There have been times in my life when I have been truly jealous. In High School, I was intensely jealous of the cheerleaders in their red and black outfits, effortlessly flirting with the basketball team. I was jealous of the girls who got the leads in the Drama Club productions and the solos in the Chorus performances. I was jealous of the kids on Student Council and the kids who got accepted to Ivy League Schools.
As I went through college and graduate school I had my moments of jealousy when faced with students who scored straight A’s, wrote perfect papers, or juggled full time jobs, six courses and an active social life.
Then I graduated and got married and joined the world of grownups, and I met a whole new world of envy and jealousy. As an adult, I have been jealous of women who have struggled to keep up their weight, and those who honestly forget to eat a meal. I have been jealous of the huge houses in the upper class suburbs, the manicured lawns, the matching curtains and bedspreads. I have felt the pull of envy over the super clean kitchens, the antique tables and the gorgeous perennial beds.
I know all about jealousy! I have felt its clammy grip on my throat as I’ve smiled my false way through parties, lectures and backyard barbecues.
But nothing, nothing, nothing can compare to the jealousy I feel as I watch my younger colleagues interacting with their children.
A friend of mine is the mother of two little boys, one in third grade, his brother in first. They are impossibly beautiful, with glowing skin, big eyes, and silky hair. They run around the school in the morning, laughing together, teasing their Mom, playing with the children of other teachers before the rest of the kids arrive. I sit at my desk each day, and somehow I always look up just as they move past my door, the younger brother holding the hand of the older, resting his head against his big brother’s shoulder. I hear their voices, feel the joy that they know just because they are together. I smile, I sigh, and I reach to pull out the arrow in my heart that has lodged there because I know that they are not my boys.
Another friend is the mother of a tiny, spunky, sassy little girl. She is funny, and sweet and beyond beautiful in her knit tights and woolen dress, clutching the hand of her “baby” as she stands in the doorway of my classroom. She smiles at me when I ask her a question about her day, but before she speaks, she glances up at her Mama for reassurance. And with that tiny glance, that momentary check in for safety, I am seized again by jealousy.
I want to be the source of security for that happy, smiling baby girl. I want to be the one who gives those beautiful boys their breakfast!
I want to have years ahead of me to watch them grow, to listen to their stories and their jokes and their fears, to hold them when they are scared.
I want to be the Mommy. I want to be the recipient of the compliments and accolades and pats on the back as people watch us together.
I am SO jealous. I smile and chat and go about the business of my day, but I am just so incredibly jealous.