Risin’ Above My Station, Mum…

Downton-Abbey-2

It’s Monday, and I’m a bit steamed. But not because it’s Monday.

I’m steamed because apparently – as the Dowager Countess would say – I ‘aspire beyond my station.’

WHAAT?

That’s right, folks. I wasn’t really aware of it until now, but a couple of conversations over the last few weeks have let me in on the fact that there are people out there who think I belong Downstairs. Not just random people out there. People I know. Here’s what I mean:

I was chatting with a colleague a while back. This colleague happens to be in the planning-the-family stage, so what they consider a ‘busy’ day comes with a big grain of salt. Anyhoo, I’ll go ahead and remind y’all that I work in the world of Sales. No, I don’t sell anything. But this colleague is one of the Sales Guys. Meaning Big Commissions (that may or may not actually come to pass) and job security based on bringing in the Big Commissions. Basically it’s feast or famine. Which will be relevant in a couple of sentences, I promise.

So, like I said, this guy and I were chatting and the talk wound around to kids, babies, timing, etc. I asked what his wife (a career gal in her own right) was planning to do after they had a baby. His response? “Oh, she’s gonna pop the kid out and never work another day outside the home in her life.”

Let’s skip the whole ‘SAHM’s vs. Working Moms debate’ for now and just go with his response as meaning that she plans to be a fulltime mom for the rest of her life, OK? Ok.

My natural response was, ‘Wow, good for her. That would be nice. I’d love that!’ Which is exactly what I said. Keeping in mind that, at this point in the conversation, I was four days into a 40-hour work week with a three-hour (give or take) round trip commute, two minions involved in scouts and soccer, grocery shopping from hell, and a stalled home renovation. Not to mention my loving cat who occasionally forgets where to pee and chooses the couch instead.

And then he dropped the axe. The bomb. Napalm. Wanna know what he said??? I’m sure that all two of you are dying to hear… Wait for it…

“Yeah, but you married a teacher. A teacher. You live a completely different lifestyle and can’t expect to be able to do that. You knew that when you got married.”

EXCUSE ME???!! REALLY?? Because I married a TEACHER I have to accept my lot in life as the poor red-headed stepchild forever doomed to work fulltime?? Because I married a TEACHER I will never have access to a home in ‘your’ kind of neighborhood? Because I married a TEACHER I should have known (when I was TWENTY-ONE YEARS OLD) that I was choosing a life of ‘poor but happy ‘drudgery?

No, he didn’t say all that. But it was implied. And you know what?

I’m pissed. NOT because what he said was true, but that anyone would pigeonhole me that way.

So let me get this straight. Because I married a TEACHER, we are incapable of making a financial plan. Because I married a TEACHER, I should not aspire to go out to trendy restaurants with friends, shop in non-big box stores, travel abroad, or aspire to stay home with my kids.

In other words, I’m supposed to hang with the staff and not Upstairs. Know what made me even angrier? A repeat of almost the same conversation, verbatim – with someone I know really well.

And yes, I know that ‘other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.’ But this hit home. It hurts to know that (apparently) this is not an uncommon opinion.

I’m sorry, but we are not ‘poor.’ Do we live on a budget? Yes. But my TEACHER spouse has job security. And insurance. AND we don’t use credit cards. My minions are well-fed and clothed. I know how to put together a pretty stylin’ ensemble – even if most of it does come from Targé, Old Navy and the local outlet mall. I know the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork. Yes, the Spouse mows our lawn himself. Yes, our cleaning lady looks just like me. My kids think a luxury vacation is to San Antonio, not to a fully-staffed villa in Belize. We DO actually go out to eat as a family – and not just to Taco Bell. For the record, I hate Taco Bell and haven’t eaten there in about ten years.

I guess my main point here is this: (shouty capitals alert…)

DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME WHAT MY ‘LIFESTYLE’ IS OR SHOULD BE BASED ON MONEY. OR A JOB. OR WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE.

How dare they??

For the record, I smiled, turned away and ended both conversations. Filter full-on. That’s a first – but here I am venting about it…

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