Sometimes, during one of many nightly nursing sessions, I will grab my phone and peruse the ol’ Facebook. I know it’s not a great idea to use electronic devices when I should otherwise be focused on getting much-needed rest at 1 am or 3am or 5am. But…I suppose I like knowing that, perhaps, there is someone else updating or viewing the masses at a shameful hour when I would much rather be sleeping.
Social media has, sadly, become my primary mode of communication with loved ones from afar, and lately I have been impressed and excited at the accomplishments of so many of my comrades. My respect has grown for friends earning advanced degrees, opening clinics, and starting firms. I am amazed by friends getting published, running marathons, traveling the globe, and even climbing Everest. I am silently fist-bumping friends performing groundbreaking research, earning promotions and achieving other impressive feats. And yet, one very early morning while skimming through these awe-inducing updates, you know what I did? I’ll tell you. I checked my elbow…for poop. Turning away from the glowing screen of my phone, I interrupted another slideshow of the sights of Europe and inspected the crook of my arm while wondering, “…is that…is that baby shit?” (apologies for cussing…)
Fortunately, it was not the mustardy product of my baby’s alimentary tract, but some other mystery substance (dried food? A booger bequeathed by our thoughtful toddler?). And in that moment of checking myself for filth, in that moment of exhaustion, I felt….ENVY.
Now, I’m not proud to admit this. I have many flaws, but I’ve never considered myself a jealous person. That is not to say I don’t GET jealous – I am a human and a female who has mastered the art of self-deprecation, after all. But I am fortunate to have been raised to appreciate the simple and important things in life. I fancy myself a happy, grateful realist with sensible expectations. There aren’t a lot of “things” I pine after, because I know I have everything I NEED, and am incredibly fortunate to be in this position. I am not one to rush to get the newest phone or the hottest brand because I am generally indifferent about such things and also woefully and incredibly out-of-touch at my ripe age of 30. I take pride – and solace – in knowing I am not somebody with a “keeping up with the Jones’” mentality.
And yet, during Olaver’s 3am feeding, with the somber, artificial glow of the phone screen illuminating my mismatched pajamas, while physically FEELING the bags under my eyes becoming more pronounced every passing second, and after contemplating the origins of my unknown elbow crud – I caught a virulent strain of the Grass-Is-Always-Greener bug.
Why isn’t my name headlining the newest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine? When was the last time I ran – or even worked out for that matter? Why can’t I be on a beach somewhere?
Suddenly, and wholly inappropriately, I felt deprived. Disappointed. Sure I have two, beautiful, healthy kids….sure, I have a great husband…sure I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge and a great job and a loving, supportive family and a nice, reliable vehicle and all of my limbs and my eyesight and most of my sanity and I don’t have Ebola, but….but…
You get the idea. I’m going to give myself way too much credit and blame it on the sleep deprivation – and the elbow residue – but the reality is, in that moment, I was begrudgingly and unnecessarily envious. Fortunately, I quickly got over my jealousy. The two tiny people we created are a regular, refreshing reminder I am a lucky duck. To ensure I avoid such envy-induced pity parties in the future, however, I have created a pithy list of three often overlooked reasons why OUR lawn is greener than everybody else’s:
(1) No more lonely bathroom breaks
When you are voiding your bladder, do you ever think to yourself, “Gosh, I wish someone was here to keep me company!” Well, here I am getting all braggy, but I NEVER have that problem anymore.
The children can be playing quietly, peacefully, without any indications of upcoming disturbance, but as soon as nature calls for their mother, all heck breaks loose. I don’t make it a habit of providing details of my potty breaks, but the general synopsis goes something like this:
[Hazel is reading book, while Olaver plays peacefully in center of living room rug with no dangerous,pointy, or choke-hazardous materials within a 60 foot radius]
“Hazel, I have to pee, I’ll be right back, okay? Keep an eye on Olaver.”
[Eight seconds go by as I walk 18 feet away into bathroom]
“Mommy, I need you!!!”
“Just a second, please.”
“Mom, where ARRREE YOU???” (sprints into bathroom) “Oh, are you going pee?”
“I was going to, yes.”
[Olaver starts crying and I hear the familiar plodding of baby hands and dragging baby knees across the wood floor as he furiously crawls down hall and into bathroom]
“Hi, Olaver, give me 5 seconds, I just have to pee, and…”
[Olaver crawls over – pulls himself up onto my knees while Hazel tries to flush toilet while I’m still peeing]
“Mommy, can I see what color underwear you’re wearing today?”
“Not right now, please, just….Olaver, please get down…Hazel, I need you to back up so I can…”
“Do you need to wipe your butt, Mommy?”
“Yes, just…Olaver, I just need to set you down for a second, okay?”
[Baby starts screaming and crying as I try to pry him off my knee so I can take advantage of the modern miracle of toilet paper]
“Mommy, Olaver is crying REALLY loud!”
“Yes, I know, I’m done now I’m just going to wash my hands, okay?”
“Can I flush the toilet?”
“Sure, just…OLAVER!! Stay away from the toilet, please!”
“Olaver is trying to put his hand in the toilet, Mom! HA! That is so funny, Olaver!”
[42 seconds have lapsed, there is now a toddler I have to coax out of the bathroom and an infant whose hands need sanitized]
(2) 24 hour ambiance
I have had to sleep with a fan on for as long as I can remember. I have the same white, plastic, oscillating fan from when I was in elementary school and for some weird reason I hope it lasts at least another 20 years. How cool would it be if I could pass it along to one of our children? Upon moving dear Olaver into his freshman dorm, crying and hugging would ensue. After saying lots of sentimental and inspiring things, I would exclaim, “Wait! We can’t leave until I give you this!” and I would pass over the beloved fan that, at this point would be an antique, and he would wipe his eye and say, “You have no idea how much this means to me, Mom,” and all of his roommates would be SO jealous.
People spend all sorts of dollars on noise machines – but we have two INCREDIBLE noise machines that you cannot find at Brookstone. The noise settings include, but are not limited to:
Crying, screaming, laughing, coughing, farting, gagging, squealing, robot noises, babbling, hiccupping, yelling, arguing, gibberish, clapping, stomping, running, crawling, multiple animal noises, and slamming of unknown objects, among other options. These machines are unpredictable, you can’t choose what sound you want, there is no adjustment for volume, and they generally turn on at their loudest setting at inopportune moments, BUT – they work 24 hours a day and are undeniably cute.
(3) Classy Home Décor
There is a house a half mile or so down our road I call the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” house. It’s creepy for so many reasons, and it doesn’t help that on the rare instances we see the residents outdoors, they don’t wave or smile or make eye contact because, obviously, they have to get back to work hiding the bodies of trespassers. Anyway, they always have a lot of crap in their yard. I find it curious why people keep so much crap in their yard, but while driving past a few days ago I noticed a mirror that looked JUST like a fancy-pants mirror I saw in a Pottery Barn catalogue priced at $600. I mean, if mirrors had doppelgangers, this was IT. I thought about asking the homeowners if the mirror was for sale or a freebie since it has been sitting in their yard since the Cold War (kidding! I think…I haven’t been alive that long to attest to its lawn life), but, obviously, I don’t want to get murdered.
Where am I going with this? Oh yeah. Our house is the classiest on the block. I am allowed to be sassy and judgmental of the “Texas Chainsaw massacre house” because our sweet children adorn our home in their own creative and stylish ways. Admittedly, I would prefer they left things clean and tidy, but how can I repress their décor skills?
Three examples? I could probably do better, but…I’m sleep deprived and there’s this flaky spot on my elbow…
Outside of some obnoxious movie classics, I have very few quotes memorized. But one of my favorites would have to be Mark Twain’s: “Comparison is the death of joy.” I don’t foresee Samuel Clemens’ quip needlepointed on many hipster pillows, but this quote has resonated with me since my early morning pity party of late.
I have come to appreciate that solitude and silence are overrated, and that the appearance of my home’s interior these days is about as important as a lawn ornament mirror (not important, to be clear). I don’t believe I have impressed anybody for quite a while, but every day when my kids wake me up by 6 am (thanks Daylight Savings!), I am utterly, incomparably in awe. The landscaping might need weeded, and the grass might need irrigated, but I have the prettiest garden on the block:
Baby lumberjack included.