I think I have a problem….. I am a lunch box addict.
I recently bought the girls new lunch bags and boxes for school. To align with our newly acquired values they were a part of their Christmas presents, so far so purposeful! However when it came time to wrap their presents I came across a bit of a road bump. I opened up the sparkly mermaid bags to put inside the flashy new bento boxes (bought for 50% off) and whoops I found I had already bought lunchboxes, so I quickly put them in the donation box (look at me minimising) and moved on from my consumerist blunder. I placed the newer new lunchboxes inside the bags, wrapped them and patted myself on the back.
Christmas came and went and it was time to actually use the super duper new lunch apparatus. When I tried to open the lunch bag the zip got stuck, the same thing happened on the second bag, and again when I tried to do them back up – bollocks I think I might have bought bags with shitty zippers. Ok no problem, probably just a teething issue (insert raucous laughter for nerdy zip joke). I closed the bags after only about three tries and decided that my 5 and 6 year old daughters would definitely have more success than their thirty-something mum.
The next day the following conversation ensued…
Husband: “So those lunch bags are shit. And so are the lunch boxes.”
Me: “Yes I think I made a mistake with those, I’m going to have to buy new ones”
Husband: (withering look, disdainful silence)
And so began the hunt for the ultimate lunch-bag and box combo. Now this is an essay about minimalism and purposeful living, and not on finding the perfect item to purchase so I promise I’ll get to the point right away.
I parted with a small fortune, ordering them both personalised unicorn bento boxes in their matching bags, feeling convinced that after hours of lunchbox research I had the perfect food transportation devices to last the girls all the way through to the end of primary school. The next day I went to do my grocery shopping and walked past a Howards Storage World with all the back to school BUY ME items, and there were these great lunch bags. I started to feel physically sick, I felt anxiety swirling in my stomach – were these better than the ones I had just ordered? Were the ones I had just spent the kind of money you could buy an actual handbag for going to be a useless waste of space like pretty much every stupid lunch box I have bought since our eldest was about one (and yes I realise a one year old has no need for a lunch box – as I have said, i have a problem!) I’m talking lightly, but the feeling I have around these plastic food carriers is anything but light.
I’m not sure what I think will happen if I don’t find the perfect lunch box, I don’t think the kids are giving them half as much thought or care as I am, and they’re the ones using them. I don’t know why I am giving these largely unimportant items so much space in my head, when I was a kid I got a sandwich wrapped in glad wrap, no fancy, overpriced, personalised items here! I am anxious by nature, I am a worrier, I am a people pleaser, I am always looking for ways to make things better, to the point that my husband will state very clearly when he tells me about small worries “you don’t need to find a solution for (insert situation here*)”. The fact that days later I feel the need to write an essay about how the fear of getting the wrong lunchbox really shows me, and everyone else, that I need to stop thinking about lunchboxes, and I definitely need to stop buying them. I am currently anxiety ridden awaiting delivery of this purchase, i don’t think I can face my husband, or myself, if they turn out to be shit. I guess if they do, I might have some more silly stories, but I’ll be back in the position I was in before – looking to buy lunchboxes….. KILL ME NOW!
Before you start shouting at me “you’re a nervous wreck because….” I do know why I feel this way. My anxiety is a product of my questionable self-worth, particularly in relation to my abilities as a mother. I want to be the best mother I can be, I fear that I am not the best mother I can be, I search for ways to make sure that I am being the best mother I can be – and our advert-centric culture knows this, and it screams at me from every direction, buy this for your child if you want to be a good mother, buy this for your child to make sure you are a good mother, if you don’t buy this for your child you must be a really shitty mother, and so on ad infinitum. We are taught and encouraged to fix our emotional issues through acts of physical consumption. This insidious and pervasive way of thinking not only impacts me but it has already trickled down to my children who have literally said these words to me “you are the worst mum in the world because you won’t buy me……” Our society tells us to fill our emotional voids with stuff, to plug holes, to ignore reasons. We are encouraged to ignore why we feel the way we do, and instead to buy meaningless junk to somehow demonstrate, to people that don’t care, how we feel about people we do care about. My kids don’t care what their lunch comes in, they don’t even care what their lunch is – as long as it’s absolutely not a cheese sandwich!!! – they just care that I’m there to cuddle them when they have a bad dream, to give them a kiss when they fall over or listen to their incredibly long and rambling stories about a vital game of Barbie that may or may not actually have taken place.
Although this started with an amusing example of my failure in minimalism, my excessive lunchbox buying is really a spotlight on the deep-seated anxiety around our self worth that is consistently and subversively pushed on us, especially as mothers. Tired of the societal pressure to always buy more, have more, be more, I have turned to minimalism to try and get out of the anxiety inducing superstore and stop buying into, literally and figuratively, our modern consumerist plugging and pacifying of emotional wounds and start really making room for my self to succeed.
For now though, I’ll wait for the girls’ lunch bags and boxes to be delivered, please keep your fingers crossed for me that they’re not shit.
Love C x