I’m Afraid Not ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ Does A Disservice To My Daughter

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keeping up with the jonesesBecause of some really stupid self-sabotage shit, my husband and I can no longer afford to build a home this summer. In fact, we can’t even buy a resale. We had been saving and planning for about a year, and somehow we still managed to fudge it all. We fought, we disagreed. Our sweet baby toddled around with no idea what was going on.

So it will be at least another year of renting while we attempt to grow the hell up. I thought I had come to terms with this. I had forgiven Shaun for his financial transgressions and he had forgiven me. We had, I thought, been able to see the big picture. We can still put food on the table, we’re not bankrupt, we still have lovesweetlove.

Then one night I darted awake at four in the morning. Baby was stirring at my side a bit, too. I don’t know if she woke me or if I woke her, but I was as alert as if someone had doused me in water. And I was angry. Enraged. Why, after a year of planning, did everything go down the drain? What did I do to deserve this? How could we, parents of a toddler, married adults of 27 and 36, possibly not have any savings to our names or own a house yet?

Baby woke up, so I took her into the living room and let her play around while I sat there and stewed. I journaled about it (well, word vomit pencil-ranted). I probably posted some kind of flustered incoherent status to Facebook. Then my husband woke up and, contrary to his often irritated middle-of-the-night persona, he said sweetly, “are you okay, honey?”

I couldn’t help but utter those two horrible, passive aggressive words: “I’m fine.”

Cue argument. Cue daughter clanging toys together and babbling spiritedly like we’re on vacation at Disneyland. As things escalated, I became more and more certain that my husband was a self-sabotaging ogre who actually wanted to destroy our family. I was so mad that I almost missed his very accurate comment: “You’re trying to keep up with the Joneses. Who are you comparing yourself to right now?”

My instinct was to refute it, but I was so exhausted that I actually stopped and thought about it. I listed a few people we know who are doing the whole life thing “by the books.” A few of these people were people three times my age, who had obviously had their whole lives to accumulate wealth and status. Somehow, the tables had turned, and Shaun had me thinking introspectively.

I told him that every time I envision my future or make an important decision, there are a few heads I imagine hovering above me. I won’t say who they are in case they happen to read this. But they’re like caricatures of their actual selves, and they’re telling me how irresponsible and immature I am. I imagine them gossiping with each other behind my back about how poor and uneducated and liberal and inappropriate and godless I am. What’s truly bizarre is that many of these faces are people I don’t see very often.

Even weirder is that some of them are imaginary. Representatives of unattainable things. There’s the super fashionable self-made millionaire mom who lives in a huge house and is still super involved with her kids and gives both time and money to her community. Or the super eccentric but famous and revered artistic mom who lives in a loft and doesn’t give a fuhhhhhck what anybody thinks of her. Who are these women and what did they do differently to deserve this bounty of awesome?

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