I Said It: How I Told The Preschool Moms My Fears About Them

I didn’t plan to say it.  It just tumbled out of my mouth.  There was no premeditation or thought-out thesis statement.  It was an unedited blurt of truth.

I was surprised I actually said it, but I had sat quietly long enough.

I’d had enough of feeling insecure and different at my kid’s school because my car isn’t a big old SUV, and my kid’s “dress-up” jeans come from Old Navy.  Jesus, I couldn’t spend one more moment feeling “less than” just because I am not building a house on the lake or joining the exclusive health club that Oprah and Barack belonged to.  I had no idea whether anyone else cared or even noticed these things.

What was most annoying was my own judgments.  The minute I spotted a Lululemon logo on a mother’s garb, my mind automatically generated ideas about her biography and destiny.  I packed decades of assumptions into a logo affixed to other women’s asses.

I was tired of my ruminations about other people’s “family money” or trust funds.

Enough already.

So, at lunch after the kids’ Halloween parade, surrounded by the women raising the children that my daughter is learning to play with and call “friends,” I surrendered my only weapon: pretending I didn’t notice the affluence.  I simply couldn’t spend one more second acting like I wasn’t distracted by Kate Spade wallets tucked into Louis Vuitton purses on the shoulders of Patagonia thinsulate coats.

And somehow between ordering my tacos and talking about our largest piece of common ground — our preschool children — I grabbed a split second of silence and outed myself as someone who was terrified of all the wealth.

I never pictured myself saying anything about it.  Why would I? I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to talk about that.  If I had planned to take up the discussion, I would have made it sound genteel and polished.  Something like, “Gosh, there seems to be a great deal of prosperity at our school.”

Instead, I said, “I was scared that ya’ll were going to be rich bitches.”

I said it. To them.

I had no idea where to go next.  My only real plan was to be myself.

What followed wasn’t awkward silence. Neither did anyone rush to change the subject to “rescue” me from my social gaffe.

What followed was laughter– the knowing kind of laughter that happens when someone has finally said that thing, that one thing that seems unspeakable, even though it’s obvious to everyone.

I relaxed. I named the elephant that stood in the room next to me every single time I went to a school function.  I was myself– messy, unedited, judgmental me.

And when it was time to pay the bill, I hardly noticed everyone else’s smooth, hand-stitched leather wallets; I didn’t waste time comparing them to my vintage, rag-tag LeSportSac multi-zippered pouch that holds my wadded-up money, my lipstick, and roughly 237 receipts I have stuffed next to my expired Visa debit card.

None of it mattered to me like it did before I said it.  Something happened when I said that thing– I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.

Maybe I should be embarrassed for saying something so crass that betrays so much about my inner thoughts.

But, I’m not ashamed.  I’m glad I said it.

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76 thoughts on “I Said It: How I Told The Preschool Moms My Fears About Them

  1. Hey, I’ll put the duct-tape wallet my son made for me up against your LeSportsSac any time! Love this post but my favorite part of your blurt-out? That you said “y’all.” Big hug from your fellow Texan!

  2. I sometimes feel like that with my own family. Sigh… There’s a reason hubby and I are the crazy liberal hippes of the family… I carry a nice purse with a matching wallet because I have a gay friend whose mother owns a purse boutique — he gives the bestest presents 🙂 Left to my own devices, I’d probably just cram things into the diaper bag.

  3. I am reading this while waiting for my own submission to clear admittance to the Yeah Write grid, and it’s funny how similar our topics are! I have had a recent encounter with “how the other half” live (the other half being the filthy, stinkin’ rich), and it turns out that I didn’t stick out nearly as much as my anxieties told me I was going to. Great post!

  4. WHAT?! No EBC for you?!? Come chill at the Y with me! :p I’m thankful our school has such an INSANE diverse mix of earners/jobs/educations…and nobody seems to care. (Although my husband worries that people will look down on him because he didn’t go to college…he went to paramedic school and became a firefighter instead. But everyone thinks he’s awesome, so that one is on him.)

  5. “I packed decades of assumptions into a logo affixed to other women’s asses.” I want to write this sentence down and carry it around with me in my own wallet, because I am guilty of the exact same thing. You are awesome for lending voice to your insecurities, and I think that those women may be awesome for laughing. Because instead of being judgmental laughter, it sounds like it was a warm, happy, friendly laughter.

  6. go you. i’ve discovered sometimes it is best just to say what it is. usually, not always, i have encountered bitches rich and poor, usually though, we all laugh at ourselves and are very nice and accepting. glad it work out. i wouldn’t want them bashing you with their prada bags. 😉

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  8. My girls go to a school where the vast majority of families have far more wealth than we certainly ever will, and I have found that the majority of them are nice, normal people who are just like me…ish. Good for you for tearing down that wall!

  9. Oh boy, I can relate to this one. There is a park we go to where all the moms are pretty much what you describe at your school. Awesome post – I love that you gave voice to your feelings and to the women themselves and loved it even more that they laughed. So much better to just feel comfortable and at ease in your own skin!

    • I felt my heart open when I just said my thing about the wealth. Now, I just keep my heart open at every pick up and drop off and it is working. Much better than being hunkered down and scared and silent.

  10. Go you, that’s so awesome! I am old enough to have accumulated some nice things. But people here – near NYC – take it to a whole different level. Prada, Jimmy, Manolo. I have none of that. I can’t IMAGINE spending 2K on a handbag or 1K on shoes. But, my friends that do sure are nice to me, even though I still prefer my gap jeans and fossil handbags.

  11. My children went to private school almost their entire lives (this is their first year in public) so I had the money thing forced upon me all the time. I am unfiltered so I had plenty of fun giving some of the parents a hard time.

    But I know what you are talking about. It gets old.

  12. This really resonated with me. I grew up in neighborhoods where most people were wealthier. We were by no means poor, but didn’t have the designer labels that my friends could afford. It always irked me more than it should. And i was certainly judgey about it. Now, I find myself, even as a family with a modest income by American standards, immensely more wealthy than most of my Kenyan countrymates. And I fall all over myself trying to be “down to earth” and generous and to dispel what I assume others are thinking about my “rich bitch-iness” I assume others around me are being just as judgey about my seemingly undeserved wealth, and it’s uncomfortable It’s probably just desserts.

  13. You are awesome! You have once again described my life. Mine goes to a private school that I can only afford b/c I am on financial aid. I expected not to fit in with the parents at all. My first event there I parked between an escalade and a porsche suv – I drive a honda civic hybrid. But he and I both love his school and I have found I have more in common with the parents than not. Bottom line we all love our kids and want what is best for them – we just do that from different income levels.

    I was in Chicago last week for a conference and thought of you.

  14. I’m totally glad you said it and I’m also glad for their reaction (which would have been mine if I was rich and/or a bitch). I’m sure many others wish they had the gift to share in such a way. You are probably a secret hero, maybe even on your way to urban legend status!!! Don’t ever move out to the affluent suburbs. It only gets worse or just seems that way. I spilled coffee, accidentally, on someone’s LV bag and she almost had a heart attack. I’d rather take a vacation.

  15. you lost me at “Lululemon”. 😉 🙂 i haven’t a clue what that is, nor do i care: a result of being a complete loser/loner growing up, forcing me not to give a sh!t about everyone else and their good fortunes. 😉

  16. I have a sister who lives in Highland Park (the one you probably know, outside of Chicago) and she struggles with what you write about here. She tells me stories about some of the rich mothers – some are nice and some are Romneylike. Recently she let one of them take her shopping. When she told me the price tag of the jeans and boots she bought my jaw dislocated. She and her husband do pretty well so it wasn’t necessarily out of her range, but it was uncharacteristic. I hadn’t realized how much she wanted to fit in. Human nature. Kudos to you for speaking up. We need more of that.

  17. Bravo, you. BRAVO. Love this. We moved to a very affluent island in Western Washington last year so that Olivia would have the opportunity to attend the best public school system in the state and heck yes, we’re paying butt-loads in extra taxes and have heard rumors of this same sort of upper-crust snobbery, but so far our tactic of being ourselves (often messy, always sincere) has been paying off. And that, my friends, is the longest run-on sentence in comment history. The end.

  18. See? Always own it. Loud & proud (and make ’em laugh to boot). Plus, you know, there’s the very real possibility that the lululemons come from … er… TJ Maxx or Marshalls. Sez me, who owns just such a pair. They accessorize nicely with the “COTTON!” tote bag I got for free at blogher. Which I use as a purse-type thing. Go, you, go.

  19. I’m a friend of Moments of Exhilaration (and we live in Chicago too). I see this everyday at my daughter’s school too, but what’s interesting is I’m trying to collect $ for a holiday fund to buy the teacher’s a gift and some people are, let’s say, less than generous. Its interesting what some people choose to spend money on…

  20. I so hear you on this. Over the summer we went to visit my daughter’s best friend at her beach house. I was like, “Wow. I’m really glad these people aren’t jerks and don’t bat an eye when they see me drive up in my Toyota Corolla.”

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