It’s Probably Not Better Over There

I was a little taken aback reading a post by a mom blogger last week.  Her life seems busy and full, and she writes about her kids with such love and joy…well, and sometimes frustration.  But she must have been having a rough day.  She had seen someone she went to college with hit the big time, and then started thinking about how “successful” so many of her peers were.  She seemed to completely forget about all her own accomplishments and successes.

I think when we compare our life to someone else’s, we are doomed to be unhappy.  Because our life can never measure up to their life–just for that reason.  It is their life.  They have their own reasons for the choices they made–and you have your reasons for the path your life has taken.

About 15 years ago, I was kind of stung by a comment from someone I know and actually like.  I’d been happily living my life, working part-time, raising my three boys and volunteering in my community.  And out of the blue she asked me if I felt bad about wasting my college education.  WTF?

Umm, I didn’t really think that I was wasting my education.  My part-time job was even in my major!  I was really caught off guard, because I was happy and I used parts of my education every day, in my life and in my job.   I’m pretty sure her measure of success involved earning a six-figure income, which of course was out of my grasp working a part-time job that gave me the flexibility to be the mom I wanted to be.

Some people seem to have it all.  They successfully juggle full-time careers and parenting.  I’m happy for them.  I can honestly say that I don’t envy anyone for their success, and that’s because I’m truly happy with the life I’ve chosen.  I don’t have the energy or the personality to be a superwoman.  I’d be a stressed-out old hag right now if I’d spent the past 20 years worrying about what to do with sick kids while I worked, arranging people to pick up my kids after school, and all the other hectic running around that many other people seem to handle so well.  I’m just not wired like that.  And I have no regrets.

With the exception of the few people that really can do it all (and don’t just put on a good show), everyone has to give up something to get to where they’re at.  Hopefully they’ve made the choices that are best for them.  It’s possible some neighbor in their sticky hot work clothes gives me the evil eye when I’m lounging by my pool in the summer.  But they just might be bored to death living my life every day.  I also may salivate at the dream kitchen someone else has when my Tupperware tumbles out of the cabinet in my country-blue-and-white kitchen from hell.  But I would have been miserable with the demands of a full-time career, especially when the kids were little.

If you think you need to make a change in your life, then do it.  But don’t try to live someone else’s version of life.  They might just be wishing they’d made the very same choices that you are regretting.

12 Responses to “It’s Probably Not Better Over There”

  1. 1 Tammy May 9, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Excellent and very well put, I second that motion!

  2. 3 Cyndi May 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

    This is so true isn’t it? And so many people spend a lot of time envying others. I have worked full time and raised two kids and made the big bucks. I was miserable. No one knew it, least of all me. Sure, I loved being able to spend money on whatever I wanted, but that’s about the only perk. In my involuntary extended unemployment I’ve learned how much I love being here to send the kids off to school in the morning and to greet them when they come home. I do have to get a job out of financial necessity but I don’t have to be Supermom or make the kind of money I thought I did. Sounds like your friend may actually have been a little envious herself, that’s a nasty thing to say and not even accurate.

    • 4 mamaneeds2rant May 9, 2009 at 12:28 pm

      I think you’re right, Cyndi. Envy brings out the absolute worst in people. I hope you find a job that allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds.

  3. 5 robinaltman May 10, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    That was very well put. It’s a waste of energy to envy others. Everyone makes their own choices, hopefully, that are best for them. Most of my friends are college educated, and don’t work, because they chose to stay home and take care of their kids the way they want to. They sure don’t envy me. They pity me!

  4. 7 Emily May 10, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    hi, there. the post was more about my disappointment in myself that envy of her. i sometimes post these deep, dark feelings because i suspect i am not the only one, and i think it helps all of us to get it out in the open. makes us less alone.
    thank you so much for the response.

    • 8 mamaneeds2rant May 11, 2009 at 12:37 am

      Emily, I so didn’t think you’d see this, and I didn’t necessarily think you were envious. I was just surprised that with all your talents and gifts you were in such a dark place when everyone else can see what an awesome writer, educator, and mother you are. That’s what got me thinking about the subject, and the only reason I could think of someone forgetting about their own accomplishments would be to try to measure them against someone else’s life. There can be no comparison. Your blog is so popular because of your candid writing and I know that we all need to vent our frustrations.

  5. 9 robinaltman May 11, 2009 at 10:55 am

    mamaneeds2rant: I’m home sick today, blowing my nose and eating Fiber 1 bars. My right eye just fell out. I think I just pooped my pants. Still envy me?

  6. 11 Emily May 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    of course i see it! i subscribe to your blog 🙂

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