This last week has felt very long. My daughter’s quick and unexpected visit was extended a few days. Truthfully, I received this as good and bad news. She left a day and a half ago, and I’m still struggling to catch up on rest and equilibrium.
I’ll try to condense the week, and part may not be understood by those who don’t share my Christian faith, but I think at least my concerns will be understood. This daughter is also my firstborn. She arrived late, exhausted, and tense with our only two grandchildren. First she was coming Tuesday, then Wednesday, then finally on Thanksgiving day she left to drive here. I realized that she was getting such a late start, that the big dinner would have to be postponed until Friday. My passive aggressive husband was really great in the shift to Plan Visit and helping, but this is typically the good part of the package deal that is him. We managed with team work to pull off the last minute cleaning and preparations.
They arrived late Thursday, and one of the last things my eight year old grandson said before going to his bed was to ask me, “Nana, what time can I wake you up?”
I smiled and said, “The same time as always before. Whenever you want me.”
Sure enough, before the crack of dawn, he was whispering to me, but now he’s carrying his two year old brother. Bright eyed and bushy tailed and irresistible little faces, and my husband and I both pulled our creaky selves out of the warm bed and started their breakfast.
While we eat many things organic, it had to be all organic for my daughter (another story). I had to drive an hour away to hunt down that darn organic turkey too! My daughter has had serious kidney trouble recently, so I didn’t mind that she rested while I was cooking that day, but holy smokes, I’d forgotten what it was like to try to watch a couple of little ones (especially a toddler!) and try to cook!
On Friday as I worked at the big dinner, my husband was out running errands while I was cooking, changing diapers, and trying to amuse my grandsons. For hours. I kept wondering what the heck was taking so long, but his errands tend to be long and drawn out. I called him a few times, practically begging him to hurry back because I was overwhelmed trying to carry a two year old and cook a big dinner. (How did I ever do that in years past?) By the time he got back, I’d given up on my thoughts of the tablecloth and good dishes, and found nice paper plates and cups. It was so tasty, that it was easy to ignore the cutlery.
It was the following day when he casually mentioned putting the license plates on the old van we just bought (yes, we paid another 1,000. and I’m hoping and praying it works out better than the last used car fiasco). At first, I thought that for some reason the people that sold it hadn’t put on their plates, and I was confused. Finally it dawned on me that on that day he was running errands and I was begging him to hurry (also with grocery items I needed), that he’d gone to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register the van.
Wow. I was mad for two reasons. One, that he took the time when I was overwhelmed at home and asking him to please hurry and help out. The other reason was because this meant he put it in his name only. We had words about it, he’d attack and defend, then waffle with an apology, then attack and defend, and back and forth. He tried to say that he’d told me on a phone call, but stopped when I asked him if that was true, what did I say in response? I finally just had to drop it for my own sanity and to be able to manage my own sanity and survival in the midst of everything else.
Everything else. This is the heavy heart, and since it involves my adult firstborn, I’m unsure of how much to say. She’s talking about an impending divorce, but she seems to be showing signs of a kind of disconnect that she seems unaware of, and she casually discusses some bizarre future plans for her own life that include a hallucinogenic drug and living in the Amazon one day. While I’m afraid for her, she seems defiantly unconcerned.
The day they left, my oldest grandson came back half a dozen times to hug me before he got in the car. A long week had passed, with priceless moments with the grandsons, but tiring days that started very early and ended very late. Those days were also filled with something very dark, a constant presence of something that left when their car pulled away. That was one of the saddest things I’ve ever had to acknowledge. This visit put me on my face in prayer; in truth, I’m inwardly prostrate and asking mutely for mercy and guidance.
Meanwhile, my son who lives in another state has apparently enmeshed himself quickly in a relationship that went on the fast trajectory from first date to a sexual relationship with someone young and immature, and we only know this part because she likes to post about that on facebook. Despite the fact that she used drugs when he met her, that her wealthy parents indulge her, and that she’s obviously indiscreet, he seems besotted. He said he was bringing her here for Christmas, and on a phone call with his younger sister, told her they didn’t want to put anyone out of their beds, so could she just ask Mom (meaning me PJ) to put two twin beds downstairs for them?
Um… Son? Have you gone daft? Have you lost your mind? The disciplined and responsible Son that’s joined the vast herd of too many to count men over the centuries that have lost all good sense over a female thinks that I’d have them shagging downstairs and that it’s okay to pass this message through a sixteen year old sister?
Reading this, you might think I come from some kind of madhouse, and I’m wondering myself if I’m going to wake up from some kind of crazy bad dream.
I fall asleep and wake up trying to focus on the right thing to do, and to not make any more wrong or foolish choices in my life. I’m numb, sad, and tired. For this moment, it means preparing for an Algebra lesson, planning dinner, getting a bill paid, scheduling a car to be serviced, replacing my daughter’s worn tennis shoes, and processing how to respond to my son about Christmas plans. I try not to left my mind drift away to thoughts of a solitary peaceful life in a cottage that only very safe people have drop in privileges for.
I ask myself Why am I even trying, and then I see my two youngest daughters working diligently at their classes, and see how hard they’re trying to make good choices. I think of my youngest son initiating a hug yesterday, the first time in possibly a year or two. I think of the son who was in that terrible accident, now determined to accept and build his life. The oldest son that’s battling some kind of unknown toxin and health issues from serving his country. The son with enormous musical and performing talent that strives to develop that without losing balance. The plaintive look in my grandson’s eyes…
I made those young, wrong, and foolish choices, and now I have to finally choose every day to be a grownup that will bear and sort the consequences with a plan to do as little harm as possible to others (and myself). First do no harm…
So life goes on, and so must I.