I love chatting with a bunch of women I don't know, as it always opens my eyes to new opinions and points of views I may not have considered before.
But there is one thing that never fails to stoke the embers and ignite my temper.... and that would be judgement.
Even worse is when judgement is accompanied by 'the look'. You know the look I am talking about, the one where you are gazed upon in a patronising kind of way?
Man that combo can make me lose it faster than a pestering fly on a humid day, and when I find myself feeling judged some may be discomfited by the things that consequently come blurting out of my mouth.
I found myself in this exact type of situation last week. I bumped into a friend on my way back to my car after school drop off and she invited me to join her and some old friends from her Mothers Group for a coffee.
Not one to pass up a valid excuse to avoid doing the things I SHOULD be doing instead, I pulled up a chair and immediately began what I normally do when I am nervous and around a group of people I don't know.... I started rambling about crap.
Looking back I should have noticed by the silence that fell upon the group when I rattled on about the fabulous cushions in the shop opposite where we were sitting, that I was clearly stumbling smack bang into the middle of a judgment zone.
Turns out the women had just been discussing 'materialistic people' and how they themselves would much rather be called cheapskates than ever be deemed materialistic.
Most of them (excluding my girlfriend who was busy eyeballing me and not saying much at all) were in agreeance that life's riches come through experiences rather than the things one buys from a shop, and that they want their children to grow up expecting nothing more than what God graciously provides for them.
I listened with an open mind and nodded with the appropriate enthusiasm to show that I thought that they were indeed admirable morals to have. And yet at the same time, I couldn't help but find the whole conversation a little pretentious, laughable even given that they were sitting there checking their expensive iPhones and tapping manicured nails on the table top.
After a few minutes of listening to them go on and on, I started staring off into space... actually my attention was now more focused back on the cushions in the shop window across the way and less on the women who were starting to make me feel like my love of shopping meant I was morally diseased....
until finally I cracked it and realised they were really starting to bug me with their self righteousness.
I'm pretty sure you can accurately picture the reaction from these women when I rejoined the conversation with "I don't know... I'd say I'm pretty materialistic and even though I shopped up a storm when I was pregnant, my kids weren't born with horns or tails or anything".
My girlfriend, bless her, nearly spat her coffee all over the table.
I went on to explain that I certainly don't expect God to provide me with anything more than what he provides my neighbour - and that I'm totally willing to work and pay for any extras myself. I confessed that although I too cherish things like crafting with my kids, rather than make stamps cut out of potatoes and paint made from things from nature, I actually prefer to use cute little stamps and stationery from places like Typo and Little Paper Lane.
I was now on a roll and I told them that I too also love to gather around the table with friends and share the fruits that the universe has graciously provided us with, and although I like to fancy the table up with some gorgeous linen or new dinnerware, I don't expect for a single moment God to stretch the budget just for me - I'm happy to cough up for those things myself.
I had made my peace with the conversation.
And um it seemed I had also figured out how to bring a coffee catch up to an abrupt end.
The women weren't rude to me at all, but it did strike me as a little odd how they suddenly all needed to be somewhere else. Their departure left my girlfriend and I to sit there in shocked silence for a few moments before nearly peeing our pants with laughter.
You see I think I am most definitely materialistic, or at the very least I am materialistic enough to not even bother trying to claim I'm not. And I am not ashamed to admit that I do like to buy 'things' and surround myself with 'things' that enhance my enjoyment of everything life has to offer.
In many ways I suppose I contradict myself, because on one hand I profess a yearning for a simpler life, one less complicated by the need to have the latest and greatest this or that. I have tried to be more like that and I have actually managed to substantially curb my spending compared to a year ago. But if I am completely honest, I don't think that I will ever be the type of person who can forever more resist the lure of a home wares store, an arts and craft shop, or a gorgeous clothing boutique or website.
Just like those women, I make creating memories with my family a priority and I try to teach my kids to create their own fun without all the latest gadgets. But I also work because I like to be able to afford to buy my kids some of those latest gadgets every now and then and teach them to be grateful when they are lucky enough to receive.
I don't judge anyone else by what they want or don't want, have or don't have. Each to their own is my very firm opinion on that matter.
I know in my heart that I can live without all the material things I desire, and I know that the health and happiness of my family is all I really need. And yet I still want those damn cushions in the window opposite the coffee shop and if that makes me a little materialistic well hey, I'm not gonna lose too much sleep over it.
I'm actually OK with it. Are you OK with it?
Each to their own right?