3/20/2007

The Giving Tree

Yes, PCOS is the gift that keeps giving. Today is Day 20 of the bloody siege. Thankfully my iron supplements are working, so gone is most of the lightheadedness, which is a relief. However, I would like to know if my GP is going to send me a cheque every couple of weeks to cover the feminine hygeine products I need to keep buying thanks to my everlasting period. I imagine she makes over £100K ($195K USD) a year if this is to be believed, so I suspect she could afford it.

Veering from the topic of bleeding for awhile, I have something I want to run past you all. A few months ago I gathered up some clothes P. had grown out of, as well as toys and other various baby-related items she either no longer used, or never used in the first place. I thought about donating them to a charity shop, but I wanted to ensure that someone who needed the items would get them, not just someone with money looking for a bargain. That also ruled out any local baby-specific secondhand sales, as they are usually haunted by the comfortable middle-classes looking to pad their kid's wardrobe with designer or label clothing. I know this because, uh, it's totally me.

I recalled that there was a shelter for abused women on my walk to work, so I phoned the central office for the organisation and arranged to donate P's item to their shelters. Sadly P has a wardrobe far larger than my own, and often doesn't wear much of what she owns. This is not because The Dude and I go crazy shopping for her, but rather the result of overzealous American relatives. Everybody should have the opportunity for their child to wear nice clothes, and much as I'm paranoid as coming across as the do-gooder, look-how-charitable-I-am type, it makes me happy that these women who don't have much can at least have some non-tatty things which haven't been played with and worn by a handful of kids before them. That was a run on sentence but I don't have the energy to modify it, so there.

So, what's the issue? Well, I told my Mums and Babies group about the donation in the hopes that others would also have a clear out and give some things away. I assumed that everyone would at least donate a couple of items of clothing or a a toy or two, but out of the 8 person group, only one other person gave me anything. The main excuse was that there were plans to have other children, so everything was being kept for future offspring. I may also want to have another baby, but you don't see me keeping all of P's stuff for said child. Ok, ok, so it might take me 8 years to get that second kid, but that is hardly the point. Out of all the items given and purchased for first children (which this group is comprised of), there is nothing to be spared?

Since then there has been an interest in selling things on eBay or at one of the previously mentioned baby-themed secondhand sales, so obviously it is not just about saving things for other children. The issue is making money off what you have invested in, and I don't understand that. Is it worth selling a £20 outfit on eBay for the £5 you will get for it? Does getting involved in local baby sales and selling an £80 exersaucer for £20 line your pockets sufficiently? Let me just add that finances are not an issue with this group. All are professional couples with nice houses, some expensive cars, and all the name brand stuff their babies could imagine. The extra £20 isn't going to prevent their child from eating. All it means is that they can buy even more organic papayas.

There are very few things we are keeping for our mythical second child. If we had one and it was a girl, I wouldn't want her clothes to all be P's hand-me-downs. As The Dude said, you want subsequent children to be afforded the same things as the first child, so in this case, new clothing. We'll probably keep the high chair, the crib, the wardrobe, and changing table, but other than that, what's the point? Oh no! In two years' time (haha) we'll have to invest in another playmat! How will we make that work?

So what do you think? Am I being a judgmental bitch? Surely at least one or two things could have been donated? I'm not asking for a truckload of stuff, as I do understand some people might want to hang on to baby things more than we do, but come on...Am I right? Am I right?

19 comments:

May said...

You are right.

My penniless sister and her immigrant and therefore unemployed and, for a year, unemployable husband, dressed Baby Girl entirely in pretty cast-offs. If they hadn't Baby Girl would have spent the first year of her life tightly wrapped in a blankie that her mother used to chew when she was teething and somehow never got rid of. We are very grateful to the people who donated their nice hardly-used things. And my sister is still not very well-off, but nevertheless has given all the good things to other of her friends who are or who know young families strapped for cash.

And from the child's point of view, we, as kids, were dressed in hand-me-downs for most of our lives. And there were moments of resentment. My favourite dress now being worn by my little sister, grr, my little sister furious because she had to wear my clothes, while I was handed the jeans my youngest uncle had just out-grown... We would have minded the hand-me-downs far less if we hadn't seen them for years all over whoever was the next size up. Nothing was ours.

Goodness, but you've touched a nerve. Sorry for ranting all over your blog. But yes, generosity is good, thinking of other families is good. Relegating second child to hand-me-down status, possibly not helping the sibling rivalry issue. Desire to claw back a few dollars here and there when you're already plenty well-off enough to afford new things for putative new infant, not very classy.

PS, I'd join you buying shares in sanitary protection. Sometimes I feel I'm keeping the market afloat (ah hah hah hah) single-handed.

Lori said...

I'd be annoyed too. I've just put together a bag of things I am taking to a local home for pregnant women who need help. I figured the few random dollars aren't that important and I'd rather someone be helped who could genuinely use it (and we could very much use the random extra dollars). I am saving a few things for my sister in the event she has a baby since she and her husband don't have a lot of extra money either. People are funny and not always in a ha-ha kind of way.

Susie said...

I am not saving anything myself, but in my playgroup people seem to be hoarding things for the next child. I happen to know that even if I had another one, I would still (most likely) want to shop for him/her. Maybe other people really do feel differently, even if they could afford to buy things for the next one. So I don't know.

You did the right thing making these women aware of the opportunity to donate. I think their response just says a lot about who they are.

Suz said...

I think that you've raised a good question here and my opinion might be a little different than some others. We're getting rid of most of our baby things, but I am selling them, mostly at the twin sale. A lot of the reason why I do so is that the money I get for the old things of the twins' gets plowed back into new or second-hand things for them. With the cost of childcare, there wouldn't be much money otherwise. I know that this are middle class problems, but I guess I can appreciate the point of view of the mothers in your group. Some of the money from the twin sale (and some of the things) go to poorer families. We also give in others ways. I think that what you're doing is great, but I would reserve judgement a bit on some of the other moms.

Jen said...

You know, I've held on tightly to everything of A's so far--partially because of that mythical, hypothetical second child (there are so many things that he got to wear only fleetingly that I feel compelled to get more use out of, so many cute tiny things that I yearn for another baby to wear). I do, also, have more than a little sentimentality towards some of his things, either by association with the people who gave them to us as gifts, or of specific happy memories of him in them.

Generally, in my family, we do prefer to donate used items rather than sell them, but I think everyone is different on this point, and everyone has a different hierarchy of charity. Some of these women may just have other charities or groups that to them, take first priority. Does that make sense?

LIW (Lady In Waiting) said...

I agree entirely! I had a similar experience when I asked friends (all are fine financially) to donate a small gift or two to a charity that gives gifts to homeless children at a Christmas Party arranged completely for their enjoyment. And noone participated. I was shocked! With all of the money that they spend on gifts for family and friends, they couldn't scale back one gift to give something to a child that lives in a shelter? I realize that some people's finances may not be as strong as they may seem but it still bothered me. Kudos to you for helping your community!!

Jenn said...

I've got all the boys thing packed up in large containers. We haven't even decided if we will try for more children, but I'm saving the clothes until a decision is reached. Even if we have more boys, of course we'd buy them new things too. Just not everything new like the twins got (I don't think we received a single hand-me down, no one has had babies in my family in a long time).

At the point when we decide to get rid of the clothes, I'll be doing the same thing you are, donating to a charity that helps battered/assaulted woman that has helped me in the past. I give to them financially, but I think the clothes would help too. But had you approached me about this, I may or may not have given you any clothes since I want mine to go to this specific group. And I'm not quite ready to let them go yet. Some of the baby gear may get sold if no one around me seems to need it.

DD said...

I sold what I could on my garage sale. I held back some of the nicer stuff and I gave that away to two other bloggers for their boys.

It makes me wonder if any of the other mothers at your group went through IF to have such optimism about #2 (or 3 or whatever). Their reaction could be perceived either way.

I didn't want to give away all my son's clothes because I felt like I was giving up hope that there would be another child. Even as I still pack his clothes away that he has outgrown for the purpose of giving them away, I try to convince myself that I would just buy another child new anyway.

But it's hard, especially as I really never was prepared for this to happen.

and no, you are not being judgemental.

mm said...

You right, you right.

I have a box of clothes that I'm planning on giving to a local mother's charity called baby buggy. LL will probably be 9 before I get around to actually dropping the box off, but... I could shoot myself for offering his various outgrown large plastic things to my SIL, who definitely has the resources to buy her own. Maybe she'll forget I said anything. Hmmm. Not bloody likely.

Speaking of bloody... any chance your doctor is getting kickbacks from Tampax??

Rachel said...

I agree with you. I am a crazy sentimental pack-rat and I hate to throw anything out, but a good friend of mine is expecting a girl and I jumped on the chance to off-load a metric ton of baby clothes on her. I knew that if I didn't, I would just keep them and they would take up space and it would get out of hand.

We haven't decided if we're having another one or not (hubby leans toward no, but I won't be sure until this one can walk), but if we do, I'm sure some of Jillian's stuff will get cycled back to us or we'll just buy new stuff for the baby.

I'm sure the people in your group could have pitched in ONE thing, at least. Sheesh.

Also, re: your ladypart hygiene supplies - I've been using a Keeper for almost 10 years now and I can't imagine going back to pads or tampons. If you're not squeamish, I'd recommend checking it out. I've saved about a jillion dollars and my periods went from being 8-day messes to three or four days.

laura said...

I get both sides. I have been hesitant to get rid of anything from TheBoy and TheGirl, simply because I hope to have at least one more. And if/when that ever happens, I'll feel prepared, and then be happy to give away everything else.

On the other hand, it seems silly to hang onto all this stuff, just in case. And if, like you said, it's eight years later, I'm probably going to want to get that kid some new stuff.

Either way, I certainly would've given you a few things if you'd asked.

T said...

You? A judgemental bitch?

I don't understand not being able to get rid of a few things - especially with a first baby - MY GOD, you get so much! But, I am saving things right now, on the off chance that lightning strikes twice. We're soemwhat strapped for cash though. Everything's going to either friends or charity in June though.

Do you know that some people actually throw this stuff out?

I think the mum's in your group are a bunch of tight assed bitches - he he!

Lut C. said...

Perhaps its a sense of thrift gone too far? I have a bit of that.

Actually, I'm hoping to borrow lots of kid stuff (we'll see if and when we get there), including clothes.

Meg said...

No, you're definitely right. Maybe you could have asked them if they minded giving you the $20 for their eyelash tinting.

(I AM a judgemental bitch about things like this, I am prepared to that...)

bri said...

Eh. I see both sides. We do a bit of both. We donate some things, we sell some things (mainly books, since we get a good credit at our second hand place and I am always buying more), and most things we just give to our friends. I can't relate to the saving thing. Wes doesn't allow saving, nor does practical, clutterless living in NYC. And we don't want more children anyway.

SarahD said...

So right. Plus, styles change every couple of years anyway--even though it's just baby clothes, they pretty much mirror adult styles these days. Those people would never be caught dead putting their 2nd baby in 1st baby's now-3-years-behind clothing. The thing is, it probably won't occur to them right now, but it will eventually, and maybe at that point they'll think of what you said.

seepi said...

I can see both sides of this one too.

Giving up the baby clothes is a bit of a fraught issue for me. I'd love a big family, but considering baby number one took years and years to turn up, it seems unlikely. Nevertheless i am keeping all the clothes etc.

We have a big house, but we are mortgaged to the hilt, and like everyone, we are adjusting to living on 1.5 incomes. Suddenly making a bit of spare change on ebay seems more attractive.

Actually most of the baby clothes I have I bought on ebay anyway - I grew up in lots of second hand stuff and never cared. It totally wouldn't bother me to have a second baby in all second hand stuff.

If there ever is another baby.

See mostly I just avoid thinking about what to do with all the stuff.

It will be super depressing to be getting rid of it all in 5 years cos we never got another baby.

julia said...

I freecycle a ton of baby things. I did save most of Boo's clothes, but that's because we weren't sure if we were going to have another baby. Lo and behold, we did, and she was another she, so the clothes were needed. We are living on an extremely tight budget, so saving everything made sense, but now that the Bug is finally starting to outgrow some of her infant things, I'm happy to freecycle them or give them to charity.

I will admit that I usually just put the clothes in the Goodwill collection bins, but I am inherently lazy.

Millie said...

You're always right. But really really right this time.

How could they not have one or two things to give? I suppose everyone needs to gorge themselves on organic papayas so I should be more understanding. But I guess I'm a judgemental bitch too.