I have always wanted to be rich. Yes, this is a fact, a confession of sorts, if you will, but nevertheless it's true. Unlike some people, I have never thought there was anything unethical or immoral about having a lot of money, at least if you came by it honestly, and I've never thought about my wealth being acquired illegally. In my fantasies about being rich, the money has just been there. I never have gotten involved with details about where it came from; I've been more interested in thinking about where to spend it.
Taking time off from work to be home with my kids has been the first thing I've wanted to do. Being rich would allow me to retire long before my time, to pursue my first love, as they say, which is to enjoy myself with my family. Once I've begun my fantasy, I usually decide to buy a beach house that has a smashing view of the surf. By the time I've finished thinking about that, I've also decided to use my wealth to buy cars that will always start in the morning and to take a trip to Egypt with my family to see the pyramids. I've been, however, invariably the victim of fantasy interruptus: Egypt is about as far as I get before some child in my real life bursts in on my reverie, wanting to know where his other shoe is.
As the bills have stacked up during the recession, I've thought more about being rich, but this week I decided I'm no longer interested in that line of life. Deliverance came when I read a quote in this newspaper from an old interview with C.Z. Guest, the super-socialite whose daughter, Cornelia, has been pronounced Deb of the Year by Women's Wear Daily. Having read the interview, I've concluded that the 19-year-old toast of New York is going to give new dimensions to the word vacuous before she departs center stage. But I've also concluded it's probably not all her fault.
C.Z. Guest on children and motherhood:
"I had a governess for my children. I think children are better brought up with a governess. Children need someone to discipline them. And after all, Winston didn't marry me to be a maid. Besides, I couldn't go around with Winston, traveling, doing all the things he wanted me to do, if I'd had to stay home and take care of the children. That doesn't mean I never saw them. Of course I saw them. I went fox hunting with them."
Quality time, among the rich.
I, needless to say, am not in the best position to give advice to the rich. But being of a practical bent of mind, it seems to me that someone who thinks like that about motherhood might be better off just renting children for the day and then returning them to their parents when she wants to rejoin her husband. That way she wouldn't have to go through all the bother of giving birth and then interviewing and hiring a governess to raise the children. She would just have to interview children every so often to select which ones she wanted to spend time with.
After all, it is no secret that some children just won't do, when you're going fox hunting. They show up without the right riding clothes or forget their riding hat (children are forever forgetting hats) or some other such thing that would spoil the entire day.
On the other hand, knowing that, it might be wiser to go ahead and provide your own children who can be counted on to behave properly since they, after all, have been raised by a governess.
I have to confess that when I first read the quote it took my breath away. If there is anything that unites the mothers in my set it's the universal feeling that they'd like to have some more time, not less, with their children. And while mothers of all sorts have been known to scream to the heavens, "I'm sick and tired of being a maid!" they generally seem capable of distinguishing the drudgery of housework from the pains and pleasures of raising children.
But then I felt a sense of gratitude. Hard times make the rest of us more fascinated by and perhaps envious of the rich--television is saturating us with their adventures, and, like fantasizing, watching "Dallas" and "Dynasty" and so forth is an escape. But C.Z. Guest, in her candor, has done the rest of us a favor: She's let us peek into a way of life in which some people who are very rich can also be rather poor.