I live 3,000 miles away from my mother. It’s not by design; I just happened to marry a guy from L.A., and I happen to like L.A. better than New York, or D.C., or any of the other cities where people from the east coast go to live after they get out of school, and so, twelve years ago, I decided to move. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I could call my mom just as easily from L.A. as I could from New York, and if I wanted to go home for a weekend, or a holiday, I could get on a plane, pop a sleeping pill and be back in Philly before I knew it.
Of course, I wasn’t thinking about my future, unborn children when I made the decision to move to the other side of the country. I wasn’t thinking about how I might need the extra help that only one’s mother can provide. I wasn’t thinking about who would babysit if Michael and I ever went away for a weekend, or who would pick the kids up from school when Michael was out of town for work and I was in bed with my semi-annual case of strep throat. I wasn’t thinking about having to make matzoh balls for Passover by myself (honestly, don’t even ask). And God knows, I wasn’t thinking about what it would be like to fly across the country on a holiday weekend with two kids under the age of five.
But such is life, I guess; all of the choices we make affect our future lives, which is why I am boarding a plane with my kids in a few days and flying off to enjoy a long weekend in sunny, Boynton Beach, Florida. People from the east coast might go to New York or D.C. or Philadelphia after college, but when they retire, there is only one destination, and that is Florida (pronounced Flah-rida, if you want be authentic about it.) My mother moved there about seven years ago, into an “active seniors” community, where she had her choice of one of three, single-story home models with optional upgrades, complete with a clubhouse and its own lanai. If you don’t speak Florida, this means that she moved into a housing development for old people who are still agile enough to play tennis, but who eventually won’t be able to walk up any stairs, that things like built-in wall units, marble floors and recessed ceilings cost extra, that there is a central meeting place showcasing acts that nobody under the age of seventy has ever heard of, and that each house has it’s own screened-in patio so that you can sit outside without getting eaten alive by mosquitoes the size of frogs. My kids can’t wait.
Visiting grandchildren are a prized commodity in Florida; the more you have, the more jealous your old-but-still-agile friends are, and so once a year, I suck it up and schlep the kids halfway across the world so that my mother can at least place in the competition. Michael, of course, is “too busy at work” to accompany us, so I have the added bonus of getting to fly halfway across the world with two kids all by myself, which is always a thrill.