Lifestyle Envy

by gillis

I’m feeling slightly envious of childfree friends and coworkers who are going to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games movie tonight. I know how ridiculous it is to feel this form of jealousy, and when it rears its ugly head, I have to carve my way through it to whittle it down to size. This is a mild case of lifestyle envy, but I’ve had moderate-to-severe cases in the past. I can recall times when groups of friends have traveled together while I’ve stayed at home with a young child. There have also been a few special parties and concerts I’ve missed because I couldn’t arrange child care, one of my children became sick, or the price of childcare and the event combined turned out to be beyond my budget. Luckily envy is isn’t fatal and I’ve been able to recover from these spells quickly enough.

These pangs of jealousy are ironic because I had roiling bouts of envy toward all of my friends who were mothers before I was able to have a child of my own. I was made queasy at the mention of maternity leave when it seemed I would never have reason to take one. After saying goodbye to our first pregnancy at 20 weeks, an almost-daughter we named Cordelia, and then losing a string of pregnancies, I was unable to wish anyone good luck with their journey into motherhood.  Genetic counseling said we had a 3 in 4 chance of having a healthy baby with each pregnancy, and those odds were enough to keep us going. For awhile anyway. I became depressed and my marriage went on life support for a spell. Eventually we were fortunate enough, or stubborn enough, to stick it out and Greta arrived via emergency c-section. After that we lost two more pregnancies and decided that three was more than enough for our family.

Don’t ask me how it happened that we had a son just after I turned 44 (really, if you don’t know the mechanics of it, I’m not going to be the one to tell you), more than seven years after Greta was born. I am still stunned by August’s arrival. His existence reminds me on a daily basis that sometimes prayers are answered in ways you do not anticipate nor can pretend to understand. And perhaps prayers could use a calendar -or at least a watch to keep track of the time. Not only do both of my children demonstrate to me that there is a Creator somewhere, a benevolent God figure who loves us and wants us to be happy, but that s/he has a great sense of humor. Why else would I be faced with having to crawl around pushing trucks through the sand while my hip twinges in pre-arthritis throes?  Or toilet train him while I’m dealing with my own preimenopausal issues? When I pick my son up from preschool, it’s easy to see that I look more like the other kids’ grandmothers than their mothers. Short of having extensive plastic surgery, investing in tattooing, and keeping a personal trainer on call, I don’t see that improving as Gus enters school in a few years. There are times, more often than I care to admit here, that I truly, deeply resent having to care for an almost three year old, but these moments are few and fleeting. Kinda like my Hunger Games jealousy. Heck, I read the damn book, I know how it turns out. I’d just like to catch that movie while it is in the theaters. If not, there’s always DVD…

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