I am not a jealous person. I am extremely satisfied with my life. I think of my journey as a very extraordinary, ordinary one.
I have an amazing husband, who is an outstanding father to our three wonderful children. We live in a very nice home, in a fabulous community, that is near the beach, in Charleston, South Carolina (consistently voted one of the best cities in the world). Although I almost 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 was a time, well, actually, there have been three times, when I have become consumed with jealousy. I am talking all-out covetousness, enviousness, green-eyed monster, jealousy. And these three times all coincided with the times when my children were babies.
They weren't physical things I coveted. Oh no. What I coveted most were ease and freedom. I would see a seemingly carefree woman casually running on the trail behind my house while I sat in a chair nursing my baby and I would feel such rage thinking, why can't that be me?
I'd 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 bee-bopped in with her basket on her hip and her phone to her ear and I found myself shooting evil-eyed envy her way.
And I didn't reserve these feelings for strangers—my friends were also fair game.
If we had a chance to meet another couple for dinner with older kids and they said, "Oh, we just gave the babysitter we found on Facebook $30 for pizza and told her to make sure the kids go to bed at some point tonight" (while I had spent days interviewing and researching potential caregivers and left them with a dissertation on how to care for the baby), I wanted to reach across the table and throat punch my "friends" for their nonchalant attitude towards the challenge that is finding a suitable babysitter.
If you are like I was and are living in these depths of despair, fear not. It will not be like this forever. Soon, very soon, 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 investigations beforehand.
You will return to a life where you have time for you and you alone. I promise.
But you know what is wild? 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 jealousy 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 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, too—and that, mama, will make you truly green with envy for the life you once knew.