The Constant vs. The Variable–Which One Are You?

Posted by in Diary | 2 comments

I have a weekly call with my grandparents who live down south. And, as always, my grandmother went on and on about how much she would love for my brother to call her. She told me how she prays and thinks of him often. She swooned about how she loves hearing his deep voice say, “Hi, Grand-MAW”. She reminisced how my brother loved eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a child. Gag me with a jagged spork! As I hold the phone away from my ear, rolling my eyes, I can feel my blood boil up my back.

Here’s the deal, I take the time to check on my grandparents, make sure they are okay rumbling around in their double-wide trailer home (on bricks… my grandmother would kill me if I didn’t note that the trailer has a brick build-in)…anyway… I take the time to check on my grandparents, and ALL I GET are questions about my younger brother.

When I was 13-years old, my 9-year old brother said something to me that I will never forget, “D, you’re too good, and now that’s all people expect from you. But, look at me, I do just enough, which makes anything extra I do exciting”. No truer words have ever been spoken by a 9-year-old.

It’s literally the story of my life. My husband put this situation perfectly…he call’s it the “The Constant vs. The Variable”. I’m horrible at math but the principle is simple. The constant is the element that remains the same. The variable is the characteristic or element that always changes.

As a mother, sister, friend, wife, employee, I have seen the “The Constant vs. The Variable” equation at every level.

My best girlfriend, let’s call her Andria because that’s her real name (she hated all of my other recommendations). Dria, often shares her story as an example of my theory. She felt that her brother was rushing entirely too fast into his relationship with a young lady he had only known for a couple of months.

Background: Her younger brother and his “girlfriend” (an older mother of two) had both ended long term relationships, and now after three-months of dating, were planning to marry. It was a rough adjustment on the close-knit family, a lot of heated arguments, hurtful words, miscommunication and silent treatment. It’s odd how sometimes love can make people act so ugly. Because Andria is the oldest, and has often been viewed as the most responsible, it put her in the middle of drama. She tried to be a voice of reason. It was devastating to see her parents hurt by her brother’s changed behavior.

My apologies, let me get to the point.

Andria’s brother marries, and of course her new sister-in-law feels resentment towards the family. Not too long after marriage, her brother and his wife have a daughter and they allow very little (if any) involvement from the family. The son doesn’t visit his parents or remember birthdays or anniversaries. Dria witnesses her parent’s efforts to try to get in her brother’s good graces despite the way they were personally treated. They constantly send cards and gifts to her brother and his wife, with the hope of making amends. On the opposite side, Dria is the ideal daughter and often feels overlooked.

It’s not ironic that Andria and I have been friends since 7th grade. We are both Type A, overachievers, who are fueled by the acknowledgment that we have our shit together (or at least loosely packaged). We strive to do well, and we want to do well by the people around us, but time after time we feel taken for granted. Yet, after another weekly bitch fest with Dria, my husband poured me a glass of wine and told me, “Babe, y’all need to stop putting the cherry on top, especially if you are expecting a round of applause!”

“Damn, I wasn’t sure if it was the Barefoot Pink Mascoto, or if my husband just blew my mind.”

He was right, people like me and Andria need to check our priorities. Are we doing what we are doing because it is right or because it is expected? Are we doing what we are doing because it’s what we want to do or because we want to be acknowledged ? Are we giving our best or just enough to be noticed? If it is the latter, than we lost before we started.

My diary entry is this, “The constant remains unchanged therefore allowing time to focus on the variable. Everyone plays their role.”

PS. Thank you Andria for allowing me to share your story. Wine on me! 🙂


  1. This is my story. I go over and beyond for some and it’s barely noticed because it’s expected. I often wonder when will I receive from others what I give. Not that I do/give to get but it would be nice occasionally to receive the same consideration.
    I love your diarY entries.
    Grest job sis.

    • There is nothing more rewarding than speaking from your heart and someone saying, “Me too.” Thank you MJ. It’s nice to know I’m not the ONLY one.

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