Whenever the term envy is used, many people may automatically think of one of the Seven Sins whether they are Catholic or not, which I am not. The other thing is that people get the terms jealousy and envy confused. Actually, both terms are different. Jealousy is negative, and envy may also be negative but it’s a natural and human emotion.
Jealousy is envy with the intent of wishing ill on the person you are envious of, where as envy on it’s own is not involving you to wish ill on anyone. You are just longing for what that person has, while you are feeling sad about your own circumstances. It is possible to be envious of and happy for that person at the same time. Envy is natural and no one should ever be shamed for having that emotion.
I am a frequent visitor of Scary Mommy on Facebook, and an article recently had been shared on that page that was written by an author speaking about how she is a special needs mother, and is jealous of parents of only typically developing children (perhaps envious would have been the better word because I am certain she did not wish ill on them).
I am not going to deny that I don’t relate to what this author has written. I may have one typical child, but the other one has autism. I will admit I am envious of parents who have only typical kids, and I am not going to lie. I am envious of parents who have typical 13 year old sons who are graduating grade 8, and are already showing interest in dating or other things that interests teen boys. Meanwhile, my 13 year old autistic son will never attend a regular school, and is only interested in stimming and babbling like a baby (even though he has speech and is capable of doing more than that). I am also envious of those who don’t have any mental illnesses. However, before you start saying that I am “bitter”, “petty” or “that I should be thankful for what I do have” and “I could be so much worse off”- please hear me out.
Firstly, yes I do realize things could be far, far worse. And I really don’t want to compare my situation in anyway to someone else who really does have it worse because I sure don’t gain relief or joy out of someone else’s suffering and pain. Secondly, when you say that, it’s invalidating my feelings. Please don’t do that. That’s very hurtful. Yes, I realize my son is high functioning and isn’t in diapers, etc. I realize he has the potential to contribute something to society later on. Yes- yes I get that. I also realize that I am lucky to celebrate with my typically developing daughter’s milestones. I realize I could have it so much worse by having more than one child with special needs. I get that. Again, don’t compare me to those who have more challenges than I do, because again it’s not relevant to me in anyway.
I also want to point this out. If you are a parent of only typical children reading this- yes I may be envious of you but I am also not oblivious to the fact that you may be experiencing other challenges that I know absolutely nothing about. Please understand that I am not comparing my life in any way to your’s. I am just saying only because you may not know the struggles and heartache that comes with raising children with special needs, I also know your life is not perfect. No one has a perfect and easy life. Sure, some people will have it better overall than me or you. Some people really do have a horseshoe up their asses. But a perfect life? Never.
Regardless of how perfect someone wants him or herself appear to be on social media (the perfect vacation pictures, always smiling babies, slim bodies, etc) then something major is being hidden. Because that is pure bullshit.
Some of us were handed a shittier hand than others, but it’s all a matter of how you play it. I have mentioned this before. Because I know my son will never be completely independent, and requires 24/7 structure to be successful- I am in the process of sending him to a residential vocational school (which also includes a group home for kids since he needs to live there so he receives the structure he desperately needs). I cannot provide the kind of structure at home that he needs.
While others who want to judge and point fingers at me by saying I am being “selfish” and “want him out of the way”, let them do so. Instead of being angry like I once was, I now laugh at their ignorance. Yes, I will not lie as my mental health would be at stake if he did stay home while he kept floundering. My daughter needs her mother to be in a good state of mind too. But he excels at school because he is receiving the structure there and just will not carry it over at home. He needs to be in an environment where he is expected to do that all of the time. This is very common with kids that have autism. Once he is 18, he will be transferred over to a setting that is appropriate for him. He may end up doing very well, who knows. This is the ONLY way he will evolve and grow, and may even reach his potential. But yes, I do not want to be his caretaker either once he is an adult, nor do I want to put that kind of responsibility on my daughter who will be living her own life. Everyone will be miserable and resentful if that happened. Even my son!
So what am I saying? Yes, I can’t help but feel envious at times However, I also realize no one has the perfect life and that keeps me grounded. And yes I may have been dealt a crappy hand in this area of my life anyway (as well as other areas but won’t get into those since it’s not relevant), but I am just doing my best to play it as well as I can- even if that makes me appear to be “selfish”.