Screw. The. Joneses.

Recently I’ve had a couple conversations with girlfriends about friends of theirs who always seem to want to one-up them.  Whether it’s building new houses, buying new cars, dressing their children only in Ralph Lauren, even having more children, and then doing a whole lot of talking about all of it.  Like it’s a competition.  If they are using material things to cover for the lack of something else, my girlfriends don’t know, what they do know is that it’s incredibly irritating.

I live in an area that is a combination of newly built monster houses, built right on top of each other (all of the little girls’ friends live in these), and old little houses on huge plots of land.  We live in one of the latter.  We moved into our house two years ago to get into the little girls’ school district in an effort to cut down on the enormous amount of time they were spending in the car.  Our house is in a fabulous location, not even a mile from their school, and on an acre and a half of land.  An amount of land that is a rarity in our metro area.  The idea is that eventually we will add onto our home and have a fabulous new house on a huge lot.  That and the fact that the little girls will be able to bike to school when they’re old enough.

While I’m cool with all of this, and I love our location, and I love that there is a huge yard in which the little girls and the puppy can play, and I love the design that we’ve already put together for the new house that we’ll build in a few years…there are days…and I have moments.

About a month ago I was picking up our oldest little girl from a birthday party.  It had begun at a hair salon and ended at the home of the birthday girl.  I walked in and I thought it looked very very familiar.  I had to wait for my little girl to gather all of her belongings and I looked around trying to place why I was having deja vu.  That’s when I realized I was looking at the cover of a Pottery Barn catalogue.  No, I’m  not saying it LOOKED like a Pottery Barn catalogue.  I am saying that it LITERALLY was the EXACT same set-up as the cover.  From the placement of furniture down to the placement of pictures and the worn looking wooden clock.  I am telling you…there was not one single thing out of place or missing from that particular catalogue cover.  At first I scoffed and thought ‘sheesh!  Have a little creativity and switch out a couch cushion or SOMETHING!’  But as I left I felt serious jealousy start to creep up in me.

What the hell?!  My husband and I are both successful professionals.  We’re responsible with our money.  But we just painted the upstairs of our house this past Thanksgiving and there is so much more to be done.  Why can’t OUR house look like (well maybe not EXACTLY like) Pottery Barn catalogues?  Why can’t OUR house be bigger?

My home office in which I write this post each evening?  It’s one half of our laundry room.  And while it’s got a lovely desk that I had coveted for years when I bought it, fabulous shelves from Ikea, and a beautiful chair and chaise lounge for reading, it also offers a soundtrack of the furnace and/or water heater kicking-in regularly, and of course when I’m doing laundry I get to write to the sound of zippers hitting the wall of the dryer.  Aaahhhh…the glamorous life.

Sometimes I feel bad when the girls come home from play dates talking about how BIG and PRETTY their friends’ homes are.  But the truth is this…both my husband and I have jobs that are secure.  We’ve not been hit by the recession as others have.  Our little girls are healthy and happy, and from what we and their teachers can tell, they are well-adjusted (all I care about).  We have an abundance of friends and family that care about us and that we adore.  And there is an enormous amount of love in our teensy little house.  We may have a loon wallpaper boarder in our basement but we also have every single thing that our family NEEDS and much of what we WANT.

There will always be people with more than us, materialistically speaking, but none of those people have the enormous privilege of being us.

It’s said that being truly grateful results in more good things coming into our lives.  So I need to settle in to my seven year-old couch, turn on my flat screen rear projection TV that probably weighs 17 tons, kick my shoes onto my puppy pee-stained carpet with no padding underneath, and thank my lucky stars for the amazing things I have in my life.  A husband with whom I am madly in love (I’m pretty sure he likes me a bunch too), friends that put up with my ridiculousness, a tight-knit family, little girls that I don’t get to have nearly enough but that I do get to have half the time, a job that I’m good at, and so so much more.

Screw the Joneses!  They can keep their lovely homes!  I will spend the summer getting car-sick on our riding lawn mower (true story), cleaning my house in way less time than it takes them, feeling grateful, and knowing that I have every single thing I really really want.  And whatever I don’t have will come with time and a whole lot of gratefulness.

TODAY:  What if I forget about what I don’t have and spend much more energy being grateful for the incredible riches we do have.

PS – Thank you so so much for reading this…seriously.  You’re helping to make some of my dreams come true and I can’t thank you enough!  See…that’s me being GRATEFUL!


10 thoughts on “Screw. The. Joneses.

  1. Carrie,

    I’ve been reading your blog and HAD to chime in that it is a) wonderful b) insightful c) hillarious and d) an addiction.

    ON this post…I concur. My little area and the homes to which my children go to visit with friends is…obnoxious. My daughter is appalled that I am the ONLY Mom who actually cleans her own home and she is certainly the ONLY child made to assist in said cleaning that she knows of…hmm.

    I say good. Good and I’m keeping it that way regardless of what I can or can’t afford. I will raise children that undrstand life is not a magazine cover and who know that when you really want something; you save for it…and ideally pay cash. My children may feel that isn’t “fair” that we don’t have at least a 40″ flat screen in each bedroom (seriously…they have a friend with a 60″…in all 5), I may cook my own food (gasp!) and clean my own toilets (the horror!) cut coupons (tacky!)…BUT…their friends prefer to be at our home…because it is just that. A home. With the occasional tater-tot casserole and a Mom (me) that even expects them to pitch in if they stay for the whole weekend.

    My sons and daughter will grow to adults that value their money and their time as well as be capable of cooking their meals, shopping with a sense of thrift and maintaining their dwelling with pride. I’m good with that. In my mind; that’s worth a great deal more than anything I’ve seen the Jonses with…good for you as it appears your daughters will have the “real” values (and valuables) of life instilled in them through your example and that of your husband.

    FYI: Also have acerage…also don’t mow the lawn due to queezy lawn mower experience.

    I

    1. Agreed, agreed, and…umm…AGREED!!! Thankfully OUR mothers did this for us (as irritating as it seemed at the time) and we can pass it on. I can’t tell you how many times my Mom said “well that’s very nice, but, I’m not THEIR Mother.” Someday our children will talk about all we did for them…even without (gasp!) 60″ flatscreen TVs in every room.

  2. Amen to that Carrie. Materials will never be able to say I love you, give you a hug or make you some fabulous artwork for your office 🙂

  3. This is the year of me keeping up with the Smith’s… (private joke). Some days I just have such a hard time understanding what people do to have so much and where did I go wrong. I always thought (hoped) I would be one of those people will all the excess but the economy has not worked to my advantage that is for sure. Starting over has been such a challenge for my family but we know we will come out better people in the end. Wanting is so hard some days, but needs are so much more important. Hopefully that will be what my kids understand as they get older and really know how to appreciate the people in their lives and what they have – as opposed to what they have not. Also to not be jealous of other people for what they have, but if they really want something to work their butts off to get it – and know that sometimes you just have to be really, really patient.

  4. I keep thinking how easy it is for us to get caught in this trap of comparing ourselves to others and be enviuous of others (growing up, I did NOT have an easy bake oven or a “real” cabbage patch doll). One thing I’ve learned through the years, is you have no idea what goes on behind those big closed doors at the country club. Mrs. Jones might be having an afair with the pool boy because her marriage to Mr Jones is cold and distant. The kids are stealing stuff they don’t need because no one pays attention to them. We do forget to be grateful for what we have. I can I tell you, there may be some people who might have more material things than you, but there are far more people without half of things you have. I lived near Scottsdale, AZ for a time and was informed that a lot of these huge houses weren’t even furnished because they couldn’t afford to do so. They just need a bigger house to….”keep up with the Jones.” Why is what other people think you have supose give you some sort of status? This world is FU**ED up!! Agreed…screw the Jones (and their pool boy).

  5. Agreed!! More often than not, I get sucked into comparing my life with others’…and that is not a good state of mind to be in! So, I’m trying to break that habit and just be at peace with the abundance that I DO have–which really is a lot.

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