Friday, June 21, 2013

It is what it is.

Blurry photo courtesy of my iPhone. Local mural in Culver City, CA.

And then there are the times when it feels like this modern life has swept me away, and I swirl around, grabbing at this piece of flotsam to anchor myself and get my work done, floating on this piece of jetsam to pay attention to my family, who is also bobbing about precariously. It has been a busy time.

We have had various large car-related bills in the last few weeks, some anticipated (both of our car registrations due in the same month) and some completely unexpected (two flat tires, so two new tires; both car batteries died within a week of each other, so two new batteries; and my car still needs two new tires as the treads are very worn but now I’m broke). I’m trying to work out what this means, if anything. Is this some sort of cosmic message that we need to slow down?
Over the same time period, we’ve seen the end of the school year, and with it, the end of preschool. Ceeya will enter kindergarten and will turn five this year. My oldest, who was only born five minutes ago, is ten years old. I will turn 45 this summer. Time is rocketing by. Each day I try to be fully present for my children, and sometimes I fail. As the primary breadwinner in our household I feel I must be extra responsible to my job, and that takes a lot of energy – and sometimes, a lot of tongue-biting, which is extra tiring. (Lord, don’t let me get started on that.) I want to do a good job but I don’t want to invest all of myself in it. I need the best part of myself for my family.

Viva asked me last night if I could go on a field trip with summer camp today, and I had to say no. Her dad would usually go, but his computer was down all week and is finally working as of last night, so he is behind on his photo and film editing. I hate to tell her no.

What I am getting at here is that I am feeling a bit melancholy these days, and wishing things would slow down a bit. But I am realizing that in whatever way possible, I have to do what I can to dial things back. I am trying to figure out how to simplify a bit so we are all happier.

I know, I am not responsible for anyone’s happiness. So maybe what I should aim for is that our home life is a little less hectic, a little calmer, and that I approach it with more joy than I currently do. I say to my kids sometimes, “Life is not a carnival! We can’t be doing something spectacular every minute!” This is usually when they have had a wonderful day and then still find something to whine about, as kids do when they are tired from having a wonderful day. And so, for myself, too:  I know I cannot expect life to be a carnival every minute. But it sure ain’t all cotton candy and gleeful shrieking right now.

I could use a little more carnival and a lot less of the swirling muddy water. Putting on my party hat and trying to remain open to whatever comes next, to know that there is a reason for this season of clouds instead of sun.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Couch

I am lying on the couch in my mother's house. Everyone else is still asleep. I have been up since about 4 AM.

Sweet Dub is out of town for work. My mom invited me and the girls to sleep over but once we arrived she kept telling me she really hadn't thought it through. In a 3400 square foot, 5 bed, 4.5 bath house, there was nowhere for us to sleep or bathe.

My mom has a mental illness, and one of the ways it manifests is hoarding. Her house is not like the TV show Hoarders: Buried Alive, but there are rooms which are unusable. I thought we could sleep in my grandma's old room but that has become impassable. Instead we have bunked down on couches and on the floor.

The half bath on the ground floor is always clean and in working order but there is no shower there. My mom didn't want us to use her bathroom because we would have to pass through her bedroom to get to it. My sister and her family also live there, and their bathrooms are clean, but they were out of town and there is some weirdness about using their space when they are not home. (My sister actually keeps a separate refrigerator from my mom - her family's food is in the garage. They like to very clearly delineate their space.)

So: my mom said we could use my grandmother's bathroom but she would have to clean it out.

I went into the bathroom, where I never go, and realized I would actually have to pull boxes and baskets of stuff out of the shower before we could even clean. Okay, I did that. And the bathroom itself wasn't horribly dirty - it just hasn't been used literally in two years since my grandma passed. Lots of dust.

My mom started cooking dinner and enjoying her granddaughters. I could hear them talking and laughing.

Down the hall, I scrubbed down every surface and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. And as I was doing so all my anger and hurt over years suddenly was gone and in their place came an acceptance. My mother is ill and she needs me to be there. In my mind I kept hearing my grandma, who throughout her illness told me and my sister, "I hope you are as devoted to your mother as she has been to me."

And suddenly my relationship with her has changed, and I am at peace with it for the first time in a very long time. I realize I need to be of service to her, out of love, and that is what she needs most right now - to be loved, just as she is. She is ill. She is ill. As much as I wish it were different, I can't beat my head against the wall of that wishful thinking in my every interaction with her. I realized she is ill, and her behavior and flustered apologies indicate she is embarrassed and ashamed. And I can't contribute to that.

I don't speak much about my spiritual beliefs here because I feel they are intensely private for me, but I feel God lifted the fog from my eyes yesterday and today I am looking at the world differently, more compassionately than the day before. And it happened while I was scrubbing the floor around the toilet.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone (from the couch, where I slept next to my nephews' bearded lizard last night.)