I always wonder what makes other people's grass seem so damn green.
I don't know why. For some reason, I feel the need to know how others live their lives to gauge whether I'm living mine correctly, or to the fullest, or however it is I'm "supposed" to live my life. I'm like the guy who sits on his porch and wonders why his neighbor's lawn looks like a golf course when his looks like a hayfield.
Anyway, I've always kind of had this timeline for my life. You go to college, whether you're ready or not. Then you move away from home so no one thinks you're one of those "losers" who remained in your hometown (Face it, Peorians. When you left high school, you know you felt this way.) You have a successful career. Then you meet the man of your dreams and get married. Usually a lavish wedding. Then you have two kids, a boy and a girl. Then you become a stay-at-home mom, and dad comes home every night around 5:30 and you all eat dinner together then play Scrabble until bedtime. Once a month, you get a sitter and have "date night".
As your kids grow, you become friends with all the moms of their friends. You car pool to all their sports activities. You play Bunco. You have all their friends over before school dances to take pictures. You cry when they go to college, then either go back to work or volunteer in some worthwhile organization until your husband retires, then you travel to exotic places until the grandkids are born.
That's about as far as I've gotten in that life plan. Trouble is, I got off track at about sentence two, and at this point I don't know that I'm going to make my scenario in the least bit.
But what IS normal? I did get married, but it certainly wasn't lavish. I never had the husband who was home by 5:30 every night - sometimes it was every other WEEK. I did make great friends when the kids were in grade school. But now that they're older, and I've relocated, and they're NOT in sports (in a very sports-minded community), there is no car pool. No mother camaraderie. My older son's friends don't hang out here because I don't have Halo or Gears of War (I had to ask my kids the names of these), or the latest XBox or whatever the hell is the newest idiot box.
I work because a) I love what I do and b) I have to make a living. And though I work a less than 40 hour workweek in the office and the rest at home freelancing, I'll probably be working more and more for the rest of my life, so I'm not sure how much traveling I'll be doing.
Don't get me wrong. I know it sounds like I'm complaining, but I'm not. I have a good life. I have many blessings that I've gushed about before. I choose to sacrifice a more lucrative and progressive career because I am still raising my kids, and they will be gone before I know it. My issue is the perception in my mind of how I "should" be living my life based on how I think others are doing it.
Take work. How many hours a week are you at a job? 15? 30? 40? 60? One job or two? Why do you work the hours you do? Is it because you have to? Is it because you want to? Is it because you think it's expected of you? If you work more than 40 hours a week, do you wish you didn't? And what would you do to change it if you could? And why don't you? (Cue my Pastor in last week's sermon, "You never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.")
And what do you do when you're not working? Are you home with family? If you have teens or pre-teens, do you still spend quality family time together or are they locked in their rooms listening to heavy metal or transfixed in front of the TV watching SpongeBob? And do they roll their eyes when you "demand" that they turn off their electronic devices and do something archaic like go for a bikeride? Or is that even an issue at your house? Do you even bother? Should I bother?
What about your friends? Do you have a lot of friends? Does your phone ring often? Are they friends you've had since childhood? Friends you've made through your kids' schools? Friends you've made via marriage? I feel as if in this new community I've moved to the other side of the world. They all know each other and I don't know that I'll ever be able to "break in". And even if I do, I don't know if I'll "fit in". Is there a "fitting in" at my age?
And speaking of "my age" (mid 40's), are any of you comparable women or men out there wondering "is this it?" I feel like I'm at a point in my life where my parenting requirements aren't as hands-on as they used to be (which is fine). I feel like I spend half my time waiting for my kids to come home, paralyzed to do anything of my own for fear they'll need me - or fear they'll do something they're not supposed to because I'm not home. What do mid-40's working moms DO when they have time to themselves and there are no kids to parent but you still need to be there "just in case"?
I think I've convinced myself that everyone else's grass is really, really green, and if I just figure out what makes it that way, I can replace mine with the real deal. Or maybe I just need to chill out a little. OK, THEN what?
My point is this. I love life. I want to live it. I want to work, I want to parent, but I am finding that I need MORE. Is that greedy? I just feel like there's more I should be doing. I mowed the lawn. Now do I fertilize? Do I edge?
Maybe I should just fess up and admit that it's fake grass and figure that everyone else is doing the same. I somehow don't believe that's true, though.