Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rally for the American Dream

My son and I went to the rally at our state capital in Columbia in support of Wisconsin workers.  It was a small turnout but cheerful and interesting to hear the stories of union members.  I wanted my son to have an experience of participatory democracy, and it was a good experience.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Several weeks ago I had the thought that I should start organizing the material for our taxes, but I never got to it.  Now I have received two of the forms that sometimes hold us up.  There are a couple of other forms I have not received yet, but at least one of them I know I can get online.  But I'm going to have to get telephone help to do it.  That might be possible for the other too, but for that I will need to contact the broker.

I should discuss with him Paul's refunded tuition.  The broker is going to ask me how soon Paul will need that money, and I have no idea.  So long as Paul is taking a course or two at the community college we can pay.  So how soon might he go to college full time again?  I think my guess is two and a half years, but I could so easily be wrong.

It all seems too complicated, so I avoid it.  But I need to get the taxes filed as soon as possible for Elizabeth's financial aid applications.

Friday, February 11, 2011

making friends with painful feelings

Maybe I should see being a caregiver as a chance to develop a side of me that has been relatively weak.  But I have a very strong reaction that I refuse to go gentle into that good night.  So I'm stuck in a situation where I resent the role I have to play and what I have had to give up of my own plans for these years.  I've struggled with my resentment for several years now, and I don't find a way to work through it and make it go away.

So I'm trying a different approach.  Often our painful feelings are there for a good reason.  It is the force of growth inside us that makes being stuck so painful.  So I'm trying to look at it from the perspective that I'm glad I feel resentment and other painful feelings.  If I didn't, I wouldn't have so clear an impulse in me to lead me to growth and healing.  I want to learn to let the feelings live, even make friends with them.

Monday, February 07, 2011

giving and getting

I went to a local retreat on Saturday that asked us to examine how we feel called to change.  I said I want to grow, develop other sides of myself.  I resist completely the idea that caregiving might be the side of myself I am called to develop, or at least the only one for this period of my life.  Yet it is in some ways not my strength.

At Peace Church Sunday evening Susie preached a very moving sermon about God's love.  John was in tears, and I put my arm around him.  Paul was sitting on the other side of me and had earlier said he was low, so I also put my arm around him.  It felt ok for a few minutes, but by the time we got up to receive communion I was crying hard, feeling that I am always giving, there is no one to hold me.  (If I asked John to hold me he still would, though I don't know how long he would last before he thought of something he wanted or needed.  But it wouldn't work for me because I am too aware of how much he needs from me.)

When I returned from communion I sat down in an empty seat next to Paul--I couldn't bear taking my place between John and Paul.  And Paul patted my arm while I cried.  We talked about it a little in the car driving home and he seemed pleased that he had known what I needed.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

explaining my son coming home

Here's what I wrote to Paul's former advisor:

Paul did so well last spring when he transferred to Presbyterian College, but it took him a lot of effort. Several things have gotten in the way since, including losing a week to flu last fall, but I think fundamentally he couldn't keep up the effort. He got off track after the snow days and stopped going to class. He and I talked at length and agreed that he would try to get his act together, but if he didn't go to all his classes and appointments that week then he would come home. I heard last Tuesday that he didn't show up for his appointment with the academic coach and I started the process of withdrawing him.

At the beginning of this term I hoped the issues might have a quick fix with an antidepressant that had more anti-anxiety effects, but now I think that Paul needs to find what he cares about before he will be ready to continue college. He and I have talked about how he may just not be ready for college yet, or at least for how college requires increasing responsibility each year. Hopefully it is a matter of brain development and he can go back in a year or two. In the meantime the plan is for him to do volunteer work and take one or two courses at a time at the local community college.

It is an interesting path we are on because of John's illness. I had been trying to protect both kids from having to deal with their father's slow downward slide, but now Paul has ended up on a different path. I'm going to be treating Paul more like a partner in the household than like a child because I need the help. So far he has cheerfully done everything I have asked him to do. Maybe being home will be the maturing experience he needs. He seems relieved more than depressed to be home.

People at Presbyterian college were very kind through this whole process. I'm glad Paul had that experience of the semester where he did well because now he knows he can do it. If in a year or two he wants to return to a liberal arts college, I will encourage him to go back to Presbyterian.

volunteer work

Paul doesn't have much experience with working.  He never showed any interest in projects at home, and I didn't push him because his problems with coordination and fine motor skills were likely to make it frustrating.  School seemed to be the place he could succeed.  But now he needs something else to do, particularly until he can start taking courses at the local community college in May.  I'm thinking the place to start is volunteer work.  We met yesterday with our pastor, because someone told me he would be a good source of ideas, but he didn't have many suggestions.  I guess the next step is to see if I can get any ideas from friends on Facebook.