“What’s for dinner?” my kids ask and I think “Yeah what is for dinner, oh shit I’m the adult, I’m meant to decide that!” that and a hundred other moments are when you realise that you’re the one people are looking up to now. I haven’t quite got the habit of buying a week’s worth of shopping all in one go, instead going to the shop every day on the school run to pick up stuff we need for dinner, that way we waste less but mostly it’s because I don’t have the same attitude to shopping that my mum did, which was similar to someone competing on extreme shoppers angry at retail staff edition.
When I was growing up my mum would take me and my brother to the shop. We’d either be in the trolley (shopping cart to non UK readers) or I’d be pushing my brother along in the pushchair (take a guess non UK readers). One time I hid my then 18 month old brother behind a bunch of plants, still securely strapped into his chair, and assured my mother he was gone now and we shouldn’t worry about him. She’d fill the trolley with food and we’d pay for a week’s worth, normally around £100, then take it home and unpack. That seems crazy to me now. £100 a week?! There’s a whole person more in our family and we spend half that! I know families spend that much these days but with inflation that’s an equivalent spend of £259.33 today. My mum was spending an equivalent of £260 a week on 3 of us and a dog!
Lets get some background going here. My mum was a single mother, my brother and I were looked after a lot by childminders and babysitters just so she could go out and earn enough for us to have a good life as well as childminders and babysitters. We had a nice house, clothes, holidays etc but it never once occurred to me to ask my mum why she would always wear the same clothes or never buy herself anything not absolutely necessary. Only now as a parent myself do I understand and I want to go back in time, grab my tiny 11 year old shoulders and scream “MAKE HER A BETTER MOTHER’S DAY CARD YOU SPOILT PRICK! SHE DESERVES AT LEAST A PARAGRAPH OF YOUR RESPECT AND LOVE!” because no matter what you say kids are selfish little things that don’t understand what their parents go through and nor should they.
So the fact that she would make sure we had that food in the house and we never wanted for anything made me complacent, I’m not going to say lazy because I’ve always been a hard working guy it’s just that maybe I didn’t used to understand how things really worked in life. Like when I got to my uni I had to guess how a washing machine worked (with coins) and how much powder to put in (not half the box), plus I learned that people will steal any food they find in a communal kitchen no matter how many pubes you put on top of it. I thought I was self sufficient, I had a part time job with full time hours that I did as well as my degree so I thought I was doing ok. Then I ate nothing but bread and beans for 3 months and called my mum to come and do some shopping because I didn’t have £100 a week to spend on nice food, hell I didn’t have £100 all in one place until I was well into my 20s.
Not because I didn’t have a decent job or anything like that but just because between the time my mother was buying that level of shopping and me having my own kids, prices went through the roof and wages went through the floor. My mum got into a pretty high up IT position because she had a qualification in French, nowadays you can’t even get into an entry level French interpreter’s job with a qualification in French, you can’t even get a job selling French bread with a qualification in French. We used to give people who couldn’t do anything else the trolley (shopping cart) pusher jobs and nowadays we have people with master’s degrees doing it, there are middle aged men and women with a masters in molecular biology pushing trolleys to supplement their zero hours university teaching job which means you now need a degree to get those jobs so we’re about two years away from there being degrees in trolley pushing and vomit cleaning. Bachelor of Grocery Container studies, BGC hons.
Even now, aged 34, I can’t spend over £1000 a month on food and groceries! Who can?! I mean who can that doesn’t own their own newspaper or tax haven based online shop? When does it get to the point where an adult can just drop that kind of money on weekly shopping? Does the fact that I can’t do that mean I’m not an adult yet? I feel like an adult. I pay taxes and bills that seem extraordinarily high for things that regularly fall from the sky. When there’s a noise outside that could potentially be a murderer, demon or Jehovah’s Witness I’m the one that goes to check. I feel like an adult but maybe not as much of an adult as my mum was. I say was because the other day she made a cake filled with smarties and another that had fudge pieces in the mix and really that kind of behaviour isn’t very adult at all.