Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today was a pretty good day

This morning the sun was shining, the skies were blue and cloudless. Temperatures are warming. Good workout at Pilates this morning. Even Rhyan had a good workout and I didn't have to force him to do it.

Mom had her physical later in the morning. Doctor says she's doing great! All her blood work was within normal parameters, she happened to not experience any pain today, and was in a fairly affable mood. She didn't want to have to undress and wear the hospital gown while getting her backside examined, but the doctor talked her into it. And everything was okay.

The new gardener started today, and he was doing a great job! Mom sat in the dining room and stared at him through the window. It was like reality TV.

I did have to spend two hours with her and two hours running errands for her. It's really hard to get work done for my clients on days like this. My creative process gets hijacked and the ADD brain can't seem to get back to work later on in the day.

I came home to a very clean kitchen. Quinn got it all done! Even the floor!

I had time to make a lovely potato salad for dinner.

Chloe was snuggly and playful and she's fallen asleep on my pillow...time for me to go to bed too.

A non-dramatic day. I felt the need to record it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mom called...

It's been raining quite a bit in Northern California for the last few days. There was a break in the clouds yesterday afternoon, just long enough for Mom to have a look out her kitchen window. Then she called me.

"Can you see the sun," she asked.

"Yes! It's gorgeous! Are you enjoying it?"

"No, can you see the sun from where you're standing?"

"You want me to go look at the sun?"

"Yes, go outside and look at it."

"Okay, hang on...Yep, there it is. It's going down soon."

"Do you see the clouds just on top of the sun? The long ones?"

"Yes, I think those are called cirrus clouds. The storms are done!"

"No, those are the poison clouds that the government sprays from the airplanes to try to kill us all."

"What? Why would the government try to kill us all?"

"I don't know why, but that's why we're all so sick. They're doing testing on us."

"How do you know this?"

"Ask any doctor and they will tell you that."

I don't quite know what to do with those conversations...

Irresistable Immovable Object

I got out of bed at 10:30 this morning. Yes, a definite sleep-in Sunday for me. It was lovely!

By noon, my 13-year-old still hadn't gotten out of bed.

"Rhyan, time to get up. Please, you've got a paper to finish writing for class. It's due tomorrow." A slight stirring under the covers, followed by a long, impatient-sounding sigh. Rhyan's laying on his stomach.

"Chloe, come on, get that boy out of bed!"

I love that dog! She hops up on the bed, reaches in and licks Rhyan's nose, right in the nostrils (ick!), and he jerks his face up. His eyes still closed but he's definitely scowling. Chloe proceeds with the wake-up facial, and finally one of Rhyan's eyes flutters open. Then she tucks her head under his chin and burrows in, flipping over onto her back and then pushes his chest so that he rolls onto his side. He finally fully opens both eyes and looks up at me.

"What do you want for breakfast?"

...Silence, coupled with continued scowling.


A slight movement indicating a negative response.


Same response. I continued getting the same response as I ran down the list.

"Eggs? Oatmeal? Cereal? French toast? You want me to fly in some beignets from New Orleans?"

Another disappointed sigh, then, "Pancakes, I guess."

"But I already said pancakes."

"I just wanted to hear the whole list before making a decision."

I'm going to beat him! "Okay, pancakes it is."

"And I want an egg, over easy, on toast with butter."

He ended up having four pancakes, three with whipped cream and chocolate chips, and maple syrup, one with an egg on top.

"Where's my toast?"

I had to take a moment before answering...

"Go to your room, get dressed, AND TAKE THE DOG OUT FOR A WALK!"

"Geez Mom! You don't have to overreact! I'm going, I'M GOING!"

A lot of the time, Rhyan maintains control over his environment by not emotionally connecting or enthusiastically participating with people in his life. He's not a "bad" kid. In fact, he's a very good boy. He's helpful. He participates in family life at home. When he loves what he's doing, it shows. He's slow to make friends, not because he's shy, but because he wants to make sure the people he brings into his life are not erratic trouble-makers. He exercises his personal freedoms with responsibility.

Rhyan doesn't like to try new things unless he knows he's already capable of doing it, and doing it well, or he's assured of not looking bad when he does it. Or it doesn't cost him too much effort to get up to speed on it. It's been really difficult getting him to step up to the fitness level to which he aspires. He wants to be an athlete, a football player. He also wants to be an automotive engineer and a businessman. But he neither wishes to train like an athlete or study like a college-bound student.

He's in taekwondo, and he loves it. This week, he achieved his blue belt. Only four belts left until he's a black belt. But the hardest training lies before him. He knows he's going to have to work really hard to strengthen his core. He's a big boy and it's not so easy for him to accomplish some moves that require a lot more agility and core strength. He's chosen to attend Pilates class with me, three times a week, in order to achieve his goals. He's getting personal training from the instructor, but at home, he doesn't really want to do the training he's been asked to do.

I'm trying to find things that are fun for us to do as a family. I'm trying to turn us into an active family. It's really difficult, because I'm running my household as well as my mother's affairs, I'm trying to work and go to school. I have so many personal goals. Taking time to get out on the weekends is hard when there's so much to get done at home. But I'm going to have to do it anyway, because my kids aren't going to achieve their goals until they learn they have to start working on them now. And we're not going to go anywhere as a family unit, or achieve any sort of family cohesion unless we make efforts toward that end.

This morning my BFF sent me a link (yes, many vie for that position, but only one wears that tiara, and she knows who she is!) to the Merrell Down and Dirty National Mud Run Series. It looks like fun! It looks like something we've never done before. It looks like something we all may need to train for together, although we will not be "in it to win it." We'll be in it to achieve cohesiveness as a family and have fun! I'm up for it!

I presented it to Rhyan. I was thinking that by the time the race rolls around, Rhyan will be 14 and have to race under the adult class. We can certainly train for this and can even go to this year’s event, but he wouldn’t be ready to participate for this, especially emotionally/mentally, until 2012. I know my kid. He's going to want to see it first, and then participate. Maybe.

I looked at the training schedule and can see that it’s totally doable! But Rhyan wouldn’t be able to do some of the obstacle course work by this October. I know I wouldn't.

And I’m asking him now, and he’s repeatedly saying, “I’m not going, I’m not going…”

“What about next year?”

“I’m not going, I’m not going…”

“You could totally do it, dude! I would train with you, for next year’s race!”

“I’m not going…”

"Quinn would do it. Would you do it if Quinn did it?"


"What about if your friends came along?"

"They won't do it."

I'm going to have to figure out a way to get him to participate. I'm going to have to figure out a way to get him to walk/run with me, everyday, for 20 minutes. Because that's what I'm going to have to do to train for this.

So, gotta go. Gotta go over the five-paragraph essay Rhyan's been writing for over a month, that's due tomorrow. About his dog. His favorite subject. After gaming. Who takes a whole month to write five paragraphs about the family dog? Rhyan does.

And then we're going out for a 20-minute walk. Maybe we'll walk to the movies, the long way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Becoming the man I want to have in my life

Just watching Dr. Christian Northrup's most recent special on PBS this morning (instead of going to Pilates) and she said something that has seized my brain, and my heart. She said she realized sometime after turning 50 and getting divorced that she had to become the man she wanted to have in her life.

Damn, I think I want that too! I have to think about that for a bit today and then come back here and record what that means for me.

(I might need to get one of those Home Improvement bathtubs, " adjustable jets, three speeds - low, medium and who-needs-a-man...")

Okay, here's my list, so far:

Financially savvy and fiscally responsible and balanced
Very handy around the house
Supports my goals
Very smart and a deep thinker
Healthy and takes care of himself
Respects women
Good sense of humor
Genuinely self-confident
Real integrity
Has solid, long-term healthy relationships
Not overly self-indulgent
Good listener
Good conversationalist
Enjoys travel
Loves family and is an active participant in family life...but not to the point of melding with everyone
Loves to read a variety of books, from modern to the classics
Loves a broad range of music
Loves art and cultural pursuits
Emotionally available

Hmmm, I need to be all these things for myself.

I hear a question out there...if I do all these things for myself, then why would I need a man? Well, wouldn't a man equally want a woman who embodies all these characteristics? I want a solid companion with whom I can share a life!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's been two days...

My kids are now lying for me. When my mom calls, they answer the phone and tell her I'm otherwise disposed.

"She's in the shower..."
"She took Chloe for a walk..."
"I think she's in the bathroom..."
"I'm not sure where she went..."

It's been two days since I saw her, but we've chatted several times since Thursday. Today she said she missed me. And I could hear her pouting over the phone. She wants Greek yogurt and fresh spinach from Raley's. Maybe tomorrow I'll go get it. I wasn't planning to go anywhere today. I was planning to get all the laundry done, change the beds and get some work in for a couple clients. Stick to the plan!

Right now, I've got and archived episode of Blue Dog Jam playing quite loudly on my computer. Attempting to crowd out my mother's presence from my brain. I'm off to make waffles for my boys.

...Six hours later, Mom calls again.

"Are you waiting for the milk to sour?" (She's referring part of the yogurt-making process.)
"I'm sorry Mom, I couldn't get to the store today."
"Why not?" (Now we commence with the guilt-creating process.)
"I'm working and couldn't get away. What do you need the yogurt for? Are you making spanakopita?"
"No, I have itching. My feet are itching."

(Is she applying this topically?)

"Well, I can't make it till after Pilates tomorrow."
"If I'm still here...sorry to be a big bother..."

An isolated incident such as this would not even create a blip on my radar, but there's a lifetime of emotion that's dragged along with every encounter I have with my mother. I don't exactly know what to do with that. I'll have to stick to my guns...I'll only go over there twice a week, and only talk to her once a day. If I'm her only "friend", then hopefully she'll figure out that she needs to reconnect with old friends, rebuild some bridges and make some new acquaintances. And she'll have to figure this out on her own.

And I have to learn how to emotionally separate myself from her process, because even though I was "working" all day, I didn't get much done. My entire day was a struggle between trying to be creative and trying to stop being nagged by guilt. And guilt is a tremendous zapper of creativity!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Has it been a month already?

The last month has been a jumbled mess of trotting after my mother's bipolar needs in the wake of her widowed status. I haven't had time to miss my dad, much less, mourn him. There was one moment, at the supermarket, when I thought I saw him out of the corner of my eye, pushing a cart in the organic produce section. And then a few days later, I dreamed he was laying in bed, waiting to die, but he looked better than his final hours. Somehow I felt very conscious in my dream, knowing I was dreaming, and that he wasn't really there. He didn't have anything to say to me, nor I to him. And then the dream was gone.

When I go to my mom's house, I don't feel Dad's presence lingering. Mom says she still feels him, like he's in the other room, or he's coming down the hall to see her, but he never arrives. The first few days she didn't know how to stop worrying that he'd fall out of bed. Then she didn't know what to cook for herself. I told her that she probably forgot what she really likes to eat, that now was the time to get to know herself all over again.

After a week, Mom had people out to the house moving the huge collection of junk at the side of the house that Dad had collected over the last 20 years. We know it's a 20-year-old collection because that's the last time, according to Mom, that side of the house was painted. It's a different color than the rest of the house. Three truck-loads. Some very nice men came to haul it all away. Then Mom had the last of Dad's caregivers stay for another week or so, and Anna brought her sons over to do a little yard work. Actually, a lot of yard work, and the front yard looks really nice again. The old fence is gone in the front yard. I designed that fence when I was in high school, drew up the plans in my mechanical drawing class and Dad built it. It hadn't been maintained so it slowly rotted and fell apart. Damn! That fence was 32 years old! Damn!

Next Mom started taking things out of the closets. All evidence of Dad's infirmity is gone. No pills, no hospital paraphernalia, no paperwork, no pamphlets from it never happened. And this last week, his clothes have been removed from the closets and drawers and are ready for Goodwill. Quinn kept my dad's socks, of all things! Plus, since he's mad for coats, Quinn's got Dad's raincoat. A really nice one too. Plus a wool sports coat that will need a little altering to fit properly, but it's nice. Rhyan got Dad's red plaid flannel shirt jacket. He wears it everyday when he takes Chloe for a walk. He tried to use his charms on my mother to make off with Dad's leather recliner, but Mom's not ready to let that one go just yet. He thinks it'll look nice in his bedroom.

So, after some really vigorous work and a lot of people buzzing about the house, Mom's decided to let everyone go. I had to spend nights with her for a week, but then I eased out of that because my kids were really missing me...or that's what I told her. The first night alone was rough, but she's fine now. I started taking her to get a regular weekly massage with Joanne at Perfect Balance Day Spa. Mom never got a regular massage before, but she's now seeing the benefit in it. I get a treatment at the same time, so it's not a complete waste of time for me. My nails are looking pretty good these days!

Mom's grateful for all the time I spend with her, but I have to say, I'm not getting much benefit from it. Her house is looking pretty damn nice, and mine is absolute bedlam. All her bills are paid and her life is in order, and I can't seem to get any of my school work done, I'm not spending enough time with Rhyan on his school work, and I am way behind on my paperwork for my business. I have two clients who's work I am so grateful to have because when I tell her I have to get to work, she refrains from calling me more than once a day. I still see her three times a week, and we talk at least once a day. And I have to keep reminding myself that we are NOT BFFs.

In 10 days, the traditional Greek mourning period of 40 days will be up. I'm thinking that's when Mom is going to start venturing out to meet new people at the senior center. If I can get her to be brave enough to use the local public transportation, she'll be able to get herself to where she wants to go. But then I should probably start expecting surprise inspections.