Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?

This post was inspired by Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman. After being kicked out of her widow support group for being too young, Becky creates her own support group with an unusual twist. Join From Left to Write on February 14 as we discuss Saturday Night Widows. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

     I have to admit here and now that I got just a few pages into this book when inspiration hit me and I wrote a great post. I even wrote in the first paragraph of the post that I hoped when the time came I would have the guts to post it. 

     Unfortunately, I am a gutless wonder and I cannot post the first post I did! Well maybe I'm not gutless, but it is too personal and the personal stuff in the post is not about me. I have no problem being honest about the things that have happened to me in my life, but the story I told in that post was not my story. Well part of it was, but part of it wasn't. Have I totally confused you yet?

     So here I am. The most powerful thing that I was inspired by this book to write I can't share here.

     I guess what I will do is post a twist on the original story. I'll tell you how I think that we as women are never satisfied. Why do I think that? Let me explain.

     In the preface, the main character, Becky Aikman (also the author as this is her personal memoir) writes about how she was kicked out of her Widows Support Group on her first night in attendance. She details why she is attending and describes the setting and the room and the other woman who are there (they are all much older than she is), as well as Jonathan, the social worker who is leading the group. She writes about her feelings as Jonathan drones on for an hour telling them the 5 stages of grief and letting them know that their feelings of sadness, regret, grief, insomnia and depression are all normal.

     The last half hour of the meeting is a meet and greet, each person in the circle is invited to introduce themselves and explain how their husbands had died. The first lady spoke about the horror of her husbands illness, the pain and bed pans and how now no one understood her and they all expected her to be fine. From there it seemed to Becky that each lady was one-upping the other one and each horror story was worse than the one previous.

     When it's Becky's turn she tries to be a little more upbeat. She explains that her husband had died a year ago from a rare cancer and that he had managed to live for four and a half years with chemo and surgeries but that the last few years the cancer had spread to his brain, which made it all that much harder. But then she says, "What I want now, what I want to say is...well, I want to cheer up! Something awful happened to him, and to me, but I don't want to live in some kind of purgatory for the rest of my days because of it. I want to be happy again, don't you?"

     She looks around, hoping for support but doesn't see it in any of the faces staring blankly back at her. One of the widows begins to speak in a dignified tone and says, "I'm seventy-five years old. My husband and I had fifty wonderful years together. Now I feel like my life is over. But that young woman over there", here she points at Becky and continues saying, "she has it all! Her whole life is ahead of her! And I...I have nothing", then she breaks down into tears.

     The group begins ministering to the older woman and murmuring comforting words and shooting daggers with their eyes at poor Becky for upsetting this poor old woman and for still having her youth and her whole life ahead of her.

     Becky is thinking to herself, " Whoa, hold on babe! Fifty wonderful years might have been nice!"

    And at that point in the book, I new what I wanted to write about. But I can't share it, so I am going to put a twist on it and tell you about why women are never satisfied. So this story is about my sister and I versus my mother and my sister-in-law (SIL).

    See...my mom and my SIL are stay at home mom's and wives. They never had to work outside of the home. My sister and I have always worked, staying home just as long as our employers and disability would allow.

     Quite a few times in my life, during the growing up years of my children who are now 27 and 32; I would hear from both my mom and my SIL about how lucky my sister and I were to work outside the home. Say what??? How do you figure that? My mom and SIL would say that we were lucky because we got to get up in the morning and fix our hair and wear makeup and put on pretty office clothing and heels and nice jewelry and go to the office and actually socialize with people and go to lunch with the girls and general just be a part of society. 

     And my sister and I would look at each other and say, "We're the lucky ones?" You two get to stay home and play with your kids and clean your house and have a nice dinner waiting when your family gets home. You get to go to your kids school and help out in the classroom and bake cupcakes and do your laundry at your leisure. You get to stay home and not have to worry about doing your hair and putting on stinking makeup everyday and you can wear your pajama pants and flip flops and not worry about panty hose and callouses and corns on your poor little feet!"

     It was kind of a running battle between the four of us. A friendly battle but still...

     So that is why I think that women are never satisfied, those at home want to be at work, those at work want to be at home. We can never find the happy medium. Now at my advanced age of 54 I realize that I couldn't stay home now, I would be so bored! But I would have loved to stay home when my kids were little, to have walked them to school and helped out at their schools and be home when they came home instead of having them go to the sitter.



  1. Too bad you can't write that post - but I understand completely! There's such truth in what you say about the tension between women who stay home and those who go out to work. In a perfect world we'd all be able to do exactly what works best for us and our families. I bet a lot of women would choose to stay home while the children are young and then go to work outside the home later on. If only we could have a society that agreed with that plan!

    1. It's tough to be a woman,we want to stay home but don't want to be out of the job force so long that we lose or skills or worse yet we don't continue to build on them.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

  2. Yes, I work PT and people always tell me how lucky I am, and I am, but the truth is most often I feel like I am never all in one place. Never all at home and never all at work.

    1. Exactly! And not to bash stay at home moms, but I see on pinterest sometimes criticism of working moms because we get weekends off and breaks at work...but they have to remember that once we get home we have to do in a few hours what they had all day to do! But still as women we need to stick together and not be critical of each other for the choice we make. Good luck to you!

  3. Write the post, give him a pseudonym and you're fine. My memoir will soon be published and I was concerned about things I said about some folks still living so I got a book on liability in writing. You're fine if you give them a pseudonym but maybe your concerns are more than liability.

    1. Hi Bren,
      I actually did write the post, it's there in my post list waiting for me to hit the magic button and maybe someday I will, but even with a pseudonym most of my family and friends that read my blog would know who I was writing about. Yes, not liability but hurting someones heart and memories. But thanks for the advice :)

  4. “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out..”
    ― Winston Churchill

    You have already proven to yourself that you should not post it when you said

    "Yes, not liability but hurting someones heart and memories."

    Liability is just money and in the end means nothing...hurting someones heart may be irreparable.

    You lost me with all the twists but I think what you are saying the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

  5. What an ass I am. I just read the title of your post. Brilliant Sextant.

    1. I knew it was a bit confusing. I did not publish the original post, the one that was personal and contained info about someone else, the one that would hurt someone's heart. So I wrote a different post, the one I posted above.

      I called it "Is the grass always greener on the other side" because women who stay home think working women have it better and women who work would rather stay home. Is the grass greener or should we just be happy in out little patch of grass regardless of the color of it and maybe just water it more?

      In the book the older lady felt that her pain was worse because she lost her husband after 50 years of marriage and the author of the book would have loved to have those 50 years. Which pain is greater?

      I do love the quote though.

  6. I worked full time before my kids, and now I'm a stay at home mom. It's very easy to miss those days when I could have fun with co-workers, go out to lunch, and go to the bathroom without someone opening the door. But I also see how it would be so stressful to pack "everything" into the nights and weekends and miss all of those little things the kids say and do when they're little. I think that it is all human beings who are hard to please. The grass is always greener/we always want what we don't have. :)

    1. Exactly! It is all humans. But as women we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect at all we do. We feel we are short changing our family when we are at work and when we are at home we worried about projects, deadlines and clients at the office. Next time I'm coming back as a puppy so I won't have any worries :)

  7. I stay home with my kids but I work from home too. Sometimes I wish I could just escape motherhood, just for 8 hours a day for a couple of days.

  8. I don't think the grass is greener; I've tried both, and love that with being a teacher I can work AND be at home with my kids when they need me!

  9. I love my side of the fence and that is where I am staying. :) I guess I am lucky.


Please leave a comment.I would love to know your thoughts!