Friday, September 23, 2016

Keep the Crazy To a Minimum

It seems like everywhere I turn in my small world, there is some kind of crazy going on. If it's not one of my boys, it's the other. If it's not one of them, it's my mother. If it's not my mother, it's my husband or it's me. I just woke up from a morning nap. After I dropped Blue at school this morning it hit me, the crazy has been slowly draining the life out of me.

As for my husband,  yes, we drive each other crazy, but he is my safe place to land and I am his. We can say some pretty shitty things to each other when we're frustrated with one of the kids; when he's frustrated with work or whatever. (Okay, it's mostly me saying the shitty things and him putting up with me). After so many years together, we know that we can take the hits and get right back up the next day, apologize and keep loving each other.

He just got home from a business and pleasure trip to Georgia to see his father and Florida for business. I was happy that he was gone, but missed him at the same time. When he crawled into our bed last night, I felt safe again. My teammate, who gets on my last nerve, is home to have my back.

Kendal (also known as Red) turned 21 over the weekend.  I can't believe that I officially have a legal adult! He now has the right to go to nightclubs and if he so chooses, consume alcohol.  His father and I took him out for dinner for his birthday, right before Alan left for his trip.  I offered him a taste of my martini.  He declined.  A few days later, I tried to coerce him to some champagne. I thought, maybe if he has a drink, maybe just maybe, he will shut the f*#% up for a few minutes and go to sleep. No luck. He wasn't the least bit interested. I think it mostly has to do with his obsession with keeping his body lean and healthy and for now, that's probably the best decision.

Not only is Kendal 21, but soon Blue will be 18.  He will graduate high school in 2017.  I had to write 12th grade on a document this morning. I couldn't believe it. Me. A mother of 2 young adults. No more babies. Boy! I miss those sweet, innocent days.

A memory...

A few days ago I was walking through the pet store when a memory waved through me. Those Texas, hot, summer days when I would take them there to wander aimlessly down the air-conditioned aisles. We would watch the dogs play in daycare behind the plated glass, and pet the ones who were up for adoption. Blue would find the cat laser toy and spend an hour making the cats chase the little light.  Then we would move on to the birds, the gerbils, and the fish. It was a fun, inexpensive way to keep them occupied and cool in-between trips to the pool. That was when they could stand to be in the same room for more than 10 minutes without wanting to kill each other.

Since they are both young adults now, I am trying to do to less and less hovering and fixing the things that I want to look differently for them.  (It's actually a big part of my therapy, and part of the reason why I find myself so exhausted all the time.) I am learning that it's their job to move their lives forward. I'm here in the background to support them. Sometimes that means sitting on my hands and putting tape over my mouth. My therapist is helping me to stop being the fixer. I've been doing it so long, it's a hard habit to break. But, being the fixer stunts their growth and it keeps them unhealthily attached to me.

I don't sit in classrooms, or walk through a job site with them. They need practice in self-advocating, thinking on their feet, solving their own problems and making their own life decisions.

This was a good day.
The boys worked out together
at the gym where Red is employed.
As for the crazy, they may be young adults, but when it comes to getting along while they're sitting in the same room, it's like they are still children. They are still siblings whose habits and idiosyncrasies drive each other nuts. Which means, I still find myself juggling them around each other when Red comes to visit us on Sunday afternoons.

It's crazy, and it's sad to me that they still can't get along and we can't enjoy family time together. It's almost like I'm new here. I don't know why I'm still surprised, or disappointed by this.  I know that they love each other. There is the rare occasion that they will get together and actually enjoy each other's company. It's usually best if I am not with them. When I am present, it's like they show off and compete for my attention.

Lately, Blue has been under a lot of stress as he transitions into his senior year. Senior year is stressful for most kids.  He is in AP Physics and AP Calculus, which are demanding classes. He's also freaking out about exactly what life will look like after high school. He isn't sleeping well. He wakes up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts. So his fuse is extremely short. He can only put up with Red for very short periods of time before it blows.

Red drives him crazy with his incessant talk about his body, his workouts and his diet. The more anxious Red becomes, he ramps up on his repetitive and relentless dialog on the subject. He asks us for our opinions, only to refute whatever we offer. If Blue tries changing the subject, it's like talking to a rock, you can't penetrate. It's like he doesn't even hear you.

Blue has his own agenda that he would like to discuss. He wants to save the world, including his brother, who he believes is clueless.  It's infuriating when he wants to have a "teaching" session with his older brother and he just isn't listening.

When Kendal is going on and on, Blue wants to interject and share his own diet and weight loss methods, which are totally different than his brother's. Blue is going the pescatarian route. Unlike his brother, he believes in carbs, vegetables and moderate exercise like walking and Kung Fu. Red isn't trying to hear anything that his brother is saying.

(Have I told you all that Red has lost 100 pounds and Blue has lost 75 over the past year? The boys who once wouldn't eat anything green now eat vegetables, and drink green smoothies!)

So most of the time when Red visiting us on Sundays, Blue leaves the house to go out to Starbucks, the library, or Panera Bread, to do homework.  He is avoiding his brother. I facilitate this to keep the peace. It's crazy.

This week, however, we all needed a few things from the grocery store. Out of convenience, we went together. I figured I would (juggle) send them off in separate directions to do their own shopping.  We wouldn't have to be together the whole time. But, at the end, when were standing in line, Kendal said something that triggered Blue. They both walked away, leaving me to pay for the groceries (of course). The fireworks started as soon as we all got back in the car. I couldn't separate the two of them fast enough.

Just when I start trying to let go of their crazy, my mother starts in with hers. I believe that Alzheimers and dementia are knocking at her door. She sees how stressed I am. In her her head, it becomes all about her. She starts to feel like she is another burden.

Out of nowhere, she will wake up in the morning and say things like "I just don't think this is working out. I need to live somewhere else. I just don't know where, but my being here is just too much for you."

More often, she is hearing conversations in the middle of the night that we are NOT having about her. She isn't sleeping well, which makes her thoughts go further into the dark side.

So here we go with a new challenge I have to deal with. What to do to keep my mother's crazy to a minimum. Apparently, that is my assignment in life ...figure out the puzzles dear Karen. Keep the crazy from completely taking over.

My husband loves my mother so much. He is gracious, always asking her if he can do anything for her.  For example,  he is going to the store. He offers to buy wine for her. When we go to the wine store, it looks like we are having a party over here. There are no parties. It's just our regular supply of liquid calm to help get through the days.

The following day after he bought the wine, he leaves the house. She actually says to me, "I know Alan bought wine for me yesterday, but am I allowed to drink it? I know he thinks I drink too much."

No mom. Don't drink the wine! He bought it just so that you can look at it.

I say to her, "Come on now. You see the amount of crazy that I am already dealing with. Please don't put your crazy on top of it."

I know that she really can't help it, no more than any of us can help our crazy.

For now, I just sip my wine and hope that the next day has a little less crazy in it.