After spending a several months in one of the more high-end neighborhoods Seattle, I started to notice something about the moms there… An overwhelming level of perfection.
This is the 3rd and final post of the series.
You can find part 1 here.
And part 2, here.
All lifestyle decisions have some sort of inevitable trade-off. Giving up one thing in order to have another. For example, giving up time with your kids in favor of a career. Or, staying home with kids instead of having that second source of income.
For most of the families on “the hill,” in truth, there is no second stream of income necessary. For these primarily Ivy-League educated executives, doctors, lawyers, and business owners one income is more than sufficient to support a family. Even when a 2 bedroom, 100 year old, not-been-renovated-since-the-70s house costs over $800k, most of these families could still make ends meet with one income source. However, in order to afford the lifestyle of perfection that permeates the area and sets a new standard of “normal,” most families opt for both parents to work and I don’t mean part time. I mean full blown, high-powered careers.
While you would never know that many of these not-so- unicorn moms have had to give anything up for their lifestyle, I think they have. They have given up countless hours with their families and the opportunity to be there for their kids through life’s most mundane – but important – moments. The rat race of perfection that most of these households seek stretches their time and efforts thin. Everything from the elaborateness of your family vacation to the premier-ness of your child’s sports team is a competition. If someone were to invent some sort of point system, that would almost be better – at least people would know if they were winning.
I can’t help but doubt the sustainability of this lifestyle. I’m not referring to environmental sustainability here but long-term lifestyle sustainability with regards to time and effort. None of these families need new cars every 2 years, designer clothes, or professional interior design services. Nor do most of them truly need housekeepers, gardeners, or the like.
“Entitlement” is a word that is thrown around a lot these days – usually directed at seemingly spoiled teens or anyone who feels they are deserving of something that in someone else’s mind they didn’t earn. I am starting to think the concept of “entitlement” is more widespread and does not exclude the highly educated or the economically privileged from its grasp. The desire to “have it all” is too powerful. Whether this manifests itself as desiring a powerful career and a family or desiring to maintains a certain lifestyle, this “have it all” mentality is pervasive.
When do you look in the mirror and say “we have enough,” or “we don’t need this?” It’s a challenging thing to have perspective on when everyone around you seemingly has (or appears to have) the same things or more. This is not an environment conducive to making cuts or determining what is truly necessary. People feel entitled to have the same lifestyle and luxuries that those around them have, without giving the burden or impact this lifestyle places on their family a second thought.
So rather than envying these not-so-unicorn moms, I will be grateful for what I have been blessed with. I choose to sacrifice perfection for quality time with my husband and my someday-children. In the end, my meadow of brown grass, pile of unfolded laundry, and mismatched dining room chairs beat competing in an exhausting and un-win-able perfection contest any day.
Sometimes we all need to step back, widen our scope, and take in a little perspective to see how incredibly fortunate we are.