I am not a jealous person. I am extremely satisfied with my life. I think of my journey as a very extraordinary, ordinary life. I have an amazing husband, who is an outstanding father to our three wonderful children. We live in a very nice house, in a fabulous community, that is near the beach, in Charleston, SC (consistently voted one of the best cities in the world). Although I always wish to lose a few pounds, I am generally pleased with my body. I love my friends. I love my job. I am healthy. I am happy. I am blessed.
If someone gets new boots, I may think they are nice and wish I had a pair, but I don’t covet. If someone remodels their kitchen, I may salivate over their gorgeous backsplash, but I don’t get angry when I enter my own kitchen and stare at our tile from 1999. If a Facebook friend posts stunning pictures of their tropical vacation, I may google and “dream plan” a similar trip for myself, but I do not cry over the fact that I am not there.
But there is a time, well, actually, there have been three times, when I become consumed with jealously. I am talking all-out covetousness, enviousness, green-eyed monster, jealously. And these three times all coincided with the times when my children were babies.
When jealously strikes
I do not covet physical things during that time. Oh no. What I covet most are ease and freedom. I will see a woman casually running on the trail behind my house, while I sit in a chair nursing a baby and I will rage with thoughts of “why can’t that be me?”. I will enter the grocery store with a baby in a car seat carrier, a diaper bag on my shoulder, and no place to put the milk, while the woman next to me bebops in with her basket on her hip and her phone to her ear and I will shoot nothing but evil-eyed envy her way.
I don’t reserve these feelings for strangers. Oh no. My friends are also fair game. If we get a chance to meet another couple for dinner who have older kids and they say “Oh, we just gave the babysitter who we found on Facebook $30 for pizza and told her to make sure the kids go to bed at some point tonight” while I spent days interviewing and researching potential caregivers and left them with a dissertation on how to care for the baby, I want to reach across the table and throat punch my “friends” for their carefree attitude towards the challenge that is finding a suitable caretaker.
It won’t be like this forever
If you are like me and are living in these depths of despair, fear not. It will not be like this forever. Soon, soon enough, you will be the mama running down the trail with nothing but an iPod. Or the mama talking on her cell while picking out eggs. Or the couple that actually enjoys going out to dinner and can do so without hours of investigation. Yes, you will return to a life where you have time for you and you alone. I do promise.
But you know what is crazy? When you are out of this baby stage and when you are able to enjoy life a little bit again, you WILL miss these days.
You actually will feel pangs of jealously when you pass the mama juggling the shopping cart cover and sippy cup in Target.
You will look longingly at the mama running on the trail while pushing the stroller.
You will smile with a bittersweet recollection when your friends describe their trials and tribulations at finding a suitable nanny.
Because you will remember all the times that weren’t so tough.
You will remember the baby giggles that came while you pushed the shopping cart. You will remember the baby coos you heard coming from the stroller while you were jogging. You will remember the times you couldn’t wait to get home from dinner so you could peer into the baby’s crib to watch their little chests rise up and down. You will remember the smell of them while you held them close because they couldn’t stand being in the store for another second. And you will remember their little finger wrapped around yours while you nursed them.
Yes, Mama, you will get your life back. And you will love it. And feel relief. But you will never again have the precious moments you have now. So, please, try to be patient and take time to enjoy all the goodness before you return to that carefree life you once had. Because with your freedom, comes your child’s freedom, and that, Mama, will make you truly green with envy for the life you once knew.