His Own Place

My oldest stepson moved in with us about two years ago.  He came to us like an injured animal, zero self-esteem, head hanging like he was expecting a lashing at any moment.  My husband and I became overnight motivational speakers, peppy cheerleaders, trying our best to build him back up, get him back on his feet.

I had started to think that just maybe, it was never going to happen.  He would take a step forward, then resist the hell out of us, step back, almost like he was deliberately sabotaging himself so he would never have to leave the safe harbor of our home and be on his own.

My husband and I both struggled with that. Both of us moved out on our own at a young age and loved it, thrived on independence, leaped out of the nest willingly, wings flapping a mile a minute, ready to take on the world.  My stepson seemingly not wanting to get his own place puzzled us and seemed quite foreign to us.

We forged ahead, kept working with him.  We taught him what he needed to know: how to do laundry, clean a bathroom, balance a checkbook, budget for his own place, write a resume, iron a shirt.  We taught.  We re-taught. We reminded.  When that didn’t stick, we lectured, yelled, performed interpretive dance, whatever it took to force something to seep into his occasionally thick skull, and more importantly, break through the barrier of his fear, his lack of confidence, and start to help him realize that yes, he could do all of this just fine.

A few months ago, my stepson started searching for his own apartment.  We reviewed his budget together, and we helped him figure out what he could afford, how much to set aside for utility deposits, furniture, getting set up in his new home.

He was so proud to inform us when he found a place.  He paid for all of it on his own.  He paid his deposit, came home with a key, and was beaming from ear to ear.

And as for his father and stepmom, who had been nudging him in this direction for the past two years, aiming for just this moment?  Well…we were proud, of course, but what surprised me was how lost and sad I felt.

It’s silly, really.   This is a big moment for him, a milestone.  I smiled and told him how proud I am of him.  I shared ideas for jazzing up his new place.  My husband meticulously inspected every square inch of his new apartment and made a repair list, some of which will be trusted to the property maintenance, and some of which he would not dream of letting anyone handle but himself.

The other day, I was making a list, jotting down things my stepson still needs for his apartment, thinking out loud to my husband, when I noticed he was watching me with a wistful, thoughtful look.  He said, “You are a good mom.”

I stopped, suprised, and then just smiled.  My heart soared.  It meant a lot to hear that right then.  He hugged me and said he knows I do a lot for the kids.

My stepson has mostly finished moving his things to his new place, and as the signs of his presence here have dwindled, as the closet emptied, as books disappeared, as clothes vanished, I had to resist the absurd urge to stop him, to put everything right back where it was, ask him to sit down, be a kid again, damnit.

I won’t do that, of course.  It’s his job to grow up.  It was my job, and my husband’s job, to help that happen, make sure he was ready.   So it’s time to stop being sad.  This is a moment of celebration, not loss.  His first apartment is a big, big step, and I won’t ruin it by being sentimental, sappy, clingy.  I want him to be as excited and proud of his first apartment  as I was of mine.  I won’t take that away from him.

But I will admit, it means a lot when he texts me to ask a question, how do I do this, what do I do about that.  I know as time goes on, those text messages will get less frequent, but I also take comfort in knowing that it will only mean we have done our job well, and he is more comfortable at the steering wheel of his own life…which is what we wanted all along.

Rising Above It

Ever hear those tired old phrases about being the bigger person and rising above the drama?  Yeah, I use them, too.  They have fit into my life over many, many years, thanks to cast mates pushed onto this crazy stage called life, to co-star with me, like it or not.

I don’t know if it’s age, or just being happier in my life, or simple maturity (nah, probably not that one), but I feel like I have risen above so far that I can look down and shake my head sadly at the drama and pettiness that has been so omnipresent, it’s like the sky or the grass, just part of the scenery.

I accept my part in poking the bear with a stick at times, just to chuckle when it predictably roars, but since I did not bring this mess to the scene, I can’t remove it.  That’s up to others who lug it around like an old friend, clutching it, unwilling to part with it.  The best I can do is refuse to pick it up and carry around pieces of it for them anymore.

I know others in our lives are far from finished with this game.  I know the badmouthing, hatefulness, and sniping will continue unabated.  I am at a point where I find myself almost feeling sorry for them.  They do it to themselves, yet it’s almost like they’re trapped in an oppressive cage of their own making, without the will or the knowledge to release themselves, to live any other way.

Life is really too short to waste it on thoughts, people, and activities that don’t bring anything of any true value to you.  I wish others in the kids’ lives would open their eyes to that.   God, how many more years have to be trashed with childish bullshit that, ultimately, doesn’t even matter?

I wish I could offer to help.  I know it will be met with hostility and hissing and spitting, with foaming at the mouth and much gnashing of teeth.  But it is very obvious that out of all the actors still assembled on this stage, I am much happier than they are, especially since I shifted to focusing on my life, my home, bettering myself, and turned my back on games and drama and all that silliness.

I think some people get so mired in their own negativity, they can’t squirm their way out on their own anymore.  They have been that way so long, they no longer know any better, or realize that anything else exists.  Everyone is as obsessed with this nonsense as they are, right?

Well, actually, no.  I am perfectly content living my own life, picking on my husband, working on our home and our life together, playing in the dirt on occasion, finding another stray animal to spoil, losing myself in a book, watching my husband and the kids get silly and loud, shaking my head but secretly just feeling happy that they are happy.

That’s what is important to me.  I regret any time I have wasted letting anything else steal that spotlight.  I hope it’s not too late for everyone else on this stage.  It doesn’t need to be.

That is their choice to make.  I have already made mine.

Rise above the Storm

The Old Man in the Road

I was peering at the computer screen yesterday, working, when I heard my husband come in the front door.  As soon as he appeared at the office doorway, I knew something was wrong.  He crossed the entire room in maybe two steps, reached out for me, and said in a tight voice, “I love you,” then held onto me tightly.

I was scared.  My mind started to race with all the awful possibilities: had he been in an accident?  Was one of the kids hurt?  What was upsetting him so much?

He had been driving along a busy highway when he came across an old man in the road, shuffling in small steps, shaking his hands at his sides tensely, and an old woman calling to him frantically. 

Cars whizzed past them, but my husband didn’t just drive by.  He pulled over, went up to the old man, took him gently by the arm, and asked him to walk with him for a bit.  The old man looked at his face and seemed to instantly relax.  He held my husband’s arm, patting it as he walked peacefully at his side.  My husband said the old man wasn’t shaking anymore.  

My husband helped him to the side of the highway and stood with him at a crosswalk until the old woman was able to make her way over to them.  The man was her husband.  He has dementia, got confused, and started to cross the street without her, not sure where he was, who he was with, or where he was going.

When the old man turned and saw the woman walking up to them, he instantly smiled. My husband said the look of total love on his face was unmistakable.  The old man said happily, “Ah, there you are!” as if he has been looking all over for her.

My husband told the woman there is no way her husband doesn’t know her anymore.  His brain may forget sometimes, but the way he looked at her just then, my husband told her, was with so much love and happiness at just seeing her face.  He knew exactly who she was.  And he adored her.

The woman started to cry and gave my husband a hug.  Apparently her husband hadn’t recognized her for some time, but something brought him back to her at the side of the road just then, let him be with her for just a while again.  

My husband stayed with them for a bit, made sure they were okay, then came straight home.  He said, “I couldn’t get home fast enough to just tell you how much I love you.”

Now I was the one ready to cry.  

My husband said he didn’t know why it was upsetting him so much, since he didn’t know that old woman or man by the road today.  I told him it touched him because he is a good person with a huge heart.  I reminded him how many people drove right by, not the least bit concerned about that flustered old man in the road, or the scared woman calling out to him, frightened for him.  I told him it upset him because he cares.  And that’s a good thing, a rare thing.

I am, of course, sorry that it upset him, but at the same time, I can’t help but be glad he happened to drive by right then.  What if everyone else just ignored what was happening?  What if the old man got hurt?  At least this way, my husband was able to help, and something about the encounter nudged the old man to return to himself again, recognize his wife again, and give them at least a little more time together. 

I am grateful for that, and I am also reminded again of exactly why I love my husband so much.   In a world full of people who just drive by, who figure it’s not their problem, I’m glad I found someone willing to stop and help and care with his whole heart.

Aaaargghhhh

I feel like I’ve hit a wall this week…then backed up to hit it again.  And again.  I’ve been doing so well the past few weeks, staying as positive as possible, diving into my new workout routine, and scoring a loss each Saturday at weigh-in.  But this week, I am struggling.

I’m not even 100% certain what the issue is.  Just sick of uncertainty, I suppose.  I don’t do well with chaos.  I like order, neatness, tidiness.  I like things planned out, scheduled, written down.  It’s impossible to plan for anything when no one seems to be able to agree on what’s going on, what’s going to happen, what should happen.  It makes me want to shove all the worthless talking heads out of the way, grab the reins, and start barking commands.  Someone needs to start making some solid decisions!

I don’t want to slide backwards now.  I don’t think anyone from work, or anyone else who hasn’t seen me in a while, will take one look at me and shriek “Oh my heavens, have you lost weight?” or anything like that.  I haven’t lost enough yet for that.  But I have lost just enough that when I put my cell phone in the pocket of my favorite jeans, they sag off of my hips and threaten to inch down farther than I care for.  So I am not really fitting into smaller clothes just yet, but soon.

I don’t want to be stupid and cave into stress and irritation this week.  I’ve worked too hard to lose the weight that I have dropped since we were forced to start working from home.  I want to build on this momentum, not lose ground and start slipping in the wrong direction.

It’s hard, though, because it’s like so many people have just given up during this lockdown mess.  I can practically hear crickets on MyFitnessPal, and people seem to be blogging less (okay, I am guilty of not commenting much lately, too).  

I told my husband that there’s practically no support right now on sites like MFP, and he instantly said, “I support you.”  I laughed and hugged him and assured him I wasn’t talking about him, just the MFP site and weight loss sites in general right now.  He shrugged and said, “Then do it for you.  That should be enough.”

Yeah, that should be enough.   He’s right.  I will keep logging and tracking and doing my best to stick to my routine.  Hopefully I will have another loss at weigh-in this Saturday.  I don’t want to break my streak now!

Knock Off Early

I had another nice surprise on the scale this past weekend: two more pounds gone!  I am just a little over 6 pounds away from my first mini-goal.  Time to start setting up some small rewards for hitting little milestones along the way.

This morning was hectic, so much going on all at once.  I had to log into a Zoom meeting, while texting a co-worker, while trying to remotely troubleshoot an issue with our phones at work…all while a spoiled pitbull whined in one bedroom like his little heart was shattered at being left alone for a few minutes.

I put out all those fires, got everything resolved (including the big baby dog, who got to go for an extra long walk), and now I am thinking…why not knock off a bit early for today?  I deserve it.

One benefit of working from home is that no one really knows when I am at my computer and when I’m not.  I’m going to take advantage of that fact today.  Bye!