I’ve always thought myself to be a competitive person. But not in a “driven to make straight A’s” kind of way.
More like a “thrown out of church league basketball games for throwing punches” kind of way. (Sorry, First Methodist ladies. It wasn’t my finest moment.)
The truth is, I can’t handle losing. When the ball is ripped out of my hands–literally or figuratively–the claws just come out.
And that Monster showed up in a big, bad way my first year of marriage.
It was a football Saturday and Ian invited some buddies over to watch the game. I was busy playing Domestic Darling: cleaning, making snacks, all that good stuff. At some point Ian casually mentioned that his mom had a great guacamole recipe.
So I set off on a mission to make the best damn guacamole on Planet Earth. And to really make it a challenge, I was gonna create my own recipe.
Because it’s cool to be that wife with the awesome guacamole? Right?! The one that gets volunteered for every party?
It’s all I’ve ever wanted in life.
Or so you’d think based on the grocery bag I carried home. Avocados, fresh garlic, cumin, cilantro, tomatoes, onion, red wine vinegar, lime, sour cream, sea salt… We are talking a $75 dollar investment, easy.
So I went to town on that stuff. Hours of grinding and roasting and smashing and slicing. A dash here and a taste there.
And as the boys arrived to watch the game, I set my masterpiece on the table: A heaping bowl of green deliciousness surrounded by blue corn tortilla chips.
It was gone in thirty seconds. I am not kidding.
I waited patiently for the compliments to start flying in. Maybe some high fives. Or a medal. Or a trophy. Something.
All I got was “Honey, do we have any coke?”
Ian was digging around the fridge, unaware of the shark circling.
“Well, what’d you think?” I asked. (This was obviously a test.)
“Huh? About what?” He responded, cracking open a coke.
“My guacamole.” My blood was simmering. (Was he kidding?)
“Oh, it was good, honey.” He smiled and took a swig of Coke, then added, “Maybe try my mom’s recipe next time?”
That football game went on for what felt like days. All the while, I was getting hotter and madder and…yeah. I was a human Crock Pot simmering with rage.
My poor, unsuspecting husband.
Monday came and I brought home a bag full of avocados. On the menu?
Tacos with guacamole.
Tuesday we had pork tenderloin. And guacamole.
Wednesday? Spaghetti and guacamole.
Thursday: Chicken salad and guacamole.
Ian stood firm that I should use his mom’s recipe, and I refused give up my mission to be the Goddess of Guac.
By Saturday, we both were turning green–but too stubborn to relinquish our positions.
It was all about the win.
I remember the minute Ian bowed out of the Great Guacamole War. He gave me a hug, said I made the best damn guacamole ever, and apologized for hurting my feelings.
Except…maybe not. My victory rung a little bit hollow.
Because the truth was I wasn’t competing against my mother-in-law’s guacamole. No, it had become something much bigger.
I took it personal that Ian preferred his mother’s cooking. I began comparing my role in Ian’s life to hers. And I wanted to win. To dethrone my MiL as First Lady of the Backstrom clan.
Lord, how I cringe admitting that.
13 years later, I’m proud to saty that I finally adopted my mother-in-law’s guacamole recipe. Turns out it was literally just avacado, sour cream, and premade salsa. Simple, cheap, and. crowd-pleasing. I saved myself a whole lot of headaches (and money) by refusing to participate in the comparison wars, and accepting that maybe, just maaaaybe, I had something to learn from every human being around me.
Theodore Roosevelt once said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
And honestly, I think that’s the lesson I learned that day. The minute you start to compare yourself to everyone around you, you get on a hamster wheel that never stops. There is no end to that cycle of competition. Nobody ever wins.
Not even the wife with the Best Damn Guacamole, ever.