My 6-year-old, Ella recently lost a toenail. As in, the entire thing fell off. We knew it would. She wears flips flops too often leaving her toes vulnerable to the world. A mishap between her second toe and the grocery store cart put an end to the nail.
There are many tough moments during motherhood. We patch scrapes and bruises and care for our kids when the stomach flu hits. But watching a kid’s nail fall off brings the cringe factor to an entirely new level.
“Mom, where did my toenail go?”
Cue uneasy stomach.
When her 4-year-old baby sister, Gracie took a peek at the missing nail, her first words were “ouch, ouch, ouch!” Followed by, “Did it hurt, Ella? Are you OK?”
That’s usually the response between those two. It’s been like this for a while. That’s what happens when sisters become best friends. They look after each other. They worry when one is sick, or sad, or crying or loses a permanent piece of their toe.
But in between the genuine concern comes a sneaky little emotion that often leaves these best friends in turmoil. I’m familiar with this emotion. Maybe you are, too? It’s called jealousy. And it finds its way to even the sweetest little girls and goes something like this.
“Mom! She got the pink cup. I want the pink cup, too!”
“Mom! If she is taking a bath in the big tub, I want to take a bath in the big tub, too.”
“Mom, If she is in dance, gymnastics, at a birthday party, eating French Fries, sleeping in late, waking up early, picking flowers, reading a book, watching a movie, wearing purple socks, playing with neighbors, drinking milk or brushing her teeth, I want that, too!”
I’ve been there, I know. Jealously tends to find its way to all of us.
Even though we know it’s wrong.
Even though we know it’s hurtful and damages our soul and our hearts and our minds.
I get jealous of friends with a better car or a bigger home; jealous of friends who spend their evenings at the gym sculpting their arms and legs, instead of drinking wine and eating Cocoa Puffs.
Most recently, I’ve been comparing myself to others in the online business world. I wonder how they found success so quickly. I spend too much time feeling sorry for myself; jealous, sad and disappointed of how much work I still need to do to accomplish my goals. I look at their successes and feel defeated, lost and silly for having such a big dream.
And then life slaps me in the face, as it so often does, with truth from two little girls. I spend my days telling them how dangerous comparison can be. I tell them each day to love and support each other, but to also become the best version of themselves. Recently during a jealous argument over a muffin, (of course) I used this example to settle the dispute.
“Gracie,” I explained to my 4-year-old. “You don’t always need to have what your big sister has. She just lost her toenail. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”
Thankfully, her response was a big “no!” which made my point much easier to understand for them and for me.
It’s a lesson we need to remember. We can’t always have what others have. And that’s OK, because others have faults and weaknesses and missing toenails.
Be yourself. Love yourself. Don’t compare. And wear shoes that cover your toes.