(Ok, I tried to make the title a link, so you'd understand it, but it didn't work. So here's the link. That song's been my mantra for a couple years, now.)
Really, I should know better. I really, honestly should. I have trouble going to the STORE with Sparky and Hot Rod. What made me think that going Miniature Golfing would be any different???
Today was one of those textbook Fall days. The breeze was crisp, the air was warm, could have been hot from the sun, but the breeze was enough to keep it cool. Little puffy clouds in the sky… a happy day. The minigolf course opened at 2, we got there at almost 4. We started our 18 holes, and Hot Rod was excited, playing his ball all the way through right away. This means he sets the ball down at the beginning of the green, WHACKS it, chases it down, and keeps whacking it until, 32 whacks later, he pops the ball out of the hole, shoots a grin back at me and announces, “Hole in One!!!”
Meanwhile, Sparky never liked minigolf. He’s always been a ‘golf purist’, and his putting game was never that great. So the combination is lethal. Now, add a hyperactive kid, blindness, AND families playing behind us – who move faster – to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
We did ok on the first nine. Then, in the second nine, Hot Rod was getting impatient with Sparky’s slowness, and Sparky was getting mad at Hot Rod for wanting to rush ahead, frustrated with his own game, and feeling rushed by those behind us, although we kept letting groups play through, and everybody was really cool about us, especially when they realized that Sparky was blind. Some even complimented him on how well he managed.
By the end of the 18 holes, Hot Rod was in full meltdown, and Sparky was trying to control the meltdown, and by the time we got to the truck, Hot Rod had been told that we would NOT be taking him back to minigolf for the rest of the year. Which we probably wouldn’t have done, anyway, it being nearly the end of the golfing season, but that doesn’t have the same impact, now, does it?
Now Hot Rod thinks that he’s lost minigolf for the rest of the year which is forever to a six-year-old. Sparky is mad at Hot Rod because Hot Rod continues to have a fit – he was now to the point of opening the back door of the truck so he could slam it in his anger. I put the child-lock on it, and he KICKED the inside of the door and was screaming. Sparky was yelling at Hot Rod, Hot Rod was screaming back, and it had spiraled WAY out of control. I finally was able to get into the truck and I insinuated myself into this little love-fest, and said, “both of you… knock it off. Take a breath, and calm down. Hot Rod, drink some juice and buckle up. Let’s just listen to some music for a while.”
Miraculously, they both shut the hell up, and I could drive out of the parking lot before anyone said anything. And then it was me. I got us out of the parking lot, but before we hit the first stop light a block later, I was crying like a baby.
I had simply wanted a nice outing. Apparently, I’m just setting the bar too high. Something like this is just too damn much. Sparky needs all my attention for a game like this – he needs each hole described to him in detail – are there hills? How wide is the “fairway”? where is the hole in relation to where we are? What kind of obstacles are in the way? How far is the hole? Which way does this particular “fairway” turn? And once he hits the ball, it starts again… how far does he have to go now? Is he lined up with the hole? How far is the hole? Any obstacles or hills? And on and on. And before you suggest it, having Hot Rod help with this worked for half of the first hole. Then his attention was turned elsewhere, and that was that.
Meanwhile, Hot Rod needs and deserves some attention of his own. But I missed nearly every one of his turns, because I was so busy attending to Sparky. And if I left Sparky alone to tend to Hot Rod, Sparky would, inevitably, walk into a tree branch or something. It was never-ending. I felt like that baby in the bible that Solomon threatened to split in half.
By the time we got home, it was agreed that we’d go off the meal schedule for the evening (I’ve got all the dinners for the next month planned out – tonight was supposed to be lasagna) because it was so late, and I’d throw together something light and quick. While I was doing that, Hot Rod was supposed to take a quick shower with Sparky’s help. Bad move.
We walked through the door, and Hot Rod decided that no way, no how was he going to take a shower. Sparky took a “firm” stance and said, “oh, yes, you are.” Let the meltdowns begin. Again.
This is how it was all.day.long. Hot Rod was in a mood to argue, and Sparky forgets the theme of parenting… “pick your battles”… so EVERYTHING is a battle. There is no ‘give’ with him. He must always be right. And he must always be obeyed.
On the other hand, Hot Rod needs to be right, and needs to have his way, and if he doesn’t, a tantrum is sure to follow.
While Sparky was at Blind School, I’d begun to find a way to manage Hot Rod. I found a book called Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, several years ago, and read through part of it. I have a seriously hard time finishing any book that, in any way, reminds me of a textbook, and although this book is phenomenally well-written and easy to read and understand… well, it’s still non-fiction and a textbook. So I never finished it. But I refer to it often. And the stories and scenarios she presents are often Hot Rod, right down to his toes. So I try to use her methods, and whaddya know? They work.
But try to get Sparky to even consider doing something like that? Read that book? Are you crazy? Never. There are two rules of parenting: 1. Dad is always right. 2. When in doubt, refer to Rule 1. Sound familiar?
So now we’re back to the beginning. What the hell do I do now? HOW am I ever going to handle outings with these two, together? Especially outings where they each require my attention equally. How do parents of multiples DO it? More to the point, how do SINGLE parents of multiples do it? Because that’s how I feel…. Like I have two children, and one of them is disabled.
There’s a saying, belief, adage, whatever, that states that the things we like least in others are the things we like least about ourselves. Or something like that. I know it’s in my al-anon literature, I’m just too lazy to go look it up . It’s all the way upstairs, and if I leave the keyboard, this thought is going to disappear. So we’ll just assume that I’m right and go from there. K? K.
Ok, so. That what we don’t like in others, we dislike about ourselves. So, what part of this latest “thing” involves a trait in me that I don’t like? Is it the obsessing? The constant talk of one topic, analyzing it to DEATH, talking it to death? Is it the need to exercise three hours a day? The insistence upon eating only certain foods, analyzing each and every meal (after they’ve been eaten) for fat, protein and carb content? (Because, of course, calories don’t matter). I don’t know what it is. But it’s pissing me off.
Maybe it’s that suddenly he’s hyper-focused on something that’s been on my radar for the better part of twenty-five years. And the knowledge that if he wants to drop 20 lbs? He’s going to do it. In a week. And I? Can’t drop that kind of weight unless I release a gallon of milk over my foot. Two and a half times. (yes, I happen to know that a gallon of milk weighs 8 lbs. And I didn’t even have to Google it)
Maybe it’s that he’s suddenly expecting me to be hyper-interested in this. Whenever I’ve tried to lose weight (most of my adult life, except the times when I tried the Stuart Smiley approach… “I love myself just the way I am.” Uh, huh. Right) he’s been right there to support me – with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one hand and a steak cooked in bacon grease in the other.
Being analytical, I’d say it’s a combination of things. With him, it’s just, “oh, I wanna drop a couple pounds,” and boom! It’s done. With me, it’s a battle with my f’d up metabolism, combined with emotional eating issues that border (or fall smack in the middle of) Binge Eating Disorder, and an inherent laziness. So it just cheeses me off, and the green-eyed monster accompanies me wherever I go.
I think that’s mostly it – the jealousy that it’s going to be so easy. That he has the time to do this extensive workout program that he’s created for himself (he did this once before, too… the three hour thing. We lived in Dallas, and he’d go straight from work. Everything else got put on hold, so he could work out three hours a night), the knowledge that I will be there to drive him to and from… because if I say no, I’m just being a shrew, now, aren’t I?
And I think some of it is that I’m just plain tired and burned out.
But mostly it’s jealousy, that losing weight comes so easy for him. Just like quitting drinking and smoking came easy to him. Just like everything in his life has come easy to him.
And I HATE being jealous. So now I’ve got something else to work on. Joy.
Well, it’s been an interesting summer, to say the least. I discovered that I really like Alaska, and can’t wait to go back. I discovered that I really DON’T like living out in the country – awesome neighbors notwithstanding – and wish I lived in town where neighbors were closer and lawns (and houses) were smaller. I like living in a small town, and wish my family would break their ties with the Chicago area and consider moving somewhere smaller. (hint hint hint)
But the big thing I discovered hasn’t been so much of a discovery as a naming. Putting a name on something that’s bothered me for so long. You see, I keep giving Sparky the benefit of the doubt on things… allowing him the luxury of a learning curve. Messy counter? He can’t see it, let it pass. Messy house? He can’t see it, let it pass. Myriad things, I just let pass because he can’t see them, or he’s still learning, or whatever. And I suppose that’s ok, because he *is* still learning, but…
I don’t get that same courtesy. How often do I forget that he can’t see things? Not as often as I used to, but I still do things like nodding instead of saying “yes” out loud, leaving open cups of drink in the fridge that he then knocks on the floor. I don’t care much – it’s just so much spilled milk, and we all know that adage – but HE gets mad at me, because I’ve forgotten, again, that he can’t see this stuff, and WHY can’t I just not do those things?
He expects me to pick up the slack for him – and I do, constantly – but he doesn’t do it for me.
Ok, in all honesty, I don’t allow him to pick up much slack, because I’ve fallen into the trap that most wives fall into: “oh, don’t bother, I’ll just do it myself”, because it’s true that if you want something done right, well, do it yourself.
Except that things are piling up around here. The house is a mess. The yard is a mess. I’m behind on the laundry, the bills, and the cleaning. The garden is about the only thing that’s working right – and that’s because I did my due diligence (is that the right phrase?) in late spring and early summer, by weeding and putting in weed killer. So now the garden is pretty self-sufficient. All I have to do is pick stuff when it’s ready. But everything else? Disaster.
I still haven’t unpacked my suitcase from our trip to Chicago/Alaska. I’ve finished the laundry, but it’s due again. The rest of the house looks like a tornado blew through.
I’m so overwhelmed, simply because I keep saying, “OK” when they ask to do stuff – Hot Rod always wants to play (and I can't say no to Legos!), and Sparky always wants to go to the pool. And I cannot leave them together at the pool so I get some home time. He (Sparky) is afraid to be at the pool alone with Hot Rod.
I miss my alone time. I miss being able to sit up in my own bed at night, all by myself, watching silly videos from Netflix. I miss that quiet time I had. Now I have someone in my back pocket ALL THE TIME. And if I try to be alone, well, it just doesn’t happen. If I want to go somewhere, there’d better be a purpose – going to the store, for example, and a set time for return… and keep the phone on, because if I’m two minutes late, you can be sure it’ll be ringing. I tried to “hide” this afternoon, I went upstairs and lay down on the bed to read (yeah, I know, I should have been cleaning). Ten minutes into it, they were walking around the house, looking outside, calling my name. “Where are you?” I finally told them I was taking a nap and shut the door. But even then, it was only an hour and a half before they were knocking on the door because it was time for me to make dinner.
I know. I’m totally rambling, switching from topic to topic, and, well, whining.
But I’m told that whining, here anyway, is acceptable.
(and can someone PLEASE explain to me why suddenly there are extra spaces thrown in randomly between words? Honestly, if I WANTED two spaces, I’d PUT THEM THERE, Mr. Gates. Thank you. Stop “fixing” my programs!!!)
So it comes to this. I had hoped that Alaska would give me some rest. And in a way it did – it gave me a change of pace, new scenery, old friends, a chance to get away. But, sadly, it showed me, in stark reality, what I do not have. I look at my two best friends in the world, and I am so happy for them – they are both so happy. D has a beautiful new little girl. (and yes, I have an amazing little boy. But there were supposed to be two, and that will never be.) And J… well, J has a beautiful new relationship. One that is only four months old, but already she “knows”… it’s that kind of relationship that we all search for.
Alaska showed me, much to my shame, that I can still experience jealousy. And I am not proud of it. In fact, it pisses me off. I think of them, so happy, and it brings me to tears. Tears of joy for them – that they have found what they need, want, desire. Not that they have it easy – life is never easy – but they have someone with whom to face it, someone to comfort them during the roughest of it, someone to lean on. I don’t have that. He *tells* me, sure, that I can do that with him… but I’ve found that I don’t want to do that. I just don’t trust him enough. Every time I’ve leaned, I’ve fallen, because he hasn’t been there. And now I’m supposed to believe that’s changed? I’m supposed to just return to Life As It Was – emotionally, anyway – and be content? I don’t think so.
I’ve picked up some work with the local paper again – one or two articles a month, to start – and it’s a start. But he hasn’t done anything. Well, nothing on the job front. He has, however, started working out. THREE HOURS a day, and talks about it incessantly. And is taking crazy supplements. He’s obsessing, and I don’t want to hear about it. I’m sick of being supportive. I’m sick of being encouraging. I’m sick of being the one that everybody leans on. I’m sick and tired of being everybody’s mom. I’m only supposed to be “mom” for one person… and suddenly, I’m “mom” to two. He even CALLS me “mom”. I’ve told him to quit. I’ve told him that I’m NOT his mom, and to knock it off. But he persists. And I’m just too damn tired to do anything about it.
I hate being angry. I hate this person I’m becoming – have become. I hate what the drinking before The Wreck did to me, and I hate what the circumstances since The Wreck have done to me. I feel trapped, like a hamster on a wheel. Except the hamster can step off and go hide in his little can. I can’t.
Oprah calls it an “Ah-hah Moment”. Others call it “hitting bottom”. Glenn Beck says that he can remember the exact moment when he experienced it. That moment is so clear to him, he can tell you what he was wearing, the color of the walls in the room, the color of the carpet.
It is that moment when you come face to face with the core of yourself. With who you have become. And it is the moment - that single defining moment – when you decide either to go on as that person, or become someone else. It is life changing, often life saving.
And sometimes it isn’t so dramatic as that.
I have problems. I’ve meticulously documented them here and in multiple personal journals, both digital and handwritten. There is a thread weaving through all of these personal documentaries… I am waiting. Literally, waiting… I am waiting and watching for that “Ah-hah” rock-bottom moment. Because it can’t be far off.
Problem is, I’ve been lead to believe, especially by the O herself, that along with that Ah-hah moment comes great enlightenment – the roadmap out of the problem, The Answer.
And I know there is no answer written out. I know that I have to find it myself.
And I’m so damned tired and discouraged that it’s entirely possible that I’ll be asleep or zoning on the computer and miss it.
Watching “Top Gun” has made me an expert on fighter jets. And being the expert that I am, I know specialized terms like “flipping the bird”, and “flat spin”.
The “flat spin” is when the jet goes into, well, a flat spin – going around in circles, ever faster, as it spirals toward Earth, and ends in a fiery crash. According to Top Gun (and we all know what experts Hollywood filmmakers are), you can’t pull out of a flat spin, unless you’re Tom Cruise, or very, very lucky.
There are days when I feel like I’m in a Flat Spin. Days when Hot Rod is being stubborn, things are breaking right and left in the house, chores are piling up, and on top of everything else, I start thinking about being in a gilded cage.
So apparently, I’m in a Gilded Cage with wings, and it has somehow worked itself into a flat spin.
No wonder people think I’m nuts.
I keep trying to pull out of the spin. I rack my brains for ways to fix the problem. I recently came upon a good idea, and started putting it into action. The wheels have been moving very slowly, and what I first thought was GREAT NEWS, well, it turns out I may have been speaking prematurely, even though I wouldn’t say what it was, to avoid jinxing myself. I may have jinxed myself anyway. Spiral one, flat spin.
Two weeks ago, I thought of another “out” of one of my problems. So I took steps to make it so. Today, it fell through. Spiral two, and moving faster.
The garage door opener is still broken, I bought a new one, but haven’t replaced it yet. The door itself is broken, too, and I could only use duct tape to fix it. The furnace broke the other day, too. I can band-aid that, as well, but I don’t know how long that fix will last. I feel like this place is falling apart around me, a metaphor for my life.
I try to keep a positive attitude. I believe, with everything that I am, that attitude may not be everything, but it darn sure can’t hurt one bit. And it’s better to be positive about things. But it’s getting harder and harder to keep the proverbial “stiff upper lip”.
I’m 38, God Help Me, and I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I thought I wanted to be a wife and a mother. Well, the wife thing sort of backfired on me – I still am, but it’s a very confusing road when your husband (Sparky)turns your world upside down.
And now he’s "newly disabled". Makes you re-think your whole situation.
I am a mommy. A happy, thankful, blessed mommy to 5-year-old Hot Rod, who goes and goes and goes, until he stops, sound asleep.