going to do with him today?” and she’d look up from her magazine or book, kind of confused as if to say “why are you asking me?” and shrug and say “Oh, you know, just a normal boy’s haircut” as if there were only one obvious choice.

  70. “So you never know what will get on the next generation’s “never will I” list.”

    One interesting thing about watching your children become parents is observing the length and contents of the “never will I” list. Our kids had it pretty good (compared to us, anyhow) and so they have a lot less to work with in that regard.

    I agree on the cold car thing. When we were kids, my dad would never turn on the car heater during the drive to church in the winter, “because by the time it gets warm we’ll be there.” Every time I turn on my heated seats for the 5 minute morning drive to the pool in January, I think of that. Our house was always freezing in winter and roasting in the summer, and it’s beyond ironic that my dad now takes it upon himself to adjust the thermostat in our house because it’s too cold in the winter for him. I tell him to put on a sweater.

  71. I do still cut the youngest’s bangs, but only to eyebrow length! #1 child gets a salon haircut and #2 goes to the barber – sometimes I can get DH to take him but often I end up being the one to bring him. Right now he is “growing it out” so he can gel it (but he can’t do it himself, LOL) so we haven’t had any haircuts for a while.

  72. @Milo – DH grew up asking for a “regular boys’ haircut, not too short” from the barber.

    I loved it the one time my mom did a home perm with me (yes, this was the 80’s). It was fun & turned out nicely for the time. Never had a home haircut though. OTOH, I HATED the homemade clothes. As LFB says though – as an adult, I appreciate the work that my mom went through attempting to make things that were almost as good as the real thing (but never quite right). But as I kid, I just wanted the real thing from the store.

  73. I always went to the barber shop with my dad when I was young. There was this poster on the wall:

    The other kids (~15 and younger) & I were the only ones in the shop not smoking. Ashtrays right in the armrests.

    I actually had my kids cut my hair for a few years. (Buzz #1.5 all around). Why? not to save the $15 since I paid them, but because I could get a haircut in the evening or on a Sunday when the town barbers were all closed. But then the sister & brother + his daughter who ran one the shop I usually went to split up and the brother/daughter team started their own shop, She only charges me $8 for the full thing incl straight razor on my neck (tells you how little hair I have). How could I go wrong?

  74. “That reminds me- never will I own a car with vinyl seats.”

    Never will I buy another black-and-white TV.

    In other words…good luck finding one (unless you’re also including the modern imitation leathers, including “Leatherette” in BMWs and “MB-Tex” in Mercedes Benz.)

  75. Fred – My barber in Connecticut had that same poster. He also scoffed if you ever requested a certain length on the sides based on a guard number. “If you have to use a guard, it means you can’t cut hair!” And haircuts were only finished after a hot shave with a straight razor on the back of your neck and side burns.

  76. I never knew you could freeze milk. I freeze supermarket bread all the time, but not fancy bread

  77. One of things that fell off my parents radar was haircuts for kids. My mother ended up taking me to her hair stylist now and again. My brother was not as lucky so I was the one who cut my brother’s hair. He couldn’t go about with hair covering his eyes so I did the best I could.
    In order to atone in some way for that hairy mess I take my DS to the local barber shop which does a fine job of boys hair.

  78. “On the main topic, I got a lot of verbal abuse from my dad as a kid about how I was stupid, would never be as successful as him, never as smart as my sister, etc. I will never do that to my children.”

    Me, too, Mia. Me, too. I struggle with how I phrase things and fearing insulting/hurting people because of the abuse in my childhood. I work very hard with DH so I know how my tone and word-choice match up. Last thing I want to do is have my kids have the same issues I do. Let them find their own insecurities – they don’t need mine.

    I bring DS to have his hair cut. DS acts like you are murdering him, so the stylist has to be quick and good. I’m so thankful DS’s hair grows slow. He’s had 2 haircuts in his life.

  79. I attended five different elementary schools, and every move was stressful. I hated always having to make new friends and being the new kid in the classroom. I promised myself that I would do everything possible to make sure that my kid would go through the same school system all the way through her school career.
    Concerning girls and science and math. Just asked DD what the ratio between girls and boys in her AP physics and AP calculus classes are. She said that it is evenly divided. There was an article in the WSJ last week about engineering schools working hard to attract more female students. Carnegie Mellon has fifty percent women in its engineering school. DD is interested in Worcester Polytechnic Institute. They are 35% women. The disparity between the males and females in science and engineering is quickly disappearing.

  80. Great topic, Rhett. When I was growing up, my mom used to point out to me and my sisters all her unhappily married friends who were “stuck” because they were financially dependent on their husbands. So all 3 of us vowed to have our own income. It’s turned out that way, but only one of us had to throw a husband over- and then she had to pay him alimony, because she was the primary earner! It turns out that the USA divorce laws protect the non-earning spouse quite a bit!

  81. It’s funny — both of my parents were troubled people, and they came from horrible homes. I know many of the “never will I ever” stuff that they clung to. “Never will I ever move while my kids are in school; never will I ever make my kids go drag me home from the bar; never will I ever complain to my kids that my husband is raping me; never will I ever say ‘Once there was a little girl whose mother didn’t want her, so the little girl was always well-behaved because she didn’t want to be a burden’; never will I ever humiliate my three-year-old over his lack of violin skills; etc.” So the more I’ve been thinking about this topic, the more I’m inclined to say that I’m just going to let it go.

    Except for serving overcooked frozen spinach with no butter or salt. NEVER EVER.

  82. RMS, I think there is a lot to be said for letting go and forgiving our parents for being imperfect troubled human beings.

    However, I like my three water heaters.

    The hard part is to let go of that which is just baggage and retain that which can make life easier and more pleasant.

  83. Milk doesn’t freeze well, hence the I never. My mom would also “save” milk that you didn’t finish but something was always up with the fridge so it had a thin layer of ice and crystals that I hated.

    Don’t know why they don’t sell half loaves of bread or make some in a smaller pan for singles and such, then again, still don’t get freezing it. It is so cheap and it never tastes right after freezing.

    Scarlett – the first time my dad asked me to turn up the heat when he was visiting, I called my brother! It was a massive victory!

  84. I’m surprised by the hand made clothes. Was this in the 70s? I can’t imagine store bought clothes being any more expensive prior to the 80s at the latest.

  85. Rhett, it was all so stupid in the 70s. Our mothers clung to the idea that it was cheaper to sew your own clothes, but in fact, with stores like Mervyn’s and Lerner’s and some others, there were plenty of cheap clothes in the stores and they didn’t have weird crooked seams. I sewed tons of my own clothes because Mom didn’t make me pay for fabric and patterns out of my clothing allowance. At least I got to pick the fabric, pattern, and style. Her reasoning was that it would be a useful life skill. Yeah, not so much. But many women still hadn’t processed that it could be cheaper to buy “ready-made”.

  86. My mom made my clothes too. She was a terrible seamstress. Everything was made out of stretchy, itchy polyester.

    I have to learn as well, and I could never do it right. It was boring, exhausting, frustrating and annoying. I have not sewed an item of clothing in many decades.

    It’s weird, one of my daughters likes to sew. She finds it comforting. Strange person.

  87. “My biggest splurge is good fruits and vegetables ”

    I don’t buy red delicious apples, which seemed to be the only option when I was a kid. Gala, Fuji, and Honey Crisp are my current favorites.

  88. My mom used to make homemade clothes for us. I still remember trips to the fabric store. I don’t know if she genuinely enjoyed it or thought it was cheaper. She stopped when she started working (so late 70s/early 80s).

    I don’t have any sewing skills so no need to add it to my “never” list. I was considering getting sewing machine when my kids were born. My sister just laughed and laughed.

  89. Frozen bread is fine if you’re going to toast it, and otherwise the artisan bakery stuff without preservatives gets stale or moldy before it can be eaten in our house sans boys.

    My mom put *everything* in the freezer. No bit of leftover baked beans or crust of bread was too small that it could not be tucked away for later. When I saw Debbie Reynolds in “Mother” telling Albert Brooks, that, yes, you can freeze anything (including lettuce), I nearly died laughing.

  90. RMS,

    Was it primarily about saving money or about not wanting the kids to be too comfortable? A modern day equivalent might be leasing a Civic for $150/month for a teenager with a lot of activities vs. driving them everywhere or buying a beater that ends up costing more in repairs and aggravation than was saved?

    Something might make economic and practical sense but the very idea!

  91. Rhett, in my personal case, it was about saving money. Mom was bitter that Dad didn’t earn more money, and she would happily have bought all my clothes from I. Magnin if he’d made quadruple his civil engineer income. So she kind of did a whole martyr routine about sewing all the clothes and being a thrifty housewife. But others here will have different histories.

  92. My Mom didn’t have any daughters to sew dresses for, but in the manner of “can you believe we ever actually *did* that?” she talks about sewing some of her own clothes in the ’70s, as well as sewing draperies.

  93. Mom was bitter that Dad didn’t earn more money,

    I hear that. Why, if I may ask, did she marry him?

  94. My mother made our clothes to save money, but I was really glad because her clothes were much nicer than the storebought ones. And I got to pick the colors and styles I really wanted. The only exception was jeans. Even the horrid Kmart jeans my parents usually bought us were better than the ones my mother tried to make herself. Even she admitted they were bad.

  95. We moved incessantly when I was a kid too. And now my kids will end up going to the same school all the way through. Unlike the other poster, though, this worries me. I was glad to have moved so much. I noticed in college that the kids who had never moved even once had a lot more trouble adjusting.

  96. My mother made me adorable ruffled dresses and hand-smocked some of them. Our mouse dresses had a stuffed mouse in the pocket in the same fabric as the color/cuffs. I have a couple of them for Baby WCE. She bought all of our clothes except fancy dresses.

  97. My mom sewed when we were little but stopped when it became evident it was cheaper to buy clothes. I bought a sewing machine at Walmart for the little projects that came up when my kids were little, but by no means would I ever attempt to make anything for me or my kids to wear. I still have it in the garage.

    Hmm – I would love to buy DD whatever clothes she wanted, she hates shopping and couldn’t care less what she wears. On the other hand, DS is turning into a clothes horse. This will be interesting.

    I vowed never to make food something I argued with my kids about, ever. As they are getting older I make suggestions about healthy eating and I try to make the meals I provide balanced but they have ample opportunity to make their own choices.

  98. Now, as an adult, I wish I had someone else to help with elder care issues, bounce ideas off of, and who would just get me.

    That’s ideal, but the somewhat likely scenario is a brother in Seattle you talk to a few times a year.

  99. I hear that. Why, if I may ask, did she marry him?

    Well, she liked him, and she believed in engineering as a reasonable way to earn a living. Remember, she was snobbish about “trade”; one had to be in “the professions”. And Dad could have made a lot more money if he’d allowed himself to be pushed up through the ranks of Caltrans to upper management, but he hated upper management and identified with “the working man”. There’s a picture of him with the other middle managers in the 1960s. They are all wearing suits and have Don Draper haircuts. Dad is wearing Sears work pants, a work shirt, no tie, and has a WWII-era buzzcut. He looks bizarrely out of place.

    Though Mom agreed with the contrarian “working man” stuff in principle, in reality she wanted a lot more money and a more comfortable life. And he’d forced her to stop working in the early 1960s (she taught folk dancing for the Palo Alto Recreation Department) because he said it put him in “a subordinate position”. Utterly bizarre, since a part-time dance teacher isn’t really higher-status than a civil engineer. When Sis went to Stanford and they were fighting bitterly about money, she went back to work as a temp typist. Of course she could have moved up, but then she couldn’t be a martyr, and oh god it’s all just an endless story.

  100. Scarlett – Mother is one of my favorite movies. Love when she tells him to scrape the ice off of the orange sherbet. Oh how I loved orange sherbet! Do they even still make that?

    I have strong memories of standing in the family room in my underwear while my mother pinned the paper pattern to me. I loved that my mom sewed. She made my prom dress and another I wore in college. McCalls and Butterick are just all potential. I can’t sew at all sadly.

  101. I sew and knit clothes, especially for DD, but for fun rather than savings. She usually doesn’t wear them to school, which is fine with me because I’m not exactly turning out haute couture.

    I also give haircuts, because DS’s sensory issues were so overwhelming that for years I could only cut his hair while he slept (with scissors, obviously). Some nights I would only get one side done before he stirred, so he would walk around for a day or two with a half-haircut.

    He has gone to the salon a few times but he *hates* it, and now I let him choose between a mommy haircut on the back porch and the kids’ salon.

    And RMS, you will cringe, but I often dress all three alike, especially if we are going to a busy park or the zoo, and in coordinating outfits for formal pictures. They still enjoy it and sometimes decide to do it themselves.

  102. Sky, I won’t cringe! Well, maybe jokingly. I put together a collage of all the matchy outfits that Mom made us wear for my Facebook friends. There were, like, 20 of them! But I never resented it at the time. Sis might have, but I didn’t. In retrospect it just looks like this weird moment in the 1960s when matchy outfits took over the universe.

  103. My mom also sewed (and worked for a clothing company before I was born!) – so she made all our Easter dresses, although they often got done at 2 am on Easter morning. We now have a lot of the dresses (matching) that she made for my American Girl doll back in the day – sadly, the girl dresses went to my cousin and have now been lost.

  104. Oh, and also she made my winter formal dress when I was a sophomore – I saw in seventeen the long velvet dresses with the taffeta overskirt, and we couldn’t find any in the small town, so she made one. It is still gorgeous (hanging around somewhere in my parents’ house) and out of non-stretch velvet, even!

  105. RMS, that’s awesome! My best friend and I had the exact same gingham long dress just by circumstance. We wore them together all the time! played in the woods, climbed trees all in our full length dresses. I miss the 70s.

  106. My clothes as a child were made by a children’s dressmaker. Most of the clothes at that time were stitched by neighborhood tailors and dressmakers. Women had sewing machine but no one I knew attempted making their own clothes. They would make things like curtains, pillow cases, do hemming.
    Even wedding and special occasion dresses were made by dressmakers. Many were prima donnas, very temperamental. They decided how to dress you. They hated you telling them you wanted a particular pattern. Sometimes they put a pleat here, ruffle there and you were supposed to be happy with it. My aunts used to to have a love hate relationship with their dressmakers. I was glad that when I came of age I could just go to the store and pick up a dress.

  107. Oh and last minute delivery of your dress was common so, you would be at the dressmaker at 5 pm, with her still working on that last zipper and you had to wear it at 8pm.

  108. Never will I force my kids to do an extracurricular activity that they don’t want to do, or forbid them from doing one they really want to do.

    Never will I try to guilt-trip my children into continuing to practice my religion, if they decide that they want to practice a different religion (or no religion at all).

    Never will I cover my windows in three layers of curtains, nor cover the floors with moss-green wall-to-wall carpet.

    Never will I put myself in a position where I have to ask my husband’s permission before buying myself something.

    And like many others have said, never will I ever force my kids to eat something they find repulsive. To this day, I can barely even stand to look at an octopus, having endured some traumatic episodes as a child involving octopus at the dinner table.

  109. L, my mom to made fabulous dresses for me as a kid! She was good at it, and my clothes always stood out in a good way. She would hunt for the right material and lace etc for the vision she had in mind! The pink shade had to be just so.

  110. My grandmother was apprenticed to a seamstress whose clientele included some of Philadelphia’s high society. My grandmother did beautiful work and made our special dresses for holidays. She made me an absolutely gorgeous green silk dress with a matching brocade coat with a mandarin collar and frog closures for my prom. I wish I had the dress and coat for my girls in their teen years, My mother’s cousin did beautiful work and made my wedding dress (my mother made my veil – she had been a milliner before marrying and was a very creative person). My husband saw some of Say Yes to the Dress the other night and he asked me what my dress cost and told him we bought my cousin a case of wine that she and her husband liked and could only be bought in Princeton, NJ and they lived in Norristown, Pa. The case was $60.00 and my parents bought the material and decoration.

    My MIL sewed very well and made some outstanding outfits.

    I think a lot of stay at homes found a creative outlet in sewing and decorating their homes – both my mother and MIL made curtains and drapes for their homes and much better than you could buy ready made and a lot less than custom made.

  111. “To this day, I can barely even stand to look at an octopus, having endured some traumatic episodes as a child involving octopus at the dinner table.”

    Have to say, this is a first. Usually the offending item is a cruciferous vegetable.
    There has never been an octopus at my dinner table.

  112. The food that will never be served at my dinner table is a stuffed pepper. I eat meat and peppers, but I can still picture sitting there for an hour until I could get it down.

  113. Bizarrely, the only thing I actually liked was Mom’s Tuna Helper with extra peas and tons of curry powder. I sometimes make it when I’m feeling nostalgic. Everything else? The shoe-leather beef, the mountains of steamed frozen vegetables with no seasoning, the weird leftover lamb casserole made with Lipton’s onion soup mix… I have no idea where she even got these ideas.

  114. College was awesome–I could eat anything I wanted.

    That’s the best part of being an adult.

    I’ll see your Guardians of the Galaxy and raise you Zombieland. :-)

    Our kids watch Archer.

    The comments about nice cars and unreliable cars made me wonder if there really even are any consistently unreliable cars in the United States.

    The Ford Escape. A friend of our has bought three of them and every one has had numerous issues. Her current one has had 8 or 9 recalls already. She can’t give a good answer as to why she keeps buying them.

  115. I was really lucky that my parents never forced us to eat anything. And my mother was a good cook. We may have had to wear Kmart jeans and homecut hairdos, but we ate well.

  116. To continue my seamstress anecdotes – my aunts have shown up as guests to family weddings to find to their horror that instead of making them look like models out of old issues of Vogue, the seamstress had templated her creation, so that multiple guests had the same dress with one little detail changed here or there. Then straight faced my aunts had to say “what a nice dress” to their cousins while itching to do bodily harm to the seamstress (of course they couldn’t really do that, because then they would have no one to make their dresses).

  117. Completely off topic, this organization came to my knowledge today:

    I know I am not the only person (or husband of person) who had issues with nursing, but mine came when there was a very aggressive push to do what is “best”, and I had completely absorbed the message. At the two-week visit, the pediatrician said I had to agree to switch to formula immediately, or he was admitting my baby right then. It made me feel terrible at the time. About a week later, my dad brought over a WSJ article on babies with permanent neurological damage from dehydration from being so determined to not give in and switch to formula. I am glad to see there is at least someplace new mothers can go to realize they’re not the only one struggling.

  118. MBT, Amen. We switched from a family practitioner to a pediatrician because I was underwhelmed by the family practitioner during late-preterm DS1’s monthlong battle with jaundice, which in retrospect did not need to be a monthlong battle.

    I was surprised to see your data on how common underfeeding is in the first days of life, given what the lactation consultants told me several years ago. I thought I was more unique than I am.

  119. No one will be surprised to learn that my natural obstinance and cynicism served me well during the weeks struggling to feed preterm infants… and that my kids were not exclusively breastfed.

  120. I give up! Just google JAMA and baby friendly

    Basically criticizes the baby-friendly (which are just pro-nursing) policies as having some unintended negative consequences.

  121. I would have loved to have known about that website 8 years ago. I’m forever grateful to the home nurse who told me my baby was hungry and formula was needed asap.

    Someone up thread mentioned not keeping illnesses from their kids. I totally agree. My parents have always been open, but DH’s family not so much. I only recently learned (by facebook of a cousin) that the BRCA gene runs rampant in his family…and that his grandma and all his aunts and cousins have had breast cancer. This is good info to know for not only my DH’s health, but also for our two girls. When I mentioned it to his mom, she played it off as “oh, I didn’t want to worry you.”

    Other “I never will” are 1)forcing my girls to have short hair cuts. I’ll suffer with the bird’s nest if that is what they want. 2)forcing them to finish their dinner. I was left alone at the table for hours after dinner until I finished my plate. My only rule is that they have to try it before saying they don’t like it or want it. 3)keeping enough money in the bank that if my kids need $10 for something, it is available. Growing up I heard a lot of, “wait until payday”. I thought my parents lived paycheck to paycheck, but really they just squirreled away so much of their money that they have very limited petty cash available. I hated having to wait until payday to get a birthday present for a friend, or for the money for the school field trip.

  122. I also have never made my kids eat margarine or drink powdered milk.

    My parents were open and honest about why we ate margarine and drank powdered milk, not to mention eating chicken a lot more than beef or pork; it was all about prioritizing spending. My parents highly prioritized having money in the bank so that unexpected expenses, both bad (e.g., car repairs, which were a lot more frequent back then) and good (e.g., brother having an opportunity to attend the Boy Scouts World Jamboree) could be taken in stride.

    I’ve taken that approach to heart, and try not to tell my kids that we’re not buying something, or not going on a trip with friends, because we can’t afford it.

  123. “straight bangs (she use scotch tape to mark where to cut”

    Weren’t there any bowls available?

  124. “No ice and water through the door.”

    DW has decided that she earns enough that she will always have a refrigerator with an exterior ice and water dispenser.

  125. Like WCE, we freeze whatever milk we have before a trip. In my experience, it’s always been fine after thawing. We also freeze pretty much anything with a short shelf life that’s in our fridge when we’re about to take a trip.

    We freeze a lot of stuff, including bread, meat, tortillas, and fruit, because we do most of our grocery shopping at Costco, and the quantities we buy based on that choice mean that without freezing, we’d throw away a lot of food. It also facilitates less frequent shopping, which makes life a bit easier for us.

  126. My mom was an excellent seamstress. When I was very young, nearly all of my clothes was either hand-me-down, or sewn by her. But as I grew up, the price of store-bought clothes came down, and less and less of my clothes was sewn by her; she was quite open about sewing mainly to save money, and appreciated not having to sew as much.

    But she continued to pick her spots where she could save money. She sewed my sisters’ prom gowns, which allowed them to have much nicer gowns than they could’ve afforded to buy. And she sewed pretty much all the shorts I wore through HS and college; they looked as good or better than what I could buy, cost a lot less, and I was able to get over the lack of a couple of letters embroidered on them.

    A couple of things that she continued to sew throughout her life, because that still cost quite a bit less than buying off the shelf, were duvets and draperies. DW recently started replacing some our our window coverings, and found that draperies are quite expensive, and has considered sewing some (she took sewing lessons around MS age). The types of draperies she’s considering look to be fairly simple to sew, and lack many of the features that are the most difficult to sew, e.g., sleeves, flies (especially with zippers), and darts.

    My mom used to buy flat sheet on sale and make them into duvets. Besides being much cheaper to make than buy, she was also able to have the duvets perfectly match the sheets and pillowcases. Duvets are also pretty simple to sew, and any imperfections (e.g., seams not perfectly straight) are not very obvious, especially on beds that are typically not made.

  127. Rhett, income did enter the discussion.

    My mom chose her profession in part because it was one of the better paying jobs available to women in those days, and in part because she could be home with us when we were out of school, saving on babysitting costs.

    My dad did things to increase his income, but some of those ended up being detrimental to his health, and others kept him working so long he wasn’t able to spend much time with us.

    My parents decided to sacrifice some income for a healthier dad who was around more. Part of that decision was also that he was able to save some money doing stuff around the house with me and my brother in tow, combining frugality with family time.

    Looking back, I really cherish those times, watching him do things like keep our 20+ year old washer working, building a DIY solar water heater from free stuff he’d scrounged (e.g., the water heater with the broken heating element from my uncle), painting the house, and fixing leaking faucets. It typically took him a lot longer with me and my brother watching, as he’d be explaining what he was doing, and why, but I think that helped us be better engineers.

  128. Ooops, my mom used to buy flat sheets on sale. IIRC, it took two to make a single duvet, and she’d use what was left to make extra pillows and/or pillowcases.

  129. “I’m not opposed to yelling in principle”

    Yelling can be very practical. E.g., it can save you from going upstairs and not yelling, and communicate more quickly to boot.

    I’m reminded of a time a co-worker and I were doing system checks in a large building in which cell phones and radios were not allowed. Yelling made us much more efficient, but yelling all day would’ve made us lose our voices, so I bought a couple of bull horns.

    I think I still have one somewhere. Perhaps I should take it home to better communicate with the kids when they are upstairs.

  130. “I don’t have a really fancy car: RS7 or S550, etc.”

    I’m thinking that you’ve had literally hundreds of different cars over the last several years.

  131. Perhaps I’m older than you assumed, and my parents are older than you might’ve assumed knowing how old I am. They both lived through the Depression and WWII, which had a significant effect on how they lived.

    We have discussed here previously the dearth of career options for women of my mom’s generation.

  132. “Looking back, I really cherish those times, watching him do things like keep our 20+ year old washer working, building a DIY solar water heater from free stuff he’d scrounged (e.g., the water heater with the broken heating element from my uncle), painting the house, and fixing leaking faucets. It typically took him a lot longer with me and my brother watching, as he’d be explaining what he was doing, and why, but I think that helped us be better engineers.”

    Aw, this touched my heart. Many other comments here are touching, and I thank you all for sharing. They made me wonder what memories and “nevers” my children will have.

    I’m surprised by so many stories about sewing. I guess it was more common than I thought. Two close relatives were/are excellent seamstresses, both with professional experience. It was a thrill to have a dress sewn by either, and in particular my first professional outfit was a gift from one of them. Talk about matching outfits, one of them used to sew shirts for dad and sons from fabric that matched mom and daughter’s dresses. Those old photos are precious. I have one Martha Stewart style relative who sews, mainly window coverings. The closest I got was home ec class where IIRC I sewed an apron and a shift-style dress. I’ve also made window scarves using iron-on seam binding.

  133. Coc – as part of craft class, I had hand sewing, embroidery and cross stitch. I also learnt knitting. It is surprising how much of it I recalled years later.
    Stitching is still an elective at my kids’ MS and DD intends to take it. She likes crafts.

  134. “DW has decided that she earns enough that she will always have a refrigerator with an exterior ice and water dispenser.”

    Your DW is exactly right on this.

    “Looking back, I really cherish those times, watching him do things like keep our 20+ year old washer working, building a DIY solar water heater from free stuff he’d scrounged (e.g., the water heater with the broken heating element from my uncle), painting the house, and fixing leaking faucets.”

    This is the thing I miss the most about my stepdad. He was a huge putterer, and DS would follow him around for hours, “helping” with some chore/task or the other, while he patiently explained what he was doing.

  135. “They made me wonder what memories and “nevers” my children will have.”

    Maybe not specifically from this group, but from the demographic, I imagine they will be along the lines of:

    1) Never will I forbid the foods that my kids really want in favor of the latest pseudo-healthy version. Annie’s Organic Bunnies tasted like cardboard, and all I wanted was the regular Cheez-Its. And sometimes it would have been nice to have regular Oreos after school and when I had friends over, not be the house that only had pita chips and hummus.

    2) Never will I make my kids feel that I disapprove of their imaginative play. If they want to wear a Disney princess costume, I’ll buy it [or, I’ll buy it without a lecture about how it doesn’t represent “healthy attitudes about relationships.”]

    Likewise, if they want to dress up in a camo costume and play with toy guns, I’ll buy them the damn toys and not make them feel like they’re proto-serial killers for wanting to play normal kids games [or, I’m not going to watch them like a hawk like some nut job constantly admonishing them not to shoot each other, just the air, and don’t call them “guns,” call them “blasters.”]

  136. I never would have guessed that the automatic ice and water dispenser was still considered, among this group, to be something of a threshold for having “arrived.”

  137. @Milo: Yeah, ok, you actually just identified a bunch of my own “nevers.” Although I did struggle with the princess one (largely because there is just SO MUCH of it). :-)

    I distinctly remember getting a cowgirl outfit when I was 5 or so, and being SO excited to have my very own silver gun (white handle, of course), and having my mom take it away from me because guns were bad. And I finally negotiated my way to some Cheetos in about my Junior year.

    I guess my mom was just ahead of the Totebag curve.

  138. My parents were Totebaggy in some ways, but around the age of 8 or 9 years old, my toy gun arsenal peaked somewhere around 20, including some that were very realistically styled. I had cowboy six shooters that fired actual caps, another cap gun that was a snub nosed revolver (popular for car-jackings during that era), a Western-style lever-action rifle, a Tommy gun like Dick Tracy used…

  139. Gosh, after reading some of yours, I would add to my list:
    1. Realizing as LfB said – sometimes it needs to be “the thing” and not a similar or off brand one. I recall one Christmas I wanted only one present and I got a “meets the same purpose” one instead. I was so crushed, and my parents could afford “the thing”, they just didn’t see the point.
    2. Forcing my kids to wear what I think they should when doing so makes them a target for other kids. This happened to me in 6-8th grade routinely. I begged to be allowed to wear what the other kids did. I’m much less strict with my kids, who generally dress modestly.
    3. Having more than one child….I am an only. As a kid I quickly realized that with a sibling my mom would have been more likely to say, OK because more than one said something was true, whereas with one, it was just me trying to get my way. Later in life I worried about my parents end of life issues and being the only one to handle it. Yes, it was a lot, but I wouldn’t have done less. However, it damaged my relationship with my partner.

  140. “Kmart jeans”

    My wife tells the story of when she was about 10 and her dad was out of work (or had just started his company, regardless) money was tight, and so she saved her money until she could buy a pair of them with her own money rather than relying on her mom and dad.

  141. “They made me wonder what memories and “nevers” my children will have.

    Future totebag kid quote: “And to think, for all their yammering, I’ve never once had to use calculus as an adult.”

    Honestly though, I bet being less academically focused might be a goal.

  142. Reminds me of Peggy Sue Got Married in which Kathleen Turner’s character passes out at her high school reunion and wakes up back in high school:

  143. Rhett – I’m not less academically focused, but I’m probably less name-brand-college-focused than my parents, or at least less than my Mom. But that’s at least partly due to the relative cost changes.

  144. I brought a suitcase full of clothes I made from McCall’s patterns to my freshman year at Ivy (shudder). I loved sewing. I used to make baby footie sleepers from 100% cotton terry, complete with snaps, because that was the era of flame retardant synthetic pajamas. I would cut down old dresses of mine into dresses for the girls. I made drapes and curtains and a Lara – Dr Zhivago winter coat with fur trim. I did not successfully make myself a pair of leather pants, though. The reason I had to wear the borrowed senior prom dress was because I was only a junior, was not dating a senior, and mom paid for good fabric to make a gorgeous short junior prom dress on the condition that I didn’t ask for another. My mom couldn’t cook very well or sew or do anything domestic and worked full time every day of her life from 18 to 67 – that was part of her rebellion against her upbringing. My rebellion was to become my grandmother (at least I stopped at 5 kids, not 10) for the first 15 years of adulthood.

  145. Milo,

    I just ran the numbers and with $200k down that’s only $3k a month. I could swing that. Although, I’m assuming another $1500/month in maintenance, gas, docking fees, etc. Things would start getting a little tight.

  146. “Yes, but it costs 7x as much.”

    Wait two or three years, and a used one will only be five times as much. That’s a lot of boat for the money. The foldouts are awesome. You could take it down to Florida, pick up PTM, and shoot across to the Bahamas.

  147. “that’s only $3k a month”

    And tax-deductible, to boot, if I understand it correctly.

    “$1500/month in maintenance, gas, docking fees, etc”

    I don’t think maintenance would be that high, and gas is whatever you use, and if you slow down, yadda yadda yadda…

    Do like John Kerry and title it in Rhode Island.

  148. Honestly though, I bet being less academically focused might be a goal.

    Yes, I believe this will be the big “I will never” for the totebag kids.

  149. I don’t think maintenance would be that high

    A quick search says low for the first 3 years. If you buy used expect 3-4% per year for 3-10 years and 7% after 10 years. If we go with your used option that’s $15k to $20k for 3-10 and 35k after 10 years.

  150. ” If you buy used expect 3-4% per year for 3-10 years and 7% after 10 years.”

    I know some say that, but from what I’ve read, I’m just not seeing that, and some of these people are meticulously reporting their costs. It probably depends on what you’re willing to do yourself. On the forums I’ve read, I think people are often changing their own oil and filters, and fuel filters and separators. Also, the one I linked for you has twin 700-hp engines whereas the typical “fast trawler” has a single 370-hp diesel (or smaller).

    But here, you can dial it down to a Beneteau GT 40, and still go to the Bahamas:

    Brand new, this is only three times an S550

  151. Houston – How do you not eat all the snacks you have on hand? I did not have a ton of fun snacks – Oreos, potato chips, soda etc. etc. – as a kid and swore I would as an adult. EXCEPT I now eat them if we have them, so my strategy for not being enticed into eating a bag of Doritos is to not buy them. The kids (obviously) hate this strategy. We do have ice cream and some other snacks on hand for the kids that I don’t like, but they’re clamoring for the good stuff.

    I realize the solution is to exercise some self control but that is HARD!

  152. less and less of my clothes was sewn by her

    Finn. Dude.

    Fewer of my clothes were sewn by her.

  153. Of course then you have mountains of snack packaging littering the floors when the kids help eat the treats.

  154. I know some say that, but from what I’ve read, I’m just not seeing that,

    Think of it this way. You buy a used Accord for $20k. Is $800k per year in maintenance and repairs to be expected for things like: 30k mile services, new tires, oil changes, etc. I think 3% is reasonable. Now add a second car, then add all the maintenance on your house, then float all three in an ocean of salt water. 3-4% or even 7% seems entirely reasonable.

    Keeping in mind that a boat isn’t built to the standards of an Accord, at 50′ it’s far more hand crafted and doesn’t have nearly the engineering and QC resources of Honda behind it.

  155. Is $600 per year in maintenance and repairs to be expected for things like: 30k mile services, new tires, oil changes, etc.

    I mean

  156. I did not have a ton of fun snacks – Oreos, potato chips, soda etc. etc. – as a kid and swore I would as an adult. EXCEPT I now eat them if we have them

    Eating them is the whole point of buying them. It’s like saying “I swore I would have a nice tv, and now that we do, I watch tv.”

  157. Milo,

    Just look at the bumpouts on the Galeon – they look to be hydraulic. How much does it cost to fix the power doors on an Odyssey? Just imagine how much it would cost to fix a jammed bumpout!

  158. Kerri, Did I mention that I need to lose a few pounds? : ) I snack and need to do a better job controlling myself. That said, I only have one snack downfall. I find myself able to stay away from everything except kettle chips.

  159. Well, I don’t know how this discussion between Milo and Rhett is going to be resolved, but whichever way, I’ll be down at the dock at Dinner Key waiting with Junior to be picked up.

  160. Houston – I see you’re strategic in your snack selection. Kettle Chips and Doritos would not last at all with me. 100 cal. bags – please, why kid myself.

    Hmm, snacks the kids like that I don’t. That’s a challenge.

  161. I’m having a PB&J sandwich on lightly toasted freezer bread. With whole milk that’s never been frozen. I’m living my dream.

  162. “Well, I don’t know how this discussion between Milo and Rhett is going to be resolved, but whichever way, I’ll be down at the dock at Dinner Key waiting with Junior to be picked up.”

    Rhett’s kind of scaring me, to be honest. He has a good point about the hydraulics–those could easily be a nightmare for someone who’s the least bit repair-cost-conscious.

    When DW and I are ready to do this (and do it we will), we’ll likely favor the side of smaller and simpler, even planning to regularly spend nights in a hotel or VRBO.

    And I have no desire for ocean crossing.

    So maybe a small’ish, simple rugged tugboat…

  163. Kerri – this is why we give out bottle caps and smarties every year for halloween. They’re not even real candy. In fact, it might be the whole reason those things exist – candy that kids like that adults can’t stand.

  164. Pringles, goldfish, and oreos are safe snacks for me to have in the house. That munchies mix, or whatever it’s called that has cheetos, nacho cheese Doritos and other things doesn’t last 2 days. I cannot buy it. But t now that I’m typing this, I really want some.

  165. “‘I did not have a ton of fun snacks – Oreos, potato chips, soda etc. etc. – as a kid and swore I would as an adult. EXCEPT I now eat them if we have them’

    Eating them is the whole point of buying them. It’s like saying ‘I swore I would have a nice tv, and now that we do, I watch tv.'”

    @DD: This is why I was never allowed to have Cheetos in my lunchbag: because my mom has no self-restraint around Cheetos. So *I* couldn’t have yummy snacks because my *mom* couldn’t have them in the house without disappearing into a giant cloud of orange dust.

  166. My mother made my prom dress. It was lovely. Most of the other kids wore what was sold in the local department stores – big frothy frilly things with ruffles. The in thing was to have your date match his tux and wear lots of ruffles too – so the couples all looked like his-n-hers window treatments. My dress, from a designer pattern, was utterly simple with spaghetti straps and pin tucks (which took my mother forever, swearing away – she always swore like a sailor while sewing). MY date wore a regular black tux. I thought we looked very elegant. Probably no one else thought so…

  167. “The comments about nice cars and unreliable cars made me wonder if there really even are any consistently unreliable cars in the United States.”

    Volkswagens. Owning one was what drove me to be a Honda customer for life. It is life-changing to not deal with constant, unexpected car problems.

    Ironically, I now ask my mom to sew things for me because I prefer them to the store bought version or to make something custom like a duvet cover or a specific pillowcase. I did cherish all the doll clothes that she made me when I was a kid, and she also taught me how to make my own which was a lot of fun. While I hated the “not quite right” clothes for myself when I wanted the real thing, I do have very fond memories of sewing with her. I follow McCall’s on Instagram, and I can see how it would be a really fun hipster hobby to get into if you had time & enjoyed fashion.

  168. I also swore that I would actually have good treats because I was the only grade school kid without twinkies and ho ho’s, and I don’t. We never buy them. We do buy Oreos though (the b/w ones with double stuff please). I don’t really like the Hostess/Little Debbie dessert stuff as an adult & we don’t pack lunches for DS. We do have chips around all the time, but those weren’t on my “never” list.

  169. Ada, that’s why I buy Mounds and Almond Joy to give out for Halloween. I can’t stand coconut.

  170. Does anyone sew enough to use a serger? I have a cheap serger but I’m afraid of it.

  171. We buy good candy for Halloween–snickers and M&Ms. We also buy the kids 2-3 bags of their favorites for lunches and snacking (both have aged out of trick or treating).

    DH once bought Twinkies as a nostalgia thing. Kids wouldn’t touch them. They literally and figuratively turned their nose up at Twinkies. The snobs.

  172. “We buy good candy for Halloween–snickers and M&Ms.”

    Yes. My mom’s theory was she never wanted to have leftover Halloween candy that wasn’t something she wouldn’t want to eat.

  173. We have a serger. We bought it for MIL, who I think used it more for home decorating (she made a lot of things like throw pillows and curtains) more than clothes. We inherited it when she died and have not used it. DW has talked about learning to use it, and the sewing machine we also inherited, to make some draperies; I’m not holding my breath for that. Perhaps after the kids have flown the nest.

  174. DH gives out full size chocolate bars for Halloween. And some years, he will hand out two per child. All the kids know this, so our house is usually the start of their trick or treating.

  175. Our house in on the last street in the neighborhood, so we don’t usually get a lot of trick or treaters, thus we employ Finn’s mom’s strategy. We always have leftover candy to eat.

Comments are closed.