May 24th is the anniversary of my husband’s death, but this year I am in such a manic-panic over getting my son ready to graduate school, I barely remember until afterward. When the hullabaloo dies down, I am emotionally wrung out. I am a moldy, gray dishrag of a human being. But, I am also very relieved it hasn’t gone worse than expected. It did go about as bad as I thought it might, but no worse. And in my son’s world, that is a good outcome.Continue reading Graduated Expectations
Scripted Speech and Emotional Hostage Taking
After getting back from taking my son to his favorite place on Earth–sorry, Disney, it’s not you–I stop him at the door to the house and say,“Mommy wants a kiss for taking you to Millenium Park!”
The grudging peck on the cheek I get is accompanied by a shove to get the door open.
Not entirely feeling the love, I ask my son “Who’s the best mom in the world?”
“Thank you!” (As if I just complimented him!!)
Having a non-verbal child means he doubles-down on the incommunicative teenager stereotype big time. Scripted speech, like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank-you’ which he practices repeatedly, usually suffice for daily living. But, every once in a while, a mom wants a little validation.
“Who’s the best mom in the world?” I repeat as I unlock the door. And then I answer my own question, “Mommy is!”
My son ignores me, brushes past and demands “Laundry” so we can wash his toy Lightning McQueen stuffies and blanket.
Sigh. Ignored again.
It’s just another day in autism paradise.
The Struggle is Real
Why do we make the choices that we make?
I ask myself this after I fell into a blackhole this week watching a marathon of Chinese Soap Opera–56 hours later I’m still trying to figure it out.
Life has calmed down–as much as it ever does. I have moments of time available–between loads of laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, boy-child wrangling and working. I should be using that time wisely. I tell myself, “You should be writing.”
But it is so hard to get myself focused. There is something fractured about being me that has worsened over the years.
Have you ever lived your life expecting that ‘someday’ you’d figure things out. You’d wake up and–BAM–you’d have your act together. Life wouldn’t be so hard then? You’d definitely have a handle on being who you are!
I’m fifty-five and it hasn’t happened yet. It is dawning on me that I’m not going to have that life-altering shift of perception–the epiphany that opens wide my mind, steers me toward a better version of myself. Someone who is capable. A real go getter.
And each day I wake up and find I am still just me…it’s hard. Really, really hard.
It is somewhat disappointing to reach this realization. I’m not only not getting any better at life, I may actually be getting incrementally worse. Mostly it feels like I am floundering. I’m a human placeholder in a game I can’t win, playing against formidable forces I can’t see against insurmountable odds…and I think I’m facing the wrong way on the board and possibly missing a few pieces. (This analogy may have gone astray.) What I’m saying is, it is exhausting facing life like this. Some days, I want to give up.
Life can be discouraging that way–if you forget to look for the positives. If you don’t count the sunshine that follows the storm. If you don’t take pleasure in the small victories–like matching all the socks in the laundry. (Throwing out the single ones is just good mental health, in my opinion.) Or watching the fuzzy-butted squirrels outside the kitchen window as they stuff their face with just one more peanut. The smell of clean laundry warm right out of the dryer. Snifffff…ahhhh! (What? It can’t be only me who does this!)
Depression filters the world grayer. Drains the energies. Zaps the mind’s ability to combat the inner demons that tell you “Give up. You can’t beat this.” This inner critic chants in a hateful, hurtful voice spewing a litany of failures on repeat just waiting to bring you down. It is a broken mirror that reflects how much you are not like the person you thought you would be by now. It drowns good intentions in bile and self-loathing.
But, it only wins if you listen. If you believe its lies. It’s false protestations. If you don’t take into account the good you do. The people who love you and the people who you love in return. The worth in facing a day despite every instinct that would have you crawl back into a hole to sleep or fall into a Netflix coma to escape the daily grind.
I struggle to beat back these feelings. To see my worth. To feel it. But, I am still trying. Every day. I try to make good choices–even if that means that having tofu and stir fried vegetables for lunch is my crowning achievement in a day full of suck. That, and I got a shower. And I sat down to my computer to put my feelings into words.
Being who I am hasn’t been easy. I struggle. I fail. But I get back up again.
And maybe, at the end of the day, that is something to be proud of.
If anyone else has hit the doldrums of winter and is in need of encouragement–spring will come. Eventually. And I will join you in a little sun worshiping when it does. Until then, hold on. And remember, you are not alone.
You’ve read this far bonus:
I’ve just learned that February First is National Dark Chocolate Day. Dark chocolate is nature’s way of saying, “Yeah, life can be bitter…but it can be a little sweet too. Have a truffle today! You deserve it!”
And, for anyone needing help, please consider talking to someone. The Lifeline number to call for suicide prevention is now 988 or you can use the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) it is a toll-free hotline in the US. You can check out the webpage at 988Lifeline.org.
Angry Birds – Swan Lake Edition
The story I am about to relate is entirely true. I have no proof beyond a few still photos and a panicked ‘before’ video. Now that I am home and pond scum-free, I’m not even sure I believe it happened. You be the judge.
🦢🦢🦢🦢🦢🦢🦢Continue reading Angry Birds – Swan Lake Edition
Sprint to the Finish
In case a blog can actually expire from lack of writing or visitors, I am writing this placeholder.
I have not fallen off the planet.
I did at least manage to fight against entropy/depression long enough to post today’s accomplishment.
HERE IT IS!!
I finally called a Sprint gift card/rebate credit card company to verify that not only was the account closed…but that there was no balance at the time.
SEVEN YEARS THAT CARD HAS BEEN IN MY WALLET. I FINALLY CUT IT UP TODAY!
This has to be the sign of good things to come, right?
Or possibly it is a sign that avoiding completing the Annual Report of Guardianship for my son– due next week–will motivate me to do just about anything else.
Sigh…back to finding and recording receipts.
To Camp or Not To Camp…
In case the deafening sound of crickets on my blog have scared my few, loyal readers away, please be aware that the writer has been neck-deep in a work project and this week prepping for a weekend away at camp.
Hopefully she will return with many tales to tell, but none involving rabid bats or wandering bears.
No Greater Expectations on Mother’s Day
We have a quiet Mother’s Day, my son and I. He came down with a terrible head cold on Saturday which means that, by Sunday, he is a hacking-wracked ball of phlegm and we can’t go visit grandma as planned. I call to invite her to come to our house instead–at least, to the outside of it. (She is immunocompromised–so masks and open air are her best friends.) The weather is perfect for an alfresco get together to chat and exchange Mother’s Day gifts. We agree on 1:00 pm and I hang up. Ordinarily, I’d leap into frenzied action, but it’s Mother’s Day and I make a different choice. A better one.
Anytime someone is going to come over, I usually have to engage in a massive disaster relief effort–the kind of clean up that happens after a storm has threatened to wipe a town off the map and leaves a ton of broken things to be hauled away. Only in this scenario–I am the tornado. Things are thrown down the laundry hamper. The dishes are piled into the dishwasher (or out of the dishwasher to make room for the newer, dirtier dishes.) Books are stacked as if they might, just might, get back to the library some day. Maybe.
As a rule, I make an attempt to provide plausible deniability that I am not, in fact, a borderline hoarder. Stuff gets shoved into rooms with locking doors. I am not a cleaner, so much as I am a denier of filth crimes. A hider of clutter. A shover of just-one-more-thing-into-the-junk-drawer fanaticism. Things get tidied because otherwise I fear someone might just call social services to report me for my lackadaisical housekeeping standards. Dammit.
But with the kid home sick I’ve had no help since Friday. I had a big mailing to finish for work which took priority, and the house shows it. With only a few hours until Grandma stops by, addressing the mess seems futile. Not to mention, since we are meeting out-of-doors, kind of pointless. Unless she needs to use the restroom.
With the kid coughing up germs left, right, and center–sometimes directly into your face–it seems prudent to at least try to minimize Grandma’s risk of contracting whatever plague he has. I douse the bathroom in a bleaching chemical bath and spray the faucets with antibacterial Lysol, change the towels, and call it good enough.
Outside, I drag the not-entirely-non-oxidizing-metal yard furniture in place and scrub to get last year’s bird poop off as best I can. I put the umbrella up, but I can’t drag the heavy base from the garage to keep it stable. So the furled edges flutter slightly whenever the warm air lazily passes by–nudging the ribbed canopy, fluffing it like a dancer’s skirt. I zip a circle of plastic with a felt backing around the center pole–an umbrella-friendly tablecloth with giant watermelon slices and what might be flip flops–or maybe pineapples?–scattered in glaringly bright colors across the surface. It too flaps frantically whenever the wind tugs it. It is a minor inconvenience. Sitting near the budding maple tree, shaded from the warm sun, drinking a cold beverage, it is probably as close to perfect as a day can get.
There’s only one not-so-small problem. What to do with the kid? Leaving him in the house likely means returning to an even bigger disaster than I already don’t want to face. Bringing his projectile coughing near Grandma runs the risk of making this our last Mother’s Day together. Even though he can wear a mask, it isn’t entirely reliable seeing as he wears one at school and still managed to catch whatever virus he’s got.
My solution? I drag a green bag up from the basement and hastily construct an A-frame tent we used to go camping with when the boy was much much smaller than he is now. There are a few holes and stains in it and the elastic that holds the poles together is stretched out of all helpfulness–but the design is simple perfection. It is the classic triangle tent depicted in all those Beetle Bailey cartoons and the kind we actually used in basic training, though they were made of canvas and not this water-resistant, windbreaker material. (Not washing machine resistant, as I discovered, but that’s another story.) It’s taken a beating, but once all the poles are in place, it holds its shape.
Grandma arrives, carrying a portion of angel food cake baked with pineapple and topped with whipped cream. I grab cans of diet cherry coke and we chat between interruptions from my son. Apparently his participation in this celebration requires him to drag every single one of his stuffed/plush toys and blankets out of the house and into the tent. This is no small task. A parade of Frozen, Paw Patrol, and Trolls character march past stuffed into a mound with his blankets. And then, once that’s done, he asks for lined paper and a popsicle before settling down to write calendars in his mobile green kingdom on the lawn.
Presents are exchanged. My ‘son’ gives me a new set of cornflower blue Rubbermaid food storage containers and Grandma gets a gift certificate to Kay Dee’s Garden–a greenhouse where she can buy a flat of pink and white cosmos to fill the flower pots outside her home. We talk for a while, but mostly we just enjoy the understated beauty of a sunny day with no greater expectations.
This may not be the most exciting Mother’s Day ever recorded, but being outside after weeks of gloomy, wet weather, and enjoying a conversation with my mom is about as close to perfect as these things ever get.
So, to all the other mothers out there who would rather sit and relax on Mother’s Day–I salute you! And I hope that you too enjoy a day being a Good-Enough Mom that might otherwise have been wasted trying to be a Perfect One.
A Close and Uncommon Book
Look, I don’t generally do book reviews on my blog. It just isn’t my thing. But if you’ve missed me at all in the blogosphere, know that it was in pursuit of relearning to love reading and battling my way through painful transitions of my own. This book gives me hope that life is worth living. Maybe you need a reason to keep on going too.
So, I offer to you Becky Chambers’ A Closed and Common Orbit and a link to my Goodreads review.
But, honestly, I suggest you just read the book instead. Any review is going to be a pale, anemic attempt to recapture the absolute brilliance of Becky Chambers’ writing. It’s actually a travesty that I tried.
WARNING–this is BOOK TWO of a series. You can read it without the preceding work–A LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET–but you will deprive yourself of joy and context if you do.
Just over four years ago, Talsma Furniture sold me a Serta RestoKraft mattress with a five-year warranty. Apparently that warranty only holds true if your mattress has no stains. The fact that my son’s mattress can be folded like a soft taco is immaterial.
I’m vexed, miffed, and annoyed. And I have a blog.
If you want to give me an early birthday present–please share this as frequently and violently as most people share their political rants in an election year. Let the stuffing fly!
A Tale of Two Lindseys
In a previous post, Another Woman’s Life, we met our intriguing heroine dumpster diving at a Goodwill depot center. (Wait…no… that makes it sound like she was doing the diving when actually I was in the dumpster…Sigh. Go read that post, it makes more sense.)
***Continue reading A Tale of Two Lindseys