Miss me yet?
Nah, if your life is like mine, you’re up to your posterior in reptiles. Who cares if some dork blogs about stuff when you have more stuff than you can handle?
About a month ago I wrote happily about our son’s move into a group home. Reports from the staff continue to be positive. Heck, last weekend Joey was selectively communicative but smiley just the same when we asked him about the group’s trip to see Disney on Ice. (Random thought: with temperatures dropping here I could probably show a Disney movie in my backyard and call it Disney on Ice. But I digress).
For now, we have him stay at the new place Friday night through Monday morning. He spends the “work week” here with us.
So, what’s this like, this zone between empty nest and care giving? It’s a bit of both. No, a lot of both. A word that my wife taught me comes to mind: Transition. Of course I knew that word in some contexts, but she taught me about it as applied to childbirth,
This is the hardest phase but also the shortest
Well, let’s hope it’s short. I mean, the last “phase” was 23 years so this should be a flash in comparison.
Here are some stray things I’m observing and processing. Hope they might be helpful to you if you are thinking about or in the midst of this kind of transition:
- Yes, some chores go away. But others pop up. He’s technically a tenant now, so I’m writing his rent, utility and activity checks. So all of a sudden I get extra of one of my favorite tasks, bill paying. Yep, there’s a flurry of new paperwork in my life.
- The peace and quiet and laid back pace when he’s not here are wonderful. All that stuff you hoped/are hoping for? Yep. No middle of the night interruptions. No bathroom accidents. No holes drilled in your head by verbal perseveration about this and that. No structuring your day around care giving routines. Coffee tastes better, hot strangers ask you out on dates, the moon is in the seventh house… OK, I’m exaggerating. But this big change is a real and overdue blessing.
- Life continues to dole out rations of crud. All the other stuff that you were ignoring comes into focus. Our years-past-the-average-lifespan-of-her-breed dog is having various symptoms of her advanced age. And so we have the discussion of spending lots of bucks to keep her going or to play the bad guy and have her put down. Yes, the new freedom is nice. But life continues to do its thing in your face.
- Emotions bounce around. And I mean for all of us. The other day Joey kept bringing up “donuts and pizza,” a sweet dad and son routine we’ve been having on Saturdays for years. He misses it. When he vocalized it, it went right to my heart and it frigging tugged. No, not tugged. Applied a wrestling finishing move. Mom reads the emotions in Joey’s eyes. She can see he’s struggling with the change – not that he can’t handle the routines and activities of the new place, but that he’s homesick for our place. So is the lesson that providing a loving home will come back to break your heart? (Man, sorry, now I sound like sappy pop “Christmas” muzak. But I digress, again.)
- Challenging discussions come up. Should our response to his objections be to immerse him into the group home more aggressively or to prolong his weekended status until he stops lamenting?
- Holidays are a mixed bag. The house is filled with familiar decorations and activities that Joey loves. Having him home much of the week is, we hope, reassurance that life as he knows it isn’t over. We’re still including him in fun with people he knows and adores (and who reciprocate that affection!) But the emotional upheaval of a big transition in these tender times adds pangs of pain. (Dang, this does sound like childbirth).
In other news, Joey brought home some seasonal arts and crafts pieces from his day program, among them this little wreath ornament:
It’s the only ornament on our tree right now. We are having a bunch of friends over on an upcoming night to have pizza and other good stuff with Joey and to help us finish decorating the tree.
The green holds the hope of spring against the winter gloom. Transition is the short, painful phase that gives way to the birth of a new life.
Hope to share more soon. Meanwhile, my prayer is that you find blessing in all of your transitions.