I overheard a very interesting conversation yesterday. It made me laugh my lungs out. Two women were sharing what ought to have been good news. “Atsikana mnzanu andipeza ndimimba,’ said one woman with a big smile. ‘Aaah! Ndiye chonyaditsa ndichiyani pamenepa nanunso? Nthawi yotenga mimba ndi inoyo? Ndalama momwe zikuvutiramu mudzakaveka chani kamwanako? Mudzakaveka majumbo?” She was asking with such concern that seemed so genuine reading from her face.
It reminded me of the spending spree people go into when they expect or have a child – especially for the first-born child. I personally do vividly remember that afternoon when Nancy had taken a pregnancy test and we discovered that our first child was on the way – feels like it was just yesterday: We sat there excitedly holding each other’s hands and talking endlessly about this child, our child and what it all meant. I immediately dashed into town and bought a small, but expensive carving that had two elephants carrying a baby. We put it on display in our house. I didn’t know it then, but this was to be the event that was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
The first mistake we made was insisting on only the “best” (most expensive) things for our child. We bought a ridiculously expensive baby-cot, multiple beddings, all the neutral colour clothes (we did not know yet whether it would be a boy or girl). When we knew it would be a boy, we went on a blue clothes shopping spree. We turned one of the bedrooms into a nursery of some kind; we had this vision of a perfect little nursery in our heads and we were going to have it at any cost.
The little things added up as well. We bought him lots of toys, only to find out that free toys are often much more entertaining. We bought piles of wipes and diapers and such baby things without understanding that we were spending our baby budget in nonsensical ways.
The lifestyle changes that the baby brought also came with a second wave of changes on us and accounted for a second mistake: We spent money instead of coping with our lifestyle changes. For instance, we started eating out most of the time simply because we were spending so much time with the baby and his night-time feedings were making us both worn out to cook. We also travelled quite a lot when he was about three months old simply to show him off to others instead of inviting his many well-wishers to come and visit us, which would have been cheaper and more convenient.
The real problem was that we were unable to separate our child’s wants to what he actually needed. We deluded ourselves into believing that buying all of this stuff for him was actually going to benefit him. The reality of the matter is that it doesn’t matter if you buy him a K10 000 mulaza baby-cot or a K300 000 ebony baby-cot. A baby-cot is a baby-cot and the baby sleeps soundly in both.
So while you celebrate the coming of that new baby, keep the expenses reasonable – there are more important costs ahead of you as the baby grows into a child.
Have a blessed weekend as you seriously think on these things!