I have intense Upper East Side Mom Envy at least once a year, usually as the first cold wind whips outside our windows and the apartment seems heartbreakingly small for a family of three.

I fantasize about being one of those mothers who wear fur and who ‘just don’t know what to do with all the space.’ In my fantasy,

  • I don’t know how to slice an onion.
  • I don’t cook a pot of chili to last the week.
  • I don’t create recipes and I don’t worry about writing books.
  • I don’t wash my stockings because I can just buy another pair.

What precisely do I do in this dream? I live north of 65th, east of Park Avenue and I produce babies. I try to look lovely and natural through my dedication to Pilates, Botox, Bikram, Restalyne, Spanx. I am married to my goal of being a pretty mother.

Then I blink, and I’m back at the stove with Parker’s legs wrapped tightly around my waist and chili powder stinging my eyes. What the heck? I add the jalapeno and onion, refill her sippy cup and wonder again what it would feel like to have married into a life where people catered to me. There’d be a full-time cook, nanny, personal assistant, pool boy and pilates instructor to make my life glamorous, easy. Anyway, all this hired help would free up my time and allow me to move on to the more important things in life like well, ahhh, mmmm…

Imagining the peppers and grease seeping into our pillowcases, I remembered a few lines by Mimi Sheraton, the culinary personality and ex-restaurant critic for the New York Times. In her memoir, “Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life,” Sheraton reflects on being newly married, young(ish), poor(ish) and–per force–career-driven.

“Every five or seven years, [my wealthy ex-boyfriend] and I had lunch and he always asked if I ever regretted my choice [to marry someone else]. I could honestly answer never, because I think I felt a certain alarm about marrying him, sensing that he would support me admirably and house me in Westchester, where I would become a housewife through my own inertia and DNA. Fortunately, [by marrying who I did], I had to work, a lucky necessity indeed.”

Work—a “lucky necessity” or an unfortunate roll of the dice? I suppose I couldn’t eat chili in my white chinchilla…