Being able to afford everything you need but not everything you want.
I take forever to grocery shop now that I'm making a decent living.
When we were poorer it was just buy whatever we could afford that would keep us alive. Now, when arriving at the spot in the aisle for EVERY item on my list, a chain reaction of decision making fires off that passes through statistics, guilt, and the meaning of life.
A Toyota Highlander with "Frozen" playing in the backseat pulling up to a block party at a master-planned starter home community's pool where the dads are grilling and the kids are running around everywhere eating freeze pops.
When your passenger side door handle breaks, you take it to the dealership for repair since it's under warranty, when they send you to the rental company for a loaner car and the only thing they have is a Camaro. When you pull in to the driveway of your suburban home and tell your pregnant wife you're going out to dinner at a nearby sit down restaurant because you need a reason to drive the Camaro around.
Ladies and gentlemen, my husband last week.
This has me reminiscing on the sweet summer times of my middle-class childhood:
Drawing with chalk in the driveway.
Going to a neighbor's to swim in their above-ground pool, while swatting away occasional wasps, and if this wasn't an option, putting a sprinkler under the trampoline.
A tire swing and/or one of those assembly-required jungle gyms in the backyard.
Various soccer/music/overnight camps (not fancy ones, usually run by the local university)
Being a tomboy by necessity because all your bikes/sporting goods/some clothes were passed through the neighborhood boys before they got to you
Bringing your dad a glass of freshly mixed red Kool-Aid while he takes a break from mowing the lawn with giant noise-cancelling headphones on. Not the ones that play music. They just cancel noise. Blanking on what to call these.
Getting nice and loaded prior to a sporting event to save money, then buying tons of food and drink in the stadium because you can afford it but shouldn't waste the cash.
Helping your children do their homework.
Poor people don't have time for that. Rich people have tutors for that.
Spending an entire day from your weekend cleaning your own house and doing your own yard work and going to the department store.
Too wealthy for need-based scholarships; not wealthy enough to pay for college.
I remember coming back from summer break and my classmates talking about the trips their families went on and being extremely jealous.
Having those silly little stick figure family stickers on the back of your minivan.
An above ground pool, alone, in the middle of the back yard, with those crappy plastic ladders that flail all over the place when you climb them.
A basketball hoop in every driveway.
A mortgage, a car loan or two, and having to save the entire year (or two) to take a vacation with the spouse and kids.
A plastic bag of plastic bags.
Live in Cleveland, Ohio and go to Disney World every summer in your Equinox and stay in the Ramada 15 miles outside of Orlando every time. Go to Denny's for breakfast because it's in the parking lot and have everyone wear Columbia shirts and visors with Sperry's that you just picked up at the outlet stores near your hotel. If you're the dad, wear shorts that are just a little too short for comfort and have huge calf muscles. Talk loudly about how you think Florida might be a good place for income property one day with your disinterested wife currently distracted with the kids. When the waitress comes with the check, have the cash folded about 4 times between your index and middle finger and tell her "keep the change sweetheart." If you're the Mom, have way more stuff than you need for the day, like at least 2 totes full of games and other bullshit no one uses. Try to micromanage the activities ahead of time and blatantly undermine your husband if he suggests something. If you're the husband, mention how you pay all the bills in front of the wife and kids and just generally be a dick until you get to the park. Complain about the tolls and also the cost of parking.
At the park, have you and your kids make some silly faces for pictures on the Thunder Mountain and talk about how it would make great Christmas cards this year. Drink about 8 bud lights throughout the day but not really ever be buzzed. Go to Red Lobster that night for dinner even though there are other seafood options just because of the biscuits and eat at least 3 baskets worth. All of you order coconut shrimp and send it back because it's too cold and keep complaining about it until you get back to the hotel. Get back to the hotel by 7:00 for the ice-cream social and go for a swim in the indoor pool after. Have the family in bed by 9:00.
Gotta go to work everyday so I can come home and spend all my free time taking care of bills, food, and my children. Just so I can wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.
A grade school aged child having tempered expectations for Christmas gifts, and getting pretty much everything they wanted except for the most expensive thing. "Maybe next year, bud."
Jogging with your Golden Retrievers during the work day while pushing a stroller and trying to lose that baby weight. Next stop, coffee!
I'd say the most middle class thing ever is picking up your kids from soccer practice in a 4 year old minivan and grabbing a dinner at the neighborhood chain restaurant. Afterwards you stop by the store to pickup a few things, and end up buying a Blu-Ray copy of a 3 year old family movie for $6.99 (marked down from $9.99) as a splurge.