Sunday, January 29, 2012

Catching up

(I just read the post below. Damn, it makes me feel depressed about my life. I think this is why I haven't been writing much at all. I don't really feel depressed. Actually, I feel pretty good. But there is not a lot of good news.)

Hi all, just in case you were wondering...

Gary has started taking classes at community college. It is too early to know what will become of it. One of his main motivations is financial. He qualifies for a significant amount of federal aid, and he needs it pretty desperately. He has car-associated bills that are unpaid leaving him in a very difficult place. If continues to live at home, goes to school, gets all the aid, maybe gets a part time job also, he might be able to be out of debt by summer. He wants to move out, but it is unclear whether and when he will be able to afford it. 

We gave him a rescue in the fall. We put a new clutch in the car and made an insurance payment so he could keep driving. Roland tended to wonder if this would "work," meaning would it get him set on a path that would lead to stability. I said that I did not expect it to work, but I needed to know that I had done it. The first time he got in over his head, I would bail him out. 

So, I don't know what will happen to him next. He can stay here and have free room and board indefinitely, but we are doing less and less for him outside of that. He is supposed to be paying all of the rest of his expenses, so mostly that means he does without. I get irritated with him sometimes and then do passive aggressive things like put onions in whatever I am cooking so he won't want to eat it. 

But he is trying. He is struggling with growing up. He makes poor decisions, but I know he wants to be independent. His plan is not to live off of our grudging generosity indefinitely. Eventually he will pull things together. 

His sister Helen is spiraling out of control. My theory is that she just rushed into adulthood too quickly. She did so well in high school. She graduated early, went to college early. She made a couple of really bad decisions which cut her off from her last foster family. Then she got sick and could not or did not ask them for help. She ended up not going back to school and is struggling in ways we all hoped she would never have to. There are people who will help her when she is ready to ask for it. Hopefully she will ask. I don't know how much I can do for her, our resources are pretty stretched. 

We don't get support from the agency anymore, which I am not complaining about, but the reality is that we are living on a tighter budget than we have in a long time. I've got out all my old vegetarian recipes and am enjoying meals with beans (which Brian hates) and onions (which both Brian and Gary hate) and loving it. I'm not doing it to make them angry. It is more that the budget issue has over-ridden my desire to cater to them and so I can enjoy eating things I like without feeling (very) guilty. Today I will be making pizza dough and baking up individual-sized pizza crusts. The boys can dump stuff on them and bake them when they want.

You may remember that Andrew is graduating from college this year. He wants to move back in and attend the college where I teach to get his teaching certificate for high school. It will probably take him two years. After cooking for himself at college, he is very good at eating on a budget. He cooks when he is here, and I am looking forward to that.

My mom's Parkinson's is progressing as Parkinson's does. Her best friend is planning to retire in the fall. She will be moving out of state, which almost certainly means that Mom has to move this summer. She has become very dependent on her friend. Without her Mom will have to either live with us or move into assisted living. So the chances are very good that she will be moving in with us this summer. I'm hoping she can manage the business side on her end ... putting the house up for sale, arranging for most of her furniture to be auctioned off. I'm not sure how exactly we will handle it if she just isn't up to it. The Parkinson's makes her tired. The disease may also be why her hearing is failing so badly. I know her friend will help her make the phone calls so she can get things done. Still, Mom must make the decisions and she is fighting depression. 

Ideally, it would be best if she and we sold our houses and bought a new house with a master's suite for her. After a decade of foster parenting, I've gotten fairly good at adjusting to new people in the house. The most difficult part is going to be Mom's obsessive need for things to be tidy. We will adjust our habits some, but most of that will have to be hers. I will need to remind myself of that frequently. The bottom line is that even if we worked very, very hard, we would never be able to keep our house as meticulously tidy as she does hers. This really is the only part that I am anxious about.

My sister is finishing up college. She is still living with her husband. He has a job that requires travel and is only home about one day a week. Sis says they get along really well that one day. Officially, Sis is still "giving him a chance." One factor is certainly that Sis cannot support herself until she finishes college. I have wondered if she is genuinely trying to make it work, or if she is just trying to hang on until she graduates with no expectation that it will succeed long term. I suspect she goes back and forth between the two thoughts. When she is done she should be able to get a job which will require her to move. I don't know if her husband will come with her or not. 

And I am doing far better than I would have been had I had to deal with all of this a few years ago. Somewhere along the line I just got better and not making other people's problems mine. When I don't need to think about them, I don't. 

Work is going very well for me. The two other members of the department retired in the past two years and we just now finally hired a replacement. We will be a department of two for the foreseeable future, but I am very happy about the person we have hired. For the first time in a couple of years I am not flying by the seat of my pants. The regular work of long-term planning and assessment is no longer the meaningless act of fiction it has been. 

My new colleague is so much younger than I am. I've decided that is what it means to get older.  I don't feel like I am older. I do notice that my body is not as cooperative about some things, but other than that, I feel about the same. What I do notice as that other adults are getting younger. Increasingly I got to professionals that are barely older than my children. Most of the profs we have hired recently seem hardly older than the students. It's weird, but not bad. 

And all this isn't as depressing as it might sound. The children have to follow their own paths to adulthood. I can't travel it for them. All I can do is provide some basic level of safety net so that things don't get too bad for them. I have confidence that eventually they will find their balance. And things will work out with Mom. I get frustrated living with the young men because they do things like leave dishes all over the house. Now I am nervous about living with a woman who will try not to be irritated at me for not washing every pot as soon as I finish using it. There is a stand-up routine bit in there somewhere.