My Whim is Law

…where a single parent in Portland still believes that wishing will make it so…

We really don’t get frequent flyer benefits from ER visits, do we?

If we did, though – we would have racked up the points in triple-time recently.

Why? Let’s just shift the credit/blame over to my not-yet-fully-independent #HeTeen, who has racked up the following in just under 2 months:

  • 2 different visits to 2 different emergency rooms
  • 1 major surgery/overnight stay; 1 ER procedure that still required sedation
  • 2 eye-popping anesthesiologist bills (one pending, one already delivered, ouch)
  • and both generated lovely associated family drama and/or displayed less than impeccable timing

First up? The emergency appendectomy, performed at just before midnight on Valentine’s Day. Yes, #HeTeen diagnosed it himself, as evidenced by this text message:

I think I have appendicitis. Can we go to the hospital tomorrow? (delivered while I was having a V-Day dinner date, no less)

Uh, go tomorrow? I think not. So I did what any parent would do – finished my ribeye, met the kid back at the house, and insisted on an ER trip now. As in tonight, not tomorrow.

(I learned later that the only reason #HeTeen agreed to go with me was because I’d “canceled a date & he felt guilted into it”.)

Yep, he was right (he always is when it comes to diagnosing his own medical ailments these days) – so the appendix was removed later that evening & he was discharged from the hospital less than 24 hours after arrival.

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My new roommate – #HeTeen?

Yes, our mother/son relationship has taken a new twist these days.

As you might recall, #HeTeen had already been bailing on at least one night of the two evenings the kids were spending with their father every other weekend. If you’ve followed me for a while now? You already know that my kid-free weekend is a time I cherish deeply – I can play my own music (or play nothing at all), entertain my friends, and set my own schedule w/o interference/inquisitions.

And you know what? I’ve been doing just that when #HeTeen is here and his sister is not (save for that whole ‘entertaining friends’ bit.) He’s also made it clear that his time at his dad’s on weekends hasn’t worked for him on a few different levels (mostly involving the fact that he’s sharing a room with his dreaded little sister when he’s there), and that if he were given the choice, he’d just as soon stay here.

His dad – while still wanting to hang out with #HeTeen – admitted that having both kids in his house on his weekends has been less-than-ideal lately.

The only objector here? Yours truly. But when I took a few minutes to look objectively at the situation, I realized it would be best for all concerned if I caved & just did away with the dream of ‘kid-free weekends’ for the short-term.

So in late January, we removed the requirement that #HeTeen had to go with his dad for at least one of the two evenings.

And you know what? It’s not been nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. Why? He recognizes that this is still my time off – so doesn’t expect me to produce meals, be home on a regular basis, or provide for his basic needs unless previously negotiated/agreed to.

Sure, there’s usually food in the house. Nope, I won’t deny him part of my meal if I’m making dinner for myself – but he doesn’t much like the foods I’m making these days (unless it’s meat, sauce and onions – then, he’s good!) And he’s learning that if he wants macaroni & cheese, well – he’d best grab a box from the pantry and make it his own damned self.

So he does. And as a result, he’s expanding his culinary repertoire. This morning? I posted this on Twitter:

WOW. A man is making breakfast for me. Okay, it’s only #HeTeen – & I’m betting I’ll end up doing the dishes. But STILL.

He has a ‘favorite spatula’. He’s appreciative of the wifi setup that lets him flip his stored music in his room to the kitchen speakers – and says so. He’s asking for favors, but offering a clear payback if I agree to same. He’s paying for his own incidentals (the phone bill, for example) and negotiating with me to pick him up things that I typically won’t buy as part of regular groceries (“if you buy me Gatorade when you’re at the store, I’ll pay you back for it…”)

at 18, he sets his own schedule – but informs me of his whereabouts as a common courtesy, or adheres to basic house rules. He’s already been doing his own laundry for four years now. I don’t have to nag him about cleaning up his room, washing his bedding, taking a shower (done, done and done – all on a fairly fastidious schedule, if I do say so myself).

The only thing I have to occasionally nag about these days? Taking out the garbage every other week – and even then, he made it clear that if he fails to do it the night before, it’s my job to wake his ass up at 6 am the day of to haul it to the curb. Yes, even if he’s sleeping, or sick. (This after one too many times of hauling it to the curb myself and then haranguing him after the fact.) “How else am I supposed to learn, Mom? If I forgot – wake me up and tell me to take care of it instead of doing it yourself and then bitching at me. I probably won’t keep forgetting – right?”

And he was right.

The real bonus, though? Getting a chance to hang out with him as a peer of sorts – and not as one of my two children.

It’s been kinda nice, actually. So while I don’t think we’re really roommates, well – that’s the closest word I have to describe what happens when his sister goes to her dad’s for the weekend.

As long as he doesn’t borrow my clothes – I think we’re All Good for the time being.

(Although he probably doesn’t need to know that I’m using one of his old t-shirts as my gym workout shirt – does he? Nope…so shhhh on that fact, please?)

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Of weighty matters

It’s January. There are sales. So I’ve been re-buying stuff I already had lately (or that the kids already had as well). Things like pants. A new bathroom scale. Underwear. Bras. Socks. You know the drill…

Yes, it’s always a nice idea to do an underwear purge – and it’s helpful to have pants that don’t fall down around your ass with a sudden movement, too. But it was the bathroom scale that had both of my teenagers all giddy yesterday. (The old one gave up the ghost a few months ago; I’ve been depending on gym weigh-ins and/or doctor’s office visits to figure out just where I’ve been getting to, weight-wise ever since.)

#SheTeen was first up – loaded it up with fresh batteries & bounded on the pad with glee. “106 – I’m finally over a hundred pounds, MooooooooOOOOM!” She then looked expectantly at me – “c’mon, you go!” So I jumped on the scale (fully clothed, including Converse) & beheld a number that I was happy to see – sure, I’ve been plateauing for the last few months (or so I thought, anyway), but at least I haven’t been gaining weight, either, as the scale happily confirmed. Even with the Converse on, no less!

#HeTeen was next to catch the weigh-in fever – and when I saw his number, well – my world shifted sideways as I did some mental math calculations. Sure, he’s lighter/thinner than he’s been in a couple of years (he blames it all on me since “all you ever make for dinner is meat and some #*$*#*@ leaves!” Yes, he leaves in the profanity, just to make the point.) Sure, he has half-a-foot on me now. And sure, he’s going to take the snarky road 9 times out of 10 when joking around about the whole weighing-in process for women.

But he also now weighs more than I do – a fact that sobered us both up when I commented on it.

See, he’s always known me as the mother who’s always been bigger than he is – even when he was growing up and/or out over the last few years. And now? I’m not. Bigger than he is, no matter how you slice it physical size-wise (I’d assert that my personality is still fairly outsized in comparison). And I think we’ll need a little bit of time to let that shift sink in.

This morning, I jumped back on the scale, pre-shower (the Converse & every scrap of clothing didn’t come along for this ride) – just to make sure I hadn’t been dreaming and/or hallucinating. Um, nope – saw an even lower number that it’ll be harder for him to hit any time soon (even with the meat and/or leaves).

As of this morning, I’ve lost 42 lbs since April ’10 – including another 5 or so pounds throughout the holiday season (where, to be fair, I didn’t go off the Paleo wagon much – save for that eggnog, perhaps…)

Yes, I know it’s not just about a number on a scale – and I’m happy with all of the other metrics I’m using as well (the way clothes fit, etc.) Yes, I still have more to lose – and I’ll do so by re-adding exercise back to the mix (see, the weight-loss plateau coincided with a drastic drop in the amount of exercise I had been doing. Funny how that works, eh?)

But the fact that I’m still losing weight, still needing to replace outsized clothing* – even without exercise – is a testament to my whole ‘clean eating’ (read: Paleo) lifestyle these days. (Despite critiques from the teens about my ‘meat and twigs and branches and other crap’ meal preparation habits.)

So. I’ll be one of the January hordes ‘re-joining’ my local gym. With any luck, I’ll still be there in February, March and beyond.

‘Cause the only way #HeTeen could pass me up at this point would be by lopping off his outsized head…! (A task his sister would be oh-so-happy to assist with, depending on the day/time…)

* More on buying clothes at ‘regular people’ stores next – it’s been a pleasant revelation, it has!

[This is part of a series documenting the pleasant physical changes over the last year or so. See the preamble, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8 for the backstory…]

Posted in Boss Lady, Caveman Eating, Get Betsy Healthy, The Mogul | Tagged | 1 Comment

Redefining ‘kid-free’ weekends these days

As regular readers know, I cherish my kid-free weekends – all 26 of them (in your typical calendar year, that is).

Does that mean I do not love my children? That I’m a typical selfish parent? That I’m using the time they’re not here to engage in illegal and/or debauched behavior?

Nope, Nyet and No Way. (Well, almost no way. And no – I’m not specifying which question that last answer belongs to – you decide!)

Instead, I prefer to think of it as a healthy, enlightened POV. I’m a single parent who has my kids with me 85% of the time, on average. My kids should get time with their other parent. And I require time to recharge my own batteries.

Over the years, that philosophy has worked well for all of us. I don’t go to kid functions on my weekends, for the most part. Make sure their dad’s informed, invited, and/or included in the daily minutia of details about their lives if he chooses to be. Take a big back seat so their time with their dad is truly just that.

And that whole ‘single parent’ drill has gotten much much easier as the kids have gotten older – I’m able to ‘sneak out’ for a kid-free evening with friends, even when the kids are still at home. Better equipped to resist the occasional ‘but you never spend time with MMMEEEEE!’ laments I occasionally hear from #SheTeen (best combated with ‘but who just took you to this practice – or tried to talk to you in the car, only to get attitude?’)

But even with that whole swath of theoretically-available kid-freedom, I still resisted when #HeTeen started pushing back on the requirement to go to his father’s for an entire weekend. Sure, I get why he feels the way he does – he wants to be able to hang out with friends on a Friday night, or go over to his girlfriend’s house. Sleep in his own bed. Get places under his own steam. (Staying out late on a Friday requires calling his dad for transportation, more often than not, ’cause Dad’s house isn’t as mass-transit-friendly as my own house is.) Plus, he wants a break from his often-annoying little sister, he says (a sentiment I can’t help but understand).

See, I am selfish about some things. I still adore being in a completely empty house. Where I can walk around in just a t-shirt, or play the “crappy music” I like at full volume. Or listen to nothing at all (ahhhh – silence doesn’t often occur in a house full of teenagers, you see). Or (ahem) entertain visitors of the male persuasion – visitors who haven’t yet achieved the status of requiring introductions to your children, that is.

So that whole ‘resisted’ characterization above? Scratch that – I whined like a bratty 2-year-old desperately in need of a nap. Only in an overly-verbose, overly-profane adult kind of way. (It was probably pretty unbecoming. Scratch that – I’m quite sure it was embarrassing as hell.) And #HeTeen didn’t help matters any when he countered with ‘just keep your door shut and be discreet’ (otherwise known as the ‘we’re roommates’ model) when I euphemistically raised the possibility of, um, extra guests here.

(All together now: eeeeuuuuuwwwwwww. Not happening – no way, no how. While I’m not normally a prude, well – I am about that. No possibility of ever re-enacting [looking for SNL skit about mom, son & latest overnight guest], thankfully.)

Until I got over it yesterday. Yep, we both have valid points. And compromise is always an option at the end of the day.

So #HeTeen? Stays here now on Friday nights. Already assumes there will be no such thing as a home-cooked meal on Fridays (in fact, he believes he’s on his own for dinner). And on Saturday mornings? I just make sure I’m here solo & fully clothed, keep the volume down – and might occasionally offer to toss him a home-cooked breakfast his way instead.

(Or, alternatively – elect to be the guest instead of the host when that’s an option…)

It’s not ideal – for either one of us. But it’ll have to do. Until he moves out of the house entirely.

And since that’s on his agenda Real Soon Now? I guess I just need to develop patience, is all.

Posted in Bossing the Kids, The Mogul | 1 Comment

It Was Worth It

It’s been a rough few weeks lately.

I’ve felt scattered, pressured, pulled in too many directions, or questioned about things that ought to have always been clear.

I pride myself on being clear, direct and focused. Able to juggle things with finesse, moving from early-AM meeting to a night at the tween’s music concert (requiring logistics like the obligatory flowers after the solo performance and the ‘oh, PLEASEEEE can we go out for a special treat afterwards’ request.)

But lately, I’m getting grief. Feeling overloaded, snapping at people who don’t deserve it. Annoyed at expectations that far exceed what I’d ever committed to in the first place. And it’s showing up physically as chronic insomnia — the type that wakes you up at 4 am each and every weekday without fail — no matter what you do (or don’t do) to try and battle it.

I’ve been seeing a light at the end of the tunnel though. Am now on vacation from work for the rest of the year; have plans to see friends and unwind until I need to head back into the fray.

But I was less than thrilled at having to head out yet again to the doctor to take the teen in today (nothing serious – lingering cold that he just can’t shake) on my first day of vacation.

Until he started talking on the way home about the way that all aspects of his life (school, friends, life at home, etc.) have really fallen into place nicely since June of this year (some of you will know why this is meaningful, of course). And as he went into detail, well, I started crying. During rush hour/holiday shopping traffic, no less.

Because that’s what I’ve been working towards all these months. That’s why I juggle my schedule in crazy ways. And that’s why I put my kids first — now and always.

I’m not one these days for holiday gift giving — I’d rather let what I do during the entire year testify to the strength of my relationships.

But today, my teenage son gave me the best gift he ever could have.

And it happened at the absolutely perfect time.

Tonight? I’m looking forward to a solid night of sleep (one where I don’t stir until 8 at the earliest).

(For those who know the backstory — thank you. You’ve helped more than you could possibly know…)

Posted in Boss Lady, The Mogul | 8 Comments
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