Asos top/dress (similar); Target jeggings (loving this option, buying these next!); J Crew outlet jacket, old (similar); Kohl’s bag, old (similar); Avon necklace and Zara necklace, layered (similar, similar); Sam Edelman shoes.
A couple of years ago I was at the pool with my two kids for playgroup. They were about one and two years old, and at that point in time being at the pool with them was anything BUT fun. I would throw my bag(s) and towels on a chair and never sit the entire time, until I left (exhausted), maybe an hour or two later. One day another mom came in, a friend of mine, and she was all by herself. Her kids were a little older than mine and happened to be at summer camp that week. She waltzed in all alone with nothing but her towel and a book and I remember saying to her, “it must be nice.” I said it with a smile and a passive aggressive tilt of my head, but felt pure jealousy in the depths of my
It must be nice.
Is this the most hated phrase, ever? I’ve said it to others and had it said to me. It makes me cringe. I get it now, more, because I have a couple of days a week where my kids are both in school and I am free as a bird to do as I please. It’s amazing. For a girl who had two kids in 17 months, survived several deployments where it was just me taking care of my kids, and went several years with little sleep, this time is awesome. If it hadn’t been hard I don’t think it would have been as rewarding to send them to school and have time to be me, this mythical person that was all but non existent for the past six years. My friend that had the day off years ago had earned her alone time, yet I gave her the “it must be nice,” routine and tried to make her feel bad for not being overworked at that moment like I was. I wanted to be the person who was the most busy, the most tired, and mock the ones who seemingly weren’t. Anyone else not doing exactly as I was must have had it easy. Or so I thought.
What I neglected to see was that my friend had been there (and had it a lot harder from a deployment status), yet I felt at that moment that there couldn’t possibly be anyone else who had it as hard as me that day. See, I think there’s a feeling today that a lot of times we want to make others feel bad that they don’t have things harder than us. We want to show them that compared to US, their lives are easy. I’ve had this happen to me a lot in my life. There’s always someone that is more sick, more overworked, has more kids, and has more issues that me. They want to show us that their misery is worse than ours at any given time, and that our lives are a cakewalk compared to them. They want to look at your life and make snap judgements and assume things. I get it. I’ve been the giver and the receiver of this “you have it so much easier than me” notion, and it stinks.
I’d like to think that I’ve grown up a bit from that day at the pool. I realize that all of us are in different seasons of parenthood, so to speak. There’s the season where it is a lot of work and little to no benefits (0-2 years); the season where all of a sudden your kids can dress themselves and no longer need diapers and can be somewhat reasoned with (3-9 years); and then you get into the later seasons, where older siblings can babysit and there is little need for riding herd like the earlier days (though I haven’t been there, so don’t quote me on this, ‘kay?)
I happen to be in the season where things just got a little easier. It happened last summer when my youngest turned four, and I am so thankful for it. I can take a nap when I feel like it, I can sleep in on the weekends (they can operate a remote!), and trips in the car and daily life is just a bit more enjoyable than it has been. I truly enjoy this season because it is a relief to move from pure childcare to what we do now. I love seeing my babies as real people, watching them develop into who they will be someday. It’s fascinating. I get to guide them more and manage them less. There are so many more teachable moments where life lessons can be taught in tangible ways and I love it. This season is a good one, but it doesn’t take away from my joy of where I was. I just didn’t know how hard it was until I got out of it, and now we struggle with a different type of hard, like bullying and self esteem and being kind and honest.
I think it is so easy to look in from the outside and judge one another. We make snap judgements and look for ways to say, “but she has THIS, so there’s no way her life is as hard as mine,” or, “I work/stay home, therefore they would have no idea the work I put in.” We are all hard on each other and I think it just takes all of us (including me) stepping back a little and trying to envision life in their shoes. We don’t know the backstory of those around us that often. The mom at the pool with no one around her may make you envious, but what has she been through to get to that point? What have you been through to get to your moment of enjoyment? Let’s celebrate a little more and judge little less. Judge less and be happy more, because you just never know what someone has been through where they are right now.
Tell me, what season are you in with your kids/life? Do you think there is an overuse of the phrase “who has it harder?”