I’m struggling to understand the difference between need and want, but only as it relates to the inevitable move. It’s not about the need to brush my hair, but want a hairstylist to take care of it for me because they have some sort of magic mojo that makes my hair look perfect. My dilemma is I’m in need of being around my family, yet I want to be around a very tight-knit community of friends that has been generated over the past three years. Well, the family is in Texas and the friends are in Florida…where does that leave me? Pretty much imbalanced.
I’m not going to make a list of pros and cons because in the long run, family is always the front-runner - but (and that’s a very big but), we have found ourselves in the midst of the perfect state, a utopia if you will. Now, utopia is defined as an 'ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.’ Check, check and check. How do I leave such a place behind with no promise that the next one will have any one of these qualities? Really…I need to know.
In living with the good, and the not so good, Florida has been home for 16 years collectively. To avoid any calculations of my age I will offer it’s just about half of my life. How about thinking about it terms of my kid’s lives? My oldest is about to be 13 and only sees Florida as home, as do the younger two. And as kids, they only see what is in front of them, the tangible thoughts of what home is. Perhaps I’m just a kid at heart too? All I can see is the friends around us and the intimate bonds we have created in just a very short time.
And as with all things in life, we must think of it in terms of a song, a good song. A song that can encapsulate the mood, feelings and general disposition we are feeling right now…
This has to be the first time I’ve ever been so delighted to see the month of May, gladly leaving April behind in a trail of dust. April showers bring May flowers? The only April showers I saw were pretty much from my eyes. Okay, so it wasn’t all bad and I had a lot of very good things happen that I should feel grateful for, and I do, really. Yet, I am quite sure my month exceeded the weight limit on reasons to be depressed, and all conveniently crammed in thirty days. Let’s recap, shall we? But just a few things, this is an exclusive pity party.
The major one, of course is the passing of my Grandmother due to Alzheimer’s disease. Although I’m grateful she's in a far better place than here, I am disappointed in the fact I didn’t make more of an effort to be a part of her life these last fifteen years. I can run the gamut of excuses, like not living in the same city – but, they’re still just excuses. Focusing on my memories of her has helped, and knowing there’s no need to answer anyone’s “why didn’t you do more?” question.
I will readily admit that going back to college while having a family has been challenging. I constantly hear “I don’t know how you do it.” Well,me neither, I just do. My biggest trial this semester also nestled itself in the third week of April with group presentations, group website project and a ten-page research essay. Although my research essay deadline was extended by two days, it didn’t make it any easier to get it done. So, for the first time in over 14 years I pulled an all-nighter. Let’s draw a comparison, because the last time I did that it was actually fun. I was on Miami Beach, no children, cocktails in hand, and a husband who enjoyed nightlife in the magical city just as much as I did.
Now, I’m in Orlando, three kids, and a husband who is studying just as much at law school. Yes, I did have a cocktail in hand, but just one…happy? I refuse, however, to allow family life as an excuse for my assignments not being completed on time. I must confess that I cracked around 5:30 am and was ready to submit the seven pages just to stop the nausea (which is entirely different from the Miami one, mind you). At that point, I laid down for a bit, wide-eyed until I had to get the kids ready for school. And although the experts say that sleep deprivation adversely effects cognitive function, I finished the paper making the noon deadline. And, I got an ‘A’ by the way – just thought I’d throw that out there. So, cognitive schmognitive.
This leads me to the last Saturday in April. The world was rotating just right that day, my son’s team kicked some major baseball butt, I was finally finished with the semester and we worked as a family team to get caught up on about two-week’s worth of grocery shopping. It was about 11:30 that night when we realized that our youngest, Henry, a seven-year-old half min-pin/half beagle, wasn’t in the room, or the house for that matter. We realized he must have made his getaway when we were bringing in the groceries – three hours before! And, just as we were preparing to search the neighborhood, I found him on the front porch (reserved for the mailman and solicitors as we never use it). We thought he walked slowly inside because he knew he was in trouble for taking off. I wish. Henry had been hit by a car.
I will offer relief that I didn’t have while at the vet emergency room until 2 am, and at his regular vet the next morning, amazingly he is going to make a full recovery – sans a fully functional tail. I had emotions for my little dog that I didn’t know existed. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog, I just didn’t know how much until that moment. He had been a part of our lives, but simply as a family pet. Well, he’s a full-fledged member now – I might as well have given birth to him myself. But, he still can’t lick my face…sorry, I don’t want my kids licking me either.
I could blame the driver that hit him, but how were they to know? In fact, because they weren’t speeding down the road like Andretti, they were able to slow down enough to where Henry has no internal injuries or broken bones. So, who can I blame? Only me, simply because I am responsible for the seventeen-pound canine sitting next to me on his new, very expensive velvet pillow. I remember the excuses I conjured when each of the vets asked what happened: “We were so busy with all the groceries, and feeding the kids, and getting them ready for bed, and…blah blah blah...we didn’t realize…”
All they wanted to know was what happened to Henry, not what happened to me. But isn’t that what we do when guilt manifests itself? Make excuses? It’s one of those defense mechanisms that really won’t change the reality of the situation. So why do we do it? Dr. John Grohol wrote an article called “15 Common Defense Mechanisms,”and he thinks “[d]efense mechanisms are one way of looking at how people distance themselves from a full awareness of unpleasant thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” He goes on to tell me that I need to find a better way of dealing with my stress or traumatic events. Oh, okay.
So, I could complain about what life has thrown at me in the month that is known to bring hope to new beginnings. Essentially refering to that old adage "April flowers bring May flowers." A saying that dates back to the mid-16th century, meaning something good may happen as a result of unpleasant events. Or, I could simply look at each of these events and learn how to deal with the fact I can’t control everything. Who knew?
My photo adventures in Florida