When you can’t Keep Up with the Joneses

Keep UpIt started in 4th grade. I have a very vivid memory of being left out from the popular group of girls because my clothes were not from The Children’s Place. It was apparently THE place to shop. Well, my clothes were from Kmart. I had never given a second thought to what I wore or the fact that I lived in an apartment instead of a house or how I rarely visited places like the zoo or Kings Island. But when I turned ten, things changed. My world changed. I was thrown into a game of catch up, keep up and get ahead. Twenty-four years later…. I’m over it.

Childhood is filled with innocence but at some point in time, that gift slowly fades away. It happens to all of us, but as I grow as a mother, I’ve realized I need to reclaim the outlook I once had. We are a society of comparisons. Maybe you are lucky enough to be one of those rare people who honestly don’t care what is going on with others’ lives. But if you are reading this (a blog, where we share about our lives), my guess is you are at least curious. Unfortunately for me, my curiosity has flirted with envy and it’s time to turn back before I head down a very frustrating road.

My kids are still young enough that they don’t notice. They don’t care that our house is smaller than their friends’ houses. They don’t care that they wear the same few outfits over and over and that they are not wearing the latest “it” toddler item of clothing. They only care about smiles, hugs, digging in the dirt and snuggling with mommy and daddy. In so many ways they are spoiled. They have it SO good. They are happy, healthy, have a loving family and a roof over their heads. Their needs are more than met.

So why do I yearn for more? My needs are MUCH more than met as well, but why do I start to turn green eyed when I see a friend’s brand new house or a Facebook post about a fabulous family vacation? Well, for starters I am human. I live in a society that tells us we need more, more and then more after that. Bigger is better. I also (obviously?) like brand new, pretty things. Is it not “normal” to want them? I guess it is, but what am I doing to myself by feeling that I am missing out? What am I teaching my kids?

So it comes down to another one of those many times that I have learned a life lesson from my own children. It’s okay to have a bigger, brand new house and designer clothes. It’s okay to take a fabulous family vacation. But I refuse to feel bad about myself if we just aren’t doing those things. According to my babies, being happy is simple. Love on each other. Play with the pile of rocks and sticks. Run around barefoot. Be happy for others but not envious. It’s so hard, yet so simple. We are breathing, smiling and together. We have it all.

3 Responses to When you can’t Keep Up with the Joneses

  1. Tina August 8, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    Sure there will always be someone who has more, the world is in a different place than when I grew up. Im 50 and it wasnt all about brand names in elementary school. In fact my clothes were hand made growin up in the seventh grade when a wealthier girl asked me where my outfit came from because she liked it so well. My mother and grandmother sew beautifully. we were in the lockerroom after gym class and when I told her my mother made it every single girl in the locker room quick turned around to look at me. Im shy so I felt kind of weird, but everyone was like theres no way, you bought that. Nope it was handmade. Then I did not realize how talented my mother and grandmother was, it was just sewing to me and they did it all of the time, it was still handmade and something the other kids did not have. I felt like a million bucks that day. The girl was one of the wealthiest in the community and she even replied my mom cant do that. I was never ashamed or felt as if whatever I had was less. I had friends and plenty of love and the rest of my clothes came from Kmart. Today the thought crossed my mind about my own children, but they let me know one day when I was trying to decide to leave their father because he was an alcoholic and would they miss the money that “Mom we wear the same two shirts all week any way go ahead and do what you have to do. We dont care about the money.” Kids are more resilient than you know and believe it or not the most popular kid in school is usually middle to lower class and he or she has the most friends and is well rounded and well liked by most of the school.

  2. Missy August 18, 2016 at 10:21 am #

    I did not realize until high school that families took vacations to places other than their grandparents homes – haha! Now when I get the chance to take a cool vacation (few and far between) I appreciate it all the more. You are right to say that the truly “spoiled” kids are the ones who are happy, healthy and loved. I have worked with so many children who this is not the case … I’m sure they would rather have a loving home than a cool shirt.

  3. Penni August 19, 2016 at 8:16 am #

    I remember when I was a child and realized this too. My daughter does notice sometimes but we explain that there will always be those that have more. They may have a bigger house, better car, etc but they also may have more debt. We chose to live debt-free. There are also plenty of people who have much less than we do. We focus on helping them.

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