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How to Beat Back Mom Envy

Photograph by Twenty20

Every mother has experienced it at least once in her life: nagging questions, desire, longing and coveting of her neighbor's, well, everything. Maybe it's a new car, a husband who loves to clean the house, a friend who has better sex or cooler in-laws.

You're a mom, but you're still a person, and envy, as ugly as it can be, rears its head in even the most stable of parental friendships.

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So what's going on here. Deep down, are we really awful people?

The answer seems to be "no." In a Yoga Journal article, Pamela Bond writes, "Feelings of envy usually point to an aspect of yourself or a goal that is yet unrealized."

The small things matter, and they add up to gratitude that can be very big.

Did your best mom friend just reveal she is getting a house in the mountains or taking the summer to travel in Europe? Is this something you have always wanted to do but sacrificed that money for kids' back-to-school clothes or birthday party gifts?

You may feel guilty, or practice loads of self-loathing, when confronting these feelings, as if your life has been wasted in the wrong job, on the wrong parenting choices or even with the wrong partner. It can make you angry and, even though you don't want to, your anger almost always finds its way back to the one you are envying.

This inevitable strain jeopardizes even the strongest bonds. Identifying desire and acknowledging envy is a start. But how do you turn it around? It helps to know what it is you are really jealous about and to see how that might lack in your every day. Then, you have to start working on it.

In the meantime, there is another quick fix.

We've all been there, we've all been jealous and petty and juvenile. You thought you'd outgrow it.

Bond recommends "cultivating generosity." I love this idea of transforming negative feelings through gratitude. Many out there are probably saying, "Huh?" In the heat of the moment, when you are hearing about your neighbors' 10-day trip to the Caribbean (while your kids had fever and croup for two weeks), the last thing you may feel like saying, "Well thank goodness the kids got better."

But it's exactly what you should be doing (Ahem, note to self).

According to Bond's piece, the exact opposite of envy is—you guessed it—gratitude. Take a closer look at the small things—the sun, an extra-long nap that gave you much needed time to relax, your partner's promotion at work or your son's achievement at school. The small things matter, and they add up to gratitude that can be very big.

We've all been there, we've all been jealous and petty and juvenile. You thought you'd outgrow it. Even though it doesn't happen often, when it does you start to really think about who you are and who you want to be "when you grow up."

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Don't bottle it up; let it go. And then rein it in by making choices and decisions that will make you feel like something special the next time you and your enviable friends get together.

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