The other night I went to Target with Molly and William. Molly needed candy for some Valentine thing at school (she's a senior in high school...shouldn't this be done?) and I needed to find some fish shaped snack for the valentines I'd printed off some artsy fartsy crafty website. "Out of all the fish in the ocean, I'm glad we ended up in the same school" or something like that. I wanted to get Swedish fish and put a few in a little bag for each kid, but my own children talked me out of that. "Don't give them candy, Mom" Molly said with what sounded a little like incredulous condescension. "Yeah, Mom" William chimed in, "don't be that teacher."
I wondered, "What teacher? Are there weird teachers who give out candy? Why is that weird? I would have loved that teacher!" But I've come to the realization that my kids know what they're talking about so I found Goldfish crackers made out of graham with vanilla cupcake sprinkles. That'll do, Jenny, I said to myself. That'll do.
We were walking towards the checkouts when I stopped at a long clearance shelf full of fancy dinnerware and serving pieces by Target's fancy brand, THRESHOLD. I picked up a plate that was particularly pretty and said to the kids, "I love this plate! Look, they're only $3.98 each." I counted out how many pieces there were. Six dinner plates. Four salad plates. Three cute little bowls.
It was a lovely pattern. Very Anthropologie looking. Kind of. I imagined myself serving up dinner on these plates, the children looking down at the pattern being revealed with every morsel eaten and thinking to themselves, "Mom sure knows how to pick a plate, doesn't she?". They reminded me of the perfect dream kitchen that lives in my head, the one that's kind of like Meryl Streep's kitchen in "It's Complicated". The kitchen I'll build when I "make it", the one where the kids will bring their boyfriends and girlfriends and spouses and I'll be the charming, successful spinster mother-in-law who wears a lot of linen and tunics and can whip up a delicious dinner on the fly...
"Mom, we don't need new dishes." Back to planet Earth, via my daughter's voice of reason. She stood there, next to the cart, and then took the plate out of my hand. "Let's go" she said.
I picked up the plate from where she had replaced it on the shelf. Again, I counted how many pieces there were. The six plates was fine, I thought. There's five of us. That's really all we need. But the others were a problem. I'd have to hunt them down at different Targets. I began processing which Target would be the closest, which one would most likely have my pretty faux Anthro plates.
"Seriously Mom. Stop it. We have lots of plates." This time it was William.
So I listened to my kids. And we left, plateless.
I couldn't stop thinking about the plates. On my break the next day, I went home as I usually do. I work a split shift, so I have two hours free from 10-12 every day. I like to check in with Walter. Sometimes we go for a walk. Some days I finish the laundry I'd started that morning, sometimes I sit on my ass and play Ruzzle for a while (and seriously, folks, out of all of you only 2 play Ruzzle? PLEASE PLAY WITH ME!).
That day, I thought about plates. I thought about my pretty Target plates. I did the math ($3.98 x 6 = $24 ish something, what a deal!). I went online and scoured the Target website for my plates. They weren't there.
I decided that I was going to go get the plates. I wanted them! They were pretty! I started to worry that someone else had bought them. I needed those plates. I felt a wanting I haven't felt in a long time, an urgency.
I had one arm in my coat when I heard my daughter's voice echoing in my head:
"We don't need new plates."
I sighed. Took my arm out, set the coat down. I walked over to the tall cupboard where my haphazard collection of dinnerware resides.
The pretend Fiesta dishes I bought at a thrift store at least a decade ago, an entire set for $12.00. Aside from a couple of casualties, they've survived life with four kids and a mom who slams things to make a point. My wedding china is in there too, creamy ivory mixed in with the pale green, yellow and blue.
Molly is right. We don't need the pretty Targanthropologie dishes. I wanted them, yes. So bad. For some reason, it felt as if new dishes would make me feel better. Less insecure, less worried. When some women get stressed, they like to buy shoes and purses. I like kitchenware.
I talked myself down by imagining how much work it would involve, bringing new plates into this house. "You'd have to move some of these other plates" I said to myself. I imagined getting newspaper and wrapping the china back up and putting it in boxes. Ugh. "You're right" I said back to myself.
Some day, I'll get you, my pretty plates. And the little bowls, too. But we're good for now.