About Me

I have something to say... But a blog let's me spew until I figure out what it is.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Where's Home?

I sit here a week shy of my daughter's 2nd birthday - reflecting on the last two years and, more broadly, the experiences that Josh and I have had over the course of our relationship.

There have been many things pop up in my life the last few weeks that have made me question "Where Home Is". Growing up, "Home is where the heart is" became the cliche term for where you can call home.

There are times when I see Florida and I realize that there are so many who count me lucky to be living in a state that rarely sees 50 degree weather. But if there is something that Josh and I have learned since we moved to the Tampa area in October of 2006, its that there is so much more to home than temperature. Don't get me wrong - the weather in Florida is wonderful MOST of the year. Summer weather, however, usually arrives around April and doesn't let up until sometime in late October. It can be more than a little oppressive.

For my northern friends who think there is a lot to envy about Florida weather, let me tell you that htere is GOOD reason why so many people "snowbird" in Florida. During this extremely hot time of year, it is rare that you can actually enjoy being outdoors between the hours of 11am and 6pm. What this means is that if you intend on enjoying the beach, you may want to do it first thing in the morning. As a northerner, I am still not adjusted to the incredible heat and while I have met many people who have transplanted themselves to Florida from the northeast and they assure me that they would never go back if given the chance - I am not one of those people.

There are a lot of things that you take for granted growing up in the Northeast. For one, the northeast has a little something called "character" - and let me be clear that "character" and "charm" are very different words. "Charm" is the word that you would use to describe the warm, tree-lined streets of small southern towns. "Character" is the word used to describe New York City alley-ways riddled with graffitti. "Character" is the word you use when you want to talk about the facades of apartments, townhomes, or single family homes which are varied and unique. The facade of a house tells the story of the family living in it.

Its easy to take the northeast's accessibility for granted - to not realize that you have New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and even Washington D.C. in your back yard. You live in a state like New Jersey and say "I am not driving an hour away to see... (insert ANYTHING here)". An hour by car in New Jersey is a lifetime - where in Florida, an hour in the car is nearly standard for most visits.

You take for granted the melting pot of people who populate the Northeast - but then wonder why you can find a decent Thai place within an hour of your house.

You whine and complain about needing reservations to eat at your favorite restaurants until you live in a state that doesn't believe in reservations and you rarely eat out because you don't want to wait an hour and a half for a table just to enjoy dinner with your husband.

You become impatient with the "kids" who populate the town you live in, but don't realize that they are the vibrance that makes your town interesting. Until you live in an area where they drive souped up golf carts to the grocery store and the Walmart has specifically designated golf cart parking, you really don't know what value 20-30 somethings can bring to a town.

As you step away from the northeast, you realize how rare exposed brick is, how hard it is to find a cafe or a diner, or the enjoyment that can come from admiring the works of a local artist - and MOST especially the work of an artist who speacializes in something other than seascapes.

And don't even get me started on the savvy, personalities, and sense of humor inherit in Northeasteners.

When I was visiting Pennsylvania for my brother's memorial this past March, I asked my father "where home was for him". I asked him if there was a place that, from the moment he put his feet on the soil, he felt like he was where he was meant to be - because that's what home is to me.

As I got off the plane with Olivia in Newark airport, I felt as though I have brought my daughter home. While Florida has been able to afford Josh and I things that we would have or may never have had the opportunity to have or pursue if we had stayed or moved back to New Jersey, in the same respect there are many things that money cannot buy and that no amount financial peace of mind can replace.

So while my heart may lie squarely wherever Olivia and Josh are, I can't help but think that Josh, Olivia and I are mostly in the wrong location. At some point we are going to have to assess whether we are limiting Olivia's exposure to many many many things in the interest of her college education and a few family vacations. It's an arguement we have been tossing around for well over a year and it's one that we will continue to have until we really begin to face her entering elementary school.

For some reason, I can't shake how much I miss my family, art, music, theatre, food, friends, and seasons.

Can't I just transplate my house, my mom, and my dogs in the middle of a tiny corner of land in South Jersey? Can't we just make that happen?

Let me tell you, my Northeastern friends - until you are retired, the grass is NOT greener on this side. Think long and hard about what you have before you think that you'd be better off outside the rat race. It's a different way of life, down here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Yes, I know. It's been a while since I have written a blog entry. Things have been very busy in Jenn-land. I got back from vacation in time for a business trip that took me out of town for just about a week and then got home to a husband-free house as Josh joined his family in California for his cousin's wedding. It's left me little time to write.

Also, I found myself struggling with my motivation. Coming up with content week after week is more daunting that I originally thought. What I never thought would happen is that I would be discouraged by decreased readership. While I will not pretend that my blog was read by hundreds per week, it was interesting to see a steady 60-person population was reading each week. When facebook changed its Newsfeed format, fewer people were being notified that I was posting new blog entries and I saw a 60% decline in readership. Eh - it is what it is... and I am reminded of "why I started this blog in the first place" - it was never about who read it but about my opportunity to do it.

So what is my title ("Jealousy") all about?

There has been an increase in the number of friends who have joined the party of mommy-dom recently. At my job alone, we have had 4 pregnancies in the last few months - 2 babies have already been born and 2 are expected in the next 30 days. Among my facebook friends, it seems that a baby is born each month - 6 that I can think of off the top of my head, in fact; another 4 are expecting in the next few months.

I love reading my friend's updates with the news that they are now expecting or that they have recently added to their family. It's so amazing and I feel like I have 2 years on the "welcome to the mommyhood" circle.

But the thing I can't seem to shake is the jealousy I feel when people post about their new, tiny, little ones. But the reason why I am jealous is not for the reasons that you might expect. You might expect that I would be jealous because I want another one - that's not the case.

While I don't believe that adding a second is out of the realm of possibility in the next couple of years (we are having too much fun with one to complicate it with two), I am actually jealous of the mom's who post how much they love their tiny little beans. They are over the moon with love, adoration, and pride. They are enamoured with their every facial expression and being close to them.

As a mother who survived post-partum depression, my experience with Olivia was so different. I didn't love her. I didn't feel connected to her. She was an (asked for) imposition in my life. I believed her to be inconsolable, only to have my husband or my mother soothe her almost immediately and my feelings of inadequacy were so great that I was wracked with guilt and hatred for myself that I wasn't able to soothe my own child. I chalked it up to my fierce independence and said "that's not the kind of mother I ever thought I would be anyway!" (which was true). I was not the mother to engage a kid at all times. I believed that parents were too "hands on" with their children and created dependant infants and children. Olivia's lack of daytime naps only escalated the problem. I never wanted to be the parent to get down on the floor and play, laugh, rock, etc. with my little one.

I have written about post-partum in a previous blog entry - and those of you read my blog regularly know that my position on parenthood has changed dramatically. I love every moment with Olivia (even the ones in which I lose my patience). I love engaging with her and often find myself coming up with family-friendly trip ideas just so I can watch her explore and engage with her surroundings. I LOVE to make her laugh. I LOVE hearing her laugh (it's pretty rediculous). I love teaching her things and I am overwhelmed with pride when she figures something out or repeats a word for the first time.

But I can't seem to let go over the first few months we had together and how I wish I could go back and enjoy all her little imperfections, nuances, and her development. I never called her "my angel". I never told her "I love you" and ever meant it. I never hugged her just because I loved her (as opposed to hugging her to make her feel better). I never looked at her and cried because of her beauty or watched her sleep.

I am so jealous of those who have had the opportunity to enjoy their children when they are most innocent and perfect. I so happy for each mother that feels that why for their children, but I can't help by feel an incredible amount of remorse and sadness for my own shortcomings.

Next time, should their be a next time, I will know what to look for - and I will know intellectually, that there is so much more that can be experienced at that tender age.

I just wish I got that time with the amazing little girl I have - because if there is no "next time", what a chapter I missed out on.