So…. I work.
I work my happy little butt off.
And my husband still brings home more bacon than me. Rightfully so.
Everything that man calculates, he does in his head, standing on the side of a busy highway, cars zooming past him, while arguing with someone else who thinks they know better than he does. Every decision he makes directly correlates to the safety of the public (thank an MDOT worker ya’ll, they’re underappreciated).
Everything I calculate, is checked by my spreadsheet, and then triple-checked by the program I plug it into. And no decision that I make directly correlates to the physical safety of anyone.
The life that we live and the way that we live it is a direct reflection of our combined income. Not his income, not my income. Ours.
So, in March, when my 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee started having mechanical issues and a new vehicle was a necessity, we calculated how much we could comfortably afford to throw at a vehicle that would last and also be safe for the kids to ride in every day.
After scouring the web and dealerships near us, D found a vehicle he knew I would be obsessed with.. a 2017 Toyota 4Runner with a mere 34k miles on it (and 4-wheel drive, which according to him, is something I needed).
I meannnnnnnnn, I wanted a Tahoe. With captains chairs and a third row seat. But, after looking at the numbers, she just wasn’t in the cards for me right now.
He was right about the 4Runner, though, I was obsessed. I am obsessed.
Upon driving it to work the following Monday, I was super proud and couldn’t wait to show my co-workers (we get irrationally excited for each other).
As the day went on, two separate people made comments to me that, unbeknownst to them, wounded my pride. And though I know it was unintentional, it still stung.
You have people in your life who you speak to on a weekly/bi-weekly basis that you aren’t necessarily friends with, but you consider good acquaintances. You wish them well for upcoming events and ask about the well-being of their families. You give them a pat on the back if they’re having a rough day or the biggest smile your face can manage on their kids’ birthdays.
You truly wish them the best in life and you just assume they feel the same way about you.
The first comment came mid-morning on that Monday. This person walked inside and came over to my desk, “You get a new ride?” he asked. “I did!” I responded.
And then it came.
“Your husband is an engineer, right?” he asked. “He is,” I responded quickly, surprised at the turn in conversation, “Good for you girl, making that man treat you right”.
And though I am fully aware that he was being kind, likely even joking, his comment annoyed me.
Later in the afternoon, the second came. This person was holding the door open for me as I returned from lunch. Pushing my sunglasses off of my face and onto my head, I thanked him and asked him how his daughter was liking her gymnastics class as I moved past him. “Oh, she loves it. Your car in the shop?” he asked, nodding towards the 4Runner. “Oh no, that’s mine now,” I said, also nodding towards the vehicle.
Still holding the door open, even with me already inside the building, he turned back towards me and said, “What is it that your husband does again? Something in construction, right?”
“Does it matter?” I responded, annoyed once again, but with a polite smile on my face. He smiled back at me, nodded, and went along his way.
At this point, I’m about 85% sure I’m being too sensitive. No one was outright saying anything rude to me, I was assuming implications that might not have even been present. But, nevertheless, I was hearing them.
Why, after seeing me in a newer, nicer vehicle, was my husband immediately brought up?
Pulling into the daycare parking lot that afternoon, I was ready to see my babes and get some much needed loving.
When I got to the door, I stopped to hold it open for a lady coming out with a baby on her hip. She thanked me and then said, “Hey did I see you in a new car this morning?” I motioned towards the parking lot and said, “Yep,” hoping that would be the end of the exchange.
“Girl that thing is pretty, proud for you Mama!” she said as she started doing a little dance. Actually moving her hips from side to side saying “ooooha ooooha” as she did so, her daughter giggling on her hip, before she turned to walk away.
I could have hugged her. I wanted to hug her.
And now, honestly, looking back on it, I feel a little silly for feeling the way that I did. For letting people get to me when I should have just brushed it off.
I remember being nearly in tears that night telling D about it all and feeling extremely childish. And I remember him validating how I felt and saying, “Everything we have, WE have”.
But, I wrote this in the hopes that someone reading it is reminded that being a tad bit more mindful of the things that you say to people can make a huge difference to them.
And for the record, my current reaction to anyone who mentions my car is to throw my sunglasses on, strike a pose, and quote Mean Girls, “I’m not a regular Mom, I’m a cool Mom”.