I ran into the mother of a childhood friend the other day and listened as this woman expounded on her daughter’s many educational and career accomplishments. She is now the chief resident at a prestigious hospital and earning all sorts of accolades.
Then, the inevitable question came as she turned to me: What are you doing these days?
Now, I am very proud of being a mom. I made the choice to give up a full-time career to be a full-time mom and would do it again in a heartbeat. But sometimes, when faced with stories of my peers’ success, I feel like I’ve come up short — like somehow my choice to be a mom is a direct result of me not being able to compete in the “real world.”
So, I laughed a little and said, “Oh, I have two daughters and I’m home with them.”
I expected a polite nod and change of subject, but instead this woman erupted, saying “Oh, that’s all I want! I don’t care about all that doctor stuff, I just want grandchildren!” She then turned to my mother beside me and said, “I’m so jealous of you!”
Her outburst was so unexpected and so genuine that I couldn’t stop thinking about it as I went home that evening. Here I thought I was the one who was coming in second compared to her daughter’s glowing accomplishments, and all this woman wanted was what I had.
It made me think of a story I heard once about comparing our lives to the lives of others. It essentially goes like this: I am working hard to climb my mountain of life. Making right choices. Doing my best. Then, I look over and see a friend of mine nearing the summit of her mountain. I am jealous. How did she beat me?
But the point of the story is that she didn’t beat me — she can’t. We are climbing different mountains, and her summit is different than my summit. Her climb requires different strengths, offers different choices and culminates in different results.2 comments on this story
Often I forget this when I have a weak moment of comparison. I wonder where I would be in my career if I had kept working. I see other women like this former friend of mine and I can’t help but feel a little jealous. For a moment, I feel like she beat me.
But she didn’t — she can’t. We are climbing different mountains. I have made choices in my life guided by what is best for my family and for me. Being a stay-at-home mom may not be glamorous or even appreciated by the world, but it is the mountain I have chosen to climb.
I climb it because I feel it is where I belong. I climb it because it makes me happy to spend my days raising my children. And mostly, I climb it because at the end of my journey, I know the view from this particular mountain top is the one I want to enjoy.
Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her 7-year-old and 3-year-old daughters dive bomb off the couch behind her.