How I went to London

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 7:58 PM

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My last post was a little bit ranty. And this one is going to be too, I'm just warning you. I have a few soapbox essays that have been buzzing around in my head for a while, and they're starting to get pretty obnoxious in there. If I don't let them out, they're liable to do some permanent damage!

A lot of people have asked me, and I'm sure many more have thought it: how does a regular old mom of three in a single-income family take a week-long, kid-free trip to the motherland? Right after Christmas, no less?

(I'll give you a hint: our new house was landscaped with bamboo, oleanders, and a tall skinny pine. No money tree in sight.)

On the one hand, I have wanted to lay it right out there, because I feel like by not disclosing the means, I am by omission making myself sound cooler, more affluent, and more glamorous than I really am. But then the other half of my brain thinks that this kind of question shouldn't even be dignified with a response. Why do we need to know this about each other? Isn't it kind of still off-limits to discuss finances in polite company?

But I'll come back to that later.

For now, here it is: my parents took us. Plain and simple. Me and David, my sister and her husband, and themselves: airfare, lodgings, transit, food, and sightseeing. All of it. We bought our passports, some meals out, and souvenirs. That's it. My in-laws live here in town, and they very graciously hosted all three of my kids for the week.

I know, it sounds pretty simple now, right?

My parents love to travel, they love to spend time with their kids, and they decided that combining those things was worth the price of admission. They wanted to go, we couldn't afford to come, so they took us. All the stars were aligned: they had the money, my kids are just old enough to be left, my sister is having her first baby this summer, so this was really our only shot for the forseeable future. My children have the most wonderful grandparents on earth and I couldn't pay to leave them anywhere more perfect, even if I could afford to, which I can't.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I have noticed a shift. All my life, I have been told that we shouldn't "judge" each other.

When I was a child, it meant not making fun of someone because they used crutches, spoke with a lisp, wore headgear, or wet their pants in PE.

When I was a teenager, it meant not excluding someone because they didn't wear the right brand of jeans, flunked out of geometry, didn't come to church, or had a ring in their nose.

Now that I'm an adult, I see that it goes both ways. We still judge each other harshly: so-and-so is always late, has let herself go,or else always puts herself first, feeds her kids junk food, doesn't come to PTO meetings, dresses like a floozy (do people still say floozy?)

But even worse - because it's sneakier, and we don't even realize we are doing it - we judge each other to be more perfect than any human should ever have to be.

We see someone's cute, clean house and think not only that ours looks worse, but that theirs always looks magazine perfect.

We see someone at the grocery store in lipstick and heels, and think not only what a slob we are, but that that person never feels unattractive.

We see someone at church every week, with their perfect family in matching clothes, not a hair out of place, and assume they feel that they belong there.

We see that someone has bought Christmas gifts ahead of time, wrapped in darling handmade paper, and think not only that we are behind the 8 ball yet again, but that they never feel disorganized or inadequate.

You might hear that I went to London for a week, and think not only that your life is boring and uneventful and you're broke, but that mine is always exciting and I have no financial worries.

Do you see how crazy this is?

We are hurting ourselves, and we are hurting each other. A sincere compliment is one thing, but when we build each other up so high, we can't see the people around us for who they really are. We make each other into something we are not, and cannot be. We need to give each other space to be imperfect, to be insecure, to fail. We need to know ourselves, and to let go of the idea that we all need to enjoy the same things, and to excel at all of them.

It's okay to be better at something than someone else.

It's okay to admit it.

It's okay to be a miserable failure at something.

It's okay to not feel bad about it.

It's okay to be honest.

It's okay to doubt.

It's okay to be confident.

It's okay to love yourself, and your friends, and total strangers, exactly as they are.

Just because we don't have the same problems, doesn't mean we don't have problems. Just because you can't see someone's insecurities, their fears, their flaws, doesn't mean they aren't there.

Don't waste your energy envying someone else's life - because you never know who bought their plane ticket.

Comments (11)

Awesome. So true, we all have our ups and downs and ins and outs. Judge not.....

Really, Rachel? Really? People are judging you instead of celebrating the fact you were able to savor some international adult time.

I am sorry you had to write something, because you are right: you shouldn't have to justify. However, since you did address it, let me say, job well done.

Life is too short to judge.

I had a friend in high school, who I'll name with apology to her for singling her out should she ever happen upon this, who was one of the kindest, least self-centered people I have ever known--and as a teenager, no less. Her name was Janna Halcomb. Every compliment she ever gave was genuine and never made you feel guilty or that she was simultaneously taking a jab at herself or any of that. She just didn't worry about herself to others. There were too many good things to notice about other people and too many people to offer service to for her to spend her time doing that. I'm sure she'd never know it, but I still think of her example 10+ years later. I think she had the ticket: it's not about yourself, it's about other people. The sooner we can figure this out and start celebrating all the good the comes with and to the people around us, the happier we'll all be. After all, there is always someone you know somewhere who is celebrating! And I for one, never like to miss a party!

I loved your post. I loved that you got to go to London. I loved that your darling sister and wonderful brother in law got to go and I love that your wonderfully generous Father and Mother loved to take you with them on what might have been the only time that gets to happen for a very long time. Heck, I loved reading about your trip and feeling almost like I was there too! I also think that this type of sharing (blogs) is nurturing and enriching to some and comparative and challenging to others. Sigh, what a world! Please don't ever quit being you, Rachel dear. Blog and "rank" away, I say. You are real and worthwhile. I'm just sad that I did not get to come to the party, I heard it was a huge success.

I meant rant away.

Must link to this post. I've gotten a lot of this "How could you possibly afford a trip right now?" lately. For NYC, and now for Italy.

We sacrifice, we get lucky, and we regret missed opportunities. We put some of it on credit, we factor in the extra cost of credit, and we weigh that against never seeing the things we want to see. We make choices "you" would never make, leaving kids behind, or going in the summer, or going in the winter, or whatever. That's ours to deal with.

Love that you wrote this. You are truly a master of words.

Amen Rach! I have to admit, I am one of those jealous types (even though I already knew your trip was paid for and some ways that makes me even more jealous) sorry, just being honest. But I can definitely say that while I am almost sinfully envious of you a lot of times, I am also so so happy for you - for your adventures, for your family, for your style and class, and for your incredible talents. Thank you for writing this.

I love London! I am so glad you got to go, and with family nonetheless. Everyone chooses to spend their money differently, and thank goodness! How boring would it be if we all had the same things. Only we can decide what is 'worth it' to us. I'm right there with your parents. I would take all my loved ones places if I had the money. In the meantime, I think we should be grateful for what we have, share what we can, and enjoy the whole adventure no matter what comes our way.

yep! i agree! *although i am guilty of counting other peoples' blessings along with my own.

this was a good pep talk for me. you are such a talented writer.

Amen sister! I love this post! I would never wonder how you paid for it, only be jealous that you made it happen! Something we all need to do for ourselves. If we want something, make it happen!!!

Spot on, Rachel.

I think my first realization that judging goes both ways was when I watched Pride and Prejudice: Uncle: "What do you have against him?" Elizabeth: "... He's so RICH." Uncle: "What a snob you are, Lizzy." :)

I loved Pres. Monson's talk on judging others, quoting Mother Teresa: "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

We are so mean to ourselves. Thanks for sharing this.