When your husband has just come home from a 5 day photo shoot in the Australian outback and leaves 3 weeks later for a transatlantic flight to the Middle East, it’s hard not to feel like Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. My husband is Patrick Swayze (with, surprisingly, slightly less spandex), and here I am like a subpar backup dancer, trying my best to keep 3 small children alive, eating dinosaur nugget tails for dinner and using wet wipes as a pseudo shower (who has time for standing under actual hot running water anyways?)
“Nobody puts baby in the corner,” I say to no one in particular as I sit slumped in a leather chair after all the kids are finally in bed- an inordinately large chunk of 85% dark chocolate in one hand and TIME magazine in the other. But who am I kidding? I’m likely going to stay awake just long enough to stuff my exhausted face with chocolate and fall asleep upright before even feigning interest in grown-up reading material. Yes, all I will learn today from literature is what Baby Bear saw and maybe, if I’m lucky, who Doc McStuffins fixed in her toy hospital.
When you’re partnered with someone who is so fully living their dream, it’s difficult to not feel left behind. I know I’ve written about this before, but it seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life as my propensity to pop out offspring increases parallel to my husband’s success as a professional athlete. Right now, my husband is in Qatar to race on Team USA at the 50K World Championships. He is greeted by a man holding a golden pot offering freshly brewed tea each time he walks into his hotel’s lobby, and I’m over here like I brushed my teeth today, can I get a hell yeah?!
Not that being a mother isn’t the most fulfilling and important job I’ve ever had. It is. But, it is an inarguable fact that there is nothing sexy or glamorous about motherhood, and that truth is even more starkly apparent when compared to a jet-setting partner.
But what I’ve come to realize is that there is nothing to resent. My husband’s success is not dumb luck or serendipity but rather the result of years of calculated determination and hard work. And anyways, what would I get from being aggrieved by my husband’s accomplishments? Being jealous (because let’s admit it, that’s what resentment is most of the time) wouldn’t motivate me to pursue my own goals and dreams. It would only serve self-pity.
I often scroll through Instagram and see self-made entrepreneur mothers standing in pristine kitchens laughing in reckless abandon as if their toddler has never pooped his pants or eaten a preservative in his short life. I see them living their dream of being a famous blogger, or fitness guru, or foodie, or fashionista while being in the midst of motherhood and I think “how the hell do they do it?” and “why not me?”
It’s so easy to allow others’ success to make us feel inadequate, or to feel as though the time has come and gone for chasing dreams. But just because now isn’t your time doesn’t mean that your time will never come.
And so I’ve decided (over and over) that instead of interpreting others’ success as a fountainhead of jealousy, I will use it as a source of inspiration for me to go after my own dreams. Okay, maybe not right now (unless I categorize “dreams” as taking a pee without a toddler sitting on my lap or sleeping for more than 3 hours at a time.) But just because I’m not currently traveling the world as a famous journalist or a prize winning author doesn’t mean my time has passed. As a very wise friend once told me, there is a time to live our story, and a time to tell it.
So don’t be discouraged if you haven’t achieved your time-oriented goals. Sometimes life throws us hurdles and detours to getting to where we thought we might be. Don’t see those detours as obstacles- instead, learn to see them as contributors to your own story, and fuel for your future success.
For now, I’ll be Baby in the Corner- but this Baby isn’t sulking in despair waiting for a young Swayze to lift her from despair. No, this Baby is enjoying the quirks, triumphs and joys of motherhood while carefully dreaming about all things that are still to come.
Because right now, when all’s said and done, there is no backup dance I’d rather be doing than sitting on my living room floor blowing raspberries and gluing feathers onto a paper turkey with my 3 kids.