Sometimes, they say, the grass really isn’t greener on the other side. You know, the side of relationship, family, connection, and love. All of my life I have watched other families, other kids, enjoy the company of each other. I’ve watched as parents gleaned over a child’s success, as a child looked at his/her parent with adorning eyes, as a brother stood up and protected a sister, as a sister proudly proclaimed her hero as her brother. I’ve watched as two sisters bond, a mom and a daughter laugh, a dad and a son fish. All of the things I’d hoped for. I remember growing up, though I didn’t believe in Santa, every year I would ask for a family. A family like the ones I saw every day. The problem with that is that none of those families were the perfect families I saw out in public. They were facades to protect the drama on the inside. I never realized that until recently. There really is no such thing as the “perfect family” that is all hunky dory all the time. Each family comes with issues, but the difference between my side of the fence and theirs is that those families work through the issues, mostly. I never thought, though, that there would be people on that side of the fence who wished they were on mine. Not until recently anyways. The other night I was talking to Zhanna, who has a pretty functional, wonderful family and we were talking about the two sides. Bailey’s family doesn’t really hide their problems, I figured that one out quickly. Last year we went on a trip and the overwhelm was a bit too much for all of us. Bailey lost her cool, Zhanna shut down, I shut down, and Bailey’s son became frustrated. Instead of meshing it all in and locking it up, we worked it out at the pool, in front of everyone. No yelling or anything, but there was no façade. Anyways, the part of the conversation that really kind of opened a new reality for me was when Zhanna told me sometimes she was jealous of me. At first I thought she meant Bailey and my relationship because that’s what we were talking about prior, I quickly told her that her relationship with Bailey is much stronger and that I get her jealousy. She corrected me and told me that she was jealous of my life sometimes. Not the hardship, but the success. She told me that all of her life, since adoption, she’s pretty much had things handed to her but I’ve had to work for every thing I’ve ever gotten. Though she had a tough go at life as well she has had most of her life relatively easy. She talked about how her mom gets her the help she needs for school, doesn’t really require much of her, and the simplicity that she lives in. She then started talking about how I have never had people to do that, that I’ve always been forced into growing up. She talked about how the boundaries her mom is setting are a bit overwhelming because they are pushing her to be more adult like and then she said, “sometimes I do wish that I had it like you. That I had no one, because then growing up wouldn’t be so hard. You were forced to. You didn’t have any choice but to grow up or die…and look how far you’ve come. You may not have everything, but you have succeeded without help.” It made me a little sad at first because so many times I take my hardship’s for granted. I often, most of the time, get frustrated and overwhelmed that I have to do it on my own. But she’s right. I have out succeeded all expectations that have ever been placed on me, and I’ve done it alone. It made me sad because though Bailey did everything the way I would like to have had a parent do for me, Zhanna struggles. She struggles with growing up, something so many of the kids from those “perfect” families struggle with. It may not be the same type of struggle, but for those who do struggle with the concept of leaving their family, growing up, becoming independent, and learning to do things on their own for the first time, it’s big. Her grass may be more green, but my grass is pretty green itself.