NOTE FROM CHRISTA: I’m delighted to host Samantha Wilde, author of This Little Mommy Stayed Home and the ever-so-newly released, I’ll Take What She Has. Sam and I both contribute to (along with a posse of other women writers) Girlfriends Book Club, which gave me the opportunity to ask her to share her Wilde wisdom on my blog. Sam welcomes you to join her Facebook Author Page, her Wilde Mama Blog, and her website.
Since I began writing my second novel, I’ll Take What She Has, infinite opportunities to riff on the title have presented themselves. It’s one of those titles that lends itself to conversation, humor and playfulness. In fact, it calls to mind so perfectly the idea of envy that I often don’t need to tell people anything but the title to get them interested in the book.
The story follows the quest of best friends, Annie and Nora, for greener grass, and the experiences of envy range from the very superficial to the deepest darkest down under no one wants to talk about. One thread in the novel concerns the envy Nora feels when Cynthia Cypress, the new hire in the school’s history department, gets pregnant. Nora has tried for nearly a year without success and Cynthia’s news awakens her green-eyed monster.
When I talk to women about envy in friendship, we all have a good laugh, and most of our envy over our friends’ lives is quite funny and quite harmless. But baby envy can prove disastrous to friendships. In an article published in the UK this time last year, the effects of baby envy were explored. One thing struck me: the strong evidence of a taboo against talking about baby envy with friends.
I love to write about realities that don’t get talked about enough. In my first novel, This Little Mommy Stayed Home, I wrote a lot of irrational anger into the narrative—because many new mothers feel irrational anger during the first nine months of new motherhood (as well as, of course, many other feelings) but no one wants to admit it because it makes you seem like a terrible mom. In this book, which also looks at mothering, I hoped to find a way out of the thick pain of wanting what you can’t have. Now most of us will easily enough say, “I envy her hair, her shoes, her dress.” But the darker underbelly of envy needs some press time, too. In fact, hanging out that kind of dirty laundry on the line will improve everyone’s situation—not to mention that it could keep friendships together. Even more than that, it can help women in similar situations. Isn’t one of the best feelings the kind you have when you realize that you aren’t alone in having a certain emotion?
I have said, show me a woman who hasn’t envied and I’ll show you a mannequin! And I mean it. Envy erupts universally—which isn’t to say that I don’t believe there’s a cure for it. I think there is. And I liked watching my fictional friends find a way to recognize their own green grass, partly because they ‘fessed up about their own envy. I like to say to a friend, “I admire you so much for (insert thing) that I nearly envy you!” It begins a rich, good, helpful conversation, and I always learn something. The truth is, even when we don’t want to admit it, she sometimes really does have something we want that we can’t have, but the only person who gets hurt by our envy is—you guessed—ourselves. Which means the nicest thing we can do is be kind to ourselves. It may be simple to say, but it is no less true: you don’t need to be her, you only need to be you.
So tell me, have you ever been hit by the green-eyed monster? Ever experienced baby envy? How have you gotten over wanting what she has?
ANOTHER NOTE FROM CHRISTA: While you’re contemplating your answer, you can entertain yourself by watching the book trailer for I’ll Take What She Has.