Recently, I was scanning through my draft files–you know, those posts you thought were good ideas but never published or never finished or realized really weren’t good ideas and so maybe it’s best they stayed drafts after all–and I came across one called The Prada Moms.
Years ago, back when I was freelancing and working from home, I would see these moms in Manhattan who were dripping in designer labels. Their hair was perfectly done, their nails showed no signs of housework (let alone diaper changes) and their perfectly trim, pilates-sculpted bodies were the perfect hangers for their size 0 Chanel jackets and $300 skinny jeans.
They sometimes pushed their own strollers, and sometimes walked alongside nannies pushing their Bugaboos, while they teetered on Jimmy Choos and talked on cell phones, popped out of salons, or simply shopped.
It often surprised me to realize they had babies at all, I mean where were their hips? You know, hips? Those things we moms tend to have?
The gist of my post was how how much these women annoyed the crap out of me.
Once you become a mom, aren’t you supposed to move on to some degree? Prioritize your kid over your shopping or your lunch dates or even your triceps? Was it really necessary to spend a decent four-figures on that handbag, when you have a kid heading to college one day?
Now, looking back, I think the only thing that was right about that post is that I never hit publish.
Wow, I must have been in a low place then, I thought, as I read the scathing condemnation that somehow flew out of my head, through my fingertips and into the keyboard.
And I was.
Money was tight, I was hustling like a crazy person to get work to support my family, I couldn’t fit into my prepartum clothes, and the sight of my triceps could have scarred retinas. I felt bad about myself. And yeah, I was jealous.
Not that I would want these women’s lives per se, but maybe just a little more free time to have lunch with a friend? Maybe just the personal trainer? (Not even a celebrity one–I’m not picky.) Maybe just a really expensive pair of shoes that I could buy without looking at the price tag first? Or even a place big enough for a second bathroom? I wouldn’t need every one of these things but…something? A little one? Throw me a bone, universe.
Of course I couldn’t see it then–I made some very convincing arguments!–but I’ve always said we all have a little sanctimommy in us at all times, and there was mine, in black and white.
I was mad at women I had never met–perfectly nice women, for all I know–for wearing designer clothes. I was mad at women for marrying wealthy husbands. I was mad at women for being thin or blonde or tall or tan. I was mad at women for leading what seemed to be charmed lives, despite knowing absolutely nothing about what happened behind closed doors when the nanny was sent home for the night.
I’m so embarrassed about it now. And it’s not that I’m rich or well-toned (God, no) or lousy with free time these days.
It’s that, more or less, I’m happy.
I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about the soldiers of the so-called mommy wars. I once wrote that when you feel good about yourself, you don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what other people do when it doesn’t concern you directly. But you know, it’s not just mommies.
It applies to the hostile commenters on online newspaper articles; the trolls who spend their time arguing a point into the ground on a political website; the venomous hate-blogger who was outed years ago, went on a morning show to defend her site, and really seemed to have convinced herself quite thoroughly that she was doing some great public service for the world by publicly attacking other women she had never met.
It was me in 2008 when I was toying around with an alter-ego called The Etiquette Bitch.
Not that I still don’t get annoyed when people take up two parking spaces, or refuse to hold the elevator doors when they see me running for it. It’s just that I don’t chastise them loudly now. And I certainly don’t let them ruin my day.
So…personal progress. A little.
This week, Thalia came home upset about a girl in school who was “too cool to be nice.” She belittles other kids, she pushes her way to the front and center of the stage during choral rehearsals, she tells stories about her life that seem too good to be true.
“I’m going to tell you something now that most women don’t learn until they’re at least 30. Do you think you’re ready?” My daughter’s eyes opened wide, excited to be let into some secret adult world before she had even turned 8.
“That girl who thinks she’s too cool to be friendly? That’s because deep down, she doesn’t think she’s cool at all. She feels bad about herself. She is working very hard to make other people feel as bad as she does. You don’t have to try and win her over. You probably can’t. You can feel a little sad for her though because she is not happy. And you can remind yourself that you are so lucky that you feel good enough about yourself that you can friendly to everyone.”
“But she acts too cool, Mom. She’s not nice”
Yeah, so…not sure she got it. But maybe one day, when she really needs it, she’ll remember it.
Or maybe we all just have to learn it in our own time.
Life is short. I don’t want to spend it being angry at things I can’t change, at people whose clothing size or whose relationships or whose child-rearing choices don’t affect my own life. I’ll fail sometimes, but I’m trying.
That’s the thing about nearing 45. (Gulp.) I want to do better.
I guess this is all to say: I’m sorry, Prada moms. Four years later, I’m sorry that I even thought the things I did. You go on with your bad Miuccia-loving selves. I hope your husbands are nice to you, I hope your shopping keeps dozens of people employed, I hope you’re so fit and healthy you’ll live to see your great-grandchildren, I hope your charity work fills your hearts, and mostly, I hope those babies of yours grow up to do lots of great things in the world.
If nothing else, may we both have that in common.