Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Where is the grass greener now?

An anecdote to describe my life:
I found a new work bag that I wanted, told my husband about it, he went out and got it for me in the color that I wanted, and I changed my mind the next day.  Returned that bag, bought a different shaped one (same company) in a different color, was finally settled with my decision, then decided I wanted the first one after all.  The grass is always greener on the other side right?

How does it relate to my more important mother/wife/doctor life?
I know a mother, whose life I so desperately want, but so do not want at all.  She is not a physician, she is a stay at home mother.  Since the birth of her first-born, and she has been for many years.

She has a lot of help, a housekeeper, a couple of babysitters.  Her kids go to school full time.  I so don't want to ask the awful and judgmental question 'What do you do all day?' But I wonder.

She leads the life that us working, 24-hour-call-taking mothers dream of.  But I saw her in her own zone recently.  Angry and yelling at her kids.  Frustrated with them, frustrated with her husband, frustrated with herself.  And I thought, "Wow, I hope I don't become like that!"

For once the grass was greener on my side.  But it didn't stay that way for long.  Maybe I should spend more time with her...

The grass didn't stay greener because soon after, I went to a playground with my baby after work.  It was an unusual thing for me to do after work, but I did it.  There was a mother there swinging her daughter next to me and SHE struck up a conversation with ME.  We talked for a while and I found her pretty likable, her daugher was my baby's age, and she was a stay at home mom, and I was even thinking that this would be a perfect opportunity to make a new friend with a baby that is my Doll's age in the area since I really don't know any moms.  I wanted to ask her if she wanted to do something like a playdate (which I have never done, because I don't know anyone around here and because I don't have time) and the entire time, I was replaying Fizzy's old post about playdates in my mind.  The post said that the stay at home mothers do playdates only during the week, because weekends are "family time."

To make a long story short, a friend of this woman came up to us and said, "Wow you guys are chatting away!" and this woman responded with, "Hey, she's firing out the questions left and right, it's not me!"  It seems the psychiatrist in me had reared it's ugly head...

I had not felt like I was asking a lot of questions, and if I was doing that, it was because I was so excited about meeting someone new.  I felt like she had asked a good number of questions herself.  But perhaps the conversation was more one-sided than I imaged.  I went home that day without a playdate and feeling awful about myself as a mother and as a person.  Was I really shooting out questions like I am so used to doing at work?  Am I really not able to put work behind me when I'm home?  Was her facial expression when I said I was a psychiatrist only in my head?

The mother I spoke of earlier in this post has playdates all the time (or at least had them when the kids were younger.)  She has other mother friends.  She used to go to the playground during the day in the middle of the week.

 I have always wanted to be an involved mother who provides a healthy and social environment for her children outside of daycare, and I just haven't been able to do that.

So... the grass is greener on the other side.  It is true.


  1. What would you tell a patient or friend if she wrote this post?

  2. I don't really want the lives of any of the women you describe, but I can definitely relate to wanting more mom friends. I worry that I will deprive my daughter of a social life because I have very few mom friends because of my schedule, and therefore she seldom has playdates. She seems to have friends at preschool, but we all know that playdates happen at this age because the MOMS are friends, not because the kids are friends. Not sure what the solution is, since I don't see my schedule getting any easier. I do know however, that I have little interest in being friends with people who treat me like the ones you described treated you.

  3. With my oldest I tried to get playdates. With my youngest, I figure preschool is enough social interaction, even if we haven't hit the birthday party circuit age yet. I don't think it's a difference between the kids (or even in having a potential playmate at home since they're 5 years apart), but a difference in how much time *I* have and how much social interaction *I* need.

    Are you sure you're not providing a healthy environment at home? Are you sure she's not getting enough socialization at school? (I kinda bet she's doing great.)

    And that, "Hey, she's firing out the questions left and right, it's not me!" seems pretty rude. Even if you're from Los Angeles and currently living in the midwest (where social norms about questioning vs sharing are different), I'm having a really difficult time hearing that in my head in any way that doesn't seem impolite. I can't see it indicating a problem with *you*. And certainly not something that could be changed by you quitting your job or her getting one.

    I think the last neighborhood playdate we had, the SAHM's father called us up to try to sell us insurance the next day. So not cool.

    Now my oldest has playdates without us there. But we like the parents of his best friend, both of whom are doctors (a psychiatrist and a surgeon).

  4. If it makes you feel better my mother did not work AND had very few friends when I was younger. The few friends she did have were much older and did not have any children for me to play with. I was not deprived in any way. I made plenty of friends and had zero social issues. I think parents these days sometimes take too much burden on themselves to be perfect and do everything for their kids. You obviously love your daughter very much and I'm sure the environment you're providing for her is wonderful as a result.

  5. I can so relate to being a mother of young children and feeling like I was too busy in residency to provide enough play date stimulus. It was a projection - I needed mom of young kids stimulus more than she or he needed the play date. There is a pecking order, and if you encounter someone who feels threatened by you they might be rude to try to put you in your place and make them feel good about themselves in comparison to the awesome accomplished person you clearly are. I teach my daughter - an alpha female - this. The ones that are snarky feel like they have to compete. It's them, not you. Support your daughter she needs you more than anyone right now and as she gets older and needs more peers you will make wonderful parent friends - at least I am finding that I am now, finally. The grass is green on my side, but I'd be lying if I told you I didn't still struggle with inner feelings of not measuring up. We all do. It's normal:).

  6. Jay, that's a good question, I should think about that...

    Nicoleandmaggie, you said, " I'm having a really difficult time hearing that in my head in any way that doesn't seem impolite," and actually it was very impolite and hurtful I might add. It made me feel like I was once again the "loser" in elementary school and I finally got the cool girl's attention only to have her tell her friend, "She's talking to me, not the other way around." I can't think of a scenario in which I would treat another human being this way.

    Thank you for all of the support, ladies :)

    1. Oh, it's colossally rude and - like the school-age mean-girls behavior - probably also stems from insecurity. Feh.

  7. I have often said things that I didn't mean in a negative way that have been taken that way (especially in middle school), so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and take things in the best possible way. But I can't come up with anything pleasant in that case. Is the grass greener on her side? Only if you *want* to go back to middle school and spend your time worrying about what the mean girls think. Personally I'd rather hang out with more mature people! It's probably a good thing you didn't end up doing a play date with her. So... don't quit your dayjob.

  8. Keep putting yourself out there!!! The mommy friends are out there and would love having a friend like you.

  9. Anyone else have the experience of making a new friend only to realize they wanted to be friends with a DOCTOR, before they realized you were basically just like the next working Mama? I also find that making the time for friendship is such a challenge. I am a separated parent and the time to be with my partner, be with my son and work seems to suck up all available time. How to make time for friends without them feeling like I'm "working them in".... I'd be grateful for a playdate for myself!

    1. I've actually had the opposite experience: in the middle of a lively and pleasant conversation that stops dead when the other person realizes I'm a DOCTOR. One man actually took a step back as if I'd hit him (not a dating/possible dating conversation). So for a while in my late 20s/early 30s, I didn't tell people. Now, at 54, I let people manage their own responses and don't worry about it any more.

      To your second point - I do have to work them in. Most of my friends have to work me in, too. It's really challenging. I find that my friends (mostly) appreciate it when I do work them in, and I return the appreciation - and there's never enough time.


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