The Grass is Always Greener?

The Grass is Always Greener? March 12, 2012

Daylight savings time and a croupy toddler interrupted our weekend sleep, and a late start on a long drive meant that we did not get home last night until after midnight.  I flung my pregnant self into bed, while my husband unloaded the car, went through the mail, and set himself up for Monday.

It is 9:30 am, and he just called me.  He got up around 7 to shave and dress in a suit, left the house around 8 to get on the train, and is now walking up beautiful 8th Avenue in New York to his office.  His breakfast was a large dunkin coffee on the train.  I got up around 9.  I am wearing comfy old jeans and a huge cashmere sweater, drinking coffee out of a large cozy mug which my daughter painted for me at a pottery class, eating pumpkin bread, and blogging while I listen to my kids, still in pajamas, sort through the lego bins.

Whose life, today, will require more unselfishness?

I am not trying to ignite a domestic accounting war, but I think it is worth noting that while I initially responded to AWOL’s post by thinking about how this affects us as stay at home mothers, the hard work of our generation has more to do with the obstacles of learning to be a grown up than with any specific vocation.

My brother is single, he lives in New York, he is a writer.  He really wants to be a writer, but it is still hard work, and he has to hustle for every thing he publishes.  He has to live in a smaller apartment and get along with roommates.  Perhaps some of us, home or working, would dream of chucking it all to write a great novel — well, I can tell you from observing that this is not all it is cracked up to be.  I am proud of my brother’s fortitude and perseverance, I am proud of his humility in living on less than many of his college friends, in order to work this out, but I can say for sure that it is not easy.

Very few adults live lives which are totally self indulgent, but because our TV culture glorifies those who do, we get confused.  However, don’t we also notice how many celebrities use drugs and self-implode?  How many are unable to maintain healthy relationships, even with drop dead gorgeous women?  Even the “easy” life of the very rich and famous is unpleasant without common sense and good character to back it up.

How quickly, if I won the lottery, would I become bored or find things to complain about?  How quickly would a million dollars begin to seem like “not enough money?”

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  • Juris Mater

    MaryAlice, this is a great post–it’s so easy to think the grass is greener on the other side. I do fantasize about dressing in professional clothes, slinging my laptop over my shoulder, buying a coffee at the patisserie in our village, and catching a train into the city, especially on dreary mornings. But from the brief summers of working, I should recall that it’s not as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be. And my love tank sure is full day after day from all these bright-eyed rascals in my care, even if I have no energy to enjoy it!

  • JMB

    I did work for years on a busy Wall Street trading floor which often times resembled something out of the Wild West. In fact, the first week on the job I was a witness to a sexual harassment complaint and had to make a deposition to the attorney investigating the complaint. There were the “strippers” who were called in each Friday night and there was lots of stuff that went on that made my college boyfriend’s rugby team mates look like altar boys. This of course, was the 80s and I think a lot has changed in the Wall Street culture since that time.
    That being said, I made a lot of $ and was able to put a sizable down payment on a house in a nice suburb of NYC which allowed me to stay home and take care of my children. I have never for one moment wished to go back to full time work, especially in the derivatives business. I saw my vocation as a SAHM as a privilege and a sacrifice. But even on the worst days at home with the kids, to me it was always, and I say always, easier than the trading floor. I was profoundly grateful that I didn’t have to endure that anymore.

  • texasmommy

    This is a very great reminder, MaryAlice, that most people need to work hard, and that easy street isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A friend encouraged me, when I was struggling with feeling sorry for myself especially when my husband was travelling to try to be grateful. So when he was in Europe going to mass at St. Peter’s last week while I was alone 8 months preggo, I was thankful that he was doing his job well (and mindful that jetlag is not all that glamourous).

  • maryalice

    It is a good point, to focus on what we can be thankful for. Also, a lot to be said for a husband whose big excitement while traveling is Mass at a beautiful church, which is very different from the entertainments that some might seek while away from the family.