“I want your life.”
I stepped back and pushed my sunglasses up on my forehead for a better look at my neighbor after I buckled G into her car seat. I plastered the most genteel smile I could conjure on my face, nodded, and gave what I thought was an appropriate chuckle and waved my good-byes.
My life? Wait… What? I’d had only a handful of meetings with her up to that point and I couldn’t figure out what she could’ve possibly meant by that statement. I mean, I was dressed grubbily in old tights, a faded race t-shirt, and in the well-worn flip flops I leave by the door. Hadn’t she just seen me melting in the Florida heat and folding my two-year-old into the figure four in efforts to get her into her car seat? My life??? What the what?!
I couldn’t tell you what it was that my neighbor thought saw when she looked at me that day. More than that, I can’t imagine what she perceives she knows as “my life”.
This is what I know. There’s the endless scattering of naked dolls and little, pink plastic things. There are shiny, little eyes that smile teasingly into mine as they interpret “No!” as free reign. There are dishes. Endless piles of dishes associated with an old house with no dishwasher and no space to add one. There’s the to-do list that never gets done. I’m constantly up and down. My daytime meals are eaten mostly cold while standing at the kitchen counter. There’s the constant wondering of why this and that are wet. There’s the bath time splashing,the boo-boo kissing, tears prompted by sibling spats, and dirty diapers made by a kid who refuses all manner of toilet training. And, good God, there are crumbs. Never-ending trails, piles, and scatterings of crumbs. Everywhere. At all times. In every nook, cranny, and crevice both seen and unseen.
Is this really what she’s thirsting after?
Make no mistake about it, I am beyond grateful for my family and the life we’ve cultivated. I love my husband. I love my kids. And, in this moment, my heart is bursting with gratitude as I think of their angelic faces resting on their pillows while they’re snug in bed. I feel so fortunate to have this time with them and I can’t help but acknowledge that I don’t deserve them. But, it’s no cake walk. There’s no glitz, no glamour, nor rest for the weary. We disagree, fuss, fight and argue. We scream, we shout, and we’re grumpy and we’re tired. There are days where I contemplate lacing up my Asics, running, and never looking back. Just kidding….kinda.
I don’t know my neighbor’s vantage point, so it’s hard for me to imagine what she feels is lacking in her life. But, what do we really know about another’s life besides what they allow us to see? My neighbor and I are barely acquainted and she catches but glimpses of outside play, interactions to and from the car, and perhaps she’s witnessed a few meals at the family table. But, besides that, I’m not even sure she knows my name. I know I haven’t a clue about hers.
The grass is always greener. And, I’m guilty too. I may see a mom in her shiny, new minivan loading up her kids and think she’s really got it together. I may pass a woman running along the roads looking strong and wish for her their “natural” athleticism. Or, I see the hard-working, corporate moms and wonder if I made the right decision when I left the traditional workforce five years ago to care for my children full-time.
I get it. I think we all do. The “I want your lifes” has plagued us all at some point and I want to trade some ideas about how to remain centered when the green-eyed monster rears it’s ugly head. In these moments I find it helpful to go back to what I know to be true- we’re all a work in progress, success is self-defined, and we’re making assumptions based on snapshot interactions.
Acknowledging that we’re all a work in progress levels the playing field. I don’t know what you’ve gone through to get to where you are today, nor do you know the bits and pieces of my history that brought me here. It is true that some of us do get a bit of a head start in some respects, but that in and of itself does not guarantee peace, love, or joy. We’re all just trying to make it and regardless of what is perceived, we’ve all got something to be proud of, something we’re working towards, and even something that we’re ashamed of. Let’s not maximize our struggles and minimize others. We all need a little grace, charity, and encouragement.
Do you suffer from FOMO? I do. In fact, I’ve run two full marathons because everyone else was doing it. Really. In all seriousness, there’s nothing wrong with positive influences pushing us beyond what we think we’re capable. I love that I have had the honor to be inspired by some truly bada$$ mother runners. On the flip side of that, I’ve had to remind myself that I’m no less of a badass for choosing to focus on other aspects of the sport. I’m still a runner if I don’t sign up for alllllll the races and choose to keep my miles in a more moderate range. My efforts are valuable and my success is not measured by what someone else has accomplished.
And, finally, it’s okay to take a break from social media. There, you have my permission. I promise it’ll all be here when you come back after a brief (or lengthy) respite. Feel free to stop scrolling through vacation pics, DIY projects, home renovations, and transformation Tuesdays. We don’t have to witness all of the snapshots of someone else’s awesome life. Instead, we can take the time to be more present and enjoy the awesomosity of our own.
So what’s your secret? Tell me how you remain grounded and move through moments of the “I want your lifes”?