My home. I love my home. It’s sacred to me. Yes! I’d love to change a good chunk of the furniture for more sophisticated pieces. Yes! I’d love to redo the pool area and make it more modern and refined. Yes! I really, really want to tear down a wall that would give me another 500 square feet of living space. And YES! I want a new kitchen and bathrooms! And that’s just the things right off the top of my head. But despite all these changes I still love my house as it is. I think just about everybody feels that way about their home. So, imagine how awful I felt when I had a mother and her daughter over for a play date and they walked out not even 15 minutes later. I felt humiliated. I felt betrayed. I felt like I just got stabbed in the heart. My girls go to Catholic private school. I get that by just attending a private school people assume one has a certain level of income. I in turn assume that by going to a religious school people have a certain level of “Jesusness” in their skill set. Apparently, all this assuming has made an ass out of ME! My children and their education are a huge priority for me. My quality time with my children is a huge priority for me as well. So, I don’t work and we send our girls to private school while giving up other luxuries. There are families who are blessed to give their children a great education and a parent at home full time along with a “3000 square foot home south of the boulevard”, as the status symbols go round these parts. I do not envy them. I am happy for them. And I am even thrilled when the home and school also come with ski vacations, trips to Europe and Easter-break trips to Maui. One day all those things will come. But I get angry when those mothers turn their nose up at my house. I use to get hurt. Now I get angry. Actually now…. I don’t give a fuck! See, they want to have playdates with my children because my daughters are confident, well-spoken, smart, highly artistic, play musical instruments, succeed in sports and speak multiple languages. I did mention my children, their education and my time with them are a priority for me right? I do have something to show for all that I do. They come over because we’re the right friends to have…until they see my house. We don’t fit the mold of all those qualities because people assume that class and taste are acquired with money. However, they are acquired with an education…well, taste can be kind of taught but it’s more of a quality you’re born with. Since that one playdate four years ago I’ve been cautious about who I invite over to our house. I’ve wanted to have the girls’ entire class over for birthday parties but I don’t have the courage to be so vastly judged. Actually, I’ve even thought about the opposite. What would I do if I had a magnificent, Architectual Digest-ready kind of home? I wouldn’t want to be judged for my affluence either. This year is the first time I’ve started having play dates at our house on a regular basis. It could be that my courage is growing or that my resistance to criticism is stronger. Or, it could be that by first grade parents stop coming along on playdates. And I know that while parents don’t fully get my home, kids do! I’m creative and our home is very kid friendly. I have a chalk wall. Drawing on the fireplace is allowed. Toys and art projects are front and center. Playing hopscotch is how you make it down one hallway. And the furniture is not sophisticated. It’s old so therefore spills and pen marks don’t upset me. Parents call me after I’ve had their kids over and they tell me what a great time their kids had. By that point the judgement has gone away. Not to mention that almost every parent tells me that my children are positive influences on theirs in one way or another. I’m not bragging. I’m stating the fruits of my labor the same way I would if I spent 40 hours a week in an office, a job site, an operating room or a courtroom. I share my experience because I’m not alone. I’ve heard many stories of moms being shunned by their fellow class parents. I know families get excluded from events because they live on the wrong side of the boulevard. Cliques are determined by the square footage of homes. I don’t know what to say or do to make things better or make people feel better when this happens to them. All I know now is that for me, my house has become like a crystal ball. It is a great judge of character and now saves me time. I invite someone over and right off the bat I know if they’re worth getting to know. Their reaction within the first 10 seconds is very telling. They either get me or they don’t. Somehow knowing this right away makes it more ok. Since I haven’t wasted any time or put any effort into the relationship I’m willing to go either way without disappointment or expectation. The only time I wish I had a bigger house is over Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter when I wish I had a table that sat 15-20 people. I’d love to have all of my true friends and their families over for a feast and a great day of leisure and enjoying each other’s company. I want wealth in the form of quality people and the free time to enjoy them.