Some time ago I was feeling upset about the idea of being judged by other mums – you know the way we do sometimes. I told my lovely friend S (I’ve mentioned her before) and she said something that’s always stuck with me: “If they don’t like what they see, they should turn away.”
Her point was that we’re all living our own lives and have no right to judge or put down someone else. If we disagree with them, there’s no need to be unkind or judgemental. We should turn away and leave one another to their own lives.
Right now, that advice is something I need to apply in my own life, to my own behaviour.
I have a cousin, she’s three years young than me and she has always always been better than me.
When we were little she was allowed to do things I wasn’t, she was prettier, more artistic, kinder, more praised.
As teenagers she had a boyfriend first, she had a whole loft room to herself, she went out drinking and partying even before I did. She was popular and clever.
As young adults, she bought a house before me, got married before me, has still got her friends from school, is photogenic and charismatic.
Then we had our large boys at almost the same time and they adored each other. Next we had our small boys 6 weeks apart and they loved each other too. When we met up the four boys got on brilliantly, they laughed and hugged and it was wonderful.
Then we had our third sons at the same time. Hers at term, mine at 20 weeks, sleeping.
Once again, she was better than me. Her body succeeded where mine failed, kept her third son inside while mine let ours go.
Last summer, in the midst of lockdown she laughed at people starting to run. Who has time for that? What idiots! Never mind that I wasn’t a lockdown runner, I’d started the previous autumn, but I was still in her bucket of crazy people.
Well we aren’t so crazy to her now.
Because she started running too. And of course, she’s better at it than me. She runs further and for longer.
I want to celebrate the wonderful thing she’s just done. Running 50km in 6 hours is amazing.
I just can’t
But I just can’t. There’s blockage in me, a plug of jealousy. I’m angry and upset that once again she can do what I can’t.
So I’m turning away. I don’t want show her my bitterness, that would be unkind and hurtful. It’s not her fault. I don’t need to hurt her.
But I can’t face her either. And I can’t face my own feelings head on, I’m turning away from them for myself too. They’re ugly and mean and that’s not who I am. It’s the best I can do right now.
I’m turning away. It’s the right thing for me and for my cousin.