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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Huis Clos (No Exit)/Mother Manifesto

Turbulent.  This morning biting flies again at the beach so I waded out into the water waist high to keep them from biting my legs and it was almost pleasant, except that Mr. Neurotic-I-Must-Never-Be-More-Than-10Feet-Away-From-You-At-Any-Time had to be right near me which meant he had to tread water.  Even though he is a lab, bred for the water, he is a nervous swimmer, so he circled me anxiously and kept trying to throw himself into my arms to save himself from drowning.  It all meant I got very wet.

Because this is my blog I get to gripe when I want to.   And I know it's unfortunate and unattractive when I lament about things at home, and yet...it's what's on my plate.  So this whole taking care of yourself is really hard, right?   It's the little things we do, the problems we solve, the little systems we put in place that grease the wheel of our lives or cause it to seize up.  And everything takes forethought, effort and maintenance.  Here are some of the little things I count on to be in place to support my efforts:  a working phone charger by my bed; lip balm in my bedside table drawer; toothpaste in the drawer; flushed toilets; a flyswatter in the sun room (I leave the bedroom deck door ajar for the cats which means flies); the vaccuum cleaner in the pantry; ditto broom and dustpan; a tidy purse with a brush and cases for my various glasses, etc. etc.  And each of these things had to be procured, based on a need, to solve a problem.   A trip to the hardware store for a fly swatter, setting up a little recharging station by my bed, vacuum maintained and all parts accounted for, lip balm purchased at the store and replaced as necessary.  Check, check, check.....the little things we do so our lives aren't crazy out of control, so that we are comfortable.   It takes making lists, solving problems, running errands, being neat and maintaining the ecosystem.

So last night, phone charger mysteriously broken - methinks my good one was swapped out for a broken kid-owned one.  Sigh...I'll buy another one tomorrow - special trip to Radio Shack.  Bedtime and missing Carmex - sleeping with dry lips.  Sigh....I will scour the house for it tomorrow or make a special trip to Osco for more.   Upon waking and bathroom - unflushed toilet (AGAIN) and missing toothpaste (I found it in the shower).  Cleaning kitchen....where the heck is the Windex....or the broom!...or the dustpan!    And where is the vaccuum cleaner!   Then a dreaded trip to the West Wing (never go into the West Wing of my house).  Dishes everywhere, mold, half eaten food, the fly swatter that's been missing for days, found the other missing items.   And then, on the rampage, a look into their car!   A hairbrush that was purchased specifically for my purse and my sunglasses case that was purchased JUST for my oversized sunglasses - both items brazenly pilfered right out of my purse.

I feel like I'm living in a war zone.  Yesterday Nick said, you all need to pull together - so this morning on the beach I gave a lot of thought to that.   How wonderful it would be if we three could huddle up each morning and talk about the challenges of our individual days and how we could support each others' efforts.  We all have needs and as blood relatives, grown women, people who care about each other, roommates even, we should be hyper aware of how our actions affect the other people in our immediate sphere.   We should really care and bend over backwards to be considerate and lend sustenance.

And yet....no.  I am living Huis Clos, the existential French play by Sartre.  I quote, "It is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity, and is the source of Sartre's most famous quotation, l'enfer, c'est les autres ("Hell is other people".)

I'm at the end of my rope.  My home should be my sanctuary, the place I go to exhale.  Instead, I am mostly enraged there. Today, I will write a "Mother Manifesto" and lay down the rules of the house in detail, along with a refrigerator chart of daily chores with assignments.   If they want to live with me, they will have only one choice, comply.  For the rest of September, they will be on probation.   On October 1st, I will make a determination if their behavior has changed enough for them to continue their residence with me.  If not, out they go.  They're resourceful....they'll figure something out and one thing is almost certain.   Wherever they end up, I'm darn sure they will be hugely more considerate and conscientious.


The challenge today is to stick with me through this even though I'm boring you.  Tomorrow I will write about something infinitely more interesting and life affirming.   Promise.



  1. Hi Sarah, Your post above IS interesting, and if not "life-affirming" it is affirming of real life! From your description, what I think is missing w/ your girls is the stage of family life when boundaries are created. Your adult girls take things from you, as though you and they are fluid, are one--infants, toddlers, little kids tied to mom. They would not think to ask themselves individually "Should I take my own glasscase for my own glasses"? They would think it was a no-brainer, of course they can use what is clearly theirs for their own use. However, they seem to think that the household items and your own personal items in your own personal space (like a purse or a bedside table) are theirs too. I can see why that bothers you, I think it would bother anyone. As each daughter has lived with non-related roommates in the past, I would ask if they lack boundaries with those roommates, too? Or, is it just with the sisters and moms that the lack of boundaries exist? Some degree of close intimacy among adult sisters and their mom sounds really appealing. However, I think there are rules, and the boundary-less-ness you describe needs work!

    As an aside, I also saw a blink of a parallel between your daughters and the swimming Joey, circling around you scared in the water, though he could have waited for you on shore,wanting to be rescued, or trying to rescue himself by jumping into your arms. Did he want to be saved or did he think he was saving you from a situation terrifying for him? Are your girls inadvertently creating ways to get your attention--circling around you by taking your Carmex and dustpan?

  2. What a great post! Yes, it's all about boundaries and lack of them! As a person with fluid or non-existent boundaries it makes sense that my kids would be the same! I reap what I sowed! Arg!

  3. So proud of you! I agree 150%. They are way old enough to know better.