I am a member of a committee at our church. I faithfully attend meetings, but I rarely contribute any suggestions or ideas, and God knows I never volunteer to actually do anything. I just show up at the meetings and everyone appears happy to see me. Maybe because I am a fairly new member, they seem to forgive me for failing to be of use in any way. I was asked to join the committee and couldn't say no, as usual. Plus, our church is full of very active people, and I thought belonging to a committee would make me look less conspicuous.
We had a meeting this morning, to discuss and plan for an upcoming event. The woman who offered to host the gathering is our church's resident rich lady. I will not speculate on exactly how rich. Suffice it to say she lives ON LAKE SHORE DRIVE. From her east facing windows, all you can see is the lake. Quite a beautiful view. Also, her building employs a gaggle of valets, doormen, and elevator attendants. I was embarrassed to leave my keys in the ignition of my filthy Ford Focus, with its "check engine" light on, no less. That was the least of my worries, however. You see, resident rich lady's home has a reputation. Of course it is a nice place. But it is also full to the brim with priceless antiques and artworks. The two hours spent there were perhaps the most stressful of my life as a parent.
I wasn't the only one there with a child. My friend Amy also brought her daughter Sam, who is rounding the corner to 2 years old. We decided to take turns. One of us would participate in the meeting while the other watched the kids, and we'd periodically trade off. This might have worked well if the kiddos had wanted to stay in the same area. But they didn't. It also may have been a better plan in general if the hostess had thought to place her most valuable items up on higher shelves, away from little hands. But she didn't. There was one broken item. Call me a terrible person, but I was secretly relieved that it was not on my watch (it was my turn to sit in on the meeting) and not my child. While I was pretending to participate in the meeting I was really hoping that Amy had a close enough eye on the kids (especially Simon). And while it was my turn to watch them I shadowed their every step, praying I'd be able to lunge fast enough if anything were to be knocked over. Whew! That could not have been good for my blood pressure! I was so relieved when it was time to leave. Even the awkward time spent waiting with the doorman for the valet to bring the car around seemed heavenly compared to the pressure of being in that ornate abode.
So here is my simple plea to the rich people of the world. Please, rich people, if your home is filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fabulous artwork, lovely antiques, and ancient African artifacts, DO NOT INVITE TWO YEAR OLDS OVER FOR BRUNCH. We will gladly welcome you into our toy-filled, child-proofed homes. But do not suffer the little children to come unto you, but forbid them, for to such belongeth the kingdom of God only if they do not send their parents to their deaths prematurely by breaking one of said antiques or artifacts and causing massive heart failure. Thank you.
One other funny note. As we were all getting bundled up before leaving, the hostess noticed that I could only fasten the top button of my coat, due to my protruding belly. She went to the closet and pulled out what looked like a huge brown blanket. It turned out to be a coat. Fendi. 100% cashmere. I put it on, as per her request, and all the ladies raved about how great I looked and how this coat would certainly cover my belly. I agreed to borrow it until warmer weather arrives. This was a kind gesture, indeed, but I couldn't help but feel foolish. First of all, not the most flattering piece of apparel I've ever worn. I could successfully hide a six year old child under that coat, let alone my 20-week pregnant belly. I believe it could possibly be a chic look if you were a tall and thin individual. But when you are short and stout like me, it just looks like you couldn't find your coat so you opted to wrap a king-size comforter around your shoulders.
Also, I have to say that I felt uncomfortable in such a high-end item. I had some clothes to return to Old Navy on the way home, and I took it off before I went in. I couldn't quite imagine standing at the counter in my brown blanket and saying, "Hi. Do you like my new Fendi coat? 100 % cashmere. Nice, huh? Look, I really need you to put the money from these items back on my debit card, because this $35 may make the difference in whether we can pay our electric bill this month." Taking the coat off wasn't simple either, as I was worried about getting it dirty (again with the filthy car).
There's nothing like a trip to a Lake Shore Drive home to remind you of who you are and where you come from, and to make you thankful for the things that fill your own home. Things you find beautiful but that didn't cost $4000. Most importantly, things your child can lick, drop, or repeatedly whack with a plastic drumstick.