So on the way to my shopping triumph yesterday, I had the chance to visit unfamiliar parts of town. My GPS completely failed me, insisting that I drive THROUGH a neighborhood park to get to a road that had no simple substitute. So I meandered through the winding neighborhood roads of Chestnut Hill.
As I drove through the genteel neighborhoods made of graceful single-family homes on well-manicured expanses of land, I felt a wave of envy sweep over me like I've never experienced before. I felt flush, and broke out in goose-bumps. Everything was lovely. The neighborhoods projected safety. Security. Permanence. Wealth. Impeccable schools. And I wanted it all. Verdant athletic fields. Rambling playgrounds. I wanted it. Badly.
And then I started passing the private schools. The palaces of education with every educational innovation and luxury. There were no barriers or inconveniences there. Just every extracurricular you can dream of. Lacrosse? Got it. Field hockey? Rowing? Fencing? Diving? Check, check, and check. Music? Check. Art? Check. Drama? Check.
It reminded me that Boston is flush with money. Well, the tony suburbs are. There is a standard of living here that we will never have. If we lived in Texas or Minnesota, we would have a single family home on a lush green lawn. If we lived somewhere else, we wouldn't be subjected to the vagaries of the BPS lottery. We wouldn't have to choose between schools with music and schools with art. We could get music, art, and athletics at the same school. One in our neighborhood.
Other people have it all. I wanted it all, too. I wanted everything that they had. I was nearly crying with envy.
It was bad. It was ugly.
And then I felt the shame.
I was driving my girls to go shopping. Sure, I'm always looking to get a bargain, but I never have to choose between buying food or clothing. Medicine or heat. Paying for opportunities for one child, but not the other. I don't have to make hard decisions about money. We are not poor. We have all that we need, and plenty to share.
To be envious is to be ungrateful for what we do have. And we have a lot. I forget that sometimes.
I think it's ok to wish for better, especially when it's wishing for better for your family. That's what parents do. It's our job. But I wasn't wishing. I was coveting. And for that, I'm very ashamed.
I'm thankful for brief flashes of perspective. I pray that I can keep the perspective as the year goes forward. I'm going to a BPS meeting on Thursday night to hear about proposed rezoning to change the schools available for us in the lottery. It will bring up issues of educational disparity, money, race, class... All ugly topics.
I have to keep reminding myself that we have so much. We have so much. We don't have prep schools. We don't have an expansive verdant lawn topped by a multimillion dollar home. If God thought we needed one, we would. So I pray for contentedness. And I will continue to pray. And pray. And pray...