The car show and making do

The school-aged children had a half-day on Friday so, following the success of the Longwood Gardens trip, G (nanny) and I decided to brave the Philly Auto Show with all five kids. I am happy to report that the baby was peaceful on the drive downtown, and slept in the carrier while we looked at cars. (The ride home was a different matter, but two out of three isn’t bad…)

I got the kids motivated to go by telling them we were researching my next car. I am currently driving the SUV I bought in 2011. It has served its function well, that function being to get me and my passengers to and from our destinations. The kids had all sorts of ideas on what I should purchase next, including the pick-up trucks, and the Lamborghinis and Maseratis we saw. I pointed out that I couldn’t even transport most of them in the models they liked of the latter two (no backseat definitely means no car seat!), but I don’t think this consideration sank in.

In any case, while my husband replaced his 2010 car last year, I’m not sure that I am truly in the market for a new vehicle. My car works. Until that changes, buying a new one seems like quite a bother.

I’ve been realizing lately that this is my philosophy about a great many things. I generally like to avoid bother. My tendency is always to make do. I am sitting on an office chair with a giant hole in the upholstery. In some cases, I think it’s a positive attribute. I’ve saved a great deal of money by not being prone to seek out something shinier (e.g. in the vehicle department). In some cases I hope my “making do” comes across as lovably eccentric (my car clock has been an hour off since the time change in November…but I know what time it is and the time is going to change again in early March so…why bother?)

But, it’s not always positive. I was never a big fan of the kitchen in this house. Since I work from home, this meant I was disliking it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner…for seven years. Finally, in 2018, I decided to renovate. The renovations weren’t complicated: painting the cupboards and walls, installing a new backsplash, countertops and lighting. We did not have to move appliances or walls or put in windows or anything like that. There were some bumps along the way, but when it was done, I loved how it looked. It was a bother, but in retrospect, not a huge bother, and in any case, the bother is now in the past. I have been pondering why it took me so long to get around to it. I wish that realization would nudge me to deal with the stain on the front of my house that I also hate looking at but…Making do can be about contentment, but it is sometimes about fear of the unknown, or laziness, or cheapness too.

In what categories of life do you “make do”? Which are you happy about, and which are you not?

Photo: Not my next car



11 thoughts on “The car show and making do

  1. Sleepwear! I’ve been wearing the same two pairs of yoga pants and the same few cheap (and now, stained) Target tank tops as sleep/lounge wear since my youngest was born. The youngest now reads chapter books.

    I realized the situation was really grim when folding the pants and seeing they’re thiiis close to having a hole in the crotch. So threadbare you can see through them. But at this point, it’s a wear-it-our scenario… a challenge to see how long I can keep them in rotation. There’s a grim, puritanical joy to it. And once the pants have an, um, air vent… I’ll splurge on some quality replacements. Maybe when those replacements wear out, the youngest will be in college!

    1. I am so with you on this one! I realized it sometime last fall, so for Christmas I asked for and got 2 new sets. Now it seems like my drawer is bursting with pjs. They are so warm and comfortable I don’t know why I waited so long!!

      1. @Julie – I agree that good pajamas are awesome. We bought nice matching ones for the family for Christmas, but they weren’t noticeably Christmas themed. Now we all wear them and it’s fun to see which other family members are wearing them on any given night!

  2. After the last baby, I wore nursing tanks under my scrubs because I don’t like having my abdomen exposed while pumping. Still wearing the nursing tanks 18 months later – I just haven’t found the motivation to locate all the again right-sized sports bras that were my usual before.

    Also: a question for you and your readers re: cars – my usually frugal husband and I are debating buying a third car – for our kids (2&5). Our work and childcare situation is such that our nanny (who drives her car to school and activities many days) can’t always be available for mornings and evenings – I have a couple other babysitters I trust to drive but its a challenge with both kids in car seats. A third car would give us the flexibility we need and also seems kind of crazy. Please tell me I’m not the only person with this problem!

    1. @Sara B – we wound up buying a family minivan that our sitters drive when we had the fourth kid. We probably should have bought it before. In this case it was practical — nobody has a car that seats 4 kids. In general, we also felt it was probably best to make sure our kids were being transported in a newish car that was well-maintained.

      With two kids (and especially if you don’t think that number will go up) it’s a little more complicated. It does seem like a big purchase but if you honestly think it will make your life a lot easier and you have the money, then it’s justifiable to use it!

  3. Interesting link here to Gretchen Rubin’s under-buyer and over-buyer tendencies. I’m deinfitely an under-buyer, and like some of the other commenters here take a joy in wearing something out. It feels very efficient and, well, economical.

    I think making do is an essential way to deal with the levels of overwhelm which would ensue if we felt the urge to correct everything as soon as we weren’t happy with it. BUT I agree, it often feels great when we finally get round to something. I was making do wth the fact my 1-year-olds toy were getting out of hand. I finally sorted it on Sunday and I feel SO MUCH better. But I wonder if I like this cycle of things getting really bad, then the joy of the release, because then you appreciate it more.

    A side not on the outside of houses – we’re (sort of) house hunting at the moment and I am promising myself that if we buy somewhere that doesn’t look that prettty, we’ll do some work to make it look better. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t bother with because you spend all your time inside, but actually you see the outside of your house every day, so I agree it’s worth getting sorted (some day!)

  4. My first thought was “she’s an under-buyer” a la Gretchen Rubin.

    We’re currently driving a 10-year old vehicle we bought for under $4,000! It has required some repairs but then, all cars do need brake work, tires, insurance and oil changes.

    Aside from being frugal, which I am, I’ve also realized that equal to my desire to save money, I HATE making decisions. I am a maximizer (desperately wish I wasn’t). I research decisions to death…and then second guess every decision I ultimately make.

    When the dentist told me last year I had an old filling that needed to be replaced but I could wait another year, I jumped at the chance to defer – I’ve now waited 8 months, but have thought about it regularly since with dread (I’ll have to pay out-of-pocket, and just hate spending money at the dentist; not sure why that one bothers me so much). Well today (before I read this post, I must add), I called and made an appointment to get the filling. I know I’ll forget about the ding to my pocketbook quickly, and I’ll no longer have to think about the issue.

    I love what Gretchen Rubin says about “Identify the problem.” Sometimes just doing a brain dump into a spreadsheet about everything big and small (like a stain on the house) that is commanding valuable energy, and jotting down some solutions is enough to get it done. I try to do this at least once a month and tackle, at least some, of the lingering to-dos.

  5. I hate getting a new phone for the same reasons. It is just a lot of bother, even though it is nice once you get it updated and get all your apps in.
    I have been riding a really lousy heavy old bike for about 15 years (but only about 5 times a season) because I hate the sporting goods store.

  6. Yes! Car buying in particular is also often just a soul sucking time consuming expensive pain. We are going to have to buy a new car soon, and I am dreading it. Might as well put it off as long as possible!

  7. Same. I feel like I will extend my “making do” attitude, however, to things like vacation, or “weekend planning,” which are things that you, LV, seem to be pretty good at managing.

    My default mode is that planning for a trip is a huge bother, so I will just settle with staying home, which is not a great attitude because it’s awesome to actually go on a trip once everything is planned.

    (In reality I think the right answer is to plan SOME trips because trips really are stressful to plan and to execute, so they are good – at least for me – in small doses only).

    *Journaling and goal setting has helped me a little bit on this front because then I can choose a few things to focus on actually improving in my life (including social planning), and not feel paralyzed by overwhelm.

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