For those of us who work really hard just to provide our kids with food and shelter, there comes a weird moment in life when you look around and realize: Man, some of my friends make a lot of money. Like A LOT a lot.
Back when we were all single young things going to dollar happy hours and splitting rent six ways, money often seemed like no big deal, right? Some of us certainly had more of it, but for the most part, we were all in the same boat, logging long and painful hours as assistants and residents and students. Now that we’ve climbed a bit higher up the career ladder (woot woot!), the financial differences are a bit more, ahem, pronounced.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy to see my friends—and any woman—kicking ass and taking names at her chosen profession. Or, married to a wonderful man who just so happens to make a comfortable living.
But now that kids have come along—and in some cases, hefty mortgages, luxury SUVs and private-school educations—it’s become clear the terms of my friendships have shifted a little. I’ll always love my friends and be super grateful for all they’ve done for me over the years, but sometimes I feel like the proverbial odd mom out when they start debating the merits of a Mercedes vs. BMW sedan.
Suspect you may be in the same boat? Let’s laugh together. Here are just a few of the ways you can tell if your working mom friends make more money than you do:
1. Settling the check becomes really awkward.
It’s been a great dinner, and everyone is pleasantly relaxed from a couple glasses of wine. Then the check comes. Your friends offer to pay (again). You put up a token protest (again). They insist (again). You let them win (again).
2. They don’t understand that screen time is a necessity, not a “crutch.”
Hey, look, I don’t want to let the iPad or TV be my child’s babysitter either, but when you can’t afford an actual babysitter, sometimes you have to make do. I’m glad my friends have been able to raise their kids in a screen-free home, but they have to admit it’s a privilege to never need the assistance when you’re, say, cleaning the bathroom (because your housekeeper already did it) or cooking dinner (because you can afford to order out).
3. You have to skip out on group vacations.
Because flying your family of four to Thailand just ain’t happening.
4. You have major bag envy.
You don’t need a designer wardrobe, but damn, Karen’s new Chloé purse is pretty.
5. You’ve become suspicious of all the toys, clothes and gear your very generous friends say they “just don’t need anymore” or “didn’t work for them, but would be perfect for you!”
Do they really have that much stuff, or have you become a charity case? Ah, best not to ask too many questions. (See also: Let them take the check.)
6. You say no to nights on the town—A LOT.
You’d love to go on a double date to the Bruno Mars concert, but once you factor in tickets, food, transportation and the sitter, you realize you wouldn’t be able to make your mortgage payment this month. And you hear it’s important to pay that.
7. You’ve embraced minimalism as a parenting philosophy, partly out of necessity.
Listen, it’s good for kids to have less stuff, and to work hard for the things they want, OK? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
8. They’re puzzled that your fridge isn’t fully stocked because their nanny Ingrid does the grocery shopping on Mondays.
It’s called daycare. Your child’s teacher is lovely, but she doesn’t pick up the milk for you, alas.
9. They suggest getting your kid involved in more than just one activity.
Little Delilah takes swim lessons in summer, ski lessons in winter, and French and French horn lessons year-round. And you’re over here feeling like a champ for letting your preschooler tag along on bring-a-friend-to-tae-kwon-do day at the martial arts center.
10. You’re hesitant to invite them over to your house.
They don’t understand that your living room is the playroom and you just have to get used to stepping over toys on the way to the couch.
11. You want to bow out of the birthday party competition.
You’re having the kids in your backyard for pizza and cake. They’ve rented a hall and have personal appearances by each of the PAW Patrol characters, a clown, a balloon artist, a magician and the ice cream man with his truck full of paid-for treats. Also, what the heck do you buy a kid who has everything?
12. Speaking of gifts, can we stop giving presents every time we see each other?
The successful parent-friends love to bring treats for my brood whenever we get together—even if we’re not celebrating anything. This turns into an expensive prospect because I feel obligated to return the favor.
13. Oh, we’re throwing a baby shower and we only need to chip in $500 each?
14. You don’t understand why they need security cameras outside the house and in every room.
What are they expecting to see exactly?