A few months ago one of my friends approached me and told me, rather excitedly, that they’d FINALLY received planning permission to build a house on the 18 acres that she and her partner own.
“That’s brilliant!” I exclaimed. “What are you planning?”
And as she told me about her design for the house (a bit too modern for my taste, but that’s ok), she went on to tell me about how they were going to have a section behind the house for a vegie patch. And an orchard. And a chicken run. All of this on top of the sheep and cows that they already raised for meat.
I was instantly jealous. My dream has always been to live out in the country on a fair bit of acreage (10 acres is about the minimum) with an orchard and chickens and a vegie patch (and a hedge maze).
“No fair,” I whined (only half joking). “You’re living my life!”
Not long after that I met up with another of my friends, who is an avid writer. We both share the dream of being published one day.
“How’s everything going?” I asked her. “How’s your novel planning going?”
“Great!” she responded. “I’ve just about finished my first one, and I’m halfway through the second. It’s just being proofread by another friend at the moment.”
I was gobsmacked. Here I am, a work/stay at home part-time step-mum. I’m at home pretty much all the time, and I only have to juggle having the kids around seven days out of every fourteen. Added to that, my stepkids are old enough to fend for themselves (for the most part). And yet, here’s my friend: also a stay at home Mum, but she’s a full-time Mum. With two young children (2 and 4 currently). And she’s not only managing to cope with all that, but to write multiple novels at the same time! I’m both amazed and incredulous. But also jealous.
“Man,” I replied to her statement. “Stop living my life!”
The trend continued this last weekend, as we drove up to Sydney for my brother-in-law’s wedding. He and his new wife are fairly young (comparatively) at only 25. And as they said their vows and made their speeches they talked about having grown together since they started dating at 17. How they plan to travel the world, and at some point in the distant future, to have children together.
And I was instantly envious. I love my husband, and his children, I really do. But being part of a blended family means that my first child can never be his first child. That our plans for the kids have to be tempered by his ex-wife’s plans for the kids.
“Stop living my life,” I thought to myself, as I watched them so lovingly make all their plans for their future.
And as I sat here today, thinking about my post, about the fact that I am so jealous of the lives that other people are leading, I realised that the problem isn’t that other people are living my life, but that I’m not appreciating the life I have.
If I actually sit down to talk about the good things in my life, here’s what I’ve got:
1. A husband that loves me.
2. Stepchildren that accept me in their lives and are remarkably well behaved and loving.
3. A house large enough for my husband and I and the two kids with room left over for me to have a study (which I don’t use nearly as often as I should).
4. Sisters that will (and do) drop everything to help me out when I need it.
5. Parents that do the same.
6. Friends. Ditto.
7. A backyard that, while smaller than I like, still has enough room to plant fruit and vegetables.
8. Two trips to Europe.
9. A business that lets me work from home.
10. Freedom to be able to take off (if only one weekend a month) without the kids if we want to.
And that’s actually a whole lot.
So next time someone tells me something awesome, instead of thinking “Man, I wish that was me” I’m going to think “How fantastic! I wonder how I can manage to do that with my life?” and if it’s something I can’t do – like travelling back in time and meeting my husband when I was 16, or publishing my first novel by the time I was 20, I’ll focus instead on the things that I have done and have achieved.
I’ll start living my life.
Have you ever felt like someone else was living the life you wanted? Or do you have the secret to success? If so I’d love to hear about it!