The realities

13 Nov

Yesterday, I was reading about when was it time to talk about caregiver burnout over at Lexistential.

Yesterday, I also sent Maura off to school with a “good luck, she’s been mood swinging all four-day weekend”, and got a  “Wow, if today’s any indication of how you’re weekend went, I am so sorry!  It must be hormones!”  note from Maura’s teacher.  I did manage to get Maura settled down with her brothers so that the teen girl and I could slip out and go to a “meet the author” thing.  We had a blast, singing in the car, taking selfies while waiting to meet the writer, making a “late” night food run on our way home.

But then we got home.  And I found Maura, at 10 pm, still awake in her room with her iPad, looking a bit cross-eyed because omgshecouldn’tputdownthecrackpad.  And there was a smell of poo lingering faintly in the air.  And mascara smudged across her face because she decided to mimic her sister, putting on make up and trying on clothes.

There was a trial of Hurricane Maura through the house.  I went to go yell at the teen boys about watching their sister better, and they just looked at me.  And I looked at them.  And I walked away.

Because I realized – sometimes, it’s all just too much.

So I went to bed, knowing that thanks to Maura being awake at 10 pm, at 7 am, she’d be difficult.  That her whole day could be thrown off.  But in order for me to sneak out with one of the teens, it required the others to pick up the slack. And they were doing their best probably, but then poo got involved and let’s face it, at that point, even the parental units start looking for the quickest escape route.

And somehow, this has become the norm – if I’m not there to hover over Maura 24/7, then I know that I may come home to something that needs taking care of – crayon on the walls, poo on the bathroom floor, a girl who really can’t handle mascara.  And I will take every fall possible if it helps me make sure my older three have a few moments of normal life fun.

This is my life.  These are my realities.  And this?  This was a good day.  Just a couple moody meltdowns that were easily fixed, but otherwise, it was a good day, poo and all.

The thing is, most of us in similar boats don’t talk about it.  We don’t talk enough about how much of a caregiver we are.  We don’t speak of how much we sacrifice personally because we’re taking care of this extra-special person, while trying to juggle normal lives for the rest of our families.  And if we do bring up something like poo, we’re greeted with “OMG! TMI!”  If we mention we’re exhausted, we’re told “You need a break.”

Yes.  Yes we do need a break. But we need you to laugh at our poo stories as well.  Because poo is a reality, getting a break is a dream.  And if you don’t listen to the poo stories, you can’t really understand just why we need a break.  And honestly, sometimes we don’t need a break, we just need a friend to laugh at our poo stories.  Because if you make the “Ew! TMI!” face at us, then we realize that what we’re dealing with on a daily basis…is kind of gross.  And that’s disheartening.  It just adds another scoop of sadness onto our crap sundae.

And it’s all exhausting.  So by bedtime, I’m ready to just become a zombie.  If dishes don’t get done, so be it.  If there’s a pile of (clean) laundry on the couch, I don’t care.  It’s 9 pm, and I’ve clocked out for the evening.  Because I’ve spent half my day running around trying to do stuff while Maura’s at school, and the other half wrangling the girl herself.

Girl Wrangling includes things like arguing over computers, tablets, and tvs (she wants to use them all, all the time), having her help me clean the pencil scribbles off the wall, spending five minutes convincing her she must brush her teeth and cornering her in the bathroom until she finally, happily, brushes her teeth, sitting in the hall while waiting for her to use the toilet, cleaning poopy underwear, trying a new way of organizing her room so that this time, maybe, she won’t dump everything out, keeping her from killing herself accidentally because she thinks she can use the biggest knife in the kitchen to cut stuff or make her own toast, running as soon as I hear a strange noise because it could be something like her deciding to make popcorn on the stove, or she dropped a glass, realizing that it’s quiet…too quiet…not being able to fall asleep until I know she’s asleep, watching Mulan every damn day until even the teens are singing “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”, chewing obnoxiously, helping her bathe (which means I get a shower and my clothes washed at the same time!), dealing with a sudden-onset mood swing because her brother blinked incorrectly, did I mention poo?, having her follow me around the house as I look for her shoes instead of just staying where I asked her to stay, fighting with her about clothes (okay, that’s probably a normal thing), letting her “help” me or do it herself even though it means making the task 29438 times longer, hiding certain things (because no one should eat 8 granola bars in a row), and whatever else she throws my way.

Luckily, she has such a good attitude most times that when I do clean her room, it’s met with “WOW!”, when we do a task together, there’s high fives, when we do agree on clothing, there’s girlish preening, and just because she loves us, there’s lots of hugs and kisses.

But it is still exhausting.  And it’s all the time.  It’s our reality, and while we don’t complain about it much, it is there, eeking away at us.  We’ll have our moments, and we’ve earned them.  We’ve had our days, and we’ve earned those as well.  And we’ll be doing this for the rest of our lives, because the other options are too hard to think of.

We caregiving parents put up with all of the trials and the traumas because that’s the only viable option given to us.  Anything else will just break our hearts.  Because as much as that special person drives us up walls and across ceilings, we love them, and we want what’s best for them.  And we know that others may not treat them well or lovingly.   So we keep caring, and giving, and parenting.

The least everyone else could do is listen to our stories, TMI or not.  Because sometimes, telling that story is the closest thing to a break we’ll be getting all week.


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Well, that’s a new one

9 Nov

We all know I get fun spellings on my coffee, like…









and even…


we thought maybe this one was supposed to be "Jamie" - but when the barista confronted the cashier, he said "I really didn't know what her name was" - LOL!

we thought maybe this one was supposed to be “Jamie” – but when the barista confronted the cashier, he said “I really didn’t know what her name was” – LOL!

So today, I went to Tully’s Coffee, a local chain that of course is supposed to be better than Starbucks.  They asked me for a name, and I said “Phoebe”.

I got this -




Yes, instead of my name, they put down a smiley.  So while they’re calling out “Sarah” and “Neil”, I got “decaf latte”.  Because they couldn’t be bothered with even trying to write my name.

I’ve been demoted to a smiley face.




Newsflash – Local Girl Spots Display of “Frozen” Stuff, Loses Her Mind

5 Nov

Remember how in my post earlier today (was it just today???) where I told Maura I’d take her for shoes after school?

Yeah.  That was a mistake.

We went to Payless – with all its shoes – because hey! Cheap shoes!  We can get a couple pairs!

But no.  There were no shoes she liked.  There was, however, a whole crap-ton of Frozen crap to buy.  Little Frozen purses.  Little Frozen shoes.  Little Frozen stretchy gloves.  Little Frozen umbrellas.  Big Frozen bows.  Little Frozen jewelry.

And that’s when Maura lost her damn mind.

She’s not really a fan of Olaf, but suddenly she HAD to have the Olaf umbrella.  That led to a slight wrestling match and a pinched thumb (mine of course.)  Then she wrestled a purse off the rack.  Fine.  We’ll get a purse.  She tried on the hat, but it was too small.  She started wandering the store, looking for the shoes.  The glorious sparkly shoes with Frozen faces on them.

Of course they weren’t in her size.

My eldest child called to talk about something.  I had to cut him short.  “Sorry, gotta go before your sister shoplifts something.” as Maura ripped the paper out of the purse to shove the Frozen gloves into.

I gave Maura the lecture about buying it before putting stuff in the purse.  Maura’s usually very good about buying stuff.  She’s got that concept down.

But, thanks to the plethora of Frozen crap, she lost her damn mind.

Lost. It.

There was a line.  We were fourth in line.  The vibe in the store was a bit moody, even without us.  The cashier was being a bit snippy to a customer, who in return was trying to get a discount on all 47 items she was buying or returning or whatever.  I don’t know – all I know is, the entire time Maura was going mad over Frozen gear, this woman and the cashier were going at it over discounts and coupons.

Then Maura decided once again that she neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeded an umbrella.  Mind you, long umbrellas have been banned from school for her since she hit an aide with one.  And again, it was just Olaf.  Her order of preference is Elsa, Elsa, Elsa and Anna, Elsa Anna and others, Elsa, Anna, then Olaf.  She was in a “Buy ALL the things!” mode, and about to melt down quickly.

I just didn’t realize how quickly.  For a moment later, she let out a war cry and ran out the door, setting off the alarms.

By the way, if you ever try to shoplift from Payless, their alarm system comes with lights.

I took off after her with a “No!”, registering the shocked looks on everyone’s faces and hoping they had gotten the gist of the situation.  I caught up to Maura outside, where she did her drop to the ground, retrieved the now-stolen items from her, told her how that was not acceptable in a stern voice, left her screaming her tantrum on the sidewalk – safely – as I popped open the door to the store (setting off the alarms again, awesome) and said “I’m just going to leave these here.” and tossed the contraband on a display table.

The cashier just nodded, a bit wide-eyed.

I hefted Maura off the sidewalk and marched her back to our car, giving her the “We don’t take things from stores without paying for them” lecture as she howled.  She howled some more in the car as I told her we were not going back for the Frozen stuff, throwing a fit, taking off her seat belt and generally being horrible.  just waited it out.  After a few minutes, she calmed down and I said “Do you want to try another store for shoes?”


So down the shopping center we went – to the Sears.  Little Miss Jekyll and Hyde got out of the car all giggles and smiles, wiping tears away and thrilled to be going to Sears.

“You are going to be the death of me child.” I said to her.

She laughed.

We found shoes at Sears.

Then we went to Five Guys, because all that shoplifting and tantrum throwing makes a budding criminal hungry.



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