It's not at all surprising that envy is one of the seven deadly sins. When you become a parent, your capacity for envy doesn't disappear overnight because you've magically become this selfless, beatific human being. No, that capacity for envy is still there; it just changes focus. Instead of coveting another woman's hair, clothes, thighs or boyfriend, you move on to her children. Her lifestyle.
You ogle her kids. You convince yourself that they're better dressed than yours. They are so naturally talented and well behaved - impossibly well behaved (how does she do that exactly?). In fact, everything this Midas mom seems to touch turns golden. The woman's shit is infinitely together. Every lunch she packs is effortlessly chockfull of omega-laden Whole Foods goodness. She logs an 8km run every single morning, and belongs to the only book club worth joining.
There's nothing processed about her, right down to her sun-kissed hair which has probably never even seen a grey. She's the extension of the high school sweetheart. She's moved from being prom queen to being the mom everyone radiates toward in the school yard at drop-off.
And even though you don't want to compare - comparing is for chumps - you secretly can't help yourself. A litany of comparisons runs through your mind like a never-ending grocery list.
You have Mom Envy, and it's like a nagging cold you can't seem to shake. Even her Facebook feed seems designed to goad you. The Instagram account full of smiling snapshots from frequent jaunts to the Caribbean and Europe, while your cheeks burn at the thought of your own staycation.
It's not that your life is miserable exactly. You are blessed, and you know it. You have a wonderful kid, husband, dog, etc. It's just that her life seems to shine noticeably brighter. This shouldn't gall you, yet in spite of yourself, it sometimes does. She must have it easy; after all, her kids don't have autism. Being her must be a summer breeze.
Envy is only ever useful if it spawns action in our own lives. Does she have something you truly want for yourself, for your life? Then you should take concrete steps to make it happen. But first you must ask yourself if you genuinely want what she has, because she probably had to work damn hard to get it and to keep it. Probably, there is a whole lot more than meets the eye about her picture-perfect existence. After all, you're not there to see the cracks in her walls. (And everybody has cracks, everybody.)
Every now and then I have these bouts of acute mom envy, when I have to remind myself that the grass is not necessarily greener in other moms' backyards. A friend recently confessed that she admired how I was raising my son. My first reaction was to laugh. Then I rushed to thank her, admitting that most days having a child with special needs is like wandering around a strange neighbourhood without Google Maps.
Just because you can't see the cracks doesn't mean they are not there.