April sat on the floor stacking blocks with Teo in her lap while I sat hunched over the table with a ruler and a pencil and a piece of paper. I made measurements, drew lines, cut out shapes and arranged them in different ways on the paper, until finally I pushed back my chair, stood up, and announced, “I’ve got a floor plan!”
In the last nine days I had seen an apartment for rent in our neighborhood, negotiated a contract with the landlord, made a down payment, wrote up a to-do list, set up another appointment to see the apartment and taken measurements of every surface in the apartment, and now I had just finished a hand-drawn floor plan of the new apartment perfectly to scale with our current furniture cut out of paper and put neatly into place.
Meanwhile, April summarized her involvement in the moving process quite well when she looked at my nifty floor plan, sighed, and said, “I’m in denial.” I hadn’t realized until that very moment that April was absolutely right—I was actually moving our family alone. I had gone into task mode, and I was chasing after our moving day like a greyhound after a stuffed bunny. April had seen the apartment and agreed to move, but beyond that, she had continued to go on with her life as if nothing had happened, as if we weren’t actually moving.
The truth is April and I complement each other well. I become the taskmaster, and I’ll make sure everything is in boxes by moving day. But you can count on me being distracted if you ask me anything that doesn’t have to do with the move. April, on the other hand, ignores the situation and keeps life as normal as possible for all of us. Without April, our kids would have to feed themselves and put themselves to bed for the next few weeks. They would live like street children. Without me, we wouldn’t move. April and I need each other. We’re two sides of the same galleta María.
The problem is when April and I are in crisis mode, we both head to opposite ends of the spectrum, and we find ourselves in very different places emotionally. I’m excited and motivated. She’s sad and tired. We walk around the same house, but it’s like we’re living in separate realities. As a result, we’ve ended up walking some of the most difficult experiences in our lives on our own, not together.
Later that night as we sat on the couch watching TV on my laptop, April turned to me and said, “I don’t want to be in denial. What should I do?”
Nothing occurred to me for the longest time because even though under normal circumstances empathy comes easily to me, at that moment I couldn’t understand my life outside of moving day. Any part of my life that wasn’t somehow connected to the move had been metaphorically boxed up and taped shut to be opened again after we had moved.
Finally I said, “If I act a little bit more like you, and you act a little bit more like me, I think we’ll be okay.”
For more, read about the last time we moved and the post I wrote called, “Three Week Plan to Ruin Your Child’s Life (Tested and Approved)”…