A few weeks ago, I posted on how I almost spent an additional thirty years of our lives while on a routine walk to my kids’ preschool and our eventual decision to be content with our current home. (Yes, yes. No need to remind me of our first world problems. And not only that, our 1% problems.)
While I ultimately agree with our decision, there is nothing like catching a glimpse of what your life could be like (and only the good parts, of course) to make your current life seem utterly unsatisfying. More than unsatisfying. Horrible. Constraining. Bereft.
Ah… nothing like class privilege early in the morning.
I am an ungrateful ass. I know this. And yet, when I go over to people’s houses and see their awesome four car tandem garages (I didn’t even know this was possible!!!), their large square footage, or whatever else I see and want inside my greedy little heart, I cannot help but sigh and regret not getting the house.
Whenever my house is a disaster of strewn toys, pillows, crafts, junk mail, and life detritus, my heart gets all squelchy and all I can think of is that in the new house, I would have plenty of space for all our junk. In our new house, I would have the perfect life and be the perfect wife and perfect mother.
Is this how affairs start?
I feel like I’m having an affair with another house.
I mean, sure, double the square footage with all that lovely, empty space. All young, and sexy with nary a child in sight. I mean, it’s being shown to potential buyers for Pete’s sake. Of course all its best features are on display!
But once I leave my old house and actually live in a new house, it’s not like all my old problems won’t follow me there. I am sure to acquire more stuff and run out of space to put things. I will have double the square footage to vacuum and bathrooms to clean and rooms to pick up after and get lividly angry about. I will have to spend more money buying more furniture and customizing the house to my liking.
And not only that, my REAL problem isn’t with my current house. It’s with myself. And sadly, moving into a fancy new house will not fix me. It will mask the real problem for awhile (maybe years, if I’m lucky), and after the shine has worn off, the increased mortgage becoming a realer and heavier burden, I will pine after my old house, so perfect and lovely with the haze of sentimental memory.
I think there’s a good reason why Thou Shall Not Covet is one of the Ten Commandments.
I used to think it was such a stupid, bullshit commandment. The only use for it being a shout out in The Silence of the Lambs. But now, now I realize that coveting is a rotting seed of discontent, whispering lies and fantasies into our treacherous hearts.
If only I had so-and-so’s life/job/car/house/children/husband/wife. My life would be so much better.
It’s no secret that I’ve been having a rough go of it lately. My house, my kids, my very existence seem to conspire against me. I am floundering, wrapped up in a bundle of seething frustration, anger, and bitterness. In the midst of all this, I fantasize that if I remodel my house, or trade up for a bigger one, had older children, had another baby, had more free time, ate better, took better care of myself, whatever – that if only I did such things, my life would be drastically improved.
It’s not true.
The things I covet will not make me feel better. The things I covet will only paper over the gaping chasm in my heart, its breadth and width startling me as its edges yawn and sag open.
(Don’t worry, friends. I am getting help. I have the immense privilege of a supportive spouse, health insurance, time, and money so that I can do so.)
I can only hope to respond in one of two ways to the things I covet:
1) Follow my own advice and if I want something, to shut up and go get it.
2) Use them as a canary in a coal mine and find the root cause of my discontent. And then do something about it. (Be it therapy, life changes, or better living through chemistry.)
Alright, friends. Having a hard time ending the post as usual. Be well.
You lay it out so succinctly here. We all struggle in one way or the other with coveting what others have…what we think we want, maybe truly do, but I admire your acknowledgement of the fact that the house would only fill up and cause you similar distress, but with more stuff. Keep up the hard work, facing your challenges and talking it out, via therapy, your husband, or your blog! Thanks for sharing!