I don’t remember the first time I felt it.
Maybe it was when my cousin got the purple Velcro Nike sneakers that all the seven year olds were getting while I wore my non-descript generic ones.
It could have been when a friend at my lunch table opened her lunch box and had the strawberry Capri-Suns that everyone was raging about. JUICE IN A POUCH? Get out of here. Get out of here while I drink my homemade Kool-Aid out of my Care Bear thermos.
Or maybe it was when She was the one who caught his eye. Of course she was. With her spiral perm (I had a spiral, too… But hers was always. on. point.) And her Guess jeans (my jeans had no special triangle label on the butt pocket because why would a good Christian girl want to draw attention to her rear-end?)
If not by then, it definitely was when I got to motherhood and saw people with their perfect little cherubs sleeping through the night at 6 weeks of age while I was wrestling a very spicy 15 month old to sleep every single night. (I literally cannot talk about this one, still.)
You know the word. It belongs to a Green-Eyed Monster and its power is furious and consuming and as bitter as the winter wind itself. It has ruined many friendships and squashed new friendships before they could take their first breath. It has kept us awake at night, cheated us out of fun, and been the fuel behind more gossip than even the most honest of us will ever admit. It causes us to hide people on Facebook, refuse to “like” cute pictures on Instagram, and post ridiculous and catty hidden messages that require the reader to have a Go-Go Gadget Decoder Ring on Twitter.
And I am convinced it’s from the pit of hell itself.
If you haven’t guessed it, I am talking about jealousy.
As women, we are taught at such a young age by our society to measure up.
In our entertainment driven first world, beauty is defined by airbrushed supermodels and perfectly unblemished actresses. Our culture is one of constant hypocrisy, where breastfeeding in public is frowned upon even in its most modest forms while mall lingerie stores flood our little ones’ and husbands’ eyes with images that are screaming to us confirmations of how ugly and fat we are. We’ve been taught that those of us who have the brand new house, the 2.5 kids and the most tricked out SUV are the ones who have made it, while the ones who work two jobs, live in an apartment, and still drive a 1995 Nissan Sentra are “unfortunate.” #blesstheirhearts.
And while I am all about being better, doing better, living better, I am constantly aware that in our 2016 womanhood, most of us are trying to master the dance of creating a better life for ourselves and our families while trying to avoid the Jelly Monster that is nipping at our heels and making us cynical instead of beautiful.
When one of my children starts dealing with jealousy, my advice to them is always so easy.
Look at all you DO have instead of what you DON’T have. And if it’s something you absolutely need in your life, find a way to get it with yourself intact.
Ouch. Looking at what I do have is sometimes the problem, isn’t it?
See, as moms, we can’t see the forest for the trees.
The problem isn’t that one friend with the nanny who watches her kids while she takes exotic vacations with her husband.
The problem isn’t that some of us chose to stay home while the girls we graduated college with went on to pursue a career.
The problem isn’t that our husbands are lazy pieces of crap while HER husband is deeply involved in everything from packing lunches to playdates.
The problem isn’t even that she is constantly posting pictures of her perfect little Pinterest laden house and her Baby Gap children and her Martha Stewart dining room table.
The problem is US. You. Me.
We partner with jealousy and let it consume and control our lives.
The moment I seethe in anger over the success of someone else, I gave in to it.
The second I make a decision to withhold a compliment to someone because I just cannot let the words leave my insecure mouth, I joined hands with it.
The minute I see what someone has, what someone has accomplished, or what someone is celebrating and I have to make a bitter accusation about why their happiness is unwarranted, I entered a covenant with it.
The breaker I flipped when I decided she isn’t worth my friendship or investment without a single justifiable reason, I actually flipped a light on to show my own insecurities. Not hers.
See, jealousy is a thief of life. It’s a thief of time. And honestly, ladies? It’s robbing you of your motherhood.
You don’t live her life. You don’t eat with her husband. You don’t fold her kids’ laundry.
You don’t see what she stresses about. Your cheeks don’t catch her tears. Your hands don’t write her bills. You have no idea why she celebrates the things she celebrates. You don’t know how much money she has saved or budgeted for date nights and nights away with her man. You don’t see every heartbreaking prayer she has prayed over her children… the burden she carries for their specific needs of each of them… her earnest cries that come only from a mother’s heart.
And honestly? Focusing on any of HER is taking away from what matters in YOUR home… You.
Know what the enemy of jealousy is, every single time?
Thankfulness. Thankfulness, thankfulness, thankfulness.
In fact, it’s impossible to be thankful and jealous at the same time.
When I am letting jealousy set its headquarters up in my heart, I am in essence telling myself that my husband isn’t enough. My kids aren’t enough. My home isn’t enough.
I am telling my emotions that someone else’s blessings should belong to me.
And when I put it in those terms, I want to fall on my knees and thank God for the husband I have that makes breakfast every Saturday so I can sleep in, even if he leaves the clean dish rag all wadded up in the bottom of the sink near the egg shells. I want to sing a song of thankfulness for my hormonal almost-teenager whose room looks like a scene from CSI Meets Hello Kitty Rave Party but whose heart is tender and precious and eager to bless me as her mom. I want to worship with all my heart for my habanero personality preschooler who makes gray hair pop up on my head every 3.8 minutes but makes my entire being melt to the floor with his romantic heart toward his momma.
Today, as you drink your coffee, how about with every sip, name something in your life you’re genuinely thankful for? The law of attraction states that whatever we focus on, we get more of. So if you want more lack, by all means, focus on what she has that you don’t. Thankfulness, even if it’s forced for a while, uproots the cancerous plants of jealousy and replaces their toxic growth with Spring. And just like with anything else in life, the more you put it into practice, the more effortless it just becomes for you.
What’s that you’ve got over there?
I missed it.
I was too busy smooching my own blessings.