I have friends with the last name Jones and I can imagine their distaste for this saying, but I do believe the idea is alive and fiercely fighting within many of us. You see, today was one of those perfect days with my baby girl. She was an angel at church, sitting on my lap happily eating cheerios. No crying. No fussing. She laughed and smiled at the sweet family sitting behind us and shared toys with another little girl just a year older than her. The rest of the day at home she napped and we played on the floor, snuggled on the couch and spent time swinging in the backyard. I enjoyed every moment of our day and after reading with her before bed and laying her down I thought about how lucky I was. I LOVE the time I get to spend with her one on one. I love that right now she has mine and my husband’s full attention. We’ll never get this with any of our other children. Then something that was said to me today popped into my head. One of the kindest women I know told me how perfect and beautiful Tiny is and that we simply must have another one! Just a few hours later a friend asked me if we were pregnant yet and what was happening along that front.
I felt this sinking feeling. This anxiety that I’m falling behind. I see the constant flooding of pregnancy announcements on social media. I see friends that I graduated with reaching 3 and 4 kids while I’m just barely starting out with my one. My younger sister by 4 years is also pregnant. I never thought we’d be starting our families so close together (though this is something I am grateful for!!). I feel torn between what I want and where I think I should be. I want to spend my time enjoying my first baby before jumping on the baby train again. On the other hand, I feel like I need to get moving because I’m getting older, and with each day that passes the friends my age are moving further and further along the path of life. I felt angry, angry that I wasn’t able to have children sooner. If my time frame for my life panned out the way I had wanted, I’d probably have 2 kids already and be starting on number 3!
Then I realized something. I only feel this way because of other people. If I didn’t know my friends had more kids, if I didn’t have this idea of what my life should be, I’d simply be enjoying where I am. Today would have been a perfect day-as it was-and I wouldn’t have this anxiety about moving along.
We don’t need to keep up with friends, neighbors, or even ideals about life. We don’t need a new car because someone else has one. We don’t need to buy a house, graduate from college, get a promotion, go on a fancy vacation, or have a certain number of children in order to be successful or to have a fulfilling life. We don’t have to be retired by a certain age, have a certain amount of money in our bank account, or have a large group of incredible friends, we simply need to have gratitude. There was a talk given by a leader of our church, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, called Gratitude in Any Circumstances. It’s a must read! One of my favorite lines in this talk goes like this: “How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?”
You have something that other people wish they had, whether you’re the friend with 5 kids or the one struggling to have your first, you have something that makes another wish, hope, and envy. Some say that the grass is always greener on the other side. That may be true. But I heard a better saying once (though I can’t remember where or by whom) that the grass is greener on the side you water. Where are you watering? I know where I’m going to focus! I’m learning to be happy where I am, I hope you will too!