A couple of weeks ago Melissa had a guest post on our friend Annie’s blog. Side note: our friend Annie is a real writer, and a good one. Check out her book, especially if you have tween or teenage girls.
Melissa’s post was about how single women can love their mom friends. We’ve heard a good bit of advice on how married folks can love (and be sensitive to) singles– advice we need and appreciate– and not much going the other way. I am far from objective but thought her post was terrific. Also, Annie the Real Writer had a good response the next day.
One theme that emerged in the comments was that singles and parents want what each other has. Parents (myself included) look at our single friends and see sleeping late on Saturdays, spontaneous dinners out, freedom from worrying about whether somebody should go to the doctor, etc. But mostly the sleep. I cannot emphasize this enough.
At the same time, singles look at families and see love with security, a deep sense of home, belonging. For many, the family with kids and all the craziness that whole scene brings is the picture of what they want, and fear they might not get. I remember how much I ached for kids of my own, even when surrounded by friends’ kids I loved.
The grass is always greener on the other side.
It’s tempting to respond to this tendency with a sort of equivalency argument. “Well, some things are better about being single; some things are better about being married with kids.” But that’s kind of cheap. It’s not a zero sum game. I do miss sleep (and Melissa misses a lot more of it), but I wouldn’t trade being a dad for anything. I love our family life, but it means other relationships go on the back burner. Less time to do things that are fun and good. There are gains and there are losses, and to try to equal them out cheapens both.
When we have our “grass is greener” moments, we shouldn’t indulge them and grow bitter at those who have what we want. But maybe we shouldn’t talk ourselves out of them with “well, at least” arguments, either. I think, instead, we must acknowledge that there is much that is beautiful and much that is hard in every season. The hard doesn’t take away the beauty, nor the beauty the hardness. They’re both just there. We can relish one, mourn the other, and know that most of both is temporary. The greenest pastures here have nothing on those beyond. And there we’ll get all the rest we need.