In the fourth and fifth grade, I was frenemies with a girl named Patty. In a region heavily populated by Italians, Patty was Italian and I was not. She had soft wavy hair, pretty dresses, and an unbroken home, and I did not. She was beloved by teachers and kids. She seemed to prance about, fully aware of the power she wielded with such cunning and skill. I thought I would die of envy.
I have new Patty these days. This is not easy to admit.
It seems that my husband’s entire extended family has been blessed with economic stability and abundance. It is not difficult at all to understand why. Each member of this enormous clan, despite differing career paths, has eschewed vices and whimsy in favor of hard work, saving, and debt avoidance. Church on Sunday. Thank kind of thing. I am impressed. It’s nice to see how it’s done. This is what my own family might look like if you removed bad habits and dysfunction. Good to know.
So, I don’t begrudge anyone their success. Mostly. OK, maybe one person.
My husband’s cousin. She’s the new Patty.
She’s a bit older than me. And at 45, she has a body I never even had at 25. I think that affluent non-working mothers have an advantage there. Plenty of time to hit the gym. Funds for a personal trainer.
Funds for everything, really. Expensive activities for her four daughters, for instance. Taking one to Nashville for singing competitions. Another in softball tournaments. Unlimited time to transport them from one function to another. Funds for a large, custom-built home that you might find featured in Southern Living magazine under a “Rustic Elegance” headline. Set on an acre of land.
The family adores her and dotes on her while she preens, so incredibly proud and impreious, and it kills me. This is a woman who never had to choose the least damaging home to live in as a teenager. She did not have to work nights through college, waiting tables at the Waffle House. She never had to sweat the rent. She doesn’t have to hope that her car will make it another year.
I’ve had all of these things and more, and I know that each experience has fortified me for the next challenge to come. And what I don’t understand is, how can someone achieve such a fabulous life without the struggles? How does it come so easily to some, and so elusive to others?
And as I look back over this blog I see such bitterness and self-pity that is so uncharacteristic to my personality, so much so that I am reluctant to hit the submit button. The truth is, the new Patty does not consume many of my thoughts, but the holidays are approaching and I will see her soon, and she might return my hello or she might not, and she will quickly move on to the adoring spotlight, and she wills say things like “Oh, you know how it is when you have a large home…” and briefly, I will regard my 1978 house with a little less gratitude…maybe just for a bit. I’ll forget about my rewarding career and wish that I had things arranged so that I could stay home with my children.
And so I ask your forgiveness, my followers, as I broadcast this attempt to exorcise this green-eyed monster from my psyche. Wish me luck.