As the hurricane that never was passed, I decided to go grocery shopping with my mother. I needed to stock up the fridge in my apartment, this time not just for survival but instead for a better week ahead. After spending the weekend cooped up in the house, going grocery shopping seemed like the great escape and so together we headed to our local supermarket and began the dance down the aisles.
It is impossible to describe shopping with my mother without talking about her affinity for coupons and 2 for 1 deals. She is a Sunday paper bargain hunter and can see through any faux sale. I’d need more hands to count how many times my mother would turn back home to get the Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon for 20 percent off one item. I’d need even more to count the times she’s put me on a line three cashiers away and said to me, “These are limit five per customer, you have to ring some up yourself. Even if a cashier suspected that a thirteen year old really had no use for ten dishwashing liquids, they’d ring me up with a smile. I came from a frugal family and at the end of the bagging rack was my mother reading through her receipts and nodding with approval at her discounted spoils.
The irony in all of this was that throughout my childhood my family went from immigrant starters to American dream homeowners in the middle class. Still, none of this changed the habits of my mother who had grown up eating American goods priced higher on Kingston shelves. She knew the sticker price didn’t tell the value of an item and though her bargain hunting used to be an annoyance, learning to budget on my own I’ve seen the value of it.
Going through the aisles listening to my mother recite the prices for plums and grapefruits before the storm, I had to think about how we as women set our prices. It’s funny how when the demand is up, we are cognizant enough to keep it higher. But what happens when the demand is down? What happens when we aren’t receiving the validation from our work or our relationships? In a world that ties self-worth to accolades and showy affection, how do asses ourselves when the chips are down?
“A plum is a plum; Friday or Monday still a plum,” is what my mother would say and to I’d say the same thing. If who you are and what you give has not changed, don’t set your value for less because the situation has. You are worth today the same thing you were when compliments were flocking, don’t let the quiet deter you or make you think otherwise.
Today, remember what you are worth even on the days when life doesn’t remind you. A good soul is a priceless asset, don’t let doubt bargain it away.