Monday, April 27, 2009
House of Cards
I'm not a jealous person. But I observe jealousy. I see and hear people comparing their lives to others, complaining about what they lack and others have. Wishing and hoping for "more" and "better." I'm reminded of something my mom used to say when I was growing up... we had made that big move to Cincinnati and I remember driving through some old, upscale neighborhood and expressing my own dreams of living in these big, beautiful, manicured, perfect homes. I had these visions in my head of the happy, secure families who lived in these houses... mothers who kept the house clean and tidy and pretty and who were funny and sweet. Fathers who worked hard but came home to play and chase and cuddle and such. Kids who had everything their hearts desired and who had wide open futures ahead of them. So much was wrapped up in my vision of what life inside these perfect beautiful houses had to mean. In my 12 year old head, these people must have made all the right choices to get to this perfectly right place. Right? So I would admire one of the big, beautiful homes... and my mother would always say "I wouldn't want to clean it!" 12 year old me would guffaw and figure that if you could afford the house, you could afford someone to clean it and care for it. And that would be the end of the conversation... it lasted only as long as the house was in view and then it was done and we continued in making our own choices, cleaning our own home. 34 year old me... looks back on that statement and thinks it had a lot more meaning than I ever realized. My mother was making a joke and being literal about the physical nature of cleaning a large home. But I see this play out in life around me all the time now. Let's imagine a family. John and Jane Doe. 2 adorable children at their feet- Suzie and Bobby. They live in a beautiful home with manicured lawns, shiny cars, big comfy couches, full scale technology, bright and shiny chandoliers, a roomy and exactly functional kitchen. He is wildly successful in his career. She stays home with the children, attending to the needs of the home and family. The children are given every want and raised with love and structure and joy, right? I went through a cynical period in my life where I really started to believe that anyone who appeared to have a perfect life really had a lot of deep, dark secrets. That when the doors were closed and the shades were drawn, horrible things were going on. Abusive mothers, alcoholic husbands, depressed and suicidal children... The Doe Family. They have it all. The American Dream. Or is it all a facade and the secrets of abuse and drugs and horrible things is the real story? Or is it somewhere in the middle? Good intentions, poor execution. Living a life that can't be afforded or maintained. Suffering in silence, hurting the ones they claim to love the most. Fears about money and appearances and successes. And truly struggling to manage it all. Unable to clean that big, old, beautiful house. And then I look at my own life and how we are choosing to live it. I take into consideration the huge messes of my childhood... abuse and financial struggles. I am blessed to have ended up in a situation where I could get the cleaning help I needed. And I've had God carrying me through so that I could finally walk on truly solid, level ground when the time came. I no longer wish for a bigger, better, more beautiful home. I no longer fantasize or demonize the families who live there. Instead, I just live my life as "real" as I can. We live in a home that suits our needs. We live in a neighborhood that suits our personalities. We have friends who are genuine. We have a church family. I have a job. My husband has a job. We have 2 fantastic, normal kids. We have a spoiled little dog. We drive regular cars. I like life being simple. I like not having a big, old, beautiful house to clean.