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When Comparison Almost Steals Your Joy

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My girlfriend called as I was swigging down a cup of reheated coffee while chasing around my toddlers and picking dried oatmeal flakes off my yoga pants.

She never calls in the morning but wanted to share her news.

“I got the job!” her excitement radiated through my iPhone.

It was a position she’d been working hard to snag. I was thrilled for her and honored she thought to call me moments after verbally accepting the offer for her dream job.

“DETAILS!!” I shouted over my three Disney princess-wannabes who were running around half-naked in diapers and big girl panties across the living room.

The position came with a hefty salary, she said. It would allow her sweet family to relocate and move into a real-life Barbie Dream House — one they’d been eyeing for over a month. She was offered reimbursement toward her Master’s degree, and her kiddos would get to attend a private school within walking distance from her office. It would be the perfect midweek pick-me-up to have lunch with her kids at school, she said.

I was happy for her. I genuinely was. I love when good things happen to good people, and she’s certainly a good person.

But after I hung up the phone and corralled my toddlers, I sighed.

Why can’t my life be perfect?

I could feel the envy start flowing through my veins.

I was knee-deep in dirty diapers and sippy cups. My hair was dry-shampooed yesterday. And I had oatmeal all over my pants.

My thoughts began spinning into a cycle of comparison.

From the outside looking in, my friend’s life was perfect.

Things always seemed to effortlessly fall into place for her.

I wish I didn’t have to deplete my savings account for a chance at becoming pregnant. In fact, I wish I’d never had to stare at a negative pregnancy test or be diagnosed with infertility in the first place…I wish I didn’t have a credit card bill…I wish I could be reimbursed for continuing my education…I wish I could pay off my student loans…I wish I wasn’t tens of thousands of dollars in debt from the adoption process…I wish I had a new refrigerator…I wish our minivan didn’t need $1,500 worth of repairs…

I became busy counting and wishing for her blessings instead of being grateful for my very own.

Comparison. It’s a dangerous place for the mind to wander, and it can be a hard thought process to escape.

I sighed at what my life had become — in that moment, I felt similar to the crusty, dried oatmeal flakes still stuck on my pants from breakfast with my daughters.

But then, as if on cue, my two-year-old ran over to me and wrapped her little arms around my neck.

“Mommy?” she said. “You’re the BEST.”

I squeezed her tightly.

You see, these simple, everyday moments are what life is all about.

It’s not about the fancy cars or dream house or credit card or student loan debt we’re swimming in. It’s not about comparing bank accounts or the sacrifices and hardships we’ve encountered that others haven’t.

It’s about finding joy in our journey.

And while my family’s path has been similar to a roller coaster filled with unexpected twists and turns, it is still fun and beautiful and fulfilling in its own way. And it’s certainly never boring. How can it be with three girls, ages three and under and a baby boy on the way?

Sure, there are days it feels like the ride will never end and the best we can do is buckle up, hold on tight and scream at the world together.

But then there are moments like this morning where I’m reminded with a gentle hug from a toddler that it’s not about the ride itself or the smooth sailing others seem to have. Rather, it’s about who you’re with and the joy they bring to your life along the way.

And frankly, no one can compare to my crew.


Tess Irene Photography

This article was originally published on Her View From Home.

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