retirement07-016I was searching through the pictures on my computer to find a visual representation of jealousy.  I looked through many before this one rang some sort of bell for me.  Jealousy isn’t a huge problem for me, and I can’t say I’m conscious of feeling it even once a day.  Not that I don’t feel it every day, but I don’t think about feeling it every day.  I believe it qualifies as a character defect, though, and so of course I have it and want to give it up.

I’m also thinking that I use the word jealousy to actually mean envy.  When I identify that I am jealous, what I almost always mean is that someone else has something I want, and wish I had too.  I’m not really jealous in my relationships with loved ones – and it’s not a problem for me in my marriage.

Recently, as the kids are leaving the nest, so to speak, I’ve become more jealous of people with bigger families, especially those who have adopted children.  It’s something I idealistically thought I would do.  It’s worse for me now, of course, because my kids really really don’t need me anymore.  Their lives are pretty much on their way, and they’re doing well.  Not that they don’t want me or that I don’t contribute an irreplaceable something valuable to their lives, but in the past, when they were younger, I was really needed in a different and more complete way.

This is the jealousy I feel most often.  It’s bad now also because I could actually now do it in a way I couldn’t before.  Carole and I are having a totally great timet taking over the rooms that the kids are vacating, and daily, more than daily, I think about the fact that there are children who need those rooms.  And we’re not sharing.  This may be an issue for the pastor ……

My age is a concern, but of course an old mother is better than none to many people.  I also know plenty of older people who need a home, and I come in frequent contact with the wonderful people who have given them one.  My time is a bigger concern than my age.  I feel so free, in a way, to have days and weeks where I’m not concerned about the daily existence of my kids.  I don’t want to give up my time and my freedom.  Well I do want to, but not enough to actually do it.

The other kind of jealousy I feel is symbolized in that picture.  I am jealous of the people who got to grow up where I did, and who got to stay there and raise their kids there and do OK there.  I have a picture of Erika I took at that restaurant when she was small and I hadn’t yet moved back to that place.  I really love the continuity and I love the history and I wanted the roots.

More mundanely (and probably more daily), I’m a bit jealous of people who are younger and thinner and taller (which is most everyone between the ages of 11 and 46 who isn’t terribly obese).

So I feel it from time to time, and I do all the self talk that’s obvious, and I know that I wouldn’t trade my problems for someone else’s.  I guess the thing that bothers me most about it right now is the knowledge that I could do something about this, and I’m not.  I’m not adopting a child, and I’m not peaceful about it.  Maybe it’s tied to my awareness that I do have so very much.  That’s my default for jealousy these days, counting my blessings, being grateful.  Honestly it feels a bit hollow right now.  I need to give this one more thought.


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