Can't measure up to the "cool" aunt
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|Thu, 06-01-2006 - 7:43am|
Good morning and happy June!!
What do you do when your seven-year-old makes it abundantly clear that you don't hold a candle to her "cool" aunt? When she constantly draws comparisons between her and me and I always come up short? I used to shrug it off, but it happens so often now that I'm starting to take it personally and feel hurt.
My SIL's life often does appear to be too perfect. I love her dearly but there are times I feel a little envious at how easy she makes it look. She quit her job after having her first, easily had her second and is now expecting twins. She dresses her two little girls impeccably (although she has a nauseating tendency to dress them -- and herself -- alike). She's constantly on the run taking them to school, dance lessons, gymnastics, Daisy scouts, t-ball. She's a very active member of the PTA...never misses a meeting, volunteers for every PTA event. Naturally she's also a class mother. She puts together goody bags for her daughters' classmates for Halloween and Easter. She throws pumpkin carving parties after school for them. She has freshly-baked cookies made from scratch for her daughters and their friends when they go to her house for playdates. She never forgets a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion and always has a card and gift perfectly wrapped well ahead of time.
And she still finds time to work out, clean the house and cook elaborate meals. Her husband earns well over six figures, so she has plenty of disposable income to buy her kids designer clothes and shoes, elaborate gifts and every toy she can cram into her SUV.
By contrast, I continued working full time after my DD was born because at the time DH & I couldn't afford my staying home. Eventually I switched to part-time work and took the requisite pay cut. Now I'm running my own home-based business, which is still fairly new and not yet profitable. My DH works for the town and makes a decent salary, and we're not necessarily hurting for cash. But we can't afford elaborate gifts, I shop for DD's clothes on sale and only splurge on her during the holidays and her birthday. My business takes up all of my time...I work like a dog during the day so I can take a break to pick up DD from school and spend time with her in the afternoon and evening, only to resume working after she goes to bed. I help her with homework and read to her, and lately I've been taking taekwando classes with her.
DH and I had a terrible time trying to conceive a second child. After nearly four years, during which we suffered two miscarriages and a failed IVF attempt, we gave up.
But I don't have time to clean the house or work out. I don't have time to cook elaborate meals. In fact, I hate cooking and usually throw something together in 30 minutes or less. It's uninspiring, but it's healthy and my family eats it without complaint. I volunteer in DD's class once a week but have no time beyond that. I'm a member of the PTA but have yet to attend a meeting or help out with an event.
Birthdays? Anniversaries? They're marked on my calendar, but somehow I'm always scrambling at the last minute for a card and gift, which I throw into a gift bag. I can't tell you how many times I've had to send a "sorry I missed your birthday" card.
I know there's a dark underside to my SIL's life; I know she has to be exhausted and frazzled but is determined not to show it. But DD doesn't see that. She sees a cool aunt who's perfect in every way.
Some of the questions my DD has posed recently:
How come Aunt R gets to have all the babies and you don't?
How come you never bake cookies for me? Aunt R does it all the time.
How come I don't have nice clothes like _____ and _____ (her cousins)?
Why don't you ever help in school like Aunt R does?
I love Aunt R's cooking. How come you don't cook like that?
Aunt R is really cool. I can't wait to sleep over again.
Can we go to Aunt R's house today? I like her house better.
That's just a sample.
So what do I do? I can't rip Aunt R apart because in many ways DD is right. But it makes me feel so inadequate and I find I'm tripping all over myself to win DD over. I feel as if I'm constantly in the shadow of my SIL and I'll never measure up. I've tried expressing my feelings to DH, who simply shrugs it off and says, "Honey, she's a kid. Every kid thinks their friends' mom is better than their own."
He's got a point because I remember feeling the same way at DD's age. But I certainly don't remember hitting my mother over the head repeatedly about it.
Am I overreacting here? Should I just wait it out? Should I say something to DD to the effect that I'm feeling hurt? This is one I have absolutely no idea how to deal with.