Not Exactly June Cleaver


I have some buddies who send me outrageously funny jokes. I used to read them as they arrived in my inbox, but lately I’ve been saving them up to read on days that I’m feeling especially stressed. A hearty laugh is good for the soul. And these jokes have been my lifeline.

It seems that lately I’ve been needing to laugh out loud a lot. We’ve had a lot going on at our house since January. First came our elder child, Daniel’s, move back home from college…just for a while, probably until summer, he said. Then suddenly that morphed into, “But I’m going to be here longer than Julie…I need the bigger (her) bedroom.” I was a little alarmed at that change in his thinking, but it has been due to financial reality. At the end of January he drove his car into a ditch, nose down, and when it was finally towed and supposedly repaired, we later discovered two holes in his radiator (too late to salvage the engine). So he and I have been sharing a car since the first of February.

In the backdrop has been sickness (not serious, thank God, but just enough respiratory crud to make three-fourths of our household feel just plain yucky). First it was John who was in bed for nearly a week. Then Julie came home for spring break and spent two days in bed with a fever, but she bounced back quickly enough to get to see all her friends (she has her priorities!).

Then I got that round of crud and wound up having laryngitis (thus giving John’s ears a rest!) for 2 days. That coincided with a trip to Jackson, MS to hear Julie perform with the Millsaps Singers, Missisippi College Singers, and the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. On this trip we met The Boyfriend for the first time. Incidentally, this trip also occurred during March Madness, and UT was playing the night we arrived in Jackson. John stayed at the hotel to watch the UT men play while I, the mute one, picked up Julie and her BF and took them out to eat. At one point, Richmond, who has lost hearing in one ear due to being hit by a wave a couple of years ago (and after many childhood ear infections), looked at me and said, “Well, here we are, the deaf and the mute.” (Julie had left the table to get ice cream.) He is a lovely young man, very funny, and a good match for Julie, though they may be a little too much alike.

So in the midst of all this I am dealing with the not-knowing of a job change, moving from editorial to marketing…and then I get sick again, this time with a bad sinus infection. I have had it for about 6 weeks now. Went to the doctor, got a shot and some antibiotics, and nearly 3 weeks later I’m still hacking.

And life with Daniel and John is never dull. John decided to move his office into our dining room; Daniel moved into Julie’s bedroom, though we had many “discussions” about this. The males overpowered me. I couldn’t seem to reason with them. They approached it very analytically, and I was saying, “But look at it from Julie’s standpoint. She’s coming home from college this summer, has been through a year of many changes, and she’d like to have her own room just like it was.” I failed to persuade them. They started moving everything at once, and of course our house is a huge mess. I did manage to get Daniel not to take over Julie’s bed. He moved it into his old bedroom/John’s office that still has most of the stuff in it.

So here’s where we are right now: Julie cried when she got home from college and found out how little space she has this summer. She’s mad at Daniel for invading her room. Daniel is puzzled over her emotional reaction. John is working for the U.S. Census Bureau and is adjusting to working outside our house for the first time in almost 26 years (well, he has worked outside our house as a home improvement contractor, but he has largely been housebound for the past few years).

Now that Julie is home, we are clamoring to schedule who gets a car when. Daniel works part-time at Papa John’s, Julie has a job selling cutlery this summer and needs transportation to get to her sales meetings and appointments, and I’m just trying to make sure I get to work every day.

Our house is a wreck, and I’ve just about given up hopes of getting it straightened up, much less clean, until fall. We have a twin-size bed leaning against the wall in the dining room. John has part of his office moved to the dining room and the rest is in Julie’s bedroom, and now he’s taking over the living room with all his boxes of files and reports for the Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, I’m just trying to hold it together but not doing a very good job. I chop lots of things in the kitchen. That is the one space I have just a little control over.

On Saturday when I came home from the grocery store and asked Daniel to get out of bed (about 2:00 p.m.), he said, “I’ll be there in a minute.” I replied (not yelling), “Daniel, hurry up…we need to get the frozen & refrigerated stuff inside now, or it will thaw.” Daniel and I have different definitions of “hurry.” Ten minutes later he was still sitting in bed; I’d hollered at him by this point and not gotten much response. Finally I yelled, “Get the hell out of bed and come help me!” He got up, brought the rest of the groceries in, and by that point I’d had it, and some pretty rough language ensued. He told me, “F… you” and threw me a bird; I said, “No, you F…you!” Oh my God. Here I’d been attending a Festival of Homiletics (preaching) this week and listening to all these inspiring messages and music…and now I’m cursing like a sailor, a great example to my beloved son.

Daniel was in tears by this point, and I felt like a total failure as a mom. Normally I hold it together, but some days, I swear, I just lose it. After a little time passed, we talked about what all was going on underneath the surface. My son is much more mature than I in many ways (except he can’t seem to get his ass out of bed). I think that may have something to do with the fact he has a thyroid tumor (benign). We are going to have to deal with that soon because it is interfering with his daily life. (At the time we discovered the tumor, back in February, John and Daniel went in for the needle biopsy, and I got information secondhand…and not many answers to my questions. I should have left work…my family is much more important, but of course I had a deadline I had to meet.)

Well, all I can say is that I am glad God is a forgiving God because I have had plenty to confess to him lately. And I’ve been doing a lot of apologizing to my family. I’ve been trying to remove myself from the fray between father and children…but I keep getting stuck in the middle (a no-win situation). Family life is messy. I have quit praying for patience because I think that I’ve worn that prayer out. Now my prayer is, “Help, Lord.” That’s all I can muster for now.

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