This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I was a Stepford Friend

Recently my friend Debbie told me that I have the unique opportunity, now that I am new kid in Massachusetts, to reinvent myself if I so desire. I am actually pretty happy with myself right now, but that's really only because I reinvented myself when I moved from Cincinnati to Toledo.

When I lived in Cincinnati I was a Stepford friend.

I lived in a suburb of Cincinnati called Mason. Mason was a once-little-farm-town-now-growing-t0-massive-proportions that was just coming into its own. Or leaving behind its true self, however you choose to look at it. In my neighborhood in Mason one-upmanship was the name of the game. All the houses were new and middle class affluent. All the families were growing, careers were growing, and debt was growing as everyone tried to outspend everyone else to show our worthiness. It was understood that your house was to be furnished from Pottery Barn, your kitchen outfitted by Williams-Sonoma, and your car to be no more than 2 years old. It was bad parenting to allow your child out in the winter in anything less than LLBean and summer swimwear could only come from Lands End. I knew I was expected to attend holiday parties with my daughter in adorable mommy-and-me combos from Hanna Andersen. Vacations were taken for a week at Disney World and weekend getaways without the kids were the norm. Purses from Coach, jewelry parties from Silpata, hors d'oerves courtesy of Tastefully Simple, (prepared using your specialty Pampered Chef tools of course), children's bedding from Land of Nod, adult bedding from Pottery Barn, holiday dishes from Crate&Barrel: the list of things you had to own in order to be acceptable went on and on.

The women also had strict standards to meet. You had to workout, highlight your hair, be tan but not go tanning (?), wear gorgeous outfits from Ann Taylor and Talbots to all the parties, be in the neighborhood book club, play Mah-Jongg, be active in the neighborhood women's charity club, decorate your child's bike for the annual neighborhood 4th of July parade, bake exotic appetizers and desserts for supper club, adore jewelry, drink, know all things pop culture, drink: the list of what you had to BE to be acceptable went on and on.

I bought into it all, literally BOUGHT it all.

Then my husband was laid off. Suddenly my world was upside down. Steve couldn't find another job in Cincinnati because Procter and Gamble had just dumped 1000 IT jobs on the market a few months earlier when they outsourced their IT department. After searching for months he found a job in Toledo. We had to move. Moving meant leaving behind the house, the friends, my daughter's school. I was devastated and turned to my neighborhood friends for support. What neighborhood friends? They were all gone. I was persona non grata. I moved on a dreary March day and not one person was there to wish me well as the moving van pulled out. My phone calls, emails, and Christmas cards went unanswered.

For years my feelings were hurt. I was confused. I wanted to know, what happened? Why did all my friends abandon me? Steve got another job, he even ended up getting a raise! He still drove the requisite BMW and I still carried the Coach purse. Why wasn't I good enough anymore? Then one day it dawned on me: I was a Stepford friend. I didn't really have any friends once I broke out of the mold. I didn't want to break out, I certainly never planned on breaking out, but once I couldn't be counted on for lighthearted, problem-free entertainment, I was no longer useful to the group.

I am so grateful I am not in that neighborhood living up to those standards anymore. I am so grateful that I don't have to BE that person anymore. I live in Massachusetts now, not in Stepford.

No comments: