But then there's this jealousy issue amongst mothers, of comparing each other. It just takes up so much energy. It's useless and empty, and usually so petty. It makes us feel negative about ourselves and the other mum involved. It changes our attitude toward them, and we will probably treat them differently because of the filter we now see them through.
I'm not talking about just playfully and casually saying to my friend *Lynnette how jealous I am that her husband cooks dinner for her the family all the time. Because deep down it doesn't really affect me one way or the other. I'm talking about the stuff that makes you so jealous that your own heart hurts. I know the reality is that Lynnette is a hardworking mum with 3 boys to look after. She has part time work on the side, and God knows what else. Since telling Lynnette about this post she has informed me that her husband in fact slept through last night while she was up with one of their sick kids.
My friend Vicki* told me about how a friend who constantly competed with her. Down to admitting she tried to get pregnant after Vicki had announced she was. That jealousy ended their friendship. But Vicki has her own jealousy issues. She confided in me that she gets jealous when she hears other mums complaining about their own mother's interfering in their parenting. She lost her mum 6 weeks before she fell pregnant with her first, and will never know what it's like to have her mum involved in her life as a grandparent.
My friend Lynnette* has had two miscarriages, and lost her 7 month pregnancy in a car accident. She struggled with jealousy when she had to go back to her mother's group and listen to the women complain about being pregnant. It was all too much to hear them wishing their pregnancy were over already. But she acknowledges now that she was in a pretty bad place ( and who wouldn't be), not necessarily that those women were wrong in their every-day pregnancy complaints, (although we can agree they certainly should have had some tact).
Do we have more grace for a mum who's jealousy stems from losses like these? Sure, we do. This isn't petty. But it still doesn't take away from the fact that the other women's mothers are a pain in their ass, or that pregnancy does have it's fair share of shitty issues to contend with.
Admittedly, I have had pangs of jealousy when I've heard other women telling me how they get a break because their mum helped them out with their newborn. I don't feel animosity towards them at all. I have wondered if my own post natal depression may have been prevented by having my mum come over and help me out with my baby. (She's only come over once in 13 years). But that's definitely all about my own pain and hurt, and probably some childhood abandonment issues too. Check yourself, Jess. I do.
I've struggled with friends comparing their weight to mine. I just don't understand it. Bodies are so personal and individual. Their weight issues have zero to do with me. I have my own to worry about. Am I right, bitches? That's the kind of mummy jealousy I have very little time for.
So is that it? Do we have jealousy because we think we really know what someone's life is like behind closed doors. Because the reality seems to be we don't.
- The mum who looks like she has it all together could be suffering from OCD and anxiety. She spends all day worrying about being enough for her husband. She spends all day making everything perfect because she's afraid of messing up.
- The mum who just got the brand new BMW SUV? Well, she could be more terrible at managing her finances and has just gotten herself into even bigger debt than she had before.
- The mum who has breastfeeding nailed and looks like she's slept every night since the baby was born could be ...well, she might just be nailing motherhood. That's just her luck. Can't help you there.
Then the second step must be to try and stop comparing ourselves to other mums. But that's easier said than done. Right?! Why don't we make an effort today to flip it and reverse it? Next time you feel that jealous pang try and think something positive about that other mother. Nothing is being gained in our own lives by carrying around all this mummy jealousy.
Why not be a mother lover?
*names have been changed to protect my lovely mummy friends