“Three of these kids belong together, three of these kids are kind of the same. But one of these kids is doing her own thing, now it’s time to play our game” Sesame Street
It was Easter Sunday, and we had made reservations at a very swanky Easter brunch at the Trump golf course in Palos Verdes. It’s unlike us to spend silly money on stuff like that and even though we knew D wouldn’t eat a thing, (which he did not) we decided to splurge and have a fun outing as a family. There would be other kids, and an Easter egg hunt and bunny and all that and we knew he would enjoy it. So we decided to go for it.
We arrived and were seated at our lovely table, and in typical Rhonica fashion, I was ravenous upon entering the building, so I went to get some food for me and attempt to find something Declan would eat (complete fail on that front). Tom was perfectly happy to get started on the bottomless mimosas (I had already agreed to be the driver) so he stayed with D while I hit the buffet. About three seconds into walking into the dining room, I remembered that I had forgotten my heels in the car and was still wearing the flip flops I wore to drive there. And it’s not exactly the kind of place where most of the women wear flip flops, let alone a dress from Target, which I was wearing because it was loose and flowy and somewhat managed to hide the fertility drug bloat I was sporting (more on that later.) Anyway, I’m self consciously browsing the buffet in my flip flops and Target’s finest when I hear, “Rhonica? Is that you?” She was the wife of an ex-boyfriend’s good friend, whom I had known for years while I was dating my ex. She’s a perfectly lovely person and has always been nothing but nice to me, but I’ve always felt somewhat uncomfortable around her. We’re just very different. She’s always all Chanel on Hermes on Prada and I’m… Target on Old Navy flip flops. And not to mention that she owns a fitness studio, so she’s always in amazing shape, and I suddenly became very aware of my chubby Clomid face that was only accentuated by the fact that I had recently gotten the grand idea to chop 6″ off my hair. Not my finest moment, appearance-wise.
She and I chatted for a bit and exchanged little stories about our kids and it was a perfectly nice conversation. But the whole time we spoke, I was very aware of what I was wearing, of my chunky face and bloated belly, of my cheap dress and even cheaper flip-flops. And I felt, like I often do in these type of situations, that I had no business being there. You know that old song, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong” from old school Sesame Street? Yeah, that feels like my theme music sometimes. Especially when I’m at fancy events, wearing an outfit I thought was cute before I left the house but quickly realized was entirely unlike what every other woman would be wearing. And I’m old enough not to care too much what other people think of me, so it’s not even that. It’s more that I feel like an imposter, like the girl who grew up in the small town in the middle of nowhere with no money, no status, no business being anywhere near anything so highbrow, is going to be discovered for who she really is and laughed out of the joint. And even I know that’s silly- where and how I grew up has nothing to do with the life I live now. And the fact is, I do belong there, in as much as I can afford a table. And I think that’s all these places are really looking for from their patrons. I doubt anyone is taking attendance and making notes on what each guest is wearing so they can approve or deny their request to come back the following year.
The truth is, I struggle with this a lot. My husband is vey successful, and at the rate he’s getting promoted, we are going to be attending more and more events like this because his job requires it. He has no such problems living the high life- he’s happy to walk into Tom Ford on Rodeo and act like he belongs there because he’s spending his hard-earned cash and therefore deserves the VIP treatment. I’m different, though. Anytime we’ve ever shopped on Rodeo, I’ve felt awkward, uncomfortable, and very much like I’m faking it. The champagne they give out helps, but only until the day-drinking buzz wears off and I become painfully aware that I’m wearing something from a discount shop, and likely flip-flops (I live in them, sadly.) So what’s the solution? To start spending a ton of money on clothes and things that just aren’t me so I can feel like I fit in? Or to find a way to own the fact that I’m a bargain shopper who can afford an expensive brunch or a fancy dinner every now and again? I think I’ll opt for the latter.
I know I need to find a way to feel comfortable in my new role as the wife of “rising star” if one can call a banker that in the city of actual stars. And I need to be able to walk into any event feeling like I deserve to be there. But I didn’t earn any of this. I just married into it. I know many women date exclusively with the intent of finding a meal ticket, but I wasn’t one of them. I happened to meet someone and fall in love, and along the way, his career started really taking off, and for that, I am so thankful and proud, because it allows us the freedom to live comfortably and travel while still saving for our dream house. And more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom. But I still struggle with thinking that everything he has is “his” because I don’t really contribute financially anymore. And logically, I know that’s silly- we share a life together, and a child, but it’s going to take me a little more time to get used to it.
So I guess the moral of the story is this- one of these things is NOT like the others, and I likely never will be. I can’t say for certain, but I don’t see myself ever being one of those women who drops $10K on a day of shopping and barely bats an eyelash, no matter how many times my husband gets promoted. So yeah, maybe I’m not “like the others” but maybe that’s okay. Maybe all I need to do is to remember that not being like the others doesn’t always mean you don’t belong.