Envy Squared.

If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill. ~Danish Proverb

The grass is always greener on the other side.

Green with envy.

I have envy.  Envy squared. Those perfect little squares that compile a feed on the ever popular time suck known as Instagram.  I love it. I loathe it.

I am a regular mom. I live in a regular city. I have two kids. I live in a small but well-appointed city house. We do not have a backyard but we do have a community playground across the street. I am a stay at home mom. Both of my kids are in school this year. No, I do not know what I will do with my "freedom" as so many people like to put it.  I love to read. I love art. I have a Masters degree in Contemporary Art History.

And yet, even writing this list out gives me anxiety.  

I look to the other moms and lovely, unique ladies and men that I follow on Instagram.  Some I know in real life, most I do not. I follow along because I love their humor, their aesthetic, the life they project from the small squares on the screen of my phone.  But it also gives me envy. How do they seem to have it all together? How do they get a smart dinner on the table each night? How do they have enough hours in the day to take their kids to school or even homeschool them and find time to pursue their creative outlets?  Or exercise? Or oh my goodness, do both?

I try to carve out time for myself. But more often than not my days are full of laundry and meal planning (no more than two days in advance, any further makes my brain hurt), grocery store runs, questing for comfortable pants ideally with no buttons but not sweats for my boys to wear to school (harder than it seems).  Some days by the time I pick up my boys from school I often wonder aloud, what did I do all day? But then I realize the day is not nearly over. We still have rock climbing and dance and swim classes. And then its home to cook dinner or sort out a takeaway option and survive the witching hour that still haunts our home even though my boys are 7 and 3.  Will they still be whining at 5 pm like clockwork when they are 17 and 13? Only time will tell.

I yearn to know the secret. Is there a secret? Is there a secret handshake that I did not learn? Where are these hidden hours in the day that other people seem to find?  I am on a quest. A quest to find my own pocket of time. Time to write. Time to sew. Time to find new artists. Time to create my own art.

As I quest to find my own bubble of time like the women that I follow on Instagram I also recognize that Instagram is not real, "real" life. I know that the perfectly clean and fluffed pictures of a couch may also have a pile of laundry hidden from view. I know that even the gorgeous knit sweaters and color-coordinated outfits children wear for pictures also get dirty at playgrounds.  I know that even the perfectly set table, serving a home cooked meal is also set with takeaway on a busy night. Logically I know all of these things but I still find it hard to navigate the ins and outs of the perfect little squares in front of me.

Another sticky point about those perfectly square boxes on my screen is that they also inspire me and I even look forward to checking in on my "friends".  As I said before I do not personally know that majority of these people stuck in my phone but dare I say, at times I feel like I do. I am curious to see what fellow humanity is doing. I want to see the latest painting, print, meal, outfit or random leaf that caught the light just right on the walk to school.  I'm curious. I'm interested. It's not called social media for anything, sometimes as a mom social media is one of my only social interactions of my day. There are days where I get up with my boys after my husband has left for work and I get everyone dressed, fed and off to school. Often times we are scurrying about trying to pack lunches and wear appropriate shoes and make sure everyone gets a hug before heading into class when I am back in my car and as I stick the key in the ignition I realize, huh I have not had any adult interaction yet.  So I check in on my Instagram friends. I look for another mom having a tough morning or a great morning. I look for dinner inspiration. I drool over a new fabric design or get sucked into browsing new light fixtures or pretend for a moment maybe I am in San Francisco or Spain or Australia. And then I turn the key in the ignition and start my own day.

Yes, I have envy, envy squared but I also know that a little envy can push me to try something new or to make sure I stop and say good morning to a fellow parent at school drop off, after all as said by Oscar Wilde “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.  I am going to do my best. I’m going to work on finding my niche. I’m going to use the social in social media to build my own lovely, curated experience that is full of color and mess because perfect may seem nice on Instagram but in real life, I need a little clutter to keep me honest.

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