this (entitled) life
I HATE my own kind. I am a 39-year-old woman who has no job to go out to. My children are all in private schools and I go to the gym three times a week, which results in dropping off or picking up children in all-black sports clothing.
I drive a four-wheel-drive that has never seen a country road, let alone mud. I have the time to lunch when I wish to with my like-lifed friends and time to look up recipes each day to cook each night that have the correct mix of protein, carbohydrate and greens. When the kids come home from school I ask them about their day while sipping a cheeky pinot I found at the darling new wine store that just opened up.
What sets me apart from the rest of the women lined up at the school-pick up in their Audis and Mercedes and BMWs? Arrogance. I’m not them. ‘‘I’m still Jeanie from the block!’’
My mother raised seven children alone. In houses that had no more than three bedrooms and one bathroom. She put us all through Catholic school. She drove a tiny old car that doubled as a garbage dump.
However, there was always a meal on the table. In fact, two different meals, as my older brothers still ate like it was 1947 and white bread and chops and eggs were their staple. She saved the brown rice and skim milk for her less fussy girls.
The woman could spread a 1.5kg lamb roast at Easter throughout her extended family, with no one left feeling hungry. Except me, being the youngest, whom she completely forgot to feed one year. Not for a year. Just once. One Easter. When she was feeding 30 others. I don’t let her forget it.
She rarely turned up to our sport. Never did tuck shop. Never did the parish priest’s washing. (Why anyone would do that is beyond me. Whatever parish chick was doing that must have really sinned.) She didn’t need to be ‘‘seen’’ anywhere.
She had a best friend who fulfilled the role of ‘‘person I can swear about my children to’’. In fact, she said ‘‘shit’’ only once. In 1987. Must have been a tough week. And we were dreadful children. Well, I wasn’t, but the others were. I can’t even go into what they got up to as teenagers and young adults. Yet she still speaks to us all and just smirks when we lament our children’s misdeeds.
So, I wonder, is she jealous? Does she look at us all swanning around like we are just about to do something fabulous in our fabulous houses with our fabulous families and think, ‘‘If only’’?
Hell no! She is about to turn 78 and lives the life she loves. She goes to watch the films she wants. Dines at beautiful restaurants. Travels, sees concerts and goes to galleries. She visits us all when she wants. I look at her and think this woman looks happy in herself. She’s content in her own skin. She epitomises elegance and grace with a down-to-earth undertone.
Perhaps ‘‘Jeanie from the block’’ could do with thinking about her mum’s mothering experience at the same age next time she worries that it may be another six months before we can get dining chairs for the fabulous new oversized French provincial table on which she serves the family homemade pear and prosciutto pizza. And to think Mum didn’t even need a shiny black 4WD or Lycra to get her to this excellent place in her world.
PS: She can still scare the word she said in 1987 out of us all with just one disappointed glare.