Let’s talk about keeping up with the Joneses…

Let’s talk about keeping up with the Joneses…

No matter how much you have, there will always be someone who has more. And no matter how little you have, there will always be someone who has less. We are living in a society that places so much importance on material belongings that many of us consider our “worth” in only numbers. We try to sustain lifestyles that are beyond our financial means because we think that is where we will find happiness. 

When my husband and I were first married, we started out in a small 2 bedroom apartment. We were an instant family because I already had 2 daughters (who shared a bunk bed in a small bedroom.) I drove a tiny Dodge Neon which we would use to drive around aimlessly exploring our new town, looking at all the houses. We used to fantasize about one day owning our first home together.  I pictured myself washing dishes in a stainless steel kitchen sink with a big window overlooking a grassy backyard, watching the kids play catch with a puppy while my hubby grilled burgers on a full size gas grill (we were only allowed to have a tiny little charcoal grill at the apartment). I imagined cold winter nights cuddled up by a fireplace watching TV and Christmas Eves around a huge dining room table with our entire family singing Christmas carols and baking gingerbread cookies. 

My oldest daughter was in 5th grade and started making friends with “the rich kids” (a.k.a “the kids who lived in actual houses”). They all grew up together in a quiet desirable neighborhood and rode their bikes together to school and had play dates after school. They always invited my kid to THEIR house, which made sense. I mean, why would anyone want to come to our tiny apartment, anyway?  This made me feel as if we were “less” than them. We HAD less than them, therefore we WERE less than them. Right? We decided we NEEDED a house. It was the only way to raise a proper family. Yep, everything would be perfect once we lived in a house.

Well, I don’t think I mentioned that we live in an area that might as well be Beverly Hills. Property taxes alone are almost as much as what it costs to rent an apartment. So, we found the shittiest little house in that quiet desirable neighborhood and we decided we would fix ‘er up. And we did. A few years later, that shitty little house was transformed into a lovely 4 bedroom 2 bathroom updated ranch style home with a big addition and a grassy backyard where we would take turns mowing in the summer and help the kids build snowmen in the winter. We had a minivan and a dog and a guest room. We went for family walks around the block and we hosted holidays. For a while we were on top of the world…

Then the twins came and that 4 bedroom ranch seemed to get smaller by the day. Storage became an issue and the older girls were still spending all their time at other people’s houses because “everyone else” had finished basements and pools and trampolines and cool parents and bigger, better everything.  Once again, we fell short. All we needed was a BIGGER house and everything would finally be perfect.

Onward and Upward! 

*Side Note* I do not recommend putting your house on the market when you have 18 month old twins. Just ride that shit out…

6 months later we moved into a gorgeous center hall colonial with a huge finished basement in THE most desirable neighborhood. I never thought I would live in such a nice house. I loved everything about it. It was so open and spacious with big windows and a grand 2 story family room. In fact, it was so big and nice that all of our furniture suddenly felt too small and too old. This house deserved newer, bigger and better everything. We needed a landscaper and a cleaning lady. And that mini van of ours was sticking out like a sore thumb. Everyone else was driving expensive SUVs. If only we had one of those…

You see where I’m going with this? When is it enough? At what point do we just take pride in what we have and stop comparing everything we have to what everyone else has. Why do we care so much about where the Joneses go on their quarterly 10 day International holidays and if they bring their Swedish live-in Au pair along? Does that make them more important than the Smiths who look forward to their yearly week long stay at the Econo Lodge on Lake George? Is THIS the criteria we use to choose our friends? Is THIS how we are ranked? By our bank accounts? By square footage?

This past weekend we threw a huge party at our home to celebrate our daughter’s high school graduation and 18th birthday. We spent weeks planning and preparing. Even though we wanted the theme to be a chill backyard luau, we still stressed out because our yard is not as big or as perfectly manicured as the yards of some of our guests. We worried that all the younger kids would be bored since we don’t have a pool. We apologized for our patio being a little uneven and a little dark because it doesn’t get much sunlight. We basically appeared to be embarrassed of our home. The same home that was like a dream come true when we first moved in. The home we pour our hearts and souls into daily. The home we are raising our family in. SMDH. I’m ashamed of myself for feeling anything but pride for what we have. 

And guess what? EVERYONE HAD A BLAST! 80 people! Friends and family and neighbors all gathered at our house to celebrate our daughter. They ate and drank. They brought gifts and sang happy birthday. They played corn hole and sat around the fire pit my husband built with his own hands well into the night, laughing and making memories with us. The little boys explored the woods around our property while the girls sidewalk chalked my entire walkway and then ran in and out of the house, leaving their chalky little footprints on the floors. It was one of the most memorable days of my life and it really was an eye opener. 

None of these people give a rats ass about our bank account or square footage, and we don’t care about theirs. Depending on what you’re talking about, some have more than us and some have less. Some may have more money but less family. Others might have less debt but more heartache. And if someone only wants to be my friend because of the size of my house or doesn’t want to be my friend because I don’t dress the part, then, to be blunt, they can go shit in a hat. The end.

One thought on “Let’s talk about keeping up with the Joneses…

  1. Bravo sister. Very well said.
    It is such a shame people are valued for what they have and not what they do. I love how much you have emoted yourself doubt and recovered with a new found self confidence and FU attitude.
    I know entirely to many people who rate their lives and self worth on what they have and how they are perceived by others. Your attitude is so perfect.
    P.S. it sounds like an awesome party BTW

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