This Is Us

I Was a Failed Trophy Wife-In-Training

My mother seemed to think you could catch being upper class, like it was a cold

Gabrielle Moss
Human Parts
Published in
13 min readMar 1, 2021

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Photo: cottonbro/Pexels

When I was 12, my mother and I were in this ongoing argument. She wanted me to grow up to become a trophy wife; I wanted to grow up to write one really cool novel and then die while I was still hot.

I mean, she wasn’t that explicit about it. Whenever the topic of my future came up, she’d begin by naming the only two rich person professions lower-middle-class parents know (doctor and lawyer). It was plain for anyone to see that I had neither the interest nor aptitude to become a member of any of the life-saving professions; I was a former gifted child who was now flunking out of junior high because I stayed up until 2 a.m. every night reading true crime books with names like Fatal Innocence and Blind Doubt and Cruel Faith. But really, the “doctor/ lawyer” stuff was fake, a caveat so no one could accuse her of not being a feminist when she finally said what she really wanted for me: to find a wealthy orthodontist who would sweep me away to his magical kingdom in the far-away land of Long Island.

“I just want you to have an easy life,” my mother told me, while packing my miserable ass off to yet another humiliating tennis lesson. She believed, fervently, that all it took to become a trophy wife was knowing how to play tennis. If I became passable at it, I’d get rich tennis friends, who would eventually introduce me to a rich tennis man, who would eventually take me (and my mother) away to his rich tennis mansion. My mother always thought you could catch being upper class, like it was a cold.

And then once I was rich, my life would be set. It would kind of be over, but hey, at least it would be over with money! “Writing can be your hobby, once you meet your rich husband!” she told me, while I made yet another face about yet another tennis lesson. “I meet a lot of women like that in my art classes, they have these great husbands who just take care of them, and they just get to take art classes when they want. And it’s just such an easy life.”

My mother didn’t think of herself as someone who lived in Trumbull, Connecticut. She also didn’t consider herself a teacher, although she taught…

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Gabrielle Moss
Human Parts

“I was feeling very depressed, which is how most stories start.” —Amy Heckerling * buy my damn books: https://tinyurl.com/yxd852a2