Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pour Your Heart Out: Jealousy



So, you know that gorgeous, thin mom with the clean house and the perfect clothes who you love to hate? The one who always has the right kind of wipe in her diaper bag and who is involved with all the activities you said you wanted to do and always knows the right thing to say? The one who goes home every night and cries into her pillow because her marriage is falling apart and she hasn't spoken to her mom in years and she forgot to eat all day?

Oh wait, you didn't know that last part, did you? Of course you didn't.

I've seen a lot of posts lately about mean mommies, and overly perfect mommies, and how unfair and dishonest it is when people try to gloss over the hard things about being a mom, the hard things about being a human being on this planet. And I get it. I do. Being honest about that stuff? Is kinda my thing.

But I am also acutely aware that when someone cleans her house or puts on a skirt and makeup to go to the grocery store or gives her child nothing but organic, BPA free homemade food? I am 99.9% sure that it's not about you.

And before we get to the point where I know we're going. Stop. Don't feel guilty. Don't get mad at me. Because this post isn't really about you either. It's about me.

I know how easy it is to feel jealous. I write about and think about this stuff all the time, and I still do it. I look at someone who looks well put together and who is socially competent, and I feel a little crushed. "Oh, that person isn't going to understand me or be able to be my friend. She's perfect."

But you don't know. You never know. Because I'm willing to bet there are people who've looked at me and been jealous. And lordy, who would be jealous of me? I'm a mess.

It's okay to want things that other people have. It's okay to wish you had qualities you admire. It's normal to feel jealous sometimes. It's natural. It's unavoidable. But it sucks.

So, what is the answer?

The answer, as usual, is kindness. Of course it is. It's so easy for us to be kind to people who we see as inferior to us (even though, good God, we'd never admit that). It is infinitely harder to be kind to someone we see as superior to us. And I mean truly, genuinely, authentically kind, not just kissing butt so that you get something in return. I think it may be one of the hardest things in the world.

So don't be jealous of me because I can't do it either. But I'm trying. Let's try it.

18 comments:

  1. I love this post and I love you because you are truly a kind human being.
    Jenn

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    1. I try. I really do. And I love you too.

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  2. I love this post! You said it so well!:)

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    1. Thank you! This had been working around in my head for a while.

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  3. Thank you for this! I'm a nanny and babysitter, so I see the Perfect Mommies at their worst moments. One mom gets teased for the crafty, perfect, de-commercialized birthday parties she plans for months. What they don't know is that she came home from Play Group last month and cried to me that her friend thinks she's an idiot who only cares about crafts. Also, because she can only afford child care when it's absolutely necessary (babysitting while she teaches as an adjunct), she hasn't been on a real date with her husband in like five years. NOT perfect. I see them cry. It doesn't make me feel better about not having a clean house even though I have no children.

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    1. You know what? It's hard. (Yes, I know. That's what she said.) But every stage of life is hard. And your house isn't clean because you are doing other things. And you are doing the best you can. And that's enough. Let a little of that kindness spill over to yourself.

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  4. This is a great post. I recently deactivated my facebook because I was jealous of all the "perfect" lives i saw. I'm serious.

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    1. I understand this completely. I can't handle the "perfect" status updates. And while we do need to be kind and empathetic, it's also so important to protect ourselves.

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  5. I know this is exactly what we talked about. And it's so very, very hard. I'm trying too. A little kindness goes a long way.

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    1. I've been thinking about it a lot. And I really think the problem isn't the jealousy. It's that we want to connect to people, and when they seem perfect, we can't see how. And that makes us the sad. Because we just want to love them.

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  6. I love this.

    We never really know what is going on in someone's life, behind closed doors. So judging on what we see or *think* we know- it's just not fair.

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    1. Yes. This. Exactly this. And as much as we may want to, and as much as we may value openness, sometimes we just need to accept and respect the limitations that make them keep those doors closed.

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  7. Or the hard work it has taken to be put together...maybe she has been in years of therapy, maybe, yeah, just maybe. It is hard to be truly nice to those we feel inferior to. So hard.

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    1. I totally agree. When we begrudge people their hard-earned wins, we take away from what they've accomplished.

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  8. Totally. No one is perfect and I'm lucky to have seen it firsthand. The totally put-together mom? I have a friend like that, and she's as close to perfect as anyone I know, and yet it's not as though she doesn't struggle. It's what makes her beautiful to me.

    I'm so perfectly imperfect I should get an award for it. ;)

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    1. Robin, my love, you totally get an award. But you are already perfect at all the right things.

      I have a few really put together friends too, and sometimes it's hard for them to show those chinks in their armor. So I just need to take it on faith that they must have them, and that they are capable of loving me and all my flaws.

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  9. I so get this. I was super jealous of a mom friend at daycare. Until I saw her struggling with the same things I do. I realized that we won't know internal struggles. I am working on treating others with kindness.
    Jenny

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    1. I have to re-realize it all the time. And you, my dear, are already one of the kindest people I know.

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