When the grass looks greener

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I’ve been a working mom for 28 months. Just over two years.

Some days I hate it. Some days I like it. Rarely do I love it.

I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly good at it. I mean, I get by. But some days I crawl into bed feeling frustrated, like I’m barely keeping up and certainly not succeeding at any of my many roles.

And that’s fine. Everyone has those days. I’m not naive enough to think that any other kind of mom has it better. We’re all moms, we all have our good days and bad. And on all days, we all do the best we can.

On the bad days, I try to remember that the grass is almost never greener on the other side. We all have patches of brown from lack of proper watering or overgrown weeds that we just can’t get to today.

But what do you do when you feel like you’re standing in a pile of dried up straw staring at lush green fields that aren’t yours?

red buses and bird house

Earlier this week, I took a day off to go to our home inspection. The inspection didn’t start until the afternoon, but the nanny and girls were at our house that day, so M and I left in search of quieter places to spend the morning. We found refuge at a nearby Starbucks where I caught up on work left over from the day before and prepared to be out for an afternoon.

As I worked, I noticed at least a dozen women pass through with little ones in tow. I watched them negotiate strollers through the door, navigate little feet into the line, push straws into boxes of milk, shift babies from one hip to the other, and guide their little ones back out to their cars.

I’ve done all of this at one point or another. None of it looked particularly easy. I know for a fact that it isn’t. I know that this was just one stop of many. I know that just stopping for coffee took them more time than they thought it should because of the little person negotiation that had to ensue. I know that mornings are easier for little ones and I saw, later in the day, an afternoon scene that was less idyllic.

And yet, I watched and I daydreamed. Where were they headed after grabbing some coffee and breakfast? The grocery store to pick up food for dinner? The gym down the street for some tumbles classes? The park to enjoy the beautiful early spring day?

I daydreamed a day for those women that looked infinitely better than most of my own.

And that grass? It did look greener.

But I began to wonder if those women I watched sometimes feel the same.

Do they sometimes watch me, sitting quietly, my laptop in front of me? Do they daydream about my day? Do they picture me engaging in eight hours of adult conversation? Enjoying solitary trips to the bathroom? Breathing in moments of peace where nobody needs anything from me?

Is the day I dreamed up for them as far from reality as the one they might dream up for me?

I don’t know the answers. For as long as I’ve been in this game (and, I know, even longer than that) working moms and stay-at-home moms have regarded one another as sworn enemies. Despite this huge thing called motherhood that we all have in common, we focus on the philosophical, and frankly sometimes purely financial and logistical, differences between us. And so, I have few stay-at-home mom friends. With those I do have, I fear asking about what their day is like. I fear that they will be offended. Take the question the wrong way. Interpret my curiosity as dissatisfaction with the way I’m living my life. I’m not looking for a battle when I’m out with friends. I get enough battling when I ask my daughter to put on her shoes.

Instead, I find myself with plenty of working mom friends. We get together and lament the struggles and triumphs that we all share. Their stories are my stories. And while it’s nice to hear someone describe your Sunday as their’s, down to the very last tantrum, I’d love to hear about a Wednesday that sounds drastically different from mine. I think I could learn a lot from that. If nothing else, when the grass started to look greener, I could talk about it. And maybe start to see everyone’s grass for what it truly is, as green as it can be but most certainly with a few weeds here and there.

Tell me in the comments, what do you do when the grass looks greener?

5 Comments

  1. I’m a stay at home mom, though I work part time (2 days a week). When I’m at work I tend to be wishing I was home and when I’m home some days I wish I was at work. I know the grass isn’t always greener just different with different challenges and struggles and joys.

  2. I’m in a different boat to you but whatever the circumstances or situations we always have that tendency to think the grass is greener. Sometimes I need a reality check, to take the time to appreciate the good in my life but sometimes too I have to reflect a little and decide to make a few changes, things that would make my life better or easier. :)

  3. As someone who has been a working mom and a SAHM and now a part-time working mom, I can absolutely tell you that no matter what I am, I daydream about the other side, see it through rose-colored glasses.

  4. This was great. I know how you feel. I live in an ugly rented house in an ugly town thousands of miles from my home, from friends and family, I’m single and have no children. I worked so hard to get even to this place! A relative of mine, on the other hand, did absolutely nothing and everything came her way. She owns a home in my beautiful hometown, she has a gorgeous husband and a beautiful daughter, and a wonderful life. So it seems. But somehow she always seems insecure around me – why and of what I just don’t know.

  5. Thank you so much for commenting, everyone. This is what I had hoped for – not that we’re all feeling this way but to know I’m not alone. And to know what I had suspected – that, as Julia said, the grass isn’t always greener. Just different.

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