Monday, December 26, 2011

The Grass Is Always Greener…—by Jamie Levine

My daughter and I are Jewish, and have been celebrating Hanukkah together since last Tuesday night; Jayda loves getting eight presents—one on each night—but I think she still has a little Christmas envy. Kids at her school constantly talk about Santa, and she loves driving around our neighborhood and looking at all the Christmas lights and Christmas trees adorning the houses. Commercially, in our culture, everything seems to revolve around Christmas, so who can blame her? But one thing I didn’t realize until recently is that a lot of Jayda’s non-Jewish friends have Hanukkah envy.

I laughed quite hard when a woman, whose daughter is one of Jayda’s closest friends, told me that her daughter keeps whining to her, “why can’t we be Jewish?” This woman then insinuated that her daughter would love to celebrate Hanukkah with me and Jayda, so I invited them to our house on the last night of the holiday for a little Hanukkah party. When I told this story to another non-Jewish friend (whose daughter is Jayda’s best bud), she told me her daughter felt the same way—so I invited them over, too. The kids are beyond thrilled.

I guess their reactions shouldn’t surprise me: We always want what we don’t have—and our kids are no different than us. For instance, Jayda has the most gorgeous curly hair—golden blonde ringlets that cascade down her back—and it’s the envy of everyone who meets her. But at only four-and-a-half, she already declares that she hates it, and constantly wishes out loud that her hair was straight like mine. And since I, personally, spent money perming my own hair when I was a teenager, Jayda’s feelings don’t shock me: The grass is always greener on the other side. In fact, lately, I find myself thinking that quite often.

As a single mom who is “out there” dating a lot these days, I yearn for a night of just curling up on the couch with a guy with whom I’m intimately comfortable, watching TV together, and then going to bed. But, of course, my married friends who are used to spending tons of uneventful Saturday evenings at home with their spouses enviously ask me about every date that I go on; they get excited over the prospect of me getting dressed up to go to a new restaurant for dinner with a new guy. It seems exciting to them…but they have no idea. I’d much rather have the comfort of their relationships than my own prospect of meeting new men all the time. I want what I don’t have…as do they.

So what’s the solution? It’s easy to preach to others that we should appreciate what we have…but it's not always easy to take such advice. And while I do appreciate many of the great things about my life—my family, friends, my daughter, and the fact that I smile a lot more than many people I know—I can’t help but pine away for some of the things that I’m lacking. I think that’s normal…and it’s never going to change. And maybe someday when I find myself part of an old, "boring" married couple spending Saturday nights on the couch, I’ll find myself yearning for my days of being a singleton. But then again, maybe not. More than likely, not.

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