When I last posted, five weeks ago, I wrote that my son Andres and his pregnant girlfriend Patty were going to move in with us. I was full of anxiety about it, but I tried to reassure myself. Don’t rush to negative conclusions, I told myself. Maybe it will all be okay, I said.
The first few days were a little awkward, but not so bad. My husband and I didn’t really know Patty all that well, so in the evenings we started playing cards or other games together so we could start to build more of a relationship.
Meanwhile, that first week, Andres and Patty managed to get on Medicaid in our state and applied for food stamps and WIC (nutritional support for pregnant women and young children, for those of you who don’t know). Pam found a part-time job at a nearby plant nursery. She worked her first day and reported that her co-workers were really nice.
And it’s been downhill ever since then. The day after her first day of work, Patty was hit with a very intense level of “morning” sickness that pretty much incapacitates her 24/7. For several weeks she wasn’t able to keep much food down, and I had to take her to Urgent Care to get IV fluids and electrolytes. She was given some medication for her nausea, but it only partially helps and it makes her very sleepy. She sleeps most of the day and is up at night, when her nausea is not as severe. Sometimes I don’t even see her for days at a time (she and my son have a bedroom and bath upstairs, while my husband and I have the same downstairs).
My son is pretty lost without Patty giving shape and direction to his life. He sits around in the living room a) obsessively on his phone, watching videos or skimming the news, usually in its most sensationalist format; b) loudly clearing his throat about every five seconds (I think it’s a tic; he says it’s just post-nasal drip); c) interrupting me while I’m trying to work to tell me sports or political news, always with a super-dramatic and disturbing slant. Sometimes he follows me around the house. “What are you doing, Mom?”
I feel so guilty to say it, but he’s driving me crazy.
Also, even though Patty normally values healthy eating, she’s had so much trouble eating anything that she has given that up and now just wants whatever she craves in the moment. So my son has brought a ton of junk food into the house: chips and cookies and chocolate and bagels and corn dogs and chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Seriously, I never buy any of that stuff. But I feel stressed, and having all those chips and candies around is not good for me either. And they have filled up much of our refrigerator and cupboard space with all their stuff.
I know that’s a small thing and not really that important. But I feel as though I have lost control of my home. My space is not my space. My quiet home–which is also where I work–is not quiet. I have been intruded upon. Even my brain is not my own, because he interrupts me so much.
You might say, “Well, just ask him not to do that.” I do, sometimes. But remember, he has attention deficit issues, and he’s incredibly forgetful. He doesn’t work and doesn’t know how to occupy himself. He has autism and I know of course that can mean many things, but in his case, it means he is quite blind to his impact on other people. He is not trying to bother me. He would never try to bother me–he loves me and is very gentle and kind. But he doesn’t recognize what I am doing and quickly forgets when I tell him.
And he doesn’t recognize privacy needs and boundaries. He’s the one who discovered and read my whole blog years ago. The first week he had moved back home, he went through my filing cabinets reading documents, just because he felt “curious.” One time after I was on the phone to a friend and said something about his old girlfriend, he asked me about it after I got off the phone. That meant he had to have been outside the room, listening through a closed door.
I have hidden my old journals under my bed because I am sure he’d find it interesting to read them. I have almost entirely stopped talking on the phone and only text with my friends. This afternoon I asked my friend if I could spend two hours working in her living room because I needed to be able to think without interruption.
I really want them to live somewhere else. But that is so complicated! Maybe I’ll write about that later. It’s not simply that my husband and I would need to finance the entire rent. It’s also that they have many needs and preferences and limitations. Ugh, I can’t even write about it just now or I’ll get all worked up again.
Each week I feel myself sinking into a deeper pit of anxiety and hopelessness. I tend to revive a bit on the weekends, when my husband is home and I am not trying to work. Then I start the next week hopeful that things will be better. But over the week, I sink again. Usually I’m a wreck by Thursday. Today is only Tuesday, however, and I’m at the end of my rope.
I don’t know why I’m so impatient and grumpy. Why can’t I just roll with it? It won’t be forever. And it’s not his fault. I am angry with myself for being this fed up. I feel like a bad mother. I wish I could just be accepting and flexible and supportive and calm–but I’m not.