Things I Want My Son To Know #18 ~ Life Gets In The Way

As is obvious by the inconsistency in the time between these posts, life sometimes interferes with the things we would like to do. When you are young you believe there is all the time in the world. In middle age you are too busy to realize that time is precious. As you reach the back side of middle age you realize that you have less time left than you thought.

I wish I had spent less time working and more time going to the park; that’s a mistake you don’t have to make with your kids. Supporting your family, paying your bills is important, but you can never get time with your kids back. I wish I could have let go of the tidy house thing a little so we could have played Quiddler more; that’s a mistake you don’t have to make with your kids. The chores are important, but you can never get the time back.

When you find yoursellf saying “but I have things to do”, “but I have to finish this work, project, laundry, whatever”, put it down and go outside, play ball, sing. It is hard to find the balance between getting things done that help make your life better, more productive or financially stable, and the things that bring you happiness. To find a place between work and play, drudgery and joy, that is the trick in life! If you are lucky, you will find work you love and that will help, but you have to remember to put the work down and dance with your wife, laugh with your kids and enjoy a sunny day.

Life has a way of getting in the way of life. Don’t just forge ahead, choose. Don’t just put one foot in the front of the other, dance. You are given one life, don’t let life’s challenges and chores get so in the way that you forget to live it.

Its All My Fault

Ok, I’m a slacker. Life got busy and I abandoned my blog, two whole weeks. Bad blogger! So I am off the Walmart kick, at least for now. It seems to me that, frequently, it is all my fault. This is what comes of benmg a “sandwich generation” caregiver. I have learned to accept blame without really taking it on. I used to argue about these things but it isn’t worth it as it is crystal clear that I can’t win any argument on this score. Whenever my dad and I get into an argument of any kind his brain seems to skip to a new subject whenever we are about to arrive at a dead end or he is going to be wrong. He just gets confused and starts talking about something else. Mighty convenient I say. Our most recent example. I was going through his checkbook for the eight thousandth time trying to find the error. I notice that he was still paying union dues to a number of locals. So I ask him why. Other than his “retired status” dues from the union that pays his pension, there didn’t seem much point. My dad says he pays his union dues because he still wants to work. Now he is eighty two, he is quite slight and hasn’t worked for at least five years. He doesn’t remember that he hasn’t worked for five years. He thinks he needs more money so he should work. He doens’t need more money and he can’t work, although he is pretty healthy; his work involved serious physical labor. So, he says, he can’t work because he doesn’t have a car. After his last hospitalization he stopped driving. The reason he doesn’t have a car is because I am driving his car. In his mind I have stolen his car. Never mind that the doctor says that he cannot drive again. Because he hallucinates, can’t remain focussed or concentrate on what he is doing. He hates the doctors I took him to because he believes they are in a conspiracy with me to steal his car; to say he is crazy. He claims that he failed the neuropsych tests because he was having a bad day and he “has always been bad in math”. He believes the doctor he never met before rigged the test. He still speaks of the car as his prize possession. He believes I am keeping him here because I want his car. Now, while it is nice to have no car payment, the car just isn’t all that. I have tried to explain to him that a nine year old, stick shift station wagon with a hundred and twenty three thousand miles on it just would not be sufficient to convince me to do this. But it is all my fault that he can’t work, can’t drive, can’t fly an airplane. That’s ok, I don’t mind.

Oh You Mother!

Hah! Gotcha. That title could mean almost anything. But tomorrow is Mother’s Day, the ultimate hallmark holiday; invented to generate income for restaurants, florists and card shops. I’ve got news for you, if you don’t honor your mother all year long, if your partner doesn’t honor that you are the mother of the children all year long, this one day just isn’t going to do it. Flowers are nice, chocolate is always good, and we like presents. The truth is, however, that the relationship is what matters, the love is what counts. The joy of being a mother is without question its own reward. Anyone who remembers the first time they laid eyes on their infant child, remembers the first “mama”, remembers a little body in the bed with you, knows what I mean. Anyone who has made the boo boo better, has made the tears dry, has made the english homework make sense, knows what I mean. My son is the funny boy. He is at that age where, like the cruise commercial, the smile is a fleeting thing. But sometimes he can’t repress the smile, the joke. For a long time he has been the laughter in our home, something I will miss when he leaves. Of course his dad says he will never leave! But he will. Mother’s don’t lose their daughters but mostly, they do lose their sons. Figuratively speaking of course. It is the rare daughter in law that wants to be close to her mother in law. Anyway, a little appreciation is enough for me. Our son is a great reward. He was a miracle when we got him and he still is. I don’t need hallmark to know that my family loves me. Happy Mother’s Day.

Personal Earthquakes

At 6:30 a.m. my teenager is standing over my barely awake self saying “mom”, “mom”.  At the 8th or 10th repetition, it finally gets through.  I open one eye… “WHAT”, I say.  Take a wild guess .. . he needs money. Check written, personal SAT earthquake, the first of the day, averted.  The teenager leaves and the caregiver for my dad arrives.  “He’s been really bad” she says.  What she means is that he has been cranky and annoying with her because she is annoying and it is wearing on him.  Of course he is also generally cranky and annoying.  Nevertheless, she is having a personal crisis of insecurity because my father, who has alzheimer’s disease among other things, is cranky.  This is her life’s work, you would think she would be used to old folks and their ups and downs but no… she takes everything personally.  So I, coffee cup in hand, dressed in half my work clothes (top half and panties, very attractive) have to stop and soothe her feelings.  For this I am paying her a pretty penny.  For her money she will spend most of the rest of the day playing Farmville and avoiding my dad.  Second personal earthquake survived, for now.  Finally I get the rest of my uniform on manage to get out the door with my purse, briefcase, lunch and various items that will require me to stop on my way home or at lunch at an assortment of establishments.  Everything gets thrown in the back seat before I drop it in the driveway, third personal earthquake of the day averted; and the most peaceful part of the day begins… the ride to work.  I love the ride to work, public radio and I only have to answer the phone if I like the person on the other end.  Upon arrival at work there are a variety of faux crises awaiting me, they are averted but don’t really count as a person earthquake, more like a minor tremor.  The fourth personal earthquake of the day isn’t really avoided when I lose my temper with an unutterably rude co-worker.  This is an ongoing and cumulative earthquake.  I am generally able to let it slide, sometimes it just blows so one personal earthquake marginally survived.  The day progresses with an unusual level of idiocy but finally ends.  My second favorite time of day, the ride home; public radio and I only call the people I like and only if I feel like it.  I arrive home and teenager, husband and father are practically lined up (not literally) waiting to ask “what’s for dinner”.  Instead of saying “I don’t know, what is for dinner”, I manage to figure out what will be for dinner, read mail, listen to voicemail and balance my father’s checkbook all at the same time.  That counts as a personal earthquake averted for him.  My fifth comes as dinner is finally on the table at about 8:30 p.m. and I’m not sure if that counts as avoided, averted or barely survived.  At this point the teenager has eaten so much snack that he is no longer hungry, I am too tired to be hungry; but my dad and my husband eat like hungry lions.  Finally back in a shirt and panties I have to check on my dad’s computer (he has pushed the same wrong key for the 1407th time), explain when his long term care insurance check is going to come and why there are “black boxes” on his tv screen (our cable company has started putting up the phone number when sometime calls the house, he cannot fathom this).  I will consider this my sixth personal earthquake of the day survived and the infrastructure rebuilt, ready for a new day.  I fall into bed with a little mindless tv, answer e-mail, check facebook, get annoyed by the stupidity and finally, finally, fall asleep.  I am ready for tomorrow’s earthquakes.

Happy Mother’s Day

Wow. There are so many things about mother’s day I could talk about. Amazing that what is essentially a holiday created by Hallmark has taken on such vast significance in this country. We tried to do a couple of errands today and the stores were closed?? As if this were some major national holiday. And I get just as sucked in as everyone else. But it feels good to be appreciated, I think. But I think further that this falls into the same category as food banks at christmas and turkey dinners for the homeless on thanksgiving. We fill the food banks at the holiday out of an abundance of good will but ignore the need the rest of the year. We make turkey dinners for the homeless for thanksgiving but we don’t concern ourselves with how they eat the rest of the time. We should not need a national day to honor our mothers. We should do it every day. We are taught this from kindergarten, but unfortunately we do not learn it until much later in life. For goodness sake it says this in the ten commandments, for those with even a mildly religious bent this is a cornerstone concept. Our mothers, good and less so, for most of us did the best they could, gave their hearts, their time and their minds to try to make us the best people possible. Not everyone’s mother was good or loving or even a parent at all. In our frenzy over this national holiday we forget this fundamental truth: not everyone loves their mother and not all mothers deserve our love. But most do. So even though I know that it is a hallmark holiday, and I know I am loved and respected all year round, it is nice to hear it out loud once in a while.