Posted in Kids, Me

Life Without Kids (Sorta)

This year we went from four full-time-at-home students because of COVID to three-living-away-full-time students and one only-home-a-bit students.

Back on July 4, Laura moved out to an apartment in our town. On August 20 Catie moved into her dorm at Messiah (1.5 hours away). On August 26 we moved Bennett into a dorm in our town and then on September 7 we moved Ethan into a dorm at Overbrook School for the Blind where he lives Monday through Friday and comes home on the weekends.

It’s been….nothing like what I thought it would be. I jokingly said (leading up to it) that half of me was jumping up and down with joy and the other half was rocking in the corner.

The reality is, honestly, I’m fine. I’m neither joyful nor sad. I know parents who have needed counseling when their child left for college. I’ve known parents and children so at each other’s throats that there was rejoicing when the child left. I’m definitely neither of those. What I notice most is the lack of focusing on them. When they are here, with all their physical and mental things, that’s where my focus is as well. Who am I taking to the doctor? Is that child due for a med check? Are you running out of your meds? Oh you have another migraine? With them away, those issues are not my issues; they rightfully are their issues and responsibilities.

These last few years (COVID notwithstanding) have been a process of stepping back and letting go. My kids tend to be “young” for their age (and that’s not including Ethan, which is a whole ‘nother post!) and they seem to be perfectly content to let me handle their appointments and meds and…and….and everything! It’s been WONDERFUL letting THEM deal with everything and honestly, truly, not worrying about them. I know that will regress a bit when they come home for breaks and I’m once again in charge of rides to and from doctor appointments. None of them drive–two for vision reasons, one for a seizure and the other has her permit but can’t practice away at school. I’ve made the rule that I will drive to doctor appointments (and attend if necessary), but you are on your own for everything else–we have Uber and buses, thankyouverymuch.

Fall break for the colleges starts Friday after classes finish. I’ll be curious to see what it’s like around here with everyone home for the first time in over two months.

Posted in Addiction

Amazing What Light Can Bring

So after the first appointment with the counselor and the new controls on the phone, things began to slowly improve. I started to want to get better, not just want to want to. I won’t say I’m dancing in the joy of sobriety, but I will say I’m on firmer footing than I’ve been in, what, a year and half? That, my friends, is progress and I’ll take it. Jim is away in Michigan for 10 days. And that honestly might have been what prompted all of this to begin with. Well, that, and getting down to the proverbial bottom-of-the-barrel. I didn’t want to think how bad it could get with literally no one here for days on end and nothing to stop me and nothing to fill my empty hours.

I’m filling them, sometimes with not-bad books, some TV, some internet, some odds and ends of projects around the house (changing the toilet seat, anyone?!). All in all, it’s been ok. I met with the counselor last Thursday and was honestly surprised at the difference I saw in just a week. I was happy and she was too. So, for now, I’ll just keep at it and see how things go. Here’s to babysteps, people!

Posted in Addiction

I Want to Want to

No, that’s not a typo.

That’s the phrase I used with my counselor yesterday. It was our first time talking in a couple of years. In a sliver of sanity I had emailed her, asking if she was accepting new/old patients. She fit me in.

I was honest with her–honest in a way I haven’t been with anyone but you, dear People, are are nameless and faceless and no danger to my addiction. She asked me, point blank, do I want to stop reading and do the work? I hemmed and hawed and finally came back with “I want to want to”, which means at this moment I don’t actually WANT to, but there’s a part of me that desires it and wants the rest of me to want to as well.

She gave me homework of “cost benefit analysis”; list what happens if I stay in this and what happens if I stop. We meet again next Thursday, so I have time to really weigh it.

I had my husband put a passcode on my phone last night (old phone had one, new one didn’t), forcing me to use the Accountable 2 U app (tracks EVERYTHING) instead of the really sneaky Safari. I can’t have that power. I’m not and probably never will be trustworthy enough. That’s not a cut against me, it’s an honest assessment of known weakness.

So here we are. One tiny babystep in the right direction, but unsure about the rest of it.

Posted in Kids, Marriage, Me, Parenting

Midpoint vs Now

10 YEARS AGO I wrote the following:

Midpoint

Posted on  •Edit”Midpoint”

A few posts ago I talked about the kids all leaving the nest at the same time. It’s been on my mind of late and I wanted to post some more.

10 years ago we had three children living at the Christiana Hospital’s NICU. One was in heaven and one wasn’t even a gleam in her daddy’s eye yet.

10 years from now, Lord Willing, the last one will be a Freshman in college, following in her big brothers’ and sister’s footsteps.

10 years ago I was just trying to figure out what motherhood was all about and was terrified about the idea of bringing them home and being responsible for their daily well-being.

10 years from now I will be trying to figure out what my life will be like when I am not defined by the term “mother”. That job will be mostly done. I’m sure they’ll visit. One or two may even live at home and commute to college. But the active parenting–the daily instruction and teaching and bringing up into adulthood–that will be largely over and they will be making their own choices (and living with the consequences!).

10 years ago Jim and I were only married six years and were feeling our way into Mommy and Daddy instead of just husband and wife.

10 years from now we’ll be rediscovering each other, I think, and figuring out what the rest of our lives will look like.

10 years ago I retired from full time work to be a full time stay at home mother.

10 years from now I expect to fully return to the workforce. In what capacity, I don’t know. I’ll be in my early to mid 50’s. The physical nature of being a professional organizer is not something I see being able to do for the rest of my life, although I enjoy it thoroughly. I think I might want to be a secretary/administrative assistant again. I enjoyed doing it when I worked. I think I might enjoy it again. I’m glad I have time to think about it!

10 years ago I was learning to open up and let my children into my heart and life.

10 years from now I will be learning to let go.

It’s an interesting view from the midpoint!

AND NOW….

10 years from now, Lord Willing, the last one will be a Freshman in college, following in her big brothers’ and sister’s footsteps. Well….We have two Sophomores (1 first semester, 1 second semester because of the Pandemic), one Freshman and one still at Overbrook Blind School. Because 10 years ago we hadn’t understood that we would give up the dream of college for Ethan.

10 years from now I will be trying to figure out what my life will be like when I am not defined by the term “mother”. That job will be mostly done. I’m sure they’ll visit. One or two may even live at home and commute to college. But the active parenting–the daily instruction and teaching and bringing up into adulthood–that will be largely over and they will be making their own choices (and living with the consequences!). Well….Two commuted because of COVID, but now everyone will be living at either a dorm or an apartment. I still feel many days like I am actively parenting–especially with medical things. We’ll see how that changes as the schoolyear gets underway.

10 years from now we’ll be rediscovering each other, I think, and figuring out what the rest of our lives will look like. Well…..this is pretty accurate. We’ve done marriage counseling three times (once right before the Pandemic, thank goodness!), going away 2-3 times a year to the Poconos, talking a lot and actively planning what the next years look like. Retirement in about 13 years? How’s that for crazy!?

10 years from now I expect to fully return to the workforce. In what capacity, I don’t know. I’ll be in my early to mid 50’s. The physical nature of being a professional organizer is not something I see being able to do for the rest of my life, although I enjoy it thoroughly. I think I might want to be a secretary/administrative assistant again. I enjoyed doing it when I worked. I think I might enjoy it again. I’m glad I have time to think about it! Well.….I’m still part time right now. I expect to spend more time with my parents and their growing needs this Fall. I’m waiting for the FT part of work for when Ethan is completely done and we know what is next for him, because that’s still up in the air.

10 years from now I will be learning to let go. Well….YES. I describe my feelings now as half jumping up and down with joy and half rocking in the corner crying. ALL THE EMOTIONS.

Posted in Addiction

I’d Love To Tell You

I’d love to tell you that the past year has been filled with tremendous spiritual growth and deep introspection and thinking thoughts and other wonderful things. I really would.

The reality is, though, that none of that has happened.

I’ve allowed myself to fall back down into my addiction, letting it do its old familiar job of not making me deal with life. Escapism at its best, thankyouverymuch.

I’d love to tell you that I’m writing this as I am cleaning myself up, clawing my way back out.

The reality is, though, that I’m still deep in the thick of it. And rather unwilling to stop, if I’m completely honest. Which is something I’m not really being in real life. My husband doesn’t know. My accountability partner is struggling as much as I am. I’ve been honest with only one person and it was not in a “please let me bring this to the light” kind of way.

I don’t know if I’ve ever written a post from this place before. I’ve written from actively struggling with it, or when I’m “being good”, but not from here. And it’s not like I like admitting it. I don’t do it proudly, believe me.

This pandemic has brought me lower than I’ve been in so, so many years. My “bandwidth” (as my husband calls it) is incredibly small to begin with for the past year and then each of the kids is actively going through something, whether it be medical, mental, academic or otherwise.

I think at this point most of me feels like this is my only escape. I might believe otherwise in my head, but reality is: let me just read. Please, let me just read more and more crap. Let me just not have to actively participate in what is going on around me for a little while.

Happy Covid 19 Y’all.

Posted in Corona, Me

The Long Dry Spell

Hey People. If there are any of my people left, that is. The last time I posted was May 24. Three good months ago. Good? Long? Whatever. THREE MONTHS OF COVID-19 LIFE. Or lack thereof.

Quick Update: Jim still is working at home and will be until at least next spring/summer. I am working VERY part time–sometimes only six or eight hours in a week where I used to work 20. Laura and Bennett are at West Chester University virtually this semester and have a week under their collective belts. 14 to go! Catie starts virtually today at least through the first marking period where they will then re-evaluate. Ethan will go to Overbrook as of September 21st. My parents are back to driving, which I’m not overly fond of, but I can’t parent my parents who don’t want to be parented. And I can’t die on that hill.

So. There you have it. My bandwidth (as everyone calls it) is much narrower than pre-COVID. I’m easily distracted and am binge-reading/watching TV/surfing to deal with life. We’re back to only ordering pizza each week instead of ordering in twice a week, so at least there’s that.

Neither Jim nor I could believe that September is tomorrow. We are 2/3 the way through 2020 and it mostly feels like it has just…passed.

I honestly don’t mean this to be a downer, but I guess, like many if not most of us, it’s just HARD. Hard to do this every day. Hard to cope, to make plans, to not see friends or family or just have what used to be normal life.

I miss y’all.

 

 

Posted in Family, Me

The Sandwich Generation

Life in Coronaville continues. Jim is still employed, I’m still mostly not (before I worked 20 hours per week. Last two weeks I worked five hours total). Still, we do not NEED my salary, so I can continue to be thankful for that mercy as well.

In the midst of everything, my sister and I find ourselves starting to need to step up with our parents. My brother lives many hours away (HOURS AND HOURS), where my sister and I live about 10-15 minutes each from our parents.

My dad is 88 and my mom is 87. They have been blessed, for the most part, with good physical and mental health. A few years ago my dad had a kidney removed and he never really went back to his “old self”. Last year my mother had a hip replacement. and that took quite a toll on her as well. My sister is a few years older than me and all four of her children are grown and out of the house. She’s even a grandmother to one adorable grandson and one unknown-gender-grandchild on the way. I, obviously, am at quite a different stage of life with four still at home, although two in college this fall and another one fall of 2021. So much change coming, but not here yet.

My mother has asthma to the extent that she uses nebulizer-infused medication three to four times each day. She has not left their yard since mid-March. My father, while increasingly frail, has an independent streak a mile long, but is currently experiencing issues with his eyesight. Which necessitates my sister and me being more involved than we had been. And seeing more clearly what has changed.

As of now, I’m doing the grocery side of things–taking my dad out to their main store (he refuses to let me do it for him outright), and running to get things from other stores if they want. My sister is doing the medical stuff–taking Dad to his eye doctor appointments–even into Wills Eye in Philadelphia, which for Dad was a BIG DEAL.

A few things we’ve noticed: 1. Their world has shrunk. Philadelphia may have well been the moon for all he felt comfortable going there. Even before Corona, they mostly stay within their town and the route to and from church. That’s it. My sister lives literally SEVEN miles away (I’m six) and they feel like visiting her is kind of difficult. To get to my house from theirs they mostly stay on the same road, with just a couple of turns, so they are more willing to come my way.

2. Housekeeping is falling by the wayside. Like A LOT. They just don’t SEE the dirt (or smell it) anymore. We went over a couple of weeks ago and worked on a few main areas that they hang out in and will need to go back and help. We are working up to the idea of talking Dad into a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning service.

3. For a long time they’ve been fairly stable. They’ve had surgeries and issues over the years, but they were dips in the road. The road is starting to head downward now. They are forgetting things–mom will tell me the same story twice in one conversation. Dad will swear something happened or didn’t happen, but just not remember. A few months ago, when I went over to drive him to the store for the first time and noticed that he wasn’t just older, he was old. He looked frail. It was hard to see.

I finally called their pastor of more than 30 years. We spoke for a good bit, and he has been experiencing the same thing with his wife’s parents. He has been seeing the same things that we are seeing, although obviously not recently because of Corona. He encouraged me, which was needed, and I brought him into the loop of everything, which was also needed.

So I’m left with the question: How does one parent the parent when the parent doesn’t want or see the need for it?

Posted in Me

For Today

Haven’t done this in a couple of years!

FOR TODAY May 13, 2020

Outside my window…Mostly cloudy, windy, mid-50’s.

I am thinking…about all the things on my To Do List. That I don’t want to do. At All.

I am thankful… That we have our health and Jim is still employed. That we can financially help out others. That we haven’t become hateful in the midst of this.

In the kitchen…Depending on how today goes, either spaghetti or ordering pizza for dinner.

I am wearing… Jeans, Overbrook long sleeve tee and socks. It’s chilly y’all!

I am creating… a mess? Really don’t know how to answer this one!

I am going… to my parent’s house this afternoon to be supportive during a termite inspection. We know they have an infestation, we just don’t know how bad it is.

I am wondering… how long we are going to be in lock down. It’s been two months as fo today.

I am reading… A series by Grace Burrowes and a different series by Nancy Atherton. Depends on what room I’m in.

I am hoping… that Ethan is able to actually GO to his summer program instead of having it virtually. He needs structure and he needs to get out of our house. He’s so bored!

I am looking forward to…getting back to normal life at some point. If that’s even possible.

I am hearing…Ethan’s daily classroom time. I can hear his classmates and his teacher, but it’s sort of background noise.

Around the house… Trying to keep up with the kitchen and trying to work up the gumption to remove wallpaper. I’d rather pay someone!

I am pondering… what this summer will look like with Laura recovering from shoulder surgery, Ethan most likely home, and Catie potentially titrating up on anti-seizure meds. And me going back to work.

One of my favorite things… Sleeping through the night. Such a rare and lovely thing.

A few plans for the rest of the week… Parents house this afternoon, with UPS and the bank tossed in, EEG tomorrow morning for Catie to hopefully diagnose epilepsy, OT zoom  room with Ethan on Friday, and working from home calling our major vendors. Saturday canceling our free month of CBS All Access. We’ve totally enjoyed having it, but I don’t want to pay for it!

 

Posted in Friends, Politics

Epiphany

So, yesterday was actually stomach-clench-enducing for me. Someone I have known since I graduated high school and had been at one point reasonably close to let something be on her Facebook that was purely hateful (she didn’t say it herself, but a friend did). As in “I hope these people catch COVID19 and die” hateful. Now, I’ve hidden her posts for a LONG time because she leans towards politcal ranting. And I just DON’T DO ranting. Nor do I do politics (which I’ve stated here many times). My opinions are just that, and yours are just that and I can be your friend regardless.

Anyway, I stewed and stewed about it, because this person is a Christian. And I finally private messaged her. She basically defended the person and then went on to share someone on the other side of the political spectrum sharing something equally awful, like just because A is doing it, it’s ok for B to. After saying my piece I was silent. And sad. And thoughtful. And sometime yesterday evening I had an honest epiphany.

Friends aren’t truly friends if you have to hide part of yourself from them for fear of what they are going to say.

If I have to hide how I vote with you, you are not my friend. We may have a shared experience or much in common, but no longer are we friends. Friends can be open and honest with each other, and kind and accepting. Even, hopefully, iron sharpening iron.

This epiphany included this friend, her husband and another couple that we have been friends with since Jim was a teenager in youth group. When I shared this with Jim, he agreed.

And Satan laughs and claps his hands in delight.