September 28

My Teenager Is Trying To Kill Me

My teenager is trying to kill me. I can’t recall the exact moment my sweet, loving boy turned into a testosterone fueled, raging teenager. But, somewhere along the way it happened. I’m fairly certain the majority of the grey hairs I count every day are gaining ground in direct correlation to each day we’ve spent in this phase.  My stress level is beyond measure. My blood pressure has reached an all-time high. I can only conclude that my 15 year old son stays awake at night plotting ways to torment me.

Ok, full disclosure here: I wasn’t the easiest teenager on earth either. In my family, I was the child that managed to find ways to get myself into trouble. My older brother generally towed the line. But, obviously, I was a teenage GIRL. Like most teenage girls, my hormones took over and drama ensued. I was bitchy and moody sometimes (ok…a lot) and tears would fly at random over any and all sorts of what I perceived as transgressions against me. I mastered the art of the door slam, until my father threatened to remove my door from the hinges. THIS I (sort of) know how to deal with. Teenage boys…WHOA…they are a creature all of their own. Since my brother wasn’t your “typical” teenager, I have no frame of reference here.

My son, so far, has managed to keep himself out of any outside trouble. I thank the teenage gods for that, because believe me, I KNOW how much trouble can be found if you go looking for it. Teenagers today have so much more on their shoulders. I am thankful beyond measure that he is making good choices. I’m not foolish enough to believe the day will never come where I’ll get some type of phone call. But, for now, I’ll take the good where I can find it.

Home base is a whole different ball game. Teenage boys are filled with anger, at least mine seems to be.  I imagine it has a lot to do with all that extra testosterone flowing through their bodies. Whatever the case, the shitstorm that’s been raining down in our house lately is cause for a serious look at how to steer his path in a new direction. Let’s just say there are days…and plenty of them lately…that my dear son should be VERY thankful that I don’t believe in beating my children. I won’t lie…it takes a lot of strong will occasionally to not go all old school on his ass. But I don’t, and I won’t.

So, my friends, what is the answer? How do I dig down deep and find that sweet child I KNOW is still in there somewhere? The one who would never even THINK of saying some of the things that have come out of his mouth lately. The one who needs direction and discipline at the same time. My baby, my growing teenage boy.

I watch the see-saw of emotions go across his face at times like that. I even watch the words I know he wishes he could say. “Go away. I hate you right now. Life sucks.” Is it really that different from the feelings that swirled around my head as a teenager? Not so much. Boys just tend to let it out differently. Maybe they’d also like to say, “I wish I could still be your little boy. Hug me. Tell me you’re here for me. I feel lost and angry.”  And I do that. But, maybe I need to do it even more. Maybe inside that “tough guy”, angry teenager is a piece of that little boy who still needs his Mom as much as I need him.

September 26

Letting It Fly

“I can’t take it anymore. The two of them are in there fighting AGAIN. I’m sick and tired of being everyone’s maid, including yours. No one in this damn house appreciates anything I do. The dog won’t stop whining and barking. The dishwasher won’t start AGAIN. The bills are all overdue. We’re down to the last piece of bread in the house. My head feels like there are burning knives being plunged into it. And I don’t care if they all kill each other in there! I just want to get in the car and run away. I. CAN’T. TAKE. IT. ”

This was the greeting my poor hubs received one day last week after he pulled in the driveway from work. Although, quite honestly, it could have been any day of any week. To add insult to injury, I looked the part of a crazed lunatic as well. There I was, sitting on the front porch (still) in my pajamas, sporting a lovely bed head look and I’m fairly certain my eyes may have rolled into the back of my head at some point.

At the end of my tirade, I screamed, “Aren’t you so glad you came home to THIS?”. And promptly burst into tears.

My dear, patient hubs looked at me and said, “Just don’t run away without me”. Damn, I love that man.

Now, I won’t pretend this happened overnight. Hubs and I have known each other since kindergarten. We were high school and college sweethearts. That all goes right out the window when you come back together as adults. So, when we were first married (and for several years after), Hubs thought he had to fix things if I was on the war path. That’s what men do; they fix things. Slowly, he realized that I just needed to GET IT OUT of my system and I would be fine. I think he is still amazed, though, at my ability to scream, holler and let the tears fly then go back to being a (somewhat) stable wife and Mom shortly thereafter. Frankly, he’s not the only one. But, hey…sometimes we just need to let it fly…

….which brings us to this past Monday. Hubs and I were set to leave at 7:00 am for DD’s surgery. I stumbled out of bed at 5:00, showered and dressed, THEN woke 2 kids to get ready for school. Hubs rolled out at 6:20 and announced he needed to get in the shower right in the middle of kids getting in and out and ready for school. Mind you, the kids and I have the morning routine down to a science. It may actually be the only time we run efficiently in our house. Ten extra minutes of sleep is a powerful motivator. But, I digress…

The screaming and yelling began at 6:30. Dog ran for the bed and teenagers ran for cover. Only this time, it wasn’t their lunatic mother on a tirade. Oh, no…dear, sweet, patient Hubs was yelling like the roof was coming down. At 6:50, I was ready to leave with DS for school when Hubs yelled (loudly) from the room across the house, “If you don’t take him right this second, I’m getting in my truck and leaving without you.” Wait, what? All kinds of nasty responses filtered through my mind, but I kept quiet. We scrambled for the car. I’d like to pretend I wasn’t angry…furious even…but, I was.

Then it hit me. Wasn’t Hubs entitled to his own craziness once in awhile? Sure, there were a hundred arguments on the tip of my tongue. But, were they worth it? Not really. Because sometimes marriage means a little (or a lot) of craziness. It means letting the other person spew and vent when the reality might be they are scared and nervous, or sad or any number of other things. It means saying “Just don’t go without me”.

I was back home and waiting at 7:00am on the dot. My Mom had arrived to take my DD to school. And the kicker…as I sat and chatted with Mom, Hubs was still getting ready. To my astonishment, I held my tongue even then. And as we pulled out of the driveway, I reached over for his hand and squeezed it tight. No words necessary.

Category: Marriage | 4 Comments
September 22

Loving From Afar

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On Monday morning, I sat in a surgical waiting room alone. My youngest daughter had just come out of surgery. I was not allowed to be with her. The doctors and nurses assured us she was doing well. I knew this logically. I knew my husband would hold her for me.  That didn’t make it any easier, any less painful. I paced…I sat again…and I wondered if there was a way to bypass Nurse Ratched at the desk and sneak back to her room. To hold her hand, to tell her how much I love her. But, rules are rules. So, instead, I sat and I waited. Alone with my thoughts.

In technical terms, our youngest daughter is my step-daughter. In my mind and my heart, she is my daughter. She has been in my life since the day she peeked shyly around the corner at me, just shy of three years old. And ten minutes later, she crawled into my lap and put her head on my shoulder and melted my heart. It’s been almost ten years since that day. Ten years of watching her grow up. Ten years of milestones, of fun, tears and laughter. Ten years of five children blending together into one family.

I have witnessed the good, the bad and A LOT of the ugly involved with parents and step-parents. I am well aware of the tightrope we walk in these relationships. I am fortunate that with my step-children, we are all (mostly) adult about things and can get along. But, this doesn’t mean I am in any way blind to the fact that these three beautiful children in my life have a mom. I could never, and would never even try to, replace her. That isn’t my place. That often means rising above my own feelings. It ALWAYS means putting their needs first.

When my husband let me know our daughter was being moved to a room and I would be able to see her shortly, I felt so relieved. Soon, we were on our way and I was able to kiss her forehead and stroke her hair. I told her how brave she was and soon she would be feeling much better. She was moaning in pain in her sleep, which brought immediate tears to my eyes. As I looked up, I saw my husband and her mom were also tearing up. In that moment, there were no titles attached to our names. We were three parents who all loved this precious girl beyond measure and would do anything to take her pain from her. It was clear we all felt it; that special connection only a child can bring among you.

A short time later, I left the room for a few minutes. As I came around the corner on my way back, I stopped short in my tracks. From the doorway, I could see my husband on one side of the bed, his ex-wife on the other side, across from each other. They were each holding one of their daughter’s hands as they stared down at her with tears in their eyes. They whispered reassurances to their daughter and stroked her sleeping hands. Occasionally, they glanced up with a look passing across their faces that needed no words. “Is our baby going to be ok?” “Yes, she’ll be fine. We’ll be here for her.” I quickly backed out of the room before they noticed me standing there and left for awhile. They needed time, without me, to be with their baby.

As I walked the hallways to pass some time, I thought of all three of my step-children. I don’t normally ever think of them this way. They are simply “my children” in my heart and in the love I feel for them. I realized that day, though, that sometimes it’s ok. Sometimes, on days like this one, even for just a few moments, my place as a step-mom may be loving them from afar.

September 20

New and (Hopefully) Improved!

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Welcome (Back) to Midlife Mayhem!

A long time ago, in a kingdom far, far away….a Blog and Facebook page called Midlife Mayhem were born. For awhile, the crazy middle aged lady who created them tried to make it all work. Eventually, she realized all the big plans she had for herself and her blog weren’t coming to fruition (ok, actually she just threw her hands up in the air and said “Screw it”) and took a long sabbatical from the blog and the facebook page. While she was off trying to find herself (ahem…reclaim some sense of sanity), she had quite the AHA moment! She had been going about it all wrong. She decided to give it another shot, peeled off the straightjacket and got to work.

PRESENT DAY:  Now, here we are! If you’re wondering about my great epiphany, it was actually quite simple.  I love to write. I have always loved to write. But, two things happened along the way. The first was that I wasn’t really writing very much. I needed to find more balance between the FB page and the blog. The second was that when I DID write, I was trying too hard to write for everyone else. Was it good enough? Was it funny? Would they like it if I wrote about something serious? What does everyone else want to hear about? While, of course, you want your readers to be interested and enjoy what you write (or the only readers you have will end up being your saintly grandmother and some weirdo troll), the most important thing is stay true to yourself….at least to me. The rest will (or maybe not) follow. So, there you have it…my great AHA moment. Hey, I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes. What can I say?

Midlife Mayhem has always been (and will continue to be) mostly about this crazy train we’re riding together.  The humorous, and sometimes more serious, look at the joys and perils of this stage of our lives.  Now, there will also be a few extra categories on other subjects that you may choose to check out if you’re interested.

Enough of the boring, administrative stuff! Soon, we’ll be launching into all the fabulous parts of midlife. Grey hairs, stray hairs, gravity, marriage in midlife, raising kids…and ohhhh the teenagers…and much, MUCH more!

So, pull up your Spanx, grab those tweezers (nose hair clippers for the guys) and hang on for the ride! It’s a bumpy one!