A Vent and A Challenge

mwi11100003.jpgI’m going through this phase in my life where I’m getting really sick of our American culture. It’s so much about consuming. Consuming food, consuming “must have” clothes and products, self medicating through consuming. Buy buy buy and then buy some more because what you first bought isn’t good enough anymore.

child_with_scraps-of-food.jpgI especially have trouble in the new mother department. Once we find out we are pregnant we get visions of toys, clothes, nursery rooms and highchairs in our minds. Must consume, must have the perfect baby room.

I’m a victim of this myself, although not so much as some people. Both of my cribs were free and most big purchases were made into little ones by buying used things. Really, you can almost get anything free or under 25 bucks if you look hard enough. The only big things we do buy new is car seats because I don’t trust used ones. I do like buying new clothes but I also turn around and give them away for fr629593_sleeping_baby.jpgee and lend them out after. Yet I still ashamed of how much of a consumer I can be sometimes.  ( sorry, I hope that didn’t make me sound like a hot head about this.  I’m not.)

I think about Jennifer Lopez spending 100k on her twin’s nursery. That just kills me. How frivolous! Those babies couldn’t care less if they were sleeping in cardboard boxes! Yes it might be a small expense to the millionaire but how sad. Really, it’s terribly sad. What could 100k buy for people who don’t have a place to rest their head tonight? How many villages could have clean water from 100k?

I think about the images I’ve seen of children in poor countries. I’ve played with children in Mexico who’s homes20061214street_child_sleeping.jpg are made of cardboard. They have to urinate in the streets. There’s toddlers running around the streets in Ethiopia, sleeping on the cement, wondering if they’ll eat again soon. I saw their faces last night on American Idol and my stomach turned. I tasted bile in my throat, it’s too much for me to see. The harsh reality is SO sad. Those kids are sleeping on cement and J-lo’s cashmere clad kids are sleeping on silk for no good apparent reason other than to fulfill the American’s lust for consuming things. Mine is bouncing in an exersaucer while another child’s head is bouncing off the pavement from the violence going on in Africa. It’s so sick and it’s so sad what little amount of money it takes to give one of those children some food and shelter.

Ethiopia is the country that Brent and I hope to adopt from one day. That’s all I can think of to do for them. Seeing the kids there, thinking about a possibility that my future child is going to be born there, or even alive in those nursery24.jpgconditions right now is so hard for me. I want to take them the moment they’re born. Bring them into my arms and hug them. I think it’s sad that those kids need to be brought out of their home country to lead a healthy life but it’s the reality of it. I wish I could make a difference for more than just one child. I feel so helpless.

Anyway, my point is. I wish we could stop for a second when our minds start going into crazy mode about getting everything ready for the baby and thinking about what our kids really need. They don’t need a fancy crib and if you DO need one with all of your heart then stop buying them new! They’re all over craigslist, I see them there every day! Your kids don’t need much to be happy. I slept in an old crib until I was five and I didn’twpaga244.jpg care.

So I’m thinking of a challenge. The next big purchase you make for your child or new baby, try and find it used first on craigslist, freecycle or kijiji…whatever you use. Perhaps with the money you save you could donate the difference to Charity so another child can have a bed and perhaps some food that night.


  1. I will rise to the challenge…. well, already have. The only thing we bought new for Zaza’s room was the paint. I’ve purchased the mis-matched, returned paint before, but not this time.

    I’m with you, Leah.

  2. Good post Leah, we too hope to adopt one day from Ethiopia, or even Canada, and I feel exactly the same way.
    I am sick for those kids everytime I hear about or see images of them. The things going on in this world and some of the things these people (children included) live through are absolutly incredible!
    My only thing with all the things we are told about Africa, the guilt that I, and most North Americans feel about our being here and their being there,our excess their need, is that the first step seems to be within their own countries, within their government. We can step in, yes, but I feel it would have to start at that level, their governments are extremly corrupt and would just take food we might send straight out of babies mouths, all for money and power.
    I would love to adopt a baby and have them one day go back, educated, healthy and stable, and be able to improve the lives of “their” people. That would be amazing.
    It is too bad aswell that anyone has to pay full price and indulge in order for someone to get that item at a second hand price. It would all work so much better if all the big companies had fewer middle men making money and we could all just live more basic lives. Wether it be baby items or a car or a loaf of bread, you have to pay to get it so you have to earn money, so you too become a middle man. Ahhhh, what a world!
    Also, what you said about children in Mexico, I agree, I went to Honduras, and I have to say, those people, though they have NOTHING, were the happiest people I have ever had the complete blessing to meet, they showed me so much wisdom and I will always think about them when I feel I am indulging.
    Who are we to “deserve” any of our blessings?

  3. Hey- I found your blog through jamie’s. I don’t know you but this post caught my attention. You sound EXACTLY like myself. My husband could confirm that I preach this sermon at least once a week. It’s so frustrating that so many people in America actually think they don’t make enough money and wish they made more. Do they realize they have about 100 times as much “stuff” as most people in the world? Do they realize they sit complaining about their lack of money or “need” for something as they sit with their Starbuck’s coffee, typing away on a laptop, in their nice clothes, in a trendy coffee shop or beautiful home, while their $35,000 car awaits them outside?? I don’t mean to sound critical; I know I’m guilty of the same thing at times. The difference is knowing and understanding poverty around the world and trying to help or being completely oblivious. We’ve bought almost nothing for our 19month old, given half of his stuff away- yet he still has too much! I’m trying to further stress your point about our consumer hungry country. How is it that a 1 year old can have so much and his parents have bought him few things and given much away? Why is this one child given so much? I tell my family that he has way too much and if they feel the need to buy a child something to feel fulfilled, buy it for a child that actually would benefit from it. Just a thought. Thanks for posting this!

  4. I don’t think people realize that consumerism also contributes further to environmental problems. Every old item that goes into landfills is a problem. And every new item produced in a polluting factory is a problem. Wasting things means that more things have to be made.

  5. Rixgal – I believe you’ve already done your part with adopting Zaza. Thank you for doing it, I can’t wait to meet her and squish her. Will you let me squish her?

    Irelandsmama- were we separated at birth?

    Crystin – I’m having trouble remembering who Jamie is…I suck I know. I think with Isaac’s first birthday coming up I’ll ask that people just donate the money towards something perhaps I’ll collect it and put it towards something myself.

    Jennie – ya I was going to make that point too. But then I wouldn’t have known where to stop.

  6. Thanks for the post Leah. Anika’s b-day is coming up and James has been pushing to get her a used bike and I wanted a new one…for some dumb reason I was feeling bad for buying my kid a used item for her birthday…she’s going to be 3. She doesn’t care if it’s new or used, it’s new to her. So I will take you up on this challenge as well.

  7. I feel ill about the responsibility I know that I have to love my neighbors, yet how much I selfishly consume, and how quickly I forget. We have SO much to be accountable for. Forgive us. Make us mindful.

  8. we have bought our son second hand presents, for christmas and birthdays, since day one. he knows that “santa” buys second hand too and has NEVER had one negative thing to say about it. He is very conscience of what he buys, where it came from, and how what he buys impacts others. “others” is a great word. if we stopped and truly thought about how our actions affected others this world would be a much healthier place in every aspect.

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