I'm a mentally ill person raising another mentally ill person. With chickens.

Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

An introduction

I signed up for Blogging 101 this month, to get my groove back, and the first assignment is to introduce myself. You would think that would be easy at my age, but it isn’t. I always hated it in college when professors  made you go around the room and say something about yourself.  I think they just do that to waste time, and in a half-assed attempt to remember your name. Even graduate school professors do this which is just silly. I was a grad assistant and I did NOT make my students do this.

I guess I’ve told a few things about myself already: I went to graduate school, I don’t really like speaking in public, or talking about myself, I taught at least one class, and I’m trying to get my groove back. Also, I seem to have a bit of bad attitude these days. 
I’ll see if I can be a bit more positive. Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 43 and I’m actually pretty ok with that. Being younger no longer seems like that much fun, and I don’t feel too old for anything. I feel like there’s enough time ahead of me to do and see at least some of the things on my bucket list and I don’t feel like I wasted my youth.
I’m a mother of two: an eighteen-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter. They could not be any more opposite. He is large, always was at the top of the percentile charts, and she is tiny. He likes to stay home, and to watch the same things over and over again, and to talk through movies and shows. She likes to go everywhere, she hardly ever sits still, she likes new things, and when she does watch the tv she doesn’t want anyone to talk. She is a dancer with five practices a week, he avoids exercise like the plague. He is on the autism spectrum, and she has ADHD. They are the joys of my life, and there is never a dull moment at our house.
I’ve been married for 19+ years, it’ll be 20 in July. My husband is not what anyone expected “back in the day”, but he is the perfect match for me. We’ve weathered many unexpected challenges over the years, and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else by my side. He is never rattled by anything, he’s my rock. And he fixes things, which is something every woman should look for in a man.
I do have an abundance of education I guess. An undergraduate degree in English and a Master’s in Counseling. I’m not using any of it. I’m a stay home mom who gets a disability check every month. Sometimes I’m disappointed by the fact that I’m not working, but I’ve mostly come to terms with it. I have bipolar disorder type 2, and ADHD inattentive type. Those things do not make me a great employee, unfortunately. I’m a creative teacher and counselor, and I’m a good listener. But paperwork? I just get overwhelmed. I’ve never been as sick and exhausted as I was at the end of my counseling internship year. I finished everything and then I slept for roughly ten days. I knew I’d never be able to work like that full time. I did apply for a counseling job, but I’m a client at that agency so it was kind of a long shot. This is a small town, so I probably should have thought about that sort of thing before busting my ass in grad school and wracking up tons of student loans, but you know what they say about hindsight.
I need to find a focus for my blog. I’m not sure what exactly I want to talk about. I think the world has plenty of autism blogs, and plenty of mental illness blogs, and plenty of parenting blogs.  I can’t say what exactli makes my perspective unique, other than it’s mine, and while I hope others find it interesting and entertaining I am not sure what actually sets my voice apart from the masses. Something to continue to ponder, I guess.

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A late giving of Thanks

I have fallen off the NaBloPoMo wagon this weekend. I hate to make excuses, but my wi-fi has not been working well and I have a sick chicken. But it was a good holiday. And I’m thankful for more things than I could possibly name. But I’ll try to highlight a few, in no particular order.

My husband, who provides for all of us, who puts up with more than he should have to, who mostly gives me whatever I want (even when it’s a third dog or illegal chickens), who cleaned the house with the kids over the past few days, and who makes all my stuff work.

My kids, who are my greatest blessings. Yes, they have their struggles, but they’re with me and they’re healthy.

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All the pets. My life wouldn’t be the same without them. I honestly don’t know how anyone lives without a dog in their life.

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My friends, who make me get out of my own head and out of my house once in awhile. I’m especially grateful for the girls who have known me for longer than I care to admit and who never think of me as “Mrs. Sea”.

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(so many pics I could have put here, ultimately went with one where I looked good too)

I’m grateful that all the things I complain about regularly are just first world problems and not real problems. Yes slow wi-fi and never-ending laundry are annoying. And I wish my boots were warmer and my gloves insulated. But I have a sturdy roof over my head, running water and electricity, a full fridge, and more clothes than one person needs. I am fortunate and I’m thankful, even when I’m yelling at the computer or have chilly fingers.

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Never ending laundry

I’m grateful for my health. I do whine about it more often then I should, but ultimately I’m lucky that everything that’s ever gone wrong has been more annoying and uncomfortable than actually dangerous. And the one time there was something dangerous I was too young and dumb to realize it. I’m lucky my body has put up with me so well for so long ūüôā

I’m thankful for every person who stops by to read my little entries, you keep me going and make me want to try harder to be interesting and entertaining.
Tomorrow is Christmas tree decorating at our house, so I’m off to bed. But here’s a funny little story before I go: my husband’s mom told us to get Cards Against Humanity for his 89 year old grandmother. For those of you who have played, I don’t need to explain why this is a bad idea. For those of you who haven’t, a picture:

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Cranky old lady

I’m having trouble finding any focus today.
The day started with a call from my daughter’s teacher. Apparently she attempted to forge my signature on a behavior slip yesterday rather than show it to me. My signature is illegible, but still distinctly mine so her teacher caught her. And then she talked back to him again. I don’t know what’s gotten into her, but I am NOT happy. She’s also been tardy 18 times this year which is ridiculous as we live right by her school. I’m pretty sure the problem with that is the neighbors: they live next door but they don’t walk. I have no idea why, the parking in front of our school is riduculous. It’s actually faster to walk, but the girls next door don’t so she doesn’t want to either. Drives me crazy. I don’t know what’s up with the behavior. I know she doesn’t really like her teacher, and that none of her friends are in her class, but she’s never been rude or disrespectful before. I think I will check in with the pediatrician about her medication, but she shouldn’t really need an increase yet. It’s a bit disturbing. But she got herself grounded all weekend, so maybe that will help change her tune. I hate to admit it, but I’m kind of annoyed with my neighbor about this one too. Audrey was supposed to have a different teacher this year, but my neighbor requested her and requested that Audrey not be in her daughter’s class (my neighbor shouldn’t piss off her friends if she doesn’t want me to know things) so we got moved to our current teacher at the last minute. And really it’s fine, she’s learning and her grades are good, she’s just bored. I’m not excusing her behavior at all, I just wonder if we’d be in this situation with a more dynamic teacher. But my neighbor complains A LOT, so when she asks for something, she usually gets it. Thankfully they aren’t in dance this year, so at least that’s fun to go to again.  I wonder when I became this person who gets caught up in neighborhood drama? It’s certainly not what I intended for myself. Another thing that makes me wonder if that’s why I’ve become so reclusive? Because the whole “mama drama” (as my other neighbor puts it) thing really isn’t me so I just hide in my house.

I did go out last night, with our friend from out of town and his wife. My husband and another couple went too. It was mostly fun. It was definitely nice to see our friend who I haven’t seen in person since 2004 I think. He was just leaving for his graduate program then, now he has his PhD and does something with computers that no one else understands, and of course makes a ton of money. I always said that he would be the one person we knew that would get rich, so that’s fun. We were reminded of our friend that we lost back in 2008 to suicide, and of our friend who moved and has basically cut himself off from the rest of us, which is sad too. But the reminiscing was nice, and the catching up was fun. I sort of wish my one friend had stayed home though. She just doesn’t know when to not talk! or when to let conversations be about someone else. And she’s a mental health professional!!! Our friendship is one of those that worked very well when I was younger and partied a lot, and was fine from a distance too, but now that she lives here again I kind of question how much we really have in common still. But maybe that’s just me too. I am a bit of a cranky old lady.
Tomorrow is my son’s first appointment with his new psychiatrist, who is also my psychiatrist. I’m glad for the change, but I wish the appointment wasn’t in the morning!

More holiday musings

mom and dad

My parents

I honestly don’t have much of an idea today. I think I vented so much yesterday that now my brain is tired. My husband is annoyed with me for insisting that I am not traveling for Christmas, but he will get over it. Especially¬†when we save a bunch of money on not kenneling the dogs. Actually when he heard I wasn’t going, my son said he wanted to stay home with me-something we’ve done before-so it will be interesting to see if he does. It’s not like my husband’s grandmother or mother really want to see him, or at least not for more than a couple of minutes, because they don’t really get him at all. And¬†Alex doesn’t like going to my husband’s grandmother’s house at all. He likes to have everything on: the lights, the TV, his Kindle, the computer, another TV. He LOVES having a screen in front of him at all times.¬†My husband’s grandmother¬†spends the whole time Alex is at her house telling him to turn things off. It drives him crazy! He wants all the TV’s in every room on, and yes, he is watching his Kindle AND the TV because that’s what he does to tune out everyone else.¬†She can’t let it go, she’s on about her electric bill all the time, and is constantly making Alex go turn things off. ¬†My husband even yelled at her about it once. He told her that if she could afford to go to Europe twice in one summer she could afford for the TV’s to be on for a few hours. That didn’t go over well,¬†¬†but even that didn’t stop her from demanding our presence at Christmas again and I’m not having it, and hopefully I can protect Alex from it too. He and I can watch all the¬†TVs and eat pizza while my husband deals with his relatives. That would be ideal for both of us.

I have been thinking about how I’d like to visit my own family. I haven’t seen them in over a year. I don’t know how it got that long, Audrey and¬†I usually go in the summer for about ten days, but it didn’t work out this year. Part of the problem was that my brother-in-law didn’t have his two-week national guard drill–that’s when we usually visit, in order to not drive him crazy. And then my mother wanted to come here, which my sister and I knew wasn’t going to happen, but she really wanted to.¬† My dad is 85, he doesn’t travel anymore. The last time they were here was 2005, and I gave them all the stomach flu (seems to be a recurring theme?). I’ve tried to convince them to come on the airplane, because dad used to like to fly, and there is much less risk of blood clots with that than with the twelve-hour drive.¬†But he hasn’t flown since 9/11 and I think the new security stuff scares him a little and the dogs can’t come on the plane with him, and he absolutely will not kennel his babies. Dad was the other reason I didn’t visit. Every time I brought it up he was worried about the dogs getting upset, or the septic tank, or the well.¬† The idea just seemed to stress him out. ¬†So it just never felt like there was a¬†convenient time to go and stay at my parents’ or my sister’s house. My sister also informed me she had a brown recluse problem in her upstairs bedroom, which is where I sleep, so if she wanted to keep me away that is the way to do it. Oh my do I hate spiders.

So now it’s been a year and a half at least, and my parents have two new dogs, and they’ve redone their living room, and my mom got hearing aids (yay!) and I haven’t seen any of it. And my nieces have grown¬†so much¬†they probably won’t even recognize me. It was my choice to live here and be this far away, and I don’t regret that most of the time, but thinking about the holidays makes it a little hard. Honestly, just acknowledging that my parents are getting older is hard. And I know that I am luckier than I lot of people, having dad be 85 and really doing pretty well.¬† I should just appreciate that, even if it is from a distance. But it would be nice to be home for Christmas.

Family

Me, my sister, my mom, my dad, and the granddaughters. Surprising my dad with a celebration of 70 years of church work (He started playing church services when he was 12)

Bah, Humbug!

Christmas mug

When I was a kid I loved Christmas. Not just because of presents, although they were awesome, but because it really was a magical time. When you grow up in the church you get lots of time to anticipate Christmas while practicing for the Christmas Eve program at school, and doing Advent calendars, and finally moving into the New Testament in religion class. When your parents work for your church and a¬†Lutheran college you get even more anticipation with extra services and Christmas concerts and recitals and your dad practicing Christmas hymns on the piano (and Christmas hymns are just Christmas carols so¬†it’s kind of like having your own piano bar accompanist¬†for the holidays). ¬†Lutherans are similar to Catholics in some ways, but not when it comes to singing, we LOVE to sing, and Christmas services are a great time to be a kid in a Lutheran church, so many awesome songs: Joy to the World, Angels we Have Heard on High, Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, and if you’re lucky, Go! Tell it on the Mountain. And of course there were cookies and homemade candy. My mom baked, my mom’s piano students baked for her, people at church baked for dad, even some of his students gave him baked goods. The wealth of sweets at Christmas was truly amazing. But Christmas Eve was the best. The program was always in the evening at our church, and there were fancy Christmas dresses (My mom made the most amazing Gunne Sax dress by hand one year: I’ll never forget it, it had big leg of mutton sleeves, and a ribbon and lace edged neckline with a row of tiny buttons with loops¬†down the front–making that dress was the first time I heard my mom swear, but it was fantastic.) and hair-dos, and my brother even had to wear a tie. The¬† programs themselves¬† all kind of run together: (except one where I had a big coughing fit up front and had to leave in front of everyone, childhood strep reared its ugly head again) there were carols and Luke chapter 2 and Mary and Joseph. And on our way out one of the church elders would give each kid a white paper bag full of candy and an orange.¬†¬† My brother and sister and I would wait for our dad to be done playing the postlude and packing up his organ shoes¬†while our mom took the other car home;¬†¬†we’d take a drive around to look at Christmas lights on the way home. When we got to our house we’d walk in to our family room where the tree was and it would be lit and the presents would be there,¬† like Santa had actually been there while we were at church. It took us years to figure out that it had been first my grandparents, and then my mom, who put the presents under the tree while we “looked at lights”. And even after we knew, and had moved several times,¬†we would drop my mom off after church, drive around for a while, and come home to presents under the tree. It’s just one of our traditions.

Then I met my husband, and Christmas with his family is a WHOLE other deal. It involves piles and piles of presents and even more alcohol.¬† The first few years all the booze made things pretty funny; then I started to notice the bickering and veiled insults that went with it.¬†¬†As years went on and¬†life brought tragedies the insults became less veiled and the bickering got meaner. There’s still a lot of presents though. There are so many presents that one year my¬† husband’s cousin accidentally threw out the leather gloves I got her with the trash because she didn’t see them (and then complained to my husband’s grandmother that I didn’t get her anything).¬† My husband’s mom wraps stuff and then doesn’t remember what it is or who it’s for. She also wraps things for herself. There’s no real thoughtfulness to the gifts themselves, I don’t think, because my husband has gotten the same sweatshirt two years in a row (two identical¬†sweatshirts, two separate Christmases) as well as a pile of other shirts that he will never wear. I’ve received a lotion from my mother in law that I had given her the previous year, and one that my husband’s grandmother had given her previously. My kids receive all kinds of things that don’t remotely interest them or that are completely not age appropriate. They are always yelled at for not saying “thank you” enough,¬† and so am I, but I think we’re just¬†stunned by some of the craziness of it all.

A few years ago, after driving on glare ice for a large part of the trip to the Twin Cities, we said no more. We were going to spend Christmas in our own home, so our kids could have their own tree and not be dragged all over during their break. And we made that happen for a couple of years. And then we got the “but¬† I might¬† not be here next year” speech from my husband’s grandmother, so we agreed to go in for Christmas Eve 2012, even though I had had stomach surgery three weeks prior and Alex came down with the stomach flu two days before were supposed to leave. We should have stayed home, because the night we checked into the hotel my daughter threw up ALL OVER. And the next day I cooked for everyone anyway, a prime rib that I couldn’t even swallow yet because my stomach was still healing. (Only my husband’s step dad thought this was odd, and he helped me in the kitchen all day.)¬† Right before they started in on presents I realized I did NOT feel good and had my husband take me back to the hotel.¬† That was the start of my near death experience. My¬† surgery (a Nissen Fundoplication) makes it so NOTHING goes up your esophagus: great for getting rid of acid reflux, bad if you get the stomach flu from your kids. So I went from being in a little pain to being absolutely convinced I was going to die. and I was out of anti-nausea drugs. All I wanted was to get some Zofran so I would stop wanting to hurl and not being able to, and stop feeling so much pain. But did we go to the ER or urgent care? NO. My husband took his grandmother tile shopping at Home Depot because¬†that was super urgent. Then he¬†visited his dad who was feeling neglected. By the time I went to the ER when we got home 3 days later they were like “what took you so long?” but all¬†of the sutures held and there was no bleeding. So I was miserable but lucky.

But¬†I’m done.¬† I will not¬†be talked in to any more Christmases that I don’t want to participate in. If it’s just me and the dogs and the chickens I’m cool with that. At least that’s genuine.

My tree

Crabby pants

I got asked yesterday if I was going to host Thanksgiving this year.¬† I used to host it every year, for a fairly large group of people. I think I’ve done it around 15 times. Maybe not quite that many, but it’s got to be close.¬† And I used to really enjoy it.¬† It started as just our family and a friend who didn’t want to attend his family’s dinner and then it grew into the no-relatives or after-relatives celebration. Many years it was preceded by a Wednesday night out on the town. But last year I cancelled about a week before. I had honestly wanted to cancel the year before because my daughter had been sick the week of Thanksgiving, but everyone freaked out about where they would go so I hosted anyway, but last year I just didn’t want to. Alex had been having a really rough time at school including getting suspended and the people who were my friends and supposed to be on my side when it came to this sort of thing were decidedly NOT, so I didn’t want to spend time with them. One of my other friends had been recently fired and was showing up at my house unannounced whenever she felt like it and I really didn’t want to schedule a day with her either. Throw in friend whose boyfriend I don’t like and friend whose kid I don’t like and hosting really just wasn’t something I wanted to take on last year at all. So I didn’t. I think my husband and kids were a little disappointed, because it usually is a pretty big party. But I was super relieved.¬† I enjoyed just being able to cook what I wanted and not having to referee my three women friends who don’t really like each other while finding something my friend’s picky teenager will eat, and keeping another teenager from being bored while keeping my own teenager from driving people crazy talking about super hero movies and star wars.¬† It was so nice not to have to be “on” all day, you know? So I don’t know if I’ll host this year. Just thinking about it kind of makes my stomach hurt.

Since last Thanksgiving I sort of had a wake-up call about how I spend my time, too. My friends would probably say that’s about when I started acting “weird” or “depressed”. But that’s not really what happened. I just realized that I didn’t want to spend my time doing things I didn’t really enjoy. And I don’t really enjoy drinking anymore (kind of weird, actually, as I used to be quite the wine snob) especially not getting drunk and that’s basically all my one friend does for fun (she seriously just uploaded a picture of drinks to her Facebook five minutes ago).¬†And I don’t enjoy people who only talk about themselves and¬†make everything about them, and I don’t enjoy people who make themselves a martyr all the time, and I REALLY don’t enjoy people who feel the need to make themselves smarter or better at my expense (even if the think they’re being¬†helpful). So around¬†Thanksgiving last year I started spending a lot less time with people. I accepted fewer invitations to¬†hang out at people’s houses or to go out for coffee and I started shopping on my own. And I actually like it quite a bit. Now everyone calls me a hermit because I “never” go out. But I do, I just go on my own. Or I go places with Audrey, which is usually more fun than most grown-ups I know anyway.

Its been kind of interesting, this¬†distancing. I think there is a lot of talk of me being depressed, but I’ve checked in with the doctor about it a few times and she doesn’t think so, and I don’t either. I’m actually¬†pretty comfortable with myself. I don’t feel like I need anyone’s attention or approval, I can just do what I want. I definitely don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I mean how many stories about boyfriends¬†or drunken escapades does a person really need to hear anyway?¬† It’s not that I’m incapable of listening and being a friend when someone needs truly needs one. I just resent having my time wasted. If you don’t want my input don’t tell me how mad you are at your boyfriend (who you have gotten back together with more times than I can count). And don’t assume that, at 40+, I am interested in your sex life. And keep your backhanded concern: “I just don’t know how you manage on one income” to yourself as well. Maybe I am turning into a crabby old lady? If so, I guess I’m fine with that.

Daisy and I

I can’t foucs

If my posts were a fashion collection Tim Gunn would tell me they need to be more cohesive.

I feel like I start typing and random stuff just comes out of no where. And it surprises me! I had no idea that yesterday’s post would end up where it ended up. That is more than I EVER share, so its a little uncomfortable. But maybe that’s part of the process? Kind of like taking out the garbage or really more like clearing out a hoard (it always comes back to Hoarders). You have to clear away all the STUFF to see what’s there. And my brain is certainly full of stuff.¬† Stuff is a very non-writerly word, but I can’t come up with a more specific one right now. I don’t really KNOW what’s buried in all the stacks and piles in my brain, and I guess I won’t know what’s in them¬†until I start dragging the piles¬†outside and going through them.¬† Just like on Hoarders.

I have Hoarders on the brain today, because my house is EXTRA bad. Seriously, I ate yogurt with a fork this morning because all of the spoons were in the sink.¬† And the laundry is absolutely ridiculous (yet everyone still has clothes?).¬† I really haven’t been feeling well the last few days. Apparently I put myself into a bit of a withdrawal state when I forgot to fill my Cymbalta last week.¬†It was sort of like a hangover only the headache was worse. Who knew forgetting for a few days would make me feel so yucky? Most of the time the mood meds don’t really do that to me, so I thought I had the flu and just sat around for the whole weekend. AND¬†I’m not the only one who knows how the dishwasher works. My husband hasn’t exactly been busy lately, he’s been on a new computer game.

Yep, I’m a gamer widow again. Sigh. He’s on the chat thing for HOURS, and I swear their little guild thing has more drama than the fourth grade girls in my neighborhood (I’ve suggested a headset on several occasions because I don’t enjoy overhearing them all that much). I honestly don’t get the appeal of these MMORPG games. From what I can tell from my 15 years of observation (Oh yeah, been a gamer widow since the first Everquest came out, lucky me)¬†you make a big group called a guild who you then argue with or call inappropriate names¬†90% of the time you’re online. The rest of the time you do little “quests” or “raids” to get “loot” and get your character to a higher level.¬† It’s all pretend, except for the people who pay real money to get virtual stuff or get their characters to a higher level, which I REALLY don’t understand. I think my husband likes the social part of it, because he likes to be in charge, AND he likes to kind of embellish his personal details. Online you can be anyone you want. In person eventually people will have heard all of your stories, and they start to figure out that your personality is just a bit TOO big, but online when that happens you get a new guild, or a new game. I shouldn’t complain TOO much about the gaming, it provided my Master’s research material back in 2009 and 2010. I focused on internet addiction, which was a new idea then. Gaming and social media were just starting to get big, so I had to really dig to find any source material that wasn’t about porn and gambling. It was fascinating! And interestingly, he quit playing for a pretty long time after he realized I was calling him an addict. Apparently it bothered him, but not enough to never play again. Just goes to show that you can never trust a junkie.

Today is a very not-focused kind of day. I’m going to go be disappointed by some election results.