WARNING: Unsafe conditions for my offspring or spouse. Best to seek other reading material.
Ok, so we live in the Pacific NW, and yes, I would much rather have this totally erratic; gray for two days; blustery at times (blowing our umbrella over and sending deck items flying); freezing (ok, 54 this morning) then warm (um, 67), classic PNW weather, over the blistering hot temps that much of our family back East is experiencing right now. Most of the year, I would be much happier with our fairly benign weather, versus the extreme winters and summers of my childhood, outside of Boston. However, having had gorgeous sunny days and wide blue skies for three weeks, this is a bit harder to take right now. Hell, having had total freedom for two of those weeks, pretty much anything else is a bit harder to take.
But there is a silver lining: virtually everyone I run in to (even our mailman today) starts a conversation with some version of “so, it would be nice if summer finally comes…” and then adds a couple of cranky to down right miserable examples of why they are sick to death of this weather. And this wide spread crabbiness is for now, my cover. My bitchy re-entry in to family life: the mind numbing minutia of “what’s for dinner”, whether laundry is done, and various other domestic high points, can hide itself in the weather for a little while so I can find my game face again. My current gray blends with PNW gray. The insidious disgust I feel about certain post-teen, pre-adult attitudes and behaviors and the ever deepening “number one” (clearly moving toward the Botox demanding “ll”) that has taken root between my eyes can, for a while, be camouflaged in the “yea this weather is a real bummer” mood that permeates right now.
Sunday was truly gorgeous here, so I had to really keep it in check. And, actually it was a nice day all around. But cranky, mean, nasty bickering and snarky responses to requests to pick up clothes, shoes, dirty dishes, food scraps, wet towels, etcetera etcetera etcetera… have dominated for the past 48 hours and despite some reserves from “Oh my God it is so wonderful to be away, to not hear any voices, to do whatever I want”… it’s a hard mind set to hold on to, under the previously described conditions.
So, before some of you start writing to me about digging deep and finding that happy spot, that lives in me despite my location, or how whiny I might sound… please don’t. Believe me, I’m entitled to some cranky, ok call it bitchy, reactions to the reintroduction of real life. If you were listening to the ridiculous arguments between siblings, who are trying to figure out how much they do or do not like each other right now– totally unaware that they will likely be very close one day and spend the second half of their lives agreeing on mom’s eccentricities and short comings… (they agree now, but it gets lost in the battle over who has to clean the dishes or who used more gas in their shared car) you would have some empathy and allow me this rant.
I miss the solitude of clear moving water and empty hotel rooms. I miss the free, open road ahead of me and no one telling me how or where to go. And I know that I am barely entitled to true frustration yet… yes, I do still have some free fall glow to lasso my hopes on to. But, it is hard to hang on to the rope at points, as insults are flung and I try to ignore breakfast dishes, at 2 pm. Sorry, but these things get to me. I am weak. I am selfish: I want things my way in terms of how the house is kept and how things run. I want some command over my domain… and right now, that does not seem to be the case. It worked when they were younger and being grounded or losing privileges still held some weight, but, at this point, the reality is that those things really don’t work so well anymore. Again: not quite teens, not yet adults… what is that?
Sunday, the sunny day (and perhaps there is a direct correlation to weather and general household moods?), Principessa and I were cuddling in my bed. There for all of you who think I’m just an all-negative all-the-time gal, there’s your dose of sweet stuff. And, it was sweeeet stuff. We were cuddling and chatting and laughing; it was so nice. We were going to the lake and I was debating the whole 2 piece thing again and then talking about other stuff, when Principessa says: “So, mid-life crisis, you think mom?” “What! No, not a mid-life crisis… I think of it as a gradual awakening that ended in a brick wall moment.” “Well, mom, let’s add this up: ‘do I look ok in this bikini?’ (NOT a bikini for the RECORD) ‘Oh, I can’t wait to party and hang out w/my old high school friends,’ (30th reunion in 2 wks), and ‘gee, I think I’ll jump in my car and run away from home’… she said all of this in a playfully mocking imitation of me. She had me with the humor and we both laughed for a while. I resisted the fleeting urge to clarify her interpretations with some reality checks that might dim her view of mothering and marriage… she can discover her own reality one day, and I hope only good stuff for her in that department.
It was a sweet moment, that was followed by a trip to Lake Padden and for a while, another slice of summer heaven, as we managed to take over one of the much coveted docks, with only 2 other people… who clearly wanted to pretend we were not there either. When a single mother (meaning not with anyone else) arrived a while later, with 5 incredibly loud and annoying (as in splashing us, stepping on the other couples towels and books, yelling, bumping us all) boys and a young girl… I suggested we talk loudly about waxing or child birth to drive them away, but in the end, we all decided to yield to the louder group. The other couple left first, with flustered expressions and agitated grabbing of towels. We tried to hold our ground as long as possible, I even threw out the word Brazillian, to test the waters, but we were sunk already. This mom was not going to set any limits at all and I would only prove Pricipessa right (mid-life theories) if I snapped all together and threw her truly obnoxious youngest one off the dock, or splashed her as she texted friends and ignored all of our discomfort. The time we had before they arrived: sheer summer bliss and we left with mild sun burns and good moods intact overall.
Frankly, it is really hard to believe that was only two days ago, because the moods have been so much darker since… as have been the skies. Pricipessa started an office job which she hates, and somewhat justifiably– but mostly I think, as she complains and goes on about how horrible it is, while being incredibly cranky to the rest of us: grow up. We all worked lousy jobs to pay for school or living away from home. In my case, 2 jobs and a roach infested apartment in Somerville to pay tuition and everything else (and I think I did in fact walk 10 miles to school in the driving snow as well…). Yes, it sucks, but it’s hard to totally buy the ‘it’s the worst job in the world’ attitude, when I’ve seen not to mention worked, lots worse. And now that Middle Man has lost the car for the summer (do to activities that also contribute to my soured mood) and Little Man is back on tech and battling every request to do pretty much anything else… Well, there: now you can all see my general bitchy mindset in all its bright colors.
However, I just don’t buy that I’m out here on my own little nasty bitch island. I’ve heard too many other complaints from other moms who have kids spending too much time on electronics, but don’t have better options; mom’s tired of the sibling arguments and chores that don’t get done; with lots of people claiming the weather is the entire source of their crankies… AND, yes, I do know there are some really happy families who are loving all this time together and ruing the day that August ends and school starts again. I see you; I think it’s great. It just doesn’t seem to work in our house. Mama geyser has raised some baby geysers you could postulate.
I KNOW that I will miss my kids when they go back to school. I always do. However, I’m also coming to the realization that once the nest starts emptying, it just feels weird when the birds come back. It’s not just the accumulation of bird doo doo that I referred to in that first post; it’s the adjustments that are required by all of us. The returning birds feel their own resentment about following old rules and being asked to do things that they find stupid (who cares if dishes are in the sink? Why do you need things put there instead of here? etc) and their newly established independence, still a bit fragile if truth be told, is challenged each time we say “when will you be home?” or demand that things be done our way. However, my neatly ordered world, the lovely renovations I did to the nest and the order of the nest, when said birds flew away is also precariously challenged here. And the older I get, the less able I am bend.
So, for a little while… I’ll use the weather to camouflage the other gripes I’m working against. If I say, “man, when the hell is summer going to arrive?” you’ll know what I really mean. And if I seem bitchy, just blame it on the gray clouds.
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