Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Discretion is the better part of valour

I feel like the search for appropriate discretion is one of my more difficult journeys as an adult.  It's one of the only ones I necessarily conduct in private.  That is just not my way, you know?  I have been having issues with Sarah.  This isn't good.  I think that Noah tolerates me saying so many negative things about him in writing because he knows it is the only way I can give feedback.  I can't say out loud the things I write.  I seem to be nearly physically unable to.  I simply cannot usefully communicate about them.  But I can write them down.

I am having trouble with the fact that Sarah is forgetful because of medication and then will adamantly swear up and down that I only said something once so she can't be held accountable for the fact that I am so mad.

No one is to blame for the fact that I am "so mad".  My inappropriate escalations are absolutely my fault.  Yes.  That is true.

But I can't deal with how often promises are reneged on without any communication at all.  You just don't show up and I have to roll with it.  I thought I was getting a coparent.  But you aren't responsible.  You very clearly don't think you are responsible because you don't show up and do your job.  You want me to follow you around telling you what to do and reminding you about all the many things you aren't getting done.

I don't want that.  No.  I am not going to follow you around asking you to clean up after yourself all the time.  Do I seriously have to ask my adult house mate to put her crafting supplies away?  Really?  That's my job?  Because you don't notice.  Then I have to remind you.  How are you supposed to know I want it done?  And yet you come down pretty harshly on Shanna for leaving a mess.  That seems like "do as I say, not as I do" and I'm not interested in parenting like that.

I am so angry because to me the way you teach children how to be an adult is you act like one in front of them.  I'm fairly ashamed of how I have acted in the last few days.

So.  We went up to Davis on Saturday.  We had a good visit early in the day with a friend.  But I said something judgy and pissy and then she called me on my anger.  It was all done very appropriately.  But I felt really bad.  It felt like more evidence of what an inappropriate asshole I am.  Then we went directly to see Noah's aunt.  It went fine, but I feel really stressed out and pissy when dealing with his family.  It's really hard.  Then Noah and I had a fierce nasty argument for a lot of the drive home.

And I walk in at 4:50 to a kitchen that is a mess and no sign of dinner.  Even though it was Sarah's day to make dinner.  We sat down just last week and made the new schedule.  She was in bed.  She had a migraine with aura on Friday night that involved diarrhea and vomiting simultaneously (thus the only semi-cleaned up bathroom I found on Saturday morning) so that is why she wasn't responsible.  And besides I hadn't clearly communicated what time I would be home so how is she supposed to know that I expected dinner at five she planned to start when I get home and it only takes thirty minutes and that is within her "window" of acceptable time to serve so there is no problem.  Right?

I didn't bother to mention that I have had issues during my tenure of parenting where I was in ridiculous pain and projectile vomiting while shitting.  I cleaned up after myself and parented solo.  I got dinner on the table basically when it is supposed to be on the table.  The reason that happens is because my kids don't eat flexibly.  They get upset and cranky and nasty if they are not fed on schedule.

Schedule slips with food effect the behavior of every single member of my family in negative ways.  And I'm supposed to just roll with whatever happens whenever it happens because hey, that's just how life works.  You wouldn't understand how dramatic those behavior shifts are because they have not been eating consistently any more.  Everything has been disrupted ridiculously because I'm trying to roll with it.  And things are so much harder.

If you want me to communicate in a way that adequately explains how important things are to me that means long ranty blog posts.  That is the only way I have found to really get my thoughts together.  Some rational person would say, "Why don't you write it and send it privately."  Because then it will be ignored and I will feel ignored and angry and unheard and like my reality is being denied.

I'm having a very hard time with how little housework Sarah does.  Being a body in a house creates mess.  I was overwhelmed before she got here and it has only gotten substantially worse for me.  I'm sure someone else would think that the solution is just to get used to living in a dirtier house.  Only then Noah comes home from work and starts helping.  He and I have specific deals about how clean the house has to be so that he gets to relax when he's home.  It's not ok to move another adult into the house who makes my job significantly harder and just absorb that load.

This is hard to talk about because Sarah does contribute.  But I can't depend on her.  She helps and does work when she can.  When she has a migraine I can't expect dinner to be on the table because she might be asleep or medicated and not really communicate about that fact.  I have to just roll with it.

But a big part of why I am so angry is Sarah has consistently pushed to be more responsible because she truly wants to be a coparent.  But then I have to put up with her being responsible with great flexibility around when and how things are delivered.  And I have to do a lot of micromanaging telling her to clean up her craft supplies within two weeks of using them because the children are spreading them all over the floor and I'm fucking sick to deal of cleaning this shit up.  Or I can just carry it to her room for her.  She may or may not say thank you.

She's not aware of the mess.  She doesn't scan the room for things that are out of place that need to be put away because she doesn't treat it like her job.  I don't have any interest in living with someone that I have to micromanage them cleaning.  I don't want it.  I have said that loudly from the beginning.  The problem with the domestic-help-that-is-no-more was usually that she had no initiative.  I had these really long in-depth conversations with Sarah about that.  How much I dislike having to tell someone what to do all the time.

So we negotiate on the board for time.  Sarah has ten hours of solo-parenting time per week scheduled.    I have to cover all of the hours Noah is at work or working on his side project stuff.  That's around 60 hours per week.  Five of Sarah's solo-parenting hours are so Noah and I can have a date night once a week.  Most of Sarah's other solo-parenting hours are when the girls are asleep during naps so that I can run.  I have another floating five hour block that I am allowed to schedule as out-of-the-house social time.  And previously I had a three to five hour window for therapy once a week.  Noah is now covering my therapy time.

I am running out of cope.  I thought I was getting more help.  Sarah is going to be basically scheduled "off" this coming term for 3.5 days every week.  She will be responsible for providing dinner four nights a week.

And we are also having a hard time figuring out money stuff.  That's hard.  I talk about my finances far more openly than most people.  Right now I have long lists of things I want to be talking about.  But it would be hard to talk about in a way that didn't sound really nasty.  We haven't sat down and had a conversation about long-term financial planning.  That's a serious issue.  I don't feel like our goals are in alignment.  Not about anything.

I'm feeling really scared because even though I have had to go clean garbage that was sitting around for months out of Sarah's house more than once I somehow thought that with a little support she would figure out how to at least do maintenance level stuff.  I unpacked her, organized her stuff, found a home for everything... all she has to do is put things away when she is done using it.  But she doesn't.  And I'm supposed to follow her around and ask her to.  Because she's not aware that it bothers me.  She's not even aware that she left it out.

I don't feel like I have a good response.  I am completely unwilling to micromanage her.  That's not my job.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  I do a very large chunk of the kitchen cleaning (more than half).  I do 90%+ of the dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, picking up, laundry (no one even has to fucking sort their own laundry), dealing with bills and finances, and I could go fucking on and on.  And I am supposed to remind her to clean her own blood off the toilet seat because how is she supposed to know it is happening.  The same way I know.  Because I have had to clean my blood up in the past.  I check the toilet seat carefully before I leave, even in the middle of the night.  No I'm not ok with having to teach you that.  I'm not your mother.

Sarah is responsible for ten hours a week of solo parenting with up to ten hours of carefully negotiated flex time.  We get a weekend off in February that I am going to have to pay for because she will do far less for many days in a row before and after "saving up spoons".  And making dinner four times a week.  Other than that she does what she can when she can.  And it's not a lot.

It's important to say that I don't ascribe malice to Sarah.  I don't think she's being lazy.  But I'm drowning.  I'm supposed to know which things to ask her to do on the right days.  Because if I ask her on the wrong day or at the wrong time she gives me a sleepy, "I'll get to it" and then forgets the conversation happened.  She's on a lot of meds that cause memory problems.  And then I just have to roll with it.  And keep reminding her.  And make a lot of lists.  I have to be responsible for writing everything down, which frankly makes it far more stressful and difficult than just doing it myself.  Because first I have to deal with writing it down and then I have to deal with remembering to show you the list.  And then I just have to just suck it up because it may or may not address the problem.

Sarah is doing the best she can.  I'm still drowning.  I thought that a coparent would be more help and less work.  I knew she was disabled.  I knew that in advance.  She made it sound like she would take more initiative with things on her good days.  Instead she does her own projects.  And leaves the mess for me to clean up.

I am not actually a tidy person.  I drop stuff wherever I am standing.  That's why I do sweeps through the house over and over all day long.  That's the only way I can have a tidy house.  I had to learn how to do it.  I am trying to teach my kids how to do it.  Things have been steadily improving for a long while.  I have made it so that Noah doesn't drop stuff (he puts his shit away when he gets home from work) and I clean up after myself and I'm teaching my kids how to clean up after themselves.  Now I have a really messy housemate.  Who is so messy partially because of personal inclination and partially because of disability.

Teasing these two things apart is hard.  And I'm thinking very hard about whether I can handle having Sarah here if it adds to my physical work load this much.  My options are: take responsibility for having to ask her to clean up after herself all the time, do the work, or deal with the mess.  Those are the only options I have.  Or I can ask her to leave.

I don't think I am negotiating my expectations very clearly.  I hired domestic help in October/November/December and spent way way way too much money on it because I was trying to find a way to get more help in the house.  I was trying to find a way to get things done to my satisfaction.  That was fairly disastrous.  Oh well.

Yeah, I am not ok with living in a messy house.  I'm dealing with helping my kids learn to be tidier.  I cannot fucking deal with having to live with a messy adult.  I can't do this.  I have spent my whole life having to deal with the collateral damage and I can't do it.  It sends my anger issues through the roof.

It's going to be challenging to deal with the fact that Shanna is probably going to go through a period of having a tremendously messy room.  It is probably going to be one of her biggest forms of rebellion towards me.  My response, as the adult, needs to be to ignore it and say, "That's nice dear."  She's going to have to rebel against me and she's not going to be with me many more years by the time that's a big issue.

I can't live with a messy adult.  I am teaching my kids what it means to be an adult and have a tidy space.  I am unwilling to teach them that it means having to follow the other grown ups around asking them to pick up after themselves.  Hell fucking no.  I'm not doing that.  I'm not ok with it being my responsibility for communicating the fact that it bothers me that you leave shit out.  How are you supposed to know it bothers me?  Uhm.  By being in my house for more than five minutes?

And yet, Sarah has lived alone for a long time and it takes a long time to adjust and I'm not the boss of her and how dare I expect her to move in here and automatically start doing a bunch of work she hasn't had to do and so on and so forth.  There are absolutely two sides to this story.

I have communicated to Sarah in the past that I cannot be responsible for assigning her constant chores.  And if she agrees to do something she has to be rock solid because I am constantly out of cope myself and when she lets me down at the last minute I have a really hard time adjusting.  Because my entire life right now is functioning on out-of-cope.  To co-opt her language I have been running entirely on spoon deprivation for a really long time.  Oh well.  I have to suck it up and adapt and get shit done.

And my entire family gets out of whack when we aren't eating on a schedule.  It's really dramatic.  But if I don't write long ranty posts I don't seem to be able to provide enough background information to explain why something is important to me.  Or it gets forgotten.  Or Sarah just doesn't have enough spoons to do more than she is and I have to just deal with that.

I'm not sure how much cope I have left.

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