Is The Grass Really Greener On The Other Side?

By Guest Blogger Karla Luks (written July 2011).


This morning my alarm went off at 6:00 am as it does every morning and I jumped into the shower. Today is different though, I am participating in a charity golf tournament. While I am showering, my brain is racing. I’m thinking about the zillion things that must get done before I leave, like making my sons’ their camp lunches, their breakfast, getting them off to camp, and putting in a load of laundry.

My friend who I am playing golf with today is single. She will probably wake up at 8:00 am as she always does, have her cup of coffee, or two, read the paper, eat her breakfast slowly, and then out the house she will go. I honestly keep the coffee companies in business, as every morning I make my cup of coffee, and then end up having to attend to my kids, so the coffee gets cold and then I make another cup.

What it must be like to only have yourself to take care of….

Before you become a mother, you conceptually understand the idea of motherhood and what it will entail. You realize that it is a 24-hour, labor intensive job, but until that little bundle arrives in your life, you really is essence have no idea of the responsibilities. When you become a mother, you now become the last thing you think about. Your needs become the last to be fulfilled.

As the saying goes. you are only as happy as your saddest child

Most of the time I am busy running around the city tending to things my children need, be it new clothes, school supplies or taking them to their activities. Some days getting a shower in is hard. Motherhood is a juggling act, and sometimes my mind wanders to my single friend who when she plans her day of work, has only herself to worry about and not trying to juggle work and children.  Heck, she can have a bowl of cereal for dinner is she wants! I have to come up with a proper supper for my family every night. She can have a full night’s sleep without any interruptions, in turn making her more well rested. Most of us moms live a sleep-interrupted or sleep-deprived existence. Throw in a career to this whole motherhood mix, and things get extra complicated.

I wonder if only having to take care of oneself makes you a selfish person, or maybe it makes you a person who rarely sweats the small stuff since you do not have to multitask very often? Is it lonely or utter bliss? Do you have the ability to compromise since you so rarely have to? Do you become rigid in your thinking because plans never really change for you, whereas in motherhood, you can plan and plan, but if a child comes down with the flu or decides he or she does not want to do what you planned, guess what? The day changes.

I must say, at times I am envious of my friend whose wishes are met daily usually without a hitch. But at the end of the day, when I get a goodnight hug and kiss from my kids, and we all snuggle, I realize I would not have had it any other way.

~Karla

I would love to know your thoughts on this matter? Is it that the grass can sometimes be greener on the other side for both parties… the childless and mothers? Do any of you moms ever dream of sometimes having only yourselves to worry about?  Is being childless lonely, or utter bliss? Feel free to comment anonymously if you so choose– but this is always a judge-free zone.

xoxEDxox

 

33 Comments
  1. Karla I LOVED this post. I think any mother would be dishonest if it hasn’t at some point crossed her mind that life would probably be easier without kids. But we have children because they complete us and fulfill us. It still doesn’t mean it’s easy! You asked the tough questions. Great job.

  2. I too find myself easily wandering into those “If it was only me” thoughts… wondering what it would be like to spend longer than 20 minutes in Target, to actually try clothes on instead of just grabbing and going and HOPING they fit and I like them when I get home, what it must be like to NOT have to return loads of stuff to the store because as previously and hopefully noted- those said clothes DO NOT fit. I miss the days of cereal for dinner because it was so easy and almost always hit the spot! I remember what it was like to feel like I had the entire day to accomplish 3 small things, where now I’m panicking on how to get those done working around the 2 a day nap schedule and bus drop off.
    However, at the end of the night, when I’m sitting in my son’s dark room, with his music playing and he’s laying on my chest as we rock in the chair, I simply cannot imagine not having those moments with him. So I don’t think the grass is greener, necessarily, it’s always the lesser of 2 evils. The great thing is, we are Women , therefore we do have super-powers and we WILL always come out ahead.

    1. Rhiannon, you hit the nail right on the head!!

      We wouldn’t trade em for the world, but sometimes my husband and I remember those selfish days, where we partied all night, had more free income and GOT TO SLEEP IN!!

      Still our kids are worth every sleepless night. 🙂

  3. I don’t regret having kids not for one minute but I do sometimes wish I had more time to myself. Life with young kids is always “all about the kids”. That is where you’re extra lucky if you have relatives who live nearby or a rich husband!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry just saying the truth. Giving the kids to inlaws so that you can be alone with your partner makes parenting a lot more manageable or of course having the extra income to take a *GASP* vacation alone with your husband helps makes it more manageable too. Nice article.

  4. Someone just commented on Google Plus… and I wanted to share it, about life being greener on the other side of anything:

    “The grass is always greener on the other side, until you get there and discover it’s artificial turf”

    What do you think?

    1. Haha! I was going to post the same thing. Us women who are COMPLETELY single (no kids, no significant others – and not by choice mind you) sometimes can’t understand why it is that those with children can’t be spontaneous and go to dinner or see a movie – two or three days in the future. Not tonight, but 2 or three days from now.

      Is it that hard/challenging to ask the hubby, the in-laws or a friend to “babysit” (I don’t think husbands who spend time with their kids should be considered babysitters)? Especially if the kids don’t have any activities?

      I sometimes think that I’m selfish in wanting to be spontaneous and so I do take that into account when trying to plan anything but it does take the “fun” out of hanging with the girls when you feel like you’re either on the clock (have to back by a particular time) or by the time schedules align it’s weeks in advance and so I feel like “what’s the point?”.

      So, my alternative unfortunately is to hang alone (which is SO not fun) because all your friends are either newly weds or marrieds with kids.

      Then, I often wish that I could have their “greener” side of the pasture (as I’m sure they do mine) but many times I’m somewhat glad that I don’t.

  5. Great post – Karla. You ask great questions and gave me a lot to think about. It sounds like you are lucky though – to have help from a wonderful husband.

  6. I do not try to over think these types of issues. I am a mom but I live my life on my terms. I do not feel over burdened or taken over even though I homeschooled. I know there are non moms who go 90 miles an hour. They work out they put in more than 40 a week. They travel and do hard things. They volunteer and serve. My life looks like a vaca to theirs.

    I hear emptynesters whining about missing being parental care takers. I hear those pining who have never known the joy of parenting and the haters who think it’s like being taken over by aliens and that the planet is over populated.

    Live and let live. I like and have accepted my life. Others need to do the same. Day dream productively about the future not an alternate life.

  7. What a great post Karla with lots to think about!!

    This summer, both our kids went to sleepaway camp for six weeks. That meant my husband & I were ALONE for six weeks. No kids, no carpool, no laundry and the occaisional bowl of cereal for supper! It was pure joy and we loved every minute of our stree-free time together. BUT, boy did my tears flow on visiting day when I saw my kids and then again when they came off that bus at the end of the summer. Life without kids was great, but I love those moments that everyone is talking about – the cuddles, the laughter and even making the lunches. If I think that my grass isn’t green enough, I should take the time to water it and make it green again!

    1. everything in moderation as they say….All the time being with your kids might not be fulfilling as while, all the time only being with your significant other might also not be rewarding.

  8. I sometimes wonder what it would be like again, to only have to worry about taking care of myself, eating whatever and whenever I want to, to actually think about buying things for myself instead of my kids. It’s difficult to remember what it was like back then, now that I have my boys. But I must say, I wouldn’t trade motherhood in for the world! As they are getting older, I am finding ways to carve more time in for myself. But I love the “full” life children bring and the how it tests my planning, organization and juggling skills! And nothing can beat hearing one of my sons, out of the blue, say, “I love you momma.” I wouldn’t trade hearing that for anything!

  9. Karla, I loved your blog. I like the fact that you mentioned if people who don’t have kids are selfish. I am 32, no kids, living with my partner for about 8 years and because we have no kids, people call me selfish. I don’t think I am a selfish person. I still have to deal with having to cook meals daily. With me having no kids, I have more time to help others who have helped me.

  10. Actually the subject of this blog came from a place of anger and alittle jealousy as sometimes you wake up wishing you could just roll over and go back to sleep and not have to take care of anyone but luckily I am jolted back into reality with the knowledge I have two healthy wonderful boys who add alot of laughter to my life!

  11. I am eighteen weeks pregnant with my first child and I do feel the need to fully embrace, enjoy and cherish every moment that I have to myself and every moment that my husband and I have to ourselves. I know things will be different. I just refuse to feel they will be worse. I love my life up to now; travelling, eating out, lazy Saturday mornings, etc, but I anticipate the sound of children in our home, cuddles, even crying and pooping. I have wanted to be a mother my whole life and even though I know it will be hard, there isn’t a women yet that I’ve met (or read:)) that says they would go back. I love Shannon Green’s comment that children fulfill and complete us. I’m very excited!

  12. I have four kids, six years apart and I work full time in a stressful job. My third child has autism and my fourth has an auditory learning disability. I spent YEARS exhausted and stressed out. Four years ago, my husband retired and became our homemaker. It was a huge adjustment, but it is so wonderful now. I have moments when I feel guilty that he is the primary caretaker and moments when I wish I had some time to myself. That time will come quickly anyway. My oldest is 15 and about to drive. Before I know it, I will be an empty nester and my time will once again be my own and I will be missing the craziness. Life is a marathon where we learn when to push, when to conserve our energy, where we deal with hitting walls and powering through. For me, it wouldn’t be the same without children, they teach you how to live life more fully and they expand your consciousness.

  13. I am not a mother. I am also quite young, and have time to think about having kids later. However, where I stand now…I am one of those women who never dream of having children. I am the first to admit that it is partly due to selfishness. I have a few friends with children of their own. Just watching them exhausts me.

    That being said, a part of me sees it through a different perspective. I am the fourth of 5 children, in a “blended” family. I suffer today, trying to cope with what I’m told is abandonment issues. Long story short, my mother abandoned me (by allowing herself to be consumed by other aspects of life, work, men, work).

    I think everyone tries to go into life, making sure that they don’t make the same mistakes as their parents. I currently work two jobs, and am working on my business plan. So a big part of the reason I am not interested in having children, is because I am consumed by work. I rarely have time to socialize, or even spend some quality time by myself. Unlike a lot of 20-something year olds I know, I’m not out partying every night, or every weekend.

    Therefore, not wanting to have children, for me, seems selfless than selfish, because I do not want to bring human beings into this world, only for them to suffer as I have. The direction that my life is gearing toward just doesn’t have room for kids.

    I have so much respect for mothers, and mothers who work.
    But lets not forget that, just because you don’t have children, does not mean that you are not running around in circles…cereal for dinner?…lucky if I have time to eat at all.

  14. I think there are many reasons for someone not to have children – ranging from not being able to bare children, health reasons, not feeling fit for the responsibilities, not finding the right partner, or having a wide range of interests other than motherhood. I come from a few generations of women who chose not to have children – most were world travelers, investors, career orientated, diplomates, socially & culturally active, loving, interesting and generous to a tea. To assume that someone who doesn’t have children is selfish & lazy smells resentment. The movie The Help doesn’t portrait a very healthy picture of some mothers over the years.

  15. As someone who is childless by choice and yet chooses to watch other people’s children as part of my living, my answer is YES! MY GRASS IS GREENER! 🙂

    In all seriousness, I love love love children and every parent I have ever worked with has said, “What is it about you that makes my child/children love you so much?” I don’t know what it is, but I know I have it and it’s a gift. And the gift these parents give back to me is coming home at the end of the day so that I get to go home to my own life. (NOTE: It isn’t “different when they’re your own kids.” I hate that argument.)

    I have used the word selfish to describe myself regarding my choice. Children do consume everything in your world for a long time — as they should. I know that what you get back is very rewarding, and I am the beneficiary of that with the children I care for. But I made my decision with eyes wide open and have no regrets. The way I see it, I have the best of both worlds.

  16. I’ve got my daughter in my mid-thirty, meet my husband at 22. So I did have many opportunities to travel, got out with girlfriends, shop for myself …hours , enjoy life. I don’t feel I missed out . So I don’t envy my single girlfriends. But I do feel the grass is greener when you have helps around. Many of my friends/ colleagues have their mom around , its look like its simplified things. My mom and mother in law are not in town. And I agree with Christina money helps. We both working and its hard sometime. We are middle class and get hit everywhere. Career woman, not woman with normal job like me, look stress out too, but with a little bit more money . Money buy helps, healthy diner out and more quality time. The park is nice but going to the zoo will be nice too !

  17. Ok, so here’s my response. To be quite honest, this sounds like the rant of someone who presently feels extremely dissatisfied with the life choices they have made, or rather the way in which these choices have played out. Based on all the flaws in the very logic of this piece, I would say it is one long and poorly argued complaint about how hard it is to be a parent, nothing more.
    Being a parent is hard, but being single isn’t necessarily any ‘easier.’ Now let’s go through this point by point. The very title of this piece is paradoxical in itself…Is the grass really greener? Well, author, maybe you should ask yourself that question. Maybe the ‘single woman’ does not feel day to day how stressful your life is, but do you feel the stresses of a single woman? They are different stresses, but stresses nevertheless – You should probably consider being a little more sensitive to this.
    Now lets go through a few examples. So, you do laundry, throw some cereal into a bowl and a couple PB&J sandwiches into a bag with some dunkaroos and drive your car a few blocks in the span of two hours. Are you really going to complain about that? Sounds like a dream life to many, if you ask me. Now take someone who chose (or by chance wound up with) the other path, the single path. It’s a little ignorant to assume that no kids mean no problems or no ‘to do list’ that requires getting up at 6 and having to get two handfuls of tasks done by 8a.m. So lets talk about some of these single ladies.
    Let’s consider who I would call one of the world’s most respected and unselfish women, Oprah Winfrey. Well guess what? SHE HAS NO KIDS! But I can tell you this, she’s had more to get done before 8a.m. then you do. Wake up, go to her studio, review her schedule/show for the day, prep for other shows, fundraise…who knows. I am sure, however, that she has more to remember than laundry and lunches. In her dreams, maybe. Oprah, you may say, is an exception. Fine, well in that case, think of every single woman who works on wall street, or every woman who works at a magazine or newspaper with serious deadlines, PhD students who don’t sleep at all because they are up all night working on their dissertation that could be rejected if it’s not up to par. What about broadcast journalists who stand in the middle of hurricanes at 4a.m. or the 9/11sites in the midst of rubble for 24hours reporting? Let’s not forget OB/GYNs…they just so happen to be on call, so a 6a.m. wake up is often a dream to them. These people ain’t stress free just because they don’t have kids to drive to camp.
    And get this, some of these people have kids. And don’t for one second think they are worse moms because of it. You want proof? Ok, no problem. Hillary Rodham Clinton. God only knows what her schedule was like before 6a.m. as a newlywed and new mom in the 80s; A partner at an Arkansas law firm, having to campaign for her husband and eventually fulfill the duties of a first lady – and still, she managed to be named Arkansa’s woman of the year in 1983 and Arkansas mother of the year in 1984. True story. So before you complain, perhaps these are the people you should be thinking about during your morning showers, not a friend whose lifestyle you envy or miss.
    So we’ve covered the potential schedules of the ‘single woman,’ now let’s cover the rest: the social stigma associated with being single and without children. You said it yourself… ‘Are single women with a single lifestyle selfish for never having had children?’ Well, author, I have a secret for you – most of the time, it isn’t their fault, or their choice. You are extremely fortunate for having found your Mr. Right to have babies with. For many, finding him in itself is a whole other struggle you clearly can’t comprehend. So while you have to think about soccer practice, others have to think about the dating scene, the stresses of building a relationship from scratch, physical attractiveness, not getting called back sometimes, the fact that biological clocks keep ticking away with every year that one remains single. It ain’t always fun, so I think single women deserve the luxury of a little R&R, don’t you? Life is not any less stressful for the single, childless woman, just different.
    The next time you snuggle with your kids before bedtime, concentrate on how fortunate you are, but be sure to leave the hostility and resentment that come with the ‘cons’ of being a mom at the door. Single ladies may have pros, but we have our cons too.

    1. Okay, have you ever heard of the space bar. You sound very bitter about something in your life. Can you have kids, is there something wrong with you mentally or physically. You got some serious issues. You need a man bad or some sex or something. And might I give you a suggestion try writting shorter comments because that was to damm long. I stopped reading it halfway. And it’s very clear that you want the life of a women with kids.

      1. So it is ok for a mom to make a long post but not childless women? I agree with her post. I am childless but not by choice. I am tired of no kids equal no responsibility mantra. If you ask me, I think we have more duties and tasks . We are are the ones care of our elderly because others lack the time because you know they have to take care of the kids. We are the ones picking up the slack on Christmas , nights, weekend. What you don’t get is we have families ourselves. We are someone’s child too.
        The parenting is sacrificial attitude is what caused the Gosselins of today. I finally learned you can be fulfilled with or without kids. Selfishness and maturity aren’t related to parenting when I look around me and see so many depend on the gov, other relatives, and are not even married when they have kids.

  18. It is all worth it. My articles are all positive women stories. http://www.Koolagan.com If anyone is thinking of having children, just ask yourself if everything in your own life is ok. If it is, then your ok to raise another person. If no, wait a couple years and it will be easier and happier.

  19. If the grass seems greener on the other side, it might be time to stop staring at the other side and start staring at your own side and water your own grass to make it greener!!!!

    It is important to be clear on what your own definition of success is based on your core values and measure yourself against that only, not someone elses life. Otherwise you can end up hankering after someone elses life when if the chips are down you wouldn’t really want that anyway.

  20. I don’t think the grass is greener on the other side. People tend to want what the other person has until they have or are in that situation.

    It took me 5 years to have my daughter thru IVF- one failed procedure and an ectopic so I wouldn’t trade in all my sleepness nights, tantrums, exhaustion and whatnot for anything. And after a recent miscarriage, I look forward to doing it all again-God willing-soon.

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