The New “Normal” (Part V)

The last rambling post told you of the day that finally broke me.

I had called my siblings and went through my nightmare of a day and told them that I don’t know what to do. I can’t sign up to do more for my dad. I don’t trust that he can take care of himself. I was tired of him verbally assaulting my mom and I when we tried to help. I needed some support.

They both live in a different state, so there isn’t much they can do. But I needed them to know that I was going to push for my dad to be put in an assisted living space. I had reached a point that I didn’t feel like we had any other choice. Thankfully they agreed (my other option was to drop my dad at their doorsteps and let them sort it out)…. so I guess I didn’t give them too much of a choice, but at least I moved forward knowing that they understood.

It was still going to be a battle. I didn’t have power of attorney. There was no way he was signing over any control to me. Based on how out of it he was, there was no way that he can be considered of sound mind.

It wasn’t clear what was going on with my dad physically. He was really out of it. He was super combative, they had to sedate him and restrain him to the bed. I talked to a doctor about his 3rd day, at the second hospital and finally had some hope. Not that he had a miracle cure… but hope that he would help set me on the right path with getting Pops the care he needs.

He understood that since the traumatic brain injury (TBI), my dad has never been the same. He understood that every medical setback (seizure, illness, surgery) set us back for MONTHS on his ability to take care of himself. The doc, who had treated my dad before, understood that my dad likely scheduled the surgery in order to get his hands on more painkillers. He understood that even on the “good days” my dad is not able to make sound decisions, especially where his medical needs are concerned.

I worked with the team at our local hospital, and they were able to place my dad in a skilled nursing facility right across from the hospital. They weren’t specifically a good fit for my dads’ temperament (due to the TBI), but they are close to home and would tolerate his obsession with needing to smoke.

The first couple of days were TERRIBLE. Of course my dad wasn’t happy to be there. It isn’t the nicest place, but most of these types of facilities are pretty much the same. My dad refused to walk with a walker, despite being completely unstable. He through a fit about it and tried to hit a nurse with his cane. They brought me in to meet the team of nurses, the nutritional team, and the physical therapy team…. I think they thought I could talk some sense into him, and get him to better behave – they were wrong.

But I tried. I told him to be nice. I told the nurses to hide the cane and leave the walker. Don’t give him choices. He told me he wanted to go home. I told him that this was his home until he can get stronger and take care of himself. It has never occurred to him that he will not likely ever be able to do so.

He hated it there. But I was sleeping better knowing that he was having several healthy meals a day. I took comfort in knowing that he was taking all his meds, when he was supposed to take them. I was breathing a little easier, knowing that if he had a seizure or a fall, that someone was there to help.

I told my mom to block his number. I took sole responsibility for taking care of his demands. I was the bad guy. I put him there. I would carry the weight of it, because I also felt the relief of it all, as weird as that sounds.

So I got the text messages at 2am that he needs more cigarettes. I told him that unless he is dying, he needs to only text during the daylight hours (he would only sometimes remember that). I got the phone calls demanding that we drop off his wallet and leave him alone, because he doesn’t need our help. I asked him how he was going to get cigarettes if he doesn’t need me… that was the only value he could see in keeping in contact with me – his middle kid, that has spent most of her adult life just trying to hold the pieces together.

I got the phone call that told me “Leave me the fuck alone! I don’t need you in my life. I don’t need your help! I am leaving this place and there is nothing you can do to stop me.” Somehow I gathered the strength to reply: “It’s a good thing that you raised me to be strong enough to stick with you. I love you and I will talk to you when you can be a little more respectful.”

The next day, it was as if nothing happened.

Every once in a while, I would get the texts at all hours of the night. Sometimes they make zero sense. Other days are okay.

I admittingly do not go visit him at the home. They still have a lot of concerns with COVID, and frankly my dad doesn’t really register who I am when I am in a gown and mask – it makes the whole thing weird and uncomfortable. I have picked him up for appointments and have seen him when I am dropping things off or signing papers. It’s not ideal, but it is the best I can do right now.

I feel guilty every time I come and go from there. I feel like the nurses judge me. I feel like the whole world judges me for putting him there, but it is something that I have come to terms with for my own sanity.

I have taken him to a few appointments since he has been living there. The first appointment was a DISASTER! He was concerned with some spots on his face (he has had skin cancer previously removed), so we were going to see his primary doctor and probably get a referral. The appointment was around 10am. A very unstable Pops sort of used his walker to get to my car. He seemed “okay” though on the ride over.

He could barely walk from the handicap spot to the door of the doc office. He really didn’t use his walker to stabilize his walk – always had one side off the ground. And trying to get there in a hurry! I finally got him inside, sat him down and moved my car to a proper parking spot. When the doc finally called him back, it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to walk. So they brought out a wheel chair to take him back.

Pops could not stay awake! Keep in mind, that I was just given the opportunity to actively take part in this guys’ healthcare. He didn’t share much with us the past few years. So I did what I could to answer the doctor’s questions. The doc made it clear that he thought I was a piece of shit, because this is the first he knew that my dad had family close by… EXCUSE ME, that is not my fault. All his docs and the social workers kept telling him that he can take care of himself!

The doc agreed that the spots needed to be checked by the dermatologist and gave me a referral. He helped me wheel Pops to my car and get him inside. He was afraid that the home was over-medicating my dad and told me that I should immediately report it. When I got him back to the home, his nurses came out. I told them about the weird behavior and they were SHOCKED. Despite his volatile behavior some days, they love him. He can still be charming when he wants to be… they had never seen him so out of it!

I got a call later, that they did some checking with the night shift, and my dad was so anxious to “go” to an appointment, he didn’t sleep at all the night before. Cheese & rice people…. make it harder than it needs to be!

So we decided that moving forward, we would not tell him until I was pulling up to take him.

A couple of months later, I took him to the dermatologist to get that spot on his face removed and biopsied… We didn’t tell him ahead of time that he had the appointment, so I picked him up and all was good! He was alert. He was excited. He was pretty cooperative (even buckled his seat belt)! We drove to the next town over so he could see the doc and their amazing staff. I filled out the paperwork as best as I could (I’m still pretty new to being in charge of him and don’t know the whole big picture)… but I was still shocked when we went in the exam room.

The nurse was asking him questions about his over-all health. He was flirty and charming, but answered every question with a no. Luckily the nurse was watching me for answers as well… Do you suffer from anxiety? No (as I nod my head yes). Do you suffer from depression? No (again, nodding profusely). Do you have trouble sleeping? No (yep… sure does). Do you have any allergies? No (this time I had to speak… what about penicillin? Oh yeah, I am allergic to that…) Do you suffer from seizures? Nope (I’m sorry, what?!?). No wonder all his docs kept feeling he could take care of himself! He has zero issues!!!

The appointment went well. The staff there was great. As we were leaving, I asked Pops to just stand there in the lobby while I made the follow up appointment. It was hot outside, and there was no reason for him to go rushing out (oh, except I promised cigarettes and McDonalds before I dropped him back off). But he didn’t listen. So I remote started my car to get the air running, and unlocked the door. He was pushing his walker along, and I yelled out the door to wait, there is a step down! As soon as I said it, he fell in the parking lot. Scraped up his leg and arm on the hot asphalt. I struggled to pick him up from the ground, until the nurses came out to help. We got him in the car, and they made the appointment while I sat in my running car with him. So he cussed the whole way back, while I tried to make light of the situation… and then I bought him lunch and took him back to the home.

I’m literally shocked that the staff at the nursing home lets me take him places, because I always bring him back a little worse than when he left.

Lately he has had a hard time keeping his cell phone functioning (I think he just doesn’t charge it). So I mostly hear from his nurses.

One fun day in particular, I got a call at 6:45am. The nurse wanted to let me know that “Mr. Wayne will need cigarettes, he is down to 2.” No problem, I will bring some by after work that day, so he was going to need to pace himself. She called back 10 minutes later – he also needs a lighter, because he lost his…. Okay. After work. She called one more time that morning to confirm that after work I would bring by both things. FFS!!! I was already frustrated by 7:15 am – so I went to the store and dropped off Mr. Wayne’s needs before work – because otherwise who knows how many calls I would get.

This is just to share the “usual” interactions I have with the facility.

One night, I got a call (after 9pm), that said they were calling about my dad, to please call back. It isn’t urgent.

So I called the next day. I spoke to someone who told me that they called because they moved my dad’s room. Okay, cool. You don’t have to let me know that stuff at 9pm – unless it is for a behavioral or medicinal reason, you can move him to any room! That was it, end of conversation.

Later I get a call, and it’s urgent. I call back… Pops has COVID and isn’t doing well. They want to take him to the hospital. I told the nurse that they absolutely should. Then she proceeded to yell at me because I did not answer the call the night before. I told her what I was told when I did call back, and it was still my fault for not talking to HER. I’m sorry… WHAT?!?

These past couple of weeks, he has been hospitalized for dehydration, refusing to eat, refusing his meds… he seems to have given up. I can’t fight for him, if he won’t do his part too. A cough and cold on my side, have been keeping me from going in there and yelling at him to pull his stubborn head out of his ass and get better… But next week we are facing it head on.

This week, my brother and sister will be in town. Maybe seeing the three of us together will be what he needs to change his attitude. Or maybe he is just done… I mean, I kind of get it. He is stuck in the worst version of Groundhogs Day, EVER.

For now…. I just keep hoping. I keep hoping that I will see some glimmer of the dad I know and love. I hope that I can spend 10 minutes with him, without him telling me to fuck off and leave him alone. I hope that I go back to getting annoying texts about needing cigarettes or whatever else he is craving. I hope that he finds the strength to continue to burden me. That sounds weird, but even if he is ready to give up, I am not so sure my heart is ready to do the same.

I don’t know how much more time we are going to get with Pops. I don’t know if any of it will be quality time. I have been mourning the loss of him for longer than I can remember. I am not ready for people to come out of the woodwork to tell me how great he was and how sad they are that he is gone. Trust me… I know. I also know he burned bridges and was hard to be around, even before his health took a turn. But honestly… I’m just not ready for the shit-show of support that will show up, when he is no longer around to benefit from the love and strength of it all.

When you are lucky, a little girls’ first love gets to be her daddy. Please don’t ever doubt that I love this man. I would have washed my hands long ago if I didn’t. He is not the same as the man I grew up loving – but luckily for him, I remember that guy. I never knew what I was signing up for, when I identified as a “daddy’s girl”… but it’s been a wild ride.

Thanks for reading through this… I felt a strong need to share a glimpse of this journey we have been on. I know that in the end, folks will judge & criticize – tell me all the things that I could have done, or should have done – without ever taking the time to see it from my point of view. I’m just over here trying to raise teenage boys, to invest in my amazing relationship, work full time, go to all the events all over the place, help out with school stuff, be a good daughter and sister, be a good friend, be a good bonus-mom (when we have him), and just generally try not to lose my mind. But go ahead and judge. It’s fine. It’s all good.

Pops (Part I)

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while, but couldn’t ever find the right time, or the right words… so buckle-up buttercup – I have a story to tell. It’s my story, and mine alone. My siblings have their own stories and views when it comes to dad – and I respect that it isn’t the same.

My dad. His health has been a struggle for a while now. He has been dealing with mental issues for a very long time (since at least the 1990’s). He has suffered seizures off and on for at least 13 years. It’s been a lot. And it has been a long and windy road.

Pops & I on his birthday (12/23/2021)

So I am going to start… this might turn into a few posts, because I could honestly write a book about it.

Just to be clear. I love my dad, unconditionally. And I am not, nor will I ever be, a victim.

There are two different versions of my dad in my mind… who he used to be, and who he is now. I got from him a love of baseball, camping, being outdoors, dogs…. And he helped teach me to love my people with all of my being.

Pops & I love the best team, not sure what happened to those other two….

He used to be the life of the party. He is a charmer. He was never perfect. He is an alcoholic (sober now for about 14 years). We have gone round and round about all the ways he feels I wronged him in his life – you read that right… He blames me for a lot of things. So it is only fitting at this stage in life that I get to be the bad guy still.

My dad and his siblings, back in the day… he’s the second from the left in the back.
We grew up at this ballpark…

He is angry that I didn’t support him in his recovery the first time he got sober. We are talking 1993/1994 – I was 15/16 years old, and was home with my little brother, while my older sister went to the family counseling sessions. I abandoned him, and in his mind it is unforgiveable even 30 years later. Because every teenage daughter should be shouldered with that kind of responsibility.

After this first “recovery”, he stayed clean for a while. He and my mom had been divorced for a few years. He dated (some real interesting women now and then)… and eventually married a dentist in 1996. She turned out to be a real nightmare. She often made it so that he had to choose her over his kids. That’s not all on her (the evil witch she turned out to be), that was 100% his choice. But he was happy, or at least pretended to be on the surface.

My brother, sister & I with Pops on his wedding day in 1996.

During this sober period, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Let’s face it – long term abuse of your body can have very real and long lasting effects. He was being treated with meds. He was working a job he loved (a job that paid for his first recovery stint). He appeared to be living his dream.

Then he hurt his back – he has had back problems for years. Surgery and pain took him out of work. He became addicted to pain killers, and using them much more frequently than prescribed. Lost his job. He stopped taking his meds for his bipolar disorder. He started down a path that led to a very dark place. How bad did it get? Let me tell you…

If you don’t know, people who have addictions tend to have an addictive personality. Meaning, whatever they are choosing as their vice – it will be obsessive and unrelenting.

Remember me mentioning that my step-monster (just kidding, I never called her anything other than her wretched first name) was a dentist? Well… she used her handy little prescription pad to make sure that the two of them were never out of their precious vicoprofen.

If you are not familiar, vicoprofen is a potent pain killer (hydrocodone + ibuprofen), that is a Class II controlled substance (NSAID/opioid combo). Typically it is prescribed for a short period of time (less than 10 days) for acute pain. Usually, your doctor would prescribe in a way that says to take one pill every 4-6 hours as necessary – but do not exceed 5 in a day.

Well… this happy couple was taking 15-20 pills DAILY.

I mean.. authorities would catch on if she was writing all the prescriptions for her husband, right?!? Of course! So she wrote them in my name, my siblings names, his siblings names…. whoever they could think of. The real kicker – he had distanced himself from us so we didn’t really know. I found out with the DEA called me at work and asked me to come down for some questioning. Good times.

It was a shit show. I was terrified. I confronted him. He blew me off even more. They both got into legal trouble – she was no longer able to write prescriptions, but was allowed to remain in practice. She kicked him to the curb. He was broke. He was broken. He was addicted. He was in pain. He was unbalanced. He was once again at rock bottom. No more access to pills – so back to drinking it is! And I was fucking angry.

The next few years were kind of a blur. He lived in his little pick up truck off and on. He stayed in hotels. He stayed in my mom’s garage for a while. He stayed with me for a very short time – but his drinking and continued anger towards me was a little much for us to handle. I bought him a dog – because he has always loved animals and his ex-wife took all of theirs. He somehow went back to his ex-wife (tattooed her face on his arm)… and then was out on his ass again (the dog came to live with me at that point).

There were a lot of lost years here. Occasional calls. He wasn’t part of my wedding – my brother walked me down the aisle. Most calls were catastrophic. We were living in a different town, but several “welfare checks” were called in. I can distinctly remember being VERY pregnant with my boys & picking up a call from him while I was shopping with my sister at Target.

He told me that life isn’t worth it anymore. He told me to tell my brother to come and get his stuff the next day. I lost it. In the middle of Target, pregnant, sobbing. My sister was PISSED! She grabbed the phone and told him to “just fucking do it already and stop calling to make us all feel like crap”. Now, don’t get all judgmental about that. My sis would have shanked anyone who made me feel any bit uncomfortable while I was pregnant (I truly love her for it). We were done.

Of course we got through that. Stayed in touch, but not close. My nephew was 5, and had never met my dad. I had my boys and knew that I didn’t want them around my dad, if he couldn’t get his shit together. So I told him – get sober, or you do not get to see your grandkids. Finally something he felt that was worth fighting for.

The first time Trevor met Pops.

He did get sober. He ended up working at the recovery center and living there for years. We were so thankful, because it kept him “clean” and helped him work his steps every single day. We would take the kids to see him. Movies, grab a meal… nothing major. He dated someone for a bit, and it was nice to have a version of him back in our life.

But of course….. now that he was sober, all those years seemed to catch up with him.

Stick A Fork In Me (Part IV)

This year, I finally lost my shit.

Pops was working with some doctors on some back/neck pain that was also giving him some difficulties walking. He made the appointments, somehow got a ride to a neighboring town to see the surgeon. He scheduled a surgery.

He seemed to be doing okay. Other than his occasional rants toward my mom, he seemed pretty stable (granted, I didn’t know how bad his living space had gotten), but for his “normal” we were looking pretty good. Clark & I took him out to eat for his birthday – the first time that they had met. It went better than I thought! Pops has a hard time remembering some stuff that is currently happening, but he can tell you stories of growing up that are clear as ever to him.

During lunch, he asked me for a ride to the hospital in the next couple of months for his surgery- no problem! The hospital is in the town I work in, easy enough! I didn’t get to meet with the doc or nurses to discuss expectations before. He was in charge of his own medical decisions. He expected to stay one night.

After that first night, I spoke to his nurse. She felt he was unstable, and weak. She wanted to talk to the doctor about keeping him for at least one more night. I explained that he lives on his own. He needs to be 100% independent. He needs to be able to get up from bed, to walk to the bathroom, to bathe. He does not live with me. He cannot stay with me. He needs to either go to a skilled nursing facility or be ready to take care of himself before discharge.

I had this conversation multiple times, with multiple nurses and they all pretended to hear my concerns. They explained his behaviors and asked if it was “normal”. Sorry ladies – there is no baseline for “normal” since his TBI. They recommended that he go to a nursing facility until he was stronger. He refused (shocking, I know).

He wanted to smoke. And nursing homes do not allow smoking. Totally logical…

The hospital wanted him to use a walker. He refused. He doesn’t need that. He is fine. He just wants to go outside and smoke.

I told them to stop giving him options. Tell him that he is going to a facility – that is the only way he can be discharged. I thought we were all on the same page, but they did me dirty. After a week (much longer than he thought the stay would be), they told me that he is ready to be picked up.

Are you sure? It didn’t sound that way yesterday…. again, he lives on his own and needs to care for himself. They assured me and I left work to go get him.

So let me set a scene here…. I am waiting outside (because COVID rules are still in effect at the hospital). I called and let them know I was waiting. 30 minutes go by. Then 45. I called again – they are working on his discharge, he will be right out.

Then I get a call from home. One of my boys, Kevin, cut his hand pretty bad, and needs to go to the hospital, because he will probably need stitches & he passed out. Queue up my anxiety – not because the family at home cannot handle it, but just the fact that I cannot go right now to be there for my kid. So I am frantically trying to send my mom the insurance info, so she can go to the ER, and the hospital that is discharging my dad calls me.

The nurse. She wants to give me his discharge instructions, so that I can take care of him. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. I told her – he is to take care of himself, so she needs to go over the discharge instructions with him. “But I don’t think he understands…” Whelp, then I guess he should still be in your care or discharged to a facility.

About then, they wheel him out. I can tell before I even go to open the door, that he cannot stand, walk, or even get from the chair to my car. I got a little snippy with the nurse who brought him out (maybe a little unfair, but I was feeling some major stress). I asked how they expected him to care for himself, if he can’t even get into my car?!? “Well ma’am – he wants to leave, and we cannot keep him.”

I wanted to get home and see my kid. I was done.

So we lifted my dad into my passenger seat. He cussed at me. He cussed at the nurse. He couldn’t buckle his seatbelt. He wouldn’t let me help.

The discharge nurse came out to go over his after care instructions. He told her to fuck off, so she did. She tried to have him sign the paperwork, but he could barely lift the pen to the right spot. No instructions given – just that he can take a shower later.

So off we went. He cussed at me for the first 15 miles. Then apologized for being an asshole. Then asked if I have his new prescription for painkillers yet? (FML dude… I haven’t even gotten us back to town yet – but tells me what his goal was all along). We got stopped in some traffic in a neighboring town… I stepped on my brakes, and he said “If you get in an accident, I am going to be really pissed at you!”…. At this point, I sent a text to Clark & said I was going to reach across, open his door and leave him on the side of the highway! It was VERY tempting… but we drove on.

My anxiety was rapidly increasing… how was I going to leave him to take care of himself? How was my kid in the ER doing with getting stitches? When will my car stop telling me that he isn’t buckled… UGH! This day isn’t going to end well…. and his behavior was deteriorating by the minute (right along with my patience).

We get to his house, I pulled into the driveway so he had the shortest distance to walk. He rents a back bedroom in a residential house. His landlord was an angel, who looked out for him all the time – but I KNEW that he was going to need more. He was in no shape to care for himself. BUT – I can’t stay with him, in his disgusting tiny room (that my mom had actually cleaned, but still). There is not room in our tiny home for him to stay. What the fuck am I going to do?!? I may be a bitch from time to time, but this is my Pops (who I do love a whole lot) and I have no clue what to do… and honestly, I just really want to see my kid.

But, one problem at a time. Let’s get Pops out of my car and into his room, so he can smoke and do whatever else he was dying to do.

Me: “Pops – let’s get you out of the car. Put both feet out of the car, and on the ground, and I will help you stand up.”

Pops: “Fuck you, I can do it”

He puts one foot on the ground. Can’t get the other foot out of the car. He half falls out of the car. I picked him back up and put him on the seat.

We did this 4 more times, until he LET me help him put both feet down.

Me: “Stay right there. Here is your cane, but don’t move until I get your door unlocked. Seriously, DON’T MOVE!!!”

I turned to get the keys out of the back seat. Turn right back around, and he is no longer standing. He is flat on his back on the front lawn (thankfully)… This is when I snap.

Me: “DO NOT FUCKING MOVE!!! I’m calling an ambulance, and you are going back to a hospital!”

Pops: “Fuck you. I’m not going. I need a cigarette, can you get me up so I can smoke?”

Remember, he just had BACK SURGERY… so it isn’t like I want to try and pull him up to standing. Plus he is a lot taller than me (like almost a foot taller). Not the easiest thing to do, even when he is the least bit helpful. So I chatted with the 9-1-1 operator. They are pretty familiar with my dad. I explained our current scenario. She asked if he his his head (his response was “Fuck you” – shocking, I know) – I told her that I didn’t think so… she let me know that fire & ambulance were headed our way.

I wanted to just sit right down and cry. I watched him lay there. I listened to him continue to cuss me out. I listened as he told me that he doesn’t need me and I should leave him alone (but help him get more cigarettes and his pain pills first). I waited for the cavalry to arrive.

Pops argued with the medics. He didn’t need to go to the hospital, he just needed help getting up and to his room. I explained the whole situation, and I told them that I felt very strongly that he cannot care for himself, and should have never had been released from the hospital. Luckily they agreed. Luckily they were “familiar” with my dad, and recognized his decline. After a little battle, they loaded him up on a stretcher and took him to the ER…. Perfect, I was headed that way to see my kid.

Mom and Kev were wrapping up paperwork and he was heading home. Couple of stitches, keep it dry… make an appointment to have the stitches removed in a week. Other than having a student stitch him up (and I guess a horrible person overseeing the task), he was in and out without issue. He was waiting in mom’s truck in the parking lot as the ambulance arrived with my dad. Kevin – in all his dry-humor Kevinness – said “Thanks grandpa, for showing me up.”… I was thankful for the laugh (but in need of something stronger).

We chatted a bit with the crew from the ambulance. One of the ER nurses came out to talk to me… I let her know that he had surgery earlier in the week. That I felt the operating hospital wrongly discharged him to wash their hands of him. And that I felt very strongly that he was not in a condition to take care of his own basic human needs.

They were going to at least keep him overnight, so I finally headed home.

Through this whole living nightmare, Clark was asking how he can help? What can he do??? I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure what I was doing at the time. But I was welcomed home with a big hug that helped me pull myself together. And a cold drink to help me make a call to my brother & sister that wasn’t going to be the easiest.

If you are still with me on this journey, the next post will share what happened next, and where we are today…. I promise, I will wrap it up (for now).

Closer To Home (Part III)

Having Pops closer to home had to help, right?!? At least on good days, we can have him to sporting events, or take him to grab a meal. We were busy trying to raise our families and doing the best we could, all things considered. At least if he ends up in the hospital, it will be easier to be there for him.

He found a room to rent. We got him settled in. He could walk to nearby stores if needed. He got set up with doctors and stuff closer to his new home. The cycle of his seizures and hospital stays didn’t end.

My sis, Pops & I the day we moved him closer to our town.

During one of his hospital stays, we started talking to Social Services… this was YEARS ago. We were worried that he was not able to take care of himself. We felt he would be better off in a skilled nursing facility – to make sure his meds and meals are regular and keep him healthy. But he wouldn’t sign anything giving us any power to help… and the docs kept clearing him.

During one of these hospital stays, he called me from his hospital room. He asked me for cigarettes. I told him that he cannot smoke in the hospital. He said “I will need them when I get out.” Cool – we will get some when you get out…. He cussed at me, told me to tell my brother (who was already living out of state), because he will bring dad what he needs. I eventually hung up and went back to the cookies I was baking. He went on to call me 37 times. Obsessed with needing cigarettes & needing them now. I had to block the hospital phone number and tell them to call from a different line if they need to reach me.

After every hospital stay, we are still getting the same questions – can he stay with you? Can you take care of him? The answer is no. That would not be a good situation for either of us mentally. I work full time. I have a family to take care of. I do not have the physical or emotional strength to face this every day.

I hope you can understand the frustration we were facing. There was this endless cycle of health issues. There was his obsessive and often angry behavior. We would bring him to a little league game, and he would obsess about buying a loaded baked potato. It would be all he would talk about for days leading up to the game, the whole ride to the game, stand in line as soon as we got to the game… and if they didn’t have potatoes, we never heard the end of it. He would yell at umpires & coaches. He treated my mom like crap, though she was the one who helped the most with bringing him food at home, and bringing him to games when we felt up to putting up with it.

He was working a program with social services. They had him going to counseling. They helped him make medical appointments. They helped him get to and from – until they were “comfortable” that he could arrange his own county express rides, and keep his calendar of appointments straight. What they didn’t see, what he didn’t show them…. his living arrangements were trash. He completely trashed the room he was renting. He had meds spread all over the ground. He had food that had gone bad… my mom would bring him food every day, and he would just let it go to waste.

Let me expand on that note just a bit. My parents divorced somewhere around 1992. My dad was renting a room, and had only a mini fridge and a microwave. My mom, in her never ending quest to make her kids lives easier, would make my dad food EVERYDAY and drop it off. His likes and dislikes would change, and he would let her know in some rude manner. His times were screwy, because he would take a sleeping pill at 4pm and then want to start his day at 2am… He would start texting my mom, asking IF she was going to bring food. When will she be there? Hello? You fucking bitch, just bring me all my money and I’ll get my own food? Answer me right now!!! She would show up when she normally would, on her way to work, and he would say “Thanks kiddo! See you tomorrow!” As if he hadn’t verbally abused her for the past several hours. As if he didn’t come across as completely unhinged. But my mom never waivered.

And don’t ask about holidays (“Your mom is ignoring me, but you better bring me hot food – don’t make me wait for crap”). It took all my strength to not lose my shit.

The docs did work on getting him OFF pain killers. I left work one day to do a counseling session with him and the social worker. Her and I chatted a bit about my dad, our history, and she said that he wanted me there and wanted me to be a bigger part of his life. She brought my dad in, and talked about limits and not using abusive language in texts and calls to me and my mom. He agreed (as he always does). We decided that if I say “that’s enough” he will stop harassing whoever. Then she asked Pops if he had anything he wanted to say to me… He did.

“When is the next pancake breakfast event? That was really good.”

What?!?

Of course the agreement didn’t last. The erratic behavior continued. But hey – he graduated the county’s social service program! He is free to keep making his own decisions. Making his own appointments. Leaving the rest of us wondering how we can possibly keep this going, and how can we make it better.

The next chapter in this saga is going to bring you to current times… how I finally lost my shit and we got to where we are.

And So It Goes… The Steady Decline (Part II)

I can remember the first time we saw Dad have a seizure. We had gone to the movie theater to watch an Alvin & the Chipmunks movie with the kids. It was around Christmas/his birthday. Before the movie got through the advertisements, he made a noise, that my sis and I thought was a chuckle…. but we soon realized that he was having a seizure.

My sis stayed with him, and folks nearby helped get him down to the ground to await help. I ran to the lobby and they called 911. It was scary, and we had our kids with us… we weren’t sure what to do.

He lived on his own, so I don’t know if we ever knew the extent of his health issues. I have no clue how often he had a seizure and didn’t seek medical attention. Thankfully we knew paramedics in his town, and we would often hear that he was being taken in. Or someone from the recovery center would find him and call for an ambulance – when he would let them.

It was an endless cycle of the same nightmare.

Seizure.

Dad being confused & disoriented – often not knowing who we are or why we are taking him to the hospital (or sitting in the ER with him).

They do a CT scan. It comes back clear.

They put in an IV – we tell them “he is a hard stick” and 4 or 5 tries later, they finally get it in.

They ask for a history. Every time. Even if we were in the same hospital a week ago.

They ask for a list of his meds (the list is long – and we had finally had him keep it typed up so we can have it with us).

They run tests.

They don’t know what triggered it.

They maybe adjust his meds.

Can he stay with you when he is released? Does he have anyone who can give him day to day care?

They let him go at some point – when they feel that he can take care of himself.

Copy & paste.

Again & again…. for YEARS.

We laughed a lot through our tears, worries and fears. There were times he was so out of it, that he told my brother & I to look outside at the starfish, before they disappear… he thought he was under water. We honestly never knew how he would react to the trauma his body was going through.

There was another time that he was fully convinced that the nurse (who was trying to run some neuro tests on him) was trying to kill him. He told me that he saw it on the news, and he was sure that she killed her husband! He told me that she killed him twice “once in English, and once in Spanish”….. Of course, she was the only one available to run these tests, and she was terrified of him.

Sometimes he would take out his IV and catheter & just walk on out. I cannot describe what it feels like to have the hospital call and ask if we know where he is.

All through this, my dad lived on his own. He was told by doctors that he can take care of himself. But when you saw how he lived – meds all over the place, not taking the right things at the right times… all his pain meds would be gone, but some of the other meds he would have in excess. We tried the pill sorters – but he often didn’t know what day it was. We even tried one that had a timing device – nothing worked, and he would just get angry that he needed our help… which wasn’t easy from another town. We were never sure how many meals he was eating, if he was drinking enough water…. just life basics.

Dad had a particularly bad medical incident – that I wrote about at the time… The consensus is that he hit his head on a rock during a seizure he had while he was outside smoking. It resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was in the hospital for more than 6 months this time around… surgeries, rehab. I may have passed out in the ICU. He may have punched a male nurse. It was a lot.

He went to a skilled nursing facility for a bit once released – but no one wanted him as a resident long term. He can be very difficult. And he can get very angry. He has always been one to hold grudges, but the anger only really came after the TBI.

The rehab center where he was still currently living/working asked us to find him somewhere else – they weren’t equipped to deal with the challenges my dad was facing, and we could not blame them for wanting to wash their hands of it. He refused to consider living in an assisted living home (and at this point he had a reputation) – and the damn doctors still insisted that he can take care of himself.

It was time to find him a room closer to the town we lived in, so that we can help a little more…. Easier said than done.

WTF

Why is this still an issue? A topic of discussion? Why do politicians think that they should be allowed to make laws with regards to choices that affect my health – whether it is physical or psychological…. If it’s my body, WHY THE FUCK isn’t it my choice?

Based on the way several states are ruling, I would be a criminal. Because I chose to have a medical procedure, that saved my life & likely the lives of my boys – I could have been criminally prosecuted.

Regardless of your “beliefs” – religious or otherwise…. Why can’t you agree that it is an individual’s right to choose? Why should your morals affect my life?!?

Look. I’ve been through the ringer. I’m not “pro-abortion”…. But I also know that not all pregnancies are created equal. I KNOW this. I have lived this.

I wanted nothing more, than to be a mother. There was no accidental pregnancies in my life. There wasn’t an easy path to a planned one. I didn’t get to take a home test and do a cute little surprise to my husband. I got a defective reproductive system, a ton of heartbreak, medical intervention & finally two ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AMAZING KIDS!

Funny how “the government” won’t move to cover something like infertility as a mandated thing with insurance (I mean, a woman’s body is supposed to be able to reproduce, why is it not a medically covered issue to “fix”?!?) but then they want to make laws that prohibit the medical termination to a pregnancy for whatever the reason…. I don’t have a right to get pregnant, but then I don’t have a right to end it either?!?

I am one of the lucky ones. Might be hard to believe, based on what you have read so far…. But I am truly thankful. I didn’t even have to go as far as IVF to get my boys. I am not minimizing what I went through, but compared to what others experience, I am lucky.

When we found out I was pregnant, we were shocked to learn that I had 5 little miracles! But also 5?!?! Holy cow! Even the doctor was shocked…

I lost 1 little love in the 8th week. We were counseled on the risks of carrying quadruplets. There was less than a 20% chance that any of the babies would be born “developmentally normal”, and there was a high risk I could die during the whole process….. so yeah – exciting one minute, terrifying the next.

They talked to us about selective reduction. According to the cave-man style of thinking that seems to be on the rise… this would be a crime.

I won’t go into details about the procedure, you can look it up. But they asked us (me) to carry for a full trimester, so they could determine if there were any two that were stronger, more viable. Any two that appeared to be bigger, thriving. There was very little emotional comfort from these medical specialists – they knew i was making the best medical choice… they gave me all the stats. Just facts and procedures. Just the best medical care and outcome they can offer.

The heartbreak was all mine. I tried for so long to be a mom. I struggled with giving up two of my miracle babies in order for two others to have a really great chance at survival. That night I had some bleeding, and I panicked…. I just knew I was being punished by a higher power for making the choice I made…. My heart was BROKEN!

I had a happy ending, starting nearly 15 years ago…. I delivered 2 healthy boys (still 10 weeks early), but wow – I have been blessed!

Imagine if I had been sent to prison because of this heartbreaking choice I made. Does that sit well with you? Does that align with your beliefs?

What if it was a young woman who was raped and it resulted in pregnancy. Does your religious beliefs mean she needs to carry that baby, that horrific reminder of her trauma? And then – what if your state then said that your rapist has a right to visitation with their child…. Does that sit well with you? Would that help you sleep at night?!? Because that is what is happening!!!

I don’t judge folk for what they believe. I fully think that your beliefs & morals should be whatever sets your soul on fire. But please don’t let your beliefs infringe on anyone else’s rights… if you consider yourself “pro-life”…. Be for the lives that people chose to live.

Seriously though…. 🤣

You never have to agree with EVERYONE, but respect the choices they make & their right to do so.

If you think there isn’t a minute where those 3 little souls aren’t weighing heavy on my heart, you are wrong. Just like you are wrong to think that your beliefs trump the medical needs of others.

Be kind. Always…..

Still Here & Still Crazy

I need to do this more often… it is truly cathartic. Not only putting my random thoughts “on paper”, but sharing with y’all (and usually learning that I am not alone). I mean, I didn’t even realize that I did not post a single blog/rant in 2021… so weird.

Life is good right now. Insane, but good.

We are in year two of the “pandemic”, and we are doing pretty well – all things considered. Work continues to be flexible, but I am in the office most days. The boys have been able to stay in real school, which I am super grateful for. We got to enjoy a regular football season, an actual school dance, band performances… and hopefully we get to watch Nate play baseball soon!

I am happy. Like ridiculously happy with our perfectly-imperfect family. When you realize that you have found someone to love you in a way, that you didn’t really know you needed – that is pretty freaking amazing. Is it all romance and flowers? Hell no… it’s more muddy yards, family dinners, crazy adventures and daily laughs! Turns out, that is exactly what I need.

All in all, we are doing pretty amazing.

But you guys…. teenagers are A LOT. I mean…. A LOT!!!

It’s like – you should kind of know what to expect, because it wasn’t too terribly long ago, that we were that age… right?!? That is the furthest thing from the truth (not the part about it not being that long ago – but the part about knowing what to expect).

I mean…. 1996 wasn’t that terribly long ago, right?!?!

When I was in high school – I was kind of an all-around kid. Sometimes I came to school in boots and western jeans (hello Rockies!), and we would go line-dancing on the weekends. Other times it was dresses (with Doc Martins, duh). Other days it was surf/skate brand sweatshirts, jeans and flip flops. My friends were from all different aspects – we weren’t really labeled as any particular group of people…. just a loud and fun party crowd. I took advanced placement classes, choir, but then also had some easy classes to mostly socialize in… I got good grades, but was known to be a bit of a slacker. My closest friends back then are still my dearest friends now, and I am forever thankful to have them in my life.

Our typical Friday night line dancing crew…

Kids these days don’t seem to party like we did (thank you sweet baby Jesus)… but it definitely is not without challenges. My boys… they are like a perfect split of who I was in high school. They are so different from each other, but I can see me in each of them. I don’t know, maybe I am more crazy than I thought…

Let’s start with Nate. He clearly got his love of sports from me (just lucked out he got some other genes with actual skills, because that is NOT me). He is a proud, loud, (self-proclaimed) redneck. He loves Rodeo, hunting, fishing…. getting dirty. Don’t tell him this – but he is pretty hilarious most of the time – though often VERY inappropriate. I caution him often to be careful who he hangs around with, because while they like to have fun, their kind of loud and obnoxious fun can often be taken for causing trouble… and SOME of his friends seem to lack boundaries and common sense. I am thankful that school sports have cautioned him to be careful about his social media presence. He has his moments, where he is a total jerk (don’t talk to him after a game or rodeo – especially if he didn’t do what he felt was his best)! But there are glimmers of hope now & then – where he will thank me for showing up, or doing something for him. I don’t know if he does it on his own, or someone reminds him… but I will take it! He is a good student, could be great if he tried, but he is doing well and is enjoying school as much as the average teenage boy.

Then we have Kevin. My sarcastic, scary smart, artistic weirdo (said VERY affectionately – because I love weird). Kev is a whole vibe. He has his own style. He wears mostly black. He loves all things vintage… his favorite thing is to go to antique stores or bookstores. He has a vast collection of vinyl records (mostly from bands I have NEVER heard of, or classics – because he liked the cover & then realized it was good music). He also got a walkman for Christmas. You read that right…. a battery powered walkman, that plays cassette tapes. He is creative and messy. He comes across as quiet, but man – when he starts talking, you had better be ready! His sarcasm is unprecedented…. He is funny, if you understand his personality. He has a small circle of close friends. They don’t “hang out” much, but spend countless hours connected through their phones. He is doing extremely well in school. He is much smarter than I was, and seems to enjoy the challenge of learning. But, he is a procrastinator (sorry kid, that was a bad thing to inherit).

As you can tell, they don’t have a whole lot in common. But given the fact that they both have similar traits to me… you would think they would get a long a lot better than they actually do. But that is a big fat – NOPE. You would think by now they could sort it out and get along –NOPE. They only seem to tolerate each other most days, but sometimes, when we add another kid to the chaos, it seems to help balance them out a little.

Nate had his best bud stay the night recently. They (loudly) played video games. They giggled (uncontrollably) at really inappropriate things. They ate all the food in my house – and apparently threw cheese and lunch meat at each other (they picked it up… but had to explain what I was seeing in the garbage can). Kev occasionally told them what idiots they are, but it was a whole freaking night, without my kids constant bickering!!! We live out in the sticks, so there isn’t a whole lot of trouble these kids can get into without the use of a car…. But, these 3 fools did order McDonald’s from DoorDash in the middle of the night, while Clark & I were sleeping… I had to laugh at them, and admit I was kind of impressed that they knew the address and gave good enough directions to the driver – but I did warn them about basically inviting a stranger to the door in the middle of the night…. UGH

Where I struggle most, is making sure that they are safe & smart when it comes to social media. I can, at any time, go through their phone and accounts. I admit that I do not do this often enough. I don’t want to pry into their every message and photos… I just try to instill appropriate behaviors. I hope that they make good choices. We have had talks about connecting with people you don’t know, about not sharing any personal information – and about not posting anything (ever) that they would not want to explain to me, because it will all come out in the wash.

Right now we are working on reminding them to ask for permission… I get a lot of “Mom, after school, I’m going to go to the library/got get food with my friends/hang out at someone’s house”… It is never posed as a question, until I force them to ask. And, I’m sorry if folks think I am not hard enough on my kids – but I have a hard time saying no, once they finally ask properly. These fools spent a year+ on lock down, and I genuinely WANT them to go hang out and have fun! Even if it means I stay up late to pick up kids & drive them home. Or we have to run back to town more times that we would like… I want them to go out in the real world, and have real experiences, and I want them to know how to make the right decisions.

Y’all – raising teenagers is HARD. When the kids were cute and little – and everything could be solved with a hug and a snack…. there was a whole tribe of parents that seemed to support and encourage you along the way. While those folks are still there… everyone seems to be struggling on their own. We tend to not want to put things “out there” that don’t support the perfect online life.

I don’t know… maybe you are not as lost in this whole thing as I feel most days. I have been told over, and over again – “You are not hard enough on your boys!” But I really am doing my best. I try to not let the little things bug me. I try to listen and support. I go with the flow – until I lose my shit. Probably not the best parenting method out there, but it seems to be how I am wired.

I just want you all to know, that I am here for you. I have no idea what the hell I am doing… but I am here to lend an ear to if you need. I may not even have any good advice or the right words to say… but I can make you a snack, pour you a drink, and give you a hug & we can pretend it’s all going to be alright.

Always Be The Corn

Tis the season to be THANKFUL. Yep, it’s still 2020. And we still happen to be in the middle of a pandemic and historical, unprecedented times. And a lot of this year has been a total and complete dumpster fire…. but there still is a lot to be thankful for and every year this memory shows up on my social media & it brings me back to the really good stuff. A reminder that you don’t have to always follow the arbitrary “rules” we put on ourselves, especially if it makes you happy.

I originally posted about this a few years back (https://crazyasamotherblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/16/be-the-corn/?preview=true)… if you have known me for a while, you probably know this story – you can read all about it in the link above, but I’ll share the basics.

When the boys were in kindergarten, they were getting ready for the annual Ladd Lane Thanksgiving Parade. They were supposed to choose between a Pilgrim or and Indian – whatever they thought of most when they think of Thanksgiving. Nate chose a Pilgrim & Kevin chose CORN.

His (absolutely fantastic) teacher didn’t make him choose what he was “supposed” to be. She went home that night and found a way to allow him to be the corn he wanted to be. I know, cute right?!? It absolutely was, but it was more than that for us.

It was an “aha” moment. A holy-crap, not everything has to be perfect to be good, kind of thing. I mean why should he choose to be an Indian or Pilgrim, if his heart said to be corn? Just because every other student had always done so? Nope, not for my Kevin.

I think this year, this message is more important than ever. In 2020, I have seen people judging other people’s choices. You wear a mask? You don’t? You stay home all the time? You socialize with your closest tribe outside of the home? It has been a bi-polar year, where Sensitive Sally and Cranky Karen are all up in everyone’s business.

Here’s the deal… everyone needs to do what they need to do to be happy. You want to eat cake for breakfast, go for it. You need a drink before noon to settle your nerves or celebrate something good – bottoms up. You want to put up Christmas decorations in October – hell yes! You do you. As long as your choices don’t put others in danger, it’s cool. You do you. Be the Corn.

You don’t have to agree with other peoples choices. You can respectfully distance yourself if you don’t agree. We all need different things to get through, especially in what is set to be the weirdest holiday season of our lives.

I hope you are celebrating Thanksgiving in whatever way you feel best.

I can’t end this without saying that I am grateful for so much this year. I’m thankful for my teenage turkeys, though they drive me crazy. I’m thankful for my home & my job. I’m thankful for my amazing man & his awesome son (and the whole family). I am thankful for friendships, new & old. I’m thankful for our perfectly imperfect life.

I’m also weirdly thankful that this year, being home with my boys for school & work that I have been able to let go of some of my “rules” about how our days should be. Wanna stay in your jammies all day for school, that’s cool buddy. Mozzarella sticks for breakfast? Sure. You wanna go fish in the ponds on the golf course (and put them back) – go for it! Sorry, I didn’t meal prep or shop for lunches babe – is PB&J okay?!? Seriously, last year I would have been stressing the flip out over any of these things. Do what ya gotta do, to get through your day/week/year.

I’m thankful for each and every one of you for reading this. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

holding my breath

I am not an anxious person by nature. I try to go with the flow and not stress about things that I cannot change. However this week, this month, most of this year has me in a nearly constant state of panic.

Today is Election Day 2020. Hopefully all of you who can vote have done so (or are planning to do so today). I know it might feel like it doesn’t matter, but it really does. If I had to guess, we will be seeing the opportunity to review the actual numbers of this election in more detail than ever before. The political unrest of this year is something our grandkids will read about in history. The culmination of this hate fueled campaign season is coming to a close, and someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. And no matter which way it goes, I am terrified at how this country will react. Let’s face it, y’all…. this country has gone bat-shit-crazy (and not in a good way at all).

I think being the mom of teenage boys (who have VERY opposing views) has heightened my anxiety about this election. Let’s face it – you cannot believe most of what you read/see/hear on the news & especially not social media. As a mom, I FULLY encourage my kids to believe in what they believe in – they do not need to follow my beliefs, they do not need to agree with me or with each other – my job is a lot harder than that. I try to teach them to not believe everything on the surface. To really research the things that they “learn” to build their opinion on… most importantly, I have to teach them to be respectful of people who do not agree with their feelings – and learn to discuss in a productive and informative way. You should know this is hard, because we all can name off a whole slew of adults who are not capable of this.

Part of me is really happy to see that the American people are so passionate about their beliefs, because damn it – we should be! But then you try to get to the heart of why people are so adamant about one thing or another, and in this age of instant gratification and biased news sources, we have largely become a society of angry people that are hanging on to opinions that have been pushed on them without any true and logical reasoning. And man…. it sucks!

Generations before us were raised to not talk about politics, religion or sexual orientation… because it causes discomfort and conflict. What they should have been taught (and subsequently, WE should have been taught), was how to have a discussion with someone you do not agree with, in a way that is not argumentative and hateful… but to be informed, know how to listen, and how to share your own views clearly and respectfully. (Read that last part again, let it sink in)….

What example are you setting for your kids? Are you bashing all the supporters of the opposing candidate? Are you constantly talking about how awful that “other” candidate is? Or are you providing your kids an environment where they can form their own (informed) beliefs and express them in a healthy way?

I absofreakinglutely LOVE that my kids are interested in politics. I love that we can talk about the issues, and both sides of situations. It doesn’t always go well, but I try to never squash the conversation. In no way do I want my kids to be raised in a one-size-fits-all world. As twins, they have as much right to be on opposing sides of any situation (and they take full advantage of that daily).

It really is what I love about being American. We are given the freedom to use our voices and propagate change. The outcome of this election will be what it is. All we can do is hope that all of these passionate Americans cast their votes to make their choices known (it always baffles me how many people complain about the outcome, but don’t do their part)… The American people on one side or the other are going to feel despair, maybe even devastation & grief. If you are on the side that wins – celebrate, but don’t gloat and taunt those who are feeling the loss. The true American thing to do is to come together & get through it as a country… this hate and division has to stop.

My seriously cool new shoes that I found in the kids section….

We all need a little humanity. Before you continue to add flames to the fires of hate and division, imagine yourself in the opposing sides’ shoes. How would you feel? How would you want to be treated?

Y’all 2020 has been a total train wreck. Even our little hometown has become so cantankerous. Arguing about EVERYTHING from politics, to mask wearing – judging other people at every turn. It is heartbreaking! One of the things I have always loved about where we live, is that when push comes to shove, this community has always come together…. I am sad to say that I do not have high hopes this week (and will likely hide out with the family until the dust settles a bit).

I seriously hope I am wrong. Please, please – prove me wrong.

It ABSOLUTELY does not matter who I voted for, and who you voted for. It matters that we both have a right to vote in a way that sits well with our soul. Family, friends, neighbors and strangers…. I respect you as a human & hope the absolute best for you and your families. It costs me NOTHING to be considerate of your feelings, & wishing for your happiness does not detract from my own.

Here is my ask of all my fellow Americans, parents, citizens of the world…. Be strong. Be humble. Be compassionate. And please be kind. Never stop believing in what you feel is right, keep moving towards the change you want to see (in a respectful way). And as we are coming up on the end of a year we will NEVER soon forget, please keep in mind that everyone is struggling (even if you can’t see it on the surface) – and sharing a little love & kindness could be the lifeline they need to get through.

#DoYourPart #Vote2020 #StopTheHate #WelcomeToTheShitShow #CrazyAsAMother #BeKind #RaiseThemRad #IWillBeHidingInMyBlanketFort #HappyHourEveryHour #WakeMeWhenItsOver

No Clue

Well. We did it. We somehow managed to start another school year in this #ShitShow we call 2020.

I’ve been pretty quiet (for me) during this whole pandemic. Because I honestly can’t even handle my own emotional roller coaster most days… Y’all 2020 has me at a loss for words, and I am not even sure what to do about it!

Looking back at my posts this year… March 8th, the day after my birthday. I thought… “this is it! This will be a year to remember!”… and for sure it is, but not for the kick-ass reasons I had in mind. So yeah, then I posted about the historical pandemic that we are all getting the chance to take part in – but this was still early March, where it was all about scoring rolls of toilet paper, like our lives depended on it – and let’s face it, it felt unreal… Then a mom’s day post in May (where I didn’t even bring up the weirdness of 2020). A whole lot happened (and a whole lot didn’t), and I seriously CANNOT EVEN DEAL! And yet somehow, we have kept moving forward and survived.

The end of the last school year, I just kind of gave up. Didn’t make the kids stick to schedules. Didn’t make them do much of anything… I was just trying to find a new balance in my life with working from home full time and attempting to not panic and freak out at what was happening in the world. Not gonna lie, I am still a little freaked out. And there is little that resembles balance. Am I working out everyday? No. Is my laundry all cleaned and folded? No. Meals prepped and ready, to avoid going to the store everyday? Also no.

Then we just sort of rolled into summer vacation, without much excitement or things to look forward to. Baseball cancelled. No hanging out with friends at the beach. No trips to the Boardwalk or bowling. ZIP, ZERO, ZILCH, NADA. So yeah…. I pulled out M.O.T.Y. (Mom Of The Year) lifetime membership card, and let my kids do WHATEVER to not fight and not bug me. You want to stay awake until 3 am and sleep until 2pm?!? Fine, just don’t eat junk food all night (and don’t bother me while I am working). You want to play video games all day – whatevs. How many days did you wear those clothes?!? Please shower….

Dudes – I am used to every minute of every week and weekend booked with activities and sports. I am used to being on the run with these guys… and as chaotic as that seems to the outside world, I sincerely miss it. I miss all the people we normally interact with. I miss the shuffle of kids from one place to the next, with my tiny car packed to the max in gear and food and STUFF. But, part of me kind of enjoyed the slow down. Part of me liked letting the kids do whatever. I thought we would do more TOGETHER, with all this time at home, but let’s face it… I’m mom & they are teenage boys (so yeah, not happening). I am both happier than I have been in a long while, and also freaked out, because I have NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING!!! I mean, I know I need to get my life together, but I am also kind of waiting to see if the world is going to end before I put any real effort into it.

So anyhow… back to my point here. Today was the first day of 8th grade for my kiddos. Was kind of hoping that it would feel like a fresh start, a new routine, something BIG…. but it is just kind of more of the same. Well, relatively more of the same – it IS 2020, after-all! You know, when we are expected to work from home, school from home & California is in the middle of a heat wave, having rolling blackouts & burning down with wildfires from freak lightning…. But anyways, here was my simple mental checklist for getting ready for back to school:

1. Get back to a “normal” schedule. All electronics to me by 10 pm. Up at a decent time to start the day!

Meh. Most nights I cannot stay awake long enough to collect phones at 10. And, if I saw them awake when their dad dropped them off in the morning, that counts for being up, right?!? Anyways, I have a million meetings to call into, so you just do you! And just so you know, some of y’alls kids are messaging mine at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning…

2. Eat more than one healthy meal a day.

Nope. I can only account for dinner. I pick the battles I can win. You want frozen taquitos for breakfast, have them. You want leftovers from last night? Sure! Top Ramen – just clean up your mess. Do you want me to buy you something specific for breakfasts? Lunches? Nope… I GIVE UP!

3. Buy back to school stuff.

Nah. What do you need new clothes for? Chances are that you will be taking your zoom calls in your underwear. Shoes? You aren’t going anywhere kid. Do you want haircuts? Nope – one is trying to grow a mullet and the other has a love/hate relationship with his curls. Backpack? Nope. You don’t need to carry your stuff very far. But I did buy paper, pencils, pens & erasers. Oh, and I bought noise cancelling headphones, but they don’t have a microphone, so there you go. For the most part, trying to prepare for school at home has saved us money. Although, any saved money is going to suppliment our food (and adult beverage) budget.

As you can see, I am KILLING this whole parenting thing right now. 3 simple things, none of which was really achieved…. But here is the super scary thing – I am not even stressed about it any more! I have always been known as a planner – maybe even a little bit of a control freak… but now with so many bigger things to worry about – It is what it is, and 2020 is going to do whatever the fuck it wants anyways, so now is the time in life to learn to go with the flow!

So weird, right?!?

The first day of school was not without challenges…

9:15 AM – they log into first period, no real issues. Parents group on Facebook is all a flutter, looking for classroom codes for online classes.

10:00 AM – Power goes off… oops! Drop out of that class and work is paused.

10:15 PM – Power comes back on, boys log into next class, I try to figure out what the hell I was working on….

12:23 PM Power off again. Ugh.

12:30 PM Power back on, have a few minutes left in class. Seriously… what the hell am I supposed to be doing?!?

12:44 PM – Power is off again. I give up…

1:08 PM still no power, just a few minutes before the last class of the day… should we go to Grandma’s and use the WiFi? Nah, we will just email teachers about the power outage.

1:13 PM power is back on. Yes! One minute to log into the last class… I still have no idea what I am doing.

1:59 PM classes done. I piss everyone off by making them clean up their school crap from the table. We have been awake and in the same space for too long today, and it’s beginning to show…

All of this to say… it’s okay to not be okay. Did we have a great first day back?!? Nope! Were the kids happy to see their friends, only online?!? Not at all! Were my kids easy to work with & in a good mood?!! Bhahahahaha Will we try again tomorrow & hope for a better day?!? Absofreakinlutley!!! Heck… I threatened to suspend these assholes today, for talking back, throwing erasers at each other, and wrappers in the ground! And by suspend, I mean take away their free time!

Oh… and to keep my position of M.O.T.Y. going strong…. one kid has the backdrop in his Zoom focused on my (hard earned) collection of whisky bottles & the other kid was shoveling gummy bears like he hadn’t eaten in a week… so there’s that going for me….

It’s okay to not have a solid plan right now. It’s okay to just see where this path is leading. Don’t miss out on the good things because you are worried about things that you cannot possibly fix.

No one knows what they are doing this year, and anyone who pretends otherwise is shady! What I have been trying to do to survive is to enjoy the good stuff…. like Booze Baskets (if you know, then you know). Or adventures with my new guy. Or just the laughter…. oh my gosh, I have laughed more during this pandemic than I have in YEARS! Connecting with those that matter, is really all that matters… the rest is what it is.

You do you. Keep those kids on task during school hours and then WHAT THE FUCK EVER you need to do to get through. No judgment here…. we are all just living our best lives right now, given the state of the world.

#FrickAndFrack #CrazyAsAMother #RaiseThemRad #EighthGrade #DistanceLearning #BecauseTheRona