Why is the grass always greener on the other side?

As I sit in my basement office furiously sending emails and resumes to try to find a job or more freelance assignments — after taking a half-hour break to chat with my daughter over an after-school snack — I don’t stop to think about how I will feel when I lose that day-to-day interaction with my kids in the afternoon. I’m focused on my goal of finding a full-time job in journalism, something I gave up long ago to focus on motherhood. I don’t worry about missing face time with my teenagers, because there are plenty of days they are in no mood to talk — when they quickly scamper into their rooms and close the door to be alone.

Of course, they didn’t do this when they were younger. I have spent literally thousands of hours playing games, laughing, reading and hanging out with my son and daughter at home without the stress of a looming deadline, like a sports practice or music lesson or bedtime. For nearly all of their lives, I have not had a full-time job away from home. I’m grateful for all the time I’ve spent with both my children, but now that they are teens, I am desperate to return to my career full-time. And I’m hitting a brick wall.

But that frustration never turns to regret, because somehow I always come across a reminder to be grateful for what I have, like the website I happened to pull up today with a bio of a friend who is also a mom. She worked full-time in my chosen field for all these years that I was leaning back by working freelance, part-time or not at all while my children were babies. As I read her accomplishments in journalism, I become more and more envious.

Shaun is an award winning reporter (who) traveled to both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention (and) did one-on-one interviews with President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney. Shaun has covered some of Colorado’s biggest political stories including a ballot measure legalizing marijuana (and was) named media person of the year in 2003. She is married, has twins and a dog. She enjoys watching her son play ice hockey and her daughter figure skate.

Then I read the “Just The Facts” section at the bottom, and I was incredulous.

  • Favorite word: Mommy
  • Dream job: Stay-at-home mom
  • Role model: Mom
  • Favorite noise: My kids’ laughter

I don’t know her well; I worked with her husband many years ago, and met her once several years back when we visited their family while on vacation. I remember comparing notes about the trials and tribulations of being a working mother, and I remember her expressing some curiosity about how I was able to arrange part-time work as a reporter where I could choose my days and hours. But I don’t think I realized that she really pined for the stay-at-home mommy life. I didn’t know that this accomplished and successful reporter, whom I admire, sees the grass on my side as greener.

While I only spent about a year of the 16-plus years of parenting as a true stay-at-home mom with no work obligations, I am much closer to experiencing Shaun’s dream job because my work obligations away from home have only been a couple days a week during motherhood. Even when I have worked more than 30 or 40 or even 50 hours a week, I did some of it from home and the rest of it according to a schedule I chose as a self-employed person — never missing games, recitals, holidays or even family dinners.

It’s just another example of why I need to count my blessings every time I get frustrated that my job search is not going as I had hoped. And why I should go upstairs now, before my daughter leaves for Winter Guard practice in 20 minutes, and tell her I do have time for that game she has been bugging me to play but we never get to because “I’m too busy trying to find work!”

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