You can find serenity in knowing, when it comes to families, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Often when I am out and about with my children, complete strangers will walk up to me and tell me how well-behaved my children are, how mannerly they are or how lucky I am to have them. I always smile and say thank you. I smile because it is nice to be told that my children are behaving within acceptable societal norms. I smile because the words are a compliment to the work I am doing as a mother. And sometimes, just sometimes, I smile because I know all the chaos at home that leads to the beautiful moment the person complimenting my children is now enjoying.
There are many family situations similar to this one. For example:
- a woman who is being physically abused puts smiling family photos in her work area and never complains about her abusive husband
- a woman dealing with a child who is dying from cancer laughs at the silly games your children play and never shows jealousy about the things her child will not ever do
- a woman whose family is having severe financial struggles shares staycation stories while you wow the crowd with stories about your latest cruise
- a woman without sufficient food at home accepts your compliments about the weight she has lost while wondering how she will feed her children this evening.
In the book Anna Karenina Tolstoy tells us that “happy families are all the same, but each unhappy families is unhappy in its own way.” It is important to keep these words in mind when you are feeling sad or jealous about how happy or successful another family unit seems to be. You are on the outside looking in, you do not know the internal struggles of the family you think has greener grass. At the same time, you do not know about the fertilizer and mowing that family put into making their family a successful unit. For example, I have had friends marry and divorce after a few years tell me that their marriages did not work because their husbands were not as good as mine. I smile because unlike someone looking at my marriage from the outside, I am living the life. I know how much work we put into having a successful marriage. I know the arguments, the tears, the tongues that were bitten and the apologies that were given.
What if instead of being jealous of how green the grass is for another family, you paid attention to your own family and put some work into making your family better? How would things be if instead of having an affair, you put time and attention into seducing and romancing your spouse? Imagine how things would be if you stopped admiring other relationships and instead did some work to improve your attitude and to treat your family better. In all things remember that grass usually does not grow lush, green and strong without someone putting in the work to make it happen.