Friday, October 28, 2011

Real Life Desperate Housewives

Chaz 3, Ryan 2
I used to belong to this Christian homemakers group.  For the sake of what I'm gonna talk about, I won't say the name of it.  I found the group back when I only had one child and pregnant with my second.  This must've been in 2000.  It was kind of far from my house but I truly needed the support about being a stay at home mom and advice.  I truly strived to be a Godly wife and wanted badly to be a great homekeeper.  Meetings were once a week and a breakfast was always served.  When I first walked in I was in awe.  I'm the kind of gal that always wakes up too late to make myself something to eat.  The kids usually eat but I don't.  Without seeming like I was too hungry, I sauntered over to the breakfast table to grab a plate.  Announcements had already begun and I found a spot next to my friend to sit down while I munched on food.  The usual topic, mainly about organization, I desperately needed to hear.  

When I was single I lived in my own one bedroom apartment. I owned a single bed, one dresser, a table for two, couch for two, two forks, two spoons, two cups, two plates, etc.  Of course also my clothes which were organized.  It was soooo easy to care for.  Now that I had to care for more, I needed the advice.  It wasn't so easy because when you marry, you mesh habits together.

I ended up attending this group up till 2007 and finally decided it was a good time to stop.  It's not that they were boring or a bad group of people. It was fun!  Every week after the initial morning talk we would split up into small groups.  You got to pick the theme of your group.  Teens, toddlers, craft, homeschool, etc.  I picked the toddlers one of course.  Anytime you put a group of very opinionated women together, it can cause sparks.  For the most part I sensed a lot of women really held back things about their personal life for good reason including myself.  Sometimes we shouldn't be so open about personal things.  One woman in particular would talk the ENTIRE time and no one could get a word in edgewise. It was really, really frustrating.  I remember wishing she would either switch groups or quit altogether.  I felt bad thinking this but it would get pretty bad.  Well, one day she did quit but not because it was her choice. She died of cancer.  My heart broke.  I felt so bad for having these feelings towards her.  She left behind a husband and two little kids they adopted together.  :(

As far as money goes, I'm not the jealous type when I see others have a lot of things that I can't have.  I've always thought of expensive things as debt.  Often, two people have to work to afford to have new cars or a big house.  Either that, or hours and hours of overtime.  Just not worth it to me.  Often I would be pulling up in my debt free little two door Toyota with 3 carseats crammed together in the back.  I would park my car in between 2 big Cadillac Escalades and watch as a mom would pull 2 kids out of it.  I used to think, "Whoa.  Two kids in that big hunk of a thing?"  No matter, I was happy and content as I strolled in to enjoy another meeting.  Of course within that same year I bought a gorgeous minivan to fit four kids and fit us better.

One particular day I was happy to announce that I was pregnant with my 4th child.  Usually, how many kids you have was never an issue.  I saw families with up to 8 or 9 kids there but not many.  Many of these moms had maybe 2-3 kids.  As I gave my announcement in small group, a lady says, "That's not right. That is just not fair to your other ones."   I was shocked as I thought this was a group that supported not only staying at home but having children also.  I sat their dumbfounded as no one spoke up and rebuked her.  It completely broke my heart and left me in silence.  That was my first step to pulling away from the group in my heart.  Children are a gift from the Lord and there is just no scripture in the bible you can pull out to defend beating down growing families.  

Because the location of the group, it was held in an upperclass area.  Many of the women were wives of successful business men and CEO's.  I was a happily married woman and loved to share about my family and what a joy it was being married to my best friend.  I didn't really notice the silence in the room till some time later when I would share stories or what went on in my home.  Finally one day a woman piped up, "Okay, okay.  We all know what a fantastic marriage you have."  Huh?  I never bragged about anything.  Often we would all share stories and that's all I did was talk about events and funny things that happened.  I realized later that not many other women shared positive stories about their marriage.  Usually it was just about things they did by themselves or with other women.  Later, as women would share I realized there was something HUGE going on that seemed to be a common but silent complaint.  These women that seemed like they had it all together on the outside, were in fact pretty lonely.  Yes, they could buy what they wanted, eat out when they wanted, swipe their credit cards as they wished. But these were some pretty lonely women.  The reason they didn't like my stories about fun with my husband was because they greatly longed to have that time with theirs.  Successful business men are often on the road a lot or working long hours.  They had a lot of money but at the price of being apart.  Not really enjoying the fruit of their labors in the relationship sense.  My heart broke for these women.  Some of these men traveled weeks as a time away from their family. For the sake of a very nasty commenter I will mention that this of course did not apply to everyone there I'm sure.

One Valentines day, it was a special day for this mom's group.  We were to all bring our husband's in for a Valentines message. I was excited to have my best friend with me to see my mom's group.  Before it started, everyone mingled about and talked.  My husband said all the men talked about was money, more money, and how to make even more.  It was just a one-up kind of talk of who had it the best.  He pretty much felt like a loner while trying to find a normal dude that could just talk about real life.  Well, that didn't happen so we were happy when we could just sit down and hear the message.  Over time, after I had my 5th child, I decided it was about time to leave.  The messages were great, in fact, our speaker is now pretty popular and talks on Family Life Radio with James Dobson.  It took several years for me to see that this was just not a place I could fit in and it wasn't about the money, but the general discontent.  I guess maybe the silent desperation that was there broke my heart.  My life and goals were incredibly different than these women.  Some could even afford to have their own maids but I know all they just longed for a relationship with their spouses more than anything else.  More than money.   

Some husbands would leave their wives for their secretary, one woman was surprised by her husband and taken on an anniversary cruise.  What was meant to be a romantic time together became a nightmare when she found out he did all that to tell her he was leaving her and the kids for another man.  Some that had affairs overseas while on business trips.  Story after story.  I felt like I was living a real life Desperate Housewives show and it became more of a burden to come than a blessing since a lot of time was spent comparing rather than just dealing with real life issues.  With money or without money these situations can happen, I realize that.  I desperately needed a group of women where we could encourage and just enjoy fellowship with each other.

I have not attended a mom's group since then because, frankly, I'm scared. I am a little frightened looking for groups anymore in a more upscale area.   I'm afraid I'll find a group I love, invest time into it, then find out a year later that there are just things behind the scene that really mess with my head.  I afraid of the clicks.  My husband pushes me to try one out but I think my experience really kept me away.  

Probably the closest comparison I could give is either The Stepford Wives (who seemed to have it all together but on puppet strings), or The Desperate Housewives (who completely frighten me with all the drama and deception).  I am not in anyway putting down these women.  Every woman has the dream to marry their prince charming, to still get flowers a decade later, still have that love and commitment.  It's not always like that but if anything we like to have a real relationship with our spouse.  If anything my heart completely broke for them.  Seeing the bags under their eyes, the loneliness, the discontentment.  Of course these stories don't apply to every person that attended there.  It was just hard to see it every week.  I would love to find another group that is healthy and can just give genuine support for one another.  Is it possible to find one?

Have you found a good mom's groups that you feel are healthy for you?
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