Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Hope

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in with you. Maybe you noticed that I haven’t written much about the boys lately. 

You know what they say about the things in your life that you give the most energy, seem to expand. Well, I'm trying not to focus as much energy on them. I do share their accomplishments regularly on my Facebook page. (And if you don't follow, you really should. I'm hilarious. A legend in my own mind.) However, my writing has taken a different turn. 

It’s all about me! Ha!


It was beginning to feel like the more I focused on controlling certain outcomes with them, the more frustrated we all were. It certainly was not changing anything about their journey. They are going to make their own choices and mistakes. There is nothing I can do about it. They are adults now, and though they have challenges, they are both capable of making their own decisions when it comes to the trajectory of their lives. My input is only met with objection. It’s a waste of my energy and theirs. So basically, I try to ignore them as much as possible, letting them live their best lives while I try to live mine.


I'm making a concerted effort to spend my time and energy on me ...my happiness, my “Becoming” (as Michelle Obama says) whoever it is that I am supposed to be at this point of my life. There are days when it feels strange to think about what I actually want and what I enjoy. I am absolutely in love with the ocean these days. I try to dip my toes in one as often as I possibly can. In the past few months, I have hit the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. Next, I will dip into the Caribbean Sea when we go to Jamaica to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next month.
All of these years in Texas with a laser focus on the needs of my children, I had no idea how much I missed living near the water and how soothing it is to my soul. (And of course, now I can't afford to live near the ocean. Unless you all want to send in donations.) The ocean gives me life and energy. It sure feels good to pay attention to me after years of not, with any kind of intention.
~~~~

On Mother’s Day this year, I woke up with zero enthusiasm about celebrating the day. I’m lucky enough to still have my mother with me. She’s literally with me...as in living in my house, in what used to be my dining room, where she’s been for the last ten years. (It was supposed to be temporary. But when you're knee deep in trying to keep your teenagers alive, figuring out what to do with your mother, sits on the back burner). Does that sound exhausting? Trust me. It is.


I have no energy for making a big “to do” for her Mother’s Day. I bought her a flowering plant. A beautiful Kalanchoe, which I hope will be in bloom for months to come instead of the shortened days of cut flowers. 




I’m burnt out on holidays, and expectations. It’s exhausting. So much of my energy, time and patience was used up raising my children. Now that it’s becoming apparent that my mother needs more care and attention, I’m finding that I have very little energy for it.  I do the best that I can while trying to keep my own head above water and out of depression.


I haven’t looked forward to any holiday in years. There were too many years of shit hitting the fan on any day that’s supposed to celebrate me. I have been pre-conditioned to think on any given holiday, ‘Nothing about this day will be fun. Something about this will probably mean extra work and a headache.’


This year I woke up to a quiet house. Blue had a 7 a.m. shift.

(Did I tell you he’s working thirty to thirty-five hours as a Prep Cook at Panera? Yep! He’s been working there since November and so far he loves it.) He’s taking a break from college and I’m just rolling with it. Letting him live his life, without a lot of input from me.


Kendal is still living in San Antonio with his older brother, Adrian. On Sundays, he usually goes to church first thing. I receive my first phone call from him by noon, before he even leaves the lobby of the church. But this Sunday at noon, one and two, there was no phone call. I was gleeful! I was all like, Is this my Mother's Day present?


On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Kendal had called me and asked if one of us could come and get him from San Antonio to bring him up here to our house in Austin.


“It’s only appropriate that I spend the day with you Mom,” he said rather matter-of-factly. Well, isn’t that sweet?


I think to myself, ‘Or not. I’m good.’ 

A good Mother’s Day to me means please give me a break from being your mother. Let someone else do all of the things and solve all of the problems. All I want is peace and quiet.


I am still decompressing from years and years of noise, meltdowns, fights, and explosions in my house. I have lived so many years being on alert, hyper-vigilant because anything could go wrong at any moment. I have PTSD from it.


So, when Kendal called me to help him figure out how to get to our house. I quickly redirected him to call his father. It’s Mother’s Day. Why should I have to figure out all of the logistics?


Facilitating communication between the boys and their father has always fallen in my lap, which turns into another source of stress for me. I'm not doing it anymore. I've become all about boundaries. In the past, I allowed way too much boundary crossing. As a result, I became depressed, anxious, down right angry and resentful of the people I love.    
I sent a text message to all of the adult men in our family (my husband and 3 sons). “You guys figure out Mother’s day with your father. I’m not in it.”  


Alan helped Kendal arrange to take the GreyHound bus from downtown San Antonio to downtown Austin. All phone calls from Kendal on that day were made directly to his father. His dad made sure that Kendal made it safely to the station and got on the right bus. He then met Kendal at the station here in downtown Austin.


It turned out to be one of the most peaceful Mother’s Days that I can remember. All three of the boys eventually made it home to see me. They didn’t spend all day and night. Kendal was the only one who sat down for dinner with me. The other boys had already eaten. I didn’t care about any of the formalities of the day.


My husband brought in Italian food. There were no big gifts or flowers. They all gave me beautiful, thoughtful cards, the gift of their presence, and peace.


It only took 23 years.


I say all of this to tell you ...there is always hope.





Sunday, March 10, 2019

My Scooter Ride

I’ve been on a quest to get to know the woman that I am becoming since my children are older. After years of focusing so much of my energy on them, I am definitely becoming a different person. 

The boys are adults now. They are autistic and both have issues with anxiety and depression. They still need me, but they need me less, and that is by design. They need me less because I push them to depend on themselves more.


They are both working now. It’s such a relief to not be handing out money every five minutes. It’s also really good to have them occupied for at least thirty hours a week. I love that they don’t call me while they’re at work.


These days I say yes to myself and more no's to everyone else. This includes my 79-year-old mother who lives with me. Occasionally, I even say no to my husband of nearly 25 years. Sometimes, the more you give, the more the people in your life begin to expect. Before you know it, you're a second class citizen in your own life. I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t live for the sole purpose of taking care of everyone else. 

As a result, of taking my life back I have been feeling less depressed. I’m almost afraid to say that out loud for fear of jinxing it.


This weekend I said so much yes to myself, it felt surreal. I was beside myself with happiness and a sense of freedom that I've been craving. 

I went to see Michelle Obama here in Austin on her “Becoming” tour. And yes. She was as fabulous in real life as she is in my dreams when we're hanging out together. Seriously...it was exciting to be in her presence. It feels like we are old friends even though she has no idea about our “besties” status.


My heart was full and my eyes leaked with tears before she even hit the stage. Just watching the introduction video with interviews with her family, including her girls, made me teary. Her girls are adorable young women now.

I stayed in downtown Austin after my "Conversation with Michelle Obama." One of the perks of having a husband who travels a lot for business is that I can use points to stay in a hotel now and then. Another perk is that his business travel keeps us from killing each other. Seriously. It’s a good thing because sometimes, I just can’t take it at my house with all of the neediness and the constant phones calls from the child who no longer lives with me. I made it clear to the boys that I would not be available to talk on my two-day me-cation.


The adventurer in me has been buried alive underneath a heavy load of responsibility for the past twenty-five years. Being a wife and mother has clipped my wings and kept me close to the ground for the most part. I am beyond ready to fly.


I spend Friday morning in my hotel room at the Westin. Alan would be joining me later that evening. For the morning and afternoon, I would be on my own. Can I get a hallelujah! I slept until nine, ordered a Continental Breakfast via room service, and spent the morning listening to music of my choice (which included the Bee Gees, Barbra Streisand and Pat Metheny. Pat Metheny is my jam when I'm writing.) I am writing while overlooking the city of Austin. I'm in heaven! Alone.  
Around three I think, I better get out of here and feed myself. Hmm. Shall I go downstairs and grab a bite or should I adventure out? Downtown has a lot to offer that my little suburban community does not. F*ck it! Adventure it is! I do enough of the safe thing every day of the week in my boring little suburban community. I’m in the city. The city...any city, gives me life!


I grew up in the city of Los Angeles. I left it behind for the safety of the suburbs, but the suburbs are beginning to literally bore me to death.   


I call an Uber and within 10 minutes I arrive on South Congress at one of our favorite places for lunch, brunch, and cocktails --Perla’s. They have a great outdoor patio and the best crab and cheese grits that I have ever tasted in my life.


It is now four o'clock in the afternoon. Between lunch and dinner, the menu is limited. So after I eat my shrimp po'boy, and sip my South Congress Fizz (a spritzer with a punch) I decide to meander around the eclectic boutiques which line the trendy boulevard.


I take my time with no intention of buying anything. Although, I seriously contemplate a handmade silk scarf that is reminiscent of one I bought in France a couple of years ago. In fact, as I write this, I’m regretting that I didn’t buy it. The colors were luscious shades of turquoise and ocean blue. What was I thinking, leaving that behind?

When it comes to shopping, I’m trying really hard to be less impulsive. The happiness that comes from buying a thing is usually fleeting. It eventually makes me feel empty and wasteful. Especially, now since I’m trying to channel Marie Kondo and minimize the stuff in my life.


After browsing, I start walking north towards my hotel when I notice that on every corner there are electric scooters for rent. I seriously contemplate grabbing one to get back to my hotel, but I hear the voice of my husband in my head, ”You know you’re crazy right? You know you could fall and break your neck?”


That’s what he said the last time we were downtown hanging out together and I tried to get him to ride.


I thought ...f*ck it! I could fall. I could get hurt, but maybe I won’t. And if I do, what does that mean? I get to lay in bed for once while everybody takes care of themselves. I can’t lose here.


I pull out my phone and open up the Uber App. I remember seeing a bike and scooter option on it before. Although it was a bit off the beaten path, I was able to locate and Uber scooter. I read the handy-dandy instructions and cautions, one of which was that you should definitely wear a helmet. I did not. It was hard enough to find the scooter. I wasn’t about to try to locate a helmet.


The weather is brisk but I am somewhat dressed for it, with a warm scarf around my neck, and a faux sheepskin vest. I’m just going to try it. I’m going to ride half-way back to my hotel, I say to myself. I’ll stop at the Four Seasons which is about half-way, and then I’ll walk from there.


Again, I hear my husband’s voice in my head, “You’re kidding me, right? You’re not really going to get on that thing and ride down a major street...with traffic?”


Yep! I’m doing it! I would rather die having lived than to live with regrets. I have allowed my anxiety and my responsibilities to hold me captive for far too long. I felt like a high school girl sneaking out to play without permission from anyone except for me.


I zoom through those downtown streets, first on South Congress, where I have to ride on the sidewalk, even though the instructions on the app clearly said, “ride only in the bike lane.” Well, I don’t see a bike lane. I try not to hit any of the pedestrians who are walking on the sidewalk. Once I get past the walkers, I zoom over the South Congress bridge where people hang out to wait for the bats to come out. I turn right onto Caesar Chavez. As I approach the Four Seasons, I think there is no way I’m getting off of this thing. I’m going all the way!


I’m sure that I looked completely out of place with my silver hair, riding past all of these millennials on the scooter. I don't care. The wind is blowing in my face. I feel alive, carefree, and happy as I grip that scooter with everything I have especially, as I ride over dips in the road. The adrenaline rush is worth every little body ache I would feel the next day from holding on so tight.


I stop and take a picture before I park. I wish that I was savvy enough to take a video of the ride. But, that would have been an epic fail...as in a definite fall.

This is just the beginning of the rest of my life. I am not totally carefree, but I am taking full advantage of every free moment I have to do what exactly what I want.


And no. I’m not asking for permission.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

When You Were Sleeping

When you were sleeping 
I snapped this picture last night when you were sleeping just after I laid the blanket over you. You looked up at me, smiled and drifted back off to sleep on the couch in our family room.  I wanted to capture the sweetness of this moment.

Watching you sleep is still one of one of my favorite things. Maybe it's because it reminds me of when you were a baby. You were such a beautiful baby and one thing you did really well, was sleep. Maybe it's because it's the only time that you're quiet when you're around me.

When you come home to visit now, I realize that absence has made my heart grow fonder.  Despite how tough life was when we lived together,  it was hard to let go when it was time for you to move out. But it turns out that the distance between us is healthy. You have to think on your feet more now. You problem solve daily, without my input. I can focus on your brother and finding out who I am now that my biggest job has changed.

I want you to know,  it's the simplest things that make me proud of you. Every day you get up for work, on your own; probably without a clock. You make yourself a healthy breakfast. You go work out and then ride the bus to work early, to ensure that you get there on time. In fact, you give yourself a cushion, arriving most days an hour before you start. You're very conscientious about being on time and never missing a shift.

Do you know how awesome that is? Most people your age are not like that. I wonder does your employer notice your incredible work ethic? It will serve you well throughout your life.

I remember in middle school and high school, being on time was not something you were the least bit interested in. In fact, getting you out of bed and out the door each day left me ready for spiked coffee and a nap. Look at you now. I never could have imagined that you could get up early in the morning, on your own, to be anywhere.

When you came home last night, you hugged me. You smelled good; freshly showered. I noticed right away that your jacket smelled freshly laundered. I was like...wow! This boy is on his game! A year ago, you would do your laundry, but things like your jacket and washing sheets weren't on your radar. It required a prompt, and even prompts may be ignored.

I can see that living with your brother is putting the finishing touches on your journey to manhood. You used to wear your hair short so that you wouldn't have to brush it. Now, you brush it after your shower and put on a wave cap as the finishing touch.

I hope that you appreciate your brother half as much as I do. When I'm down and feeling sorry for myself, I think of you two and I am grateful. I could have never imagined him taking on this responsibility a few years ago. Having you come to live with him was his idea. He extended himself and he has really stepped up to the plate.  I think you are helping each other grow.  Seeing where both of you are at this point in your lives, makes my heart sing.

All of the years I thought for sure, I was doing this motherhood thing all wrong. I wasn't sure what adult life would look like for you. The men you are now, responsible, hardworking, positive, contributers to society, and most of all you have loving hearts. It makes me think maybe, I got something right.

Even when you were fighting so hard against us, you were paying attention.

Now, can you convince your little brother to move in with you next?


I am praying for you always...

Love,

Mom

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The girl


Woke up thinking of the girl
I used to be
wild and free
no responsibility
not afraid
or even cautious
Did you know me?
You could not know
the secrets
so scandalous
I could never be 
First Lady
or President
of the U.S.
my background check
would be a wreck
men friends came and went
wild times were spent
no worries or seriousness
carefree, fun and frivolous
dating for the fun of it
filled countless
hours of freedom
and loneliness
good friends, 
plentiful 
girlfriends,
beautiful
honest and real
true bond to feel
the rest of our lives 
never counting pennies
Would there be enough
Could times be rough
always worked out
despite the tiniest doubt
one job or another
another lover
who wanted just 
enough of me
I saw the forest
and the trees
didn’t scare me
unafraid
you might say brave
but definitely
I was free

Friday, December 7, 2018

Subtle Art

I wish that I could master the subtle art of not giving a f*#%.  There is a book by that title. Have you read it?  Maybe I should, but for or some reason I think that things that work for the average person will not work for me. My situation is definitely not average

I'm not good at not giving a f*#%.  I want to not care about what my son is doing or not doing with his young-adult life. 

"Mom. I'm taking a break from college." 
Great! I don't give a f*#%. Good luck with your future. 

The new medication he's taking makes him sleep all day. 
Oh well.  What do I care? Sleep well. 

Philosophers and positive thinking humans like my friend Rebecca believe that you are in charge of your thoughts. You can always dismiss thoughts that you don't want in your head by accessing the voice of your negative alter ego.  Simply tell your intrusive thoughts to go away or better yet, to f#*% off. Replace them with positive messages like... 

Tomorrow, he will go back to being the responsible person that he was in 11th grade.  (Insert eye-roll here). 
It's not my job to help him. I can only do so much.  
Think about the things you can control Karen, because he ain't one of them! 

A couple of days ago, I was feeling especially stressed. I felt like my heart-rate was elevated. There was some tingling in my left arm. I thought my blood pressure was up.

Something told me to drive to Walmart to check out my blood pressure on their machine. I have a wrist blood pressure cup here, but I wasn't sure if I  could trust it's readings one-hundred percent. 

My blood pressure registered 155/102. I thought this has to be wrong, so I took it again. The result was even higher!  I was sitting there taking deep yoga breaths, trying to relax. Hoping I could trick the machine into believing that I'm calm. It was funny, in a very dark humor kind of way.  

After the reading at Walmart, I went to pick my mother up from her nail appointment. Her first question was, "What about my fruit? Did you go to the store yet?"

"Yes, Mom.  As a matter of fact, I did go to the store. I went to Walmart to find out my blood pressure was notably high. But you sit right there and relax while I go next door to Randall's to get your fruit!" 

Over the next 12 hours or I would measure my pressure periodically.  It came down as I tried to relax hiding in my bed from one son, and not talking on the phone to my 23-year-old son. 

I called the next morning and made an appointment to see a doctor. Notice I didn't say, "my doctor?" That's because my doctor moved away over a year ago. Since then, I have seen a couple of medical doctors that I have not liked at all. 

There is nobody like Dr. Obrien. She was no-nonsense and very straightforward. I loved her. She had been my medical doctor for 16 years. What can I say? I don't like change.  

When I got into the doctor's office, my pressure read almost normal. Which of course made the white, male, doctor completely dismissive of me. He made it seem as if this problem was all in my head or maybe, it was due to my faulty blood pressure cup. Only I had the cup with me and we measured it against his. It got the exact, same reading. Asshole

In the interim between the high reading and the appointment the next day with the white guy doctor, I imagined my death by stroke or heart attack. It may be very strange to actually joke about this with my husband. 

"What would I do if I lost you?" he asked. 
"I don't know. Celebrate?" I kidded with him. He did not think this was funny at. all. 

I can't help but turn to humor or as he calls it sarcasm, when life is stressful, which is pretty much all of the time.  It's the Ward "Hollywood" Wesley  (my father) inside of me. He will not be denied these days since his death. His presence is stronger than ever in my DNA.

Since the doctor dude basically blew me off. Now, I will keep measuring my pressure and go see someone else if I need to.  I will also try to relax more. 

I made a "well" appointment with a female doctor by the last name of Dandekar. Her skin is brown.  She speaks with an accent. It's not that I'm prejudiced against white guys. Especially hot, white guys. But this dude was not hot. I will not be seeing him again. 

My therapist suggested that I become "less available" to the boys. I asked her if she could prescribe me my own apartment. She laughed. 

Oh. And please note, one of my friends was sure to tell me, that the problem with my high blood pressure reading, just might be alcohol-related.  To which I wanted to give her the finger. I refrained. I love her. I know she meant well. She's a freakin' nurse after all.  

I didn't even reply to her to explain. I talk about drinking on FB a lot more than I can actually drink. I do this because I think it's funny. (I know. I'm weird). My body has actually made me decrease my drink consumption as I get older. I've had no vodka in weeks! I've had wine tho! Usually one glass in the evening. If I drink any more than that, I stay up running to the bathroom all night. This is God's little trick that he's playing on me. 

I'm afraid they will have to pry the wine glass from my dying hands because it is a ritual that I enjoy most evenings. There isn't much in my day to day life that I enjoy. Yoga and therapy are the highlights of my day to day existence.  I may have had to cut down, but I will not cut out one of my favorite hobbies. Judge me. If you want. I don't give a f*#%. 

Ha ha! Notice how I did that there?  


To purchase the book Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck click here, or go to my Amazon Link above. I think it will be next on my reading list. 




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