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The Best Laid Plans... Wednesday November 25, 2015

We had my son Tom and his Jenny home for the weekend.

(Long pause.)

Yes – we never realised how calm and ordered our life was until Tom joined our family. He arrives and chaos rushes in right on his heels! My moderately tidy house suddenly has clothes and sporting equipment scattered everywhere. My fridge is raided. His sisters acquire new pets. Fortunately this time he did actually ask first, so it was stick insects only and not the snake he had contemplated bringing.

So yes, we had plans for the weekend. But – as my lovely son says, with a huge grin on his face. "Mum – you make plans, but then I happen!"

And of course, he had ideas of his own. And as the chaos that follows him has the force of a hurricane, those ideas happen – somehow - and we all get swept along for the ride.

Don't get me wrong – it's a great ride! I just didn't plan on spending my Saturday in the snowdome at Milton Keynes rushing down an icy slope on a toboggan about the size of a ten pence piece! I'd planned all our meals and shopped carefully but instead we all ended up grazing our way through the weekend, or having meals a lot later than scheduled and eating different things to those on the menu.

There are two ways of dealing with Tom. You can fight him and get incredibly stressed or you can relax and go with the flow.

The second way is usually best. Because while Tom is a hurricane, he is also incredibly centred and the calm eye of the storm.

He will listen – but you have to let him know clearly what you want to do, why you want to do it and why it's important. We all have to compromise. So Sunday lunch with my mother was ordered and civilized. (phew!)

We knew when we adopted Tom that there would be turbulent times ahead. He is an adult, and he has his own way of doing things. Because we didn't have any part in his upbringing, his ways are foreign to us, just as much as if he were a refugee from another country. Our ways are foreign to him.

So when he's not with us our life is moderately calm and placid – a smoothly running river. With Tom it's a thrilling, exhilarating, white water ride.

We love having him in the family. Everything is better with Tom around. He shakes us out of our rut and comfort zone. We give him the security and solidity of knowing he is totally loved and accepted. We're incredibly good for each other.

Even if he did leave his roller skates behind that I had to post back to him this morning!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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the room above the garage Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 10:17am

Oh wow, imagine him as a toddler! You have great compassion and skill. And you have a very valuable thing...flexibility. I think when you are old, old, old, old, old, you will be so thankful of the merry mayhem times. Beautiful Mary, beautiful! Xxx

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:53pm

Hello there RattyGee! You have unwittingly probed a tender spot. I wish - how I wish - that he was biologically mine and that I had been his mother all through his upbringing. I am sure he would still be the amazing man he is today - but - possibly able to recognise a fish knife and choose intelligently from a wine list. (Oh - and how shallow am I? Bows head in abject shame... I will willingly subject myself to your completely justified abuse here...)

the room above the garage Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 10:22pm

I'm sorry, that was tactless. I bet you do wish you'd had nature/nurture influence. Not shallow at all. What shines is that you take him as he is and that is a gift we all seek. Xx

Frankie Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 10:39am

Morning Mary; from one who prizes routine and calm above all else, thank-you for this reminder that amazing times can result from spontaneity! Frankie x

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:54pm

(unsure but willing to go along with this...) "Uh huh."

Debs Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 10:49am

Great blog Mary - a lovely reminder that life is best when we go with the unexpected! xx

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:54pm

It is indeed Debs. It is indeed.

susan Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 10:49am

Hi Mary, the boy would make me absolutely crazy. And then as soon as he was gone and for several days after, I'd miss him terribly. A good lesson here, thank you. xx

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:58pm

Yes - missing him hugely! When I spoke about clearing the current playroom so he and Jenny and little Sophia can have more room when they stay for Christmas, my youngest thought that I meant they were going to stay with us permanently. Oh, if only - but I don't think I could ask that of my dear husband. Both he and Tom are rather dominant (in the nicest way), and would lock horns after being with each other for a week.

The Gardener Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 10:58am

Dear Mary - I am sure tobogganing was excellent for your morale. Family visits can be fun, more likely to be traumatic - only for the different view of the generations. I've long ago given up preparing and laying in loads of food - grazing is the thing - but living in a shop with 5 bread/shops never lost for treats. The disruption goes the other way with us - I have been called 'disruptive' by a son, and much worse by daughters-in-law. I bend over backwards to be tactful when doing anything in their houses (they would never believe this) but due to the most difficult of relationships (I believe) it always comes over as interference or criticism. I get permission to help a grandson to clear his room (one actually admitted! that he liked a tidy room but did not know where started). It was a case of get a bin bag, clear enough carpet to get in

The Gardener Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 11:35am

(got disturbed). and move slowly forward. It was just as bad 3 months later. We've had grand-children to stay so often, without parents - we've looked after them in all sorts of countries, taken them to unusual places. So as soon as I arrive they have a list of plans - wanting to learn to knit, play the piano - overhaul the garden, cook. We don't live the 'high life' but the kids have taken to candles, flowers, decorated dishes - and demand it in their own homes (none of them are slums) but, again, and I can't blame them, does not go down well with d-in-laws. Also, all my ideas seem to involve mess. Now, bless them, the grand-children move in on me, still eat loads, and mend everything they can before they go, and the least likely are turning out to be surprisingly enterprising.

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:40pm

Hello there TG. Oh my mother too bends over backwards not to interfere and then when I do mention something about which she has long bottled up resentful feelings she does rather explode. This weekend it was telling her that Tom (who is an immensely talented and knowledgeable teacher) thinks that I push my eldest daughter too hard to succeed academically (my own take is that she pushes herself and I merely encourage, but there you go). Apparently she has been telling me for years that I push that child too hard. She apparently was pushed to the state where she was a nervous wreck - hence why she never pushed us.... Yes - I remember feeling that I was on my own and that my mother would have been quite happy if I just became a secretary - and how unsupported I felt because I was determined to go to university and make something of myself... Rule number one - mothers are always in the wrong. And I empathise. When the children were younger ours was the house where all the neighbourhood children congregated to play messy games. We still have a sandpit (the number of "delicious" sand pies I have "eaten"...). We have a tiled kitchen floor - so easy to mop up after everyone has painted a huge picture on flip chart paper - on the floor of course - where else would you put paper that size? But all this is by the by. I rather aspire to be the grandmother you obviously are; one who is slightly scary, hugely inspiring, just a tad eccentric but above all inspiring!Do you know that you are my hero? (I mean that - really I do!)

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:59pm

Um - hadn't realised before that this formatting does not allow for paragraph breaks. The above was definitely in several paragraphs when I wrote it...

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 5:10pm

Oh and regards your grandson and staying tidy... One needs systems and then systems to check how well the first systems are working. Possibly a photo of the bedroom once a week sent to grandma (chase if photo not received). Pride if it's tidy. Constructive (but not condemning) advice if things have gone to the dogs. Learning to be tidy is a long process. I am still learning.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 11:43am

I think we all need a who comes in like a whirling dervish and then leaves...but like Susan says, I'd miss him so much when he was gone again! I can't wait for grandchildren to fill the house with joy...but I'll bide my time and be carful what I wish for. I think I want to be like The let the kiddlies do messy stuff at grandmas for a few hours or days, then they can go home having learnt how to....whatever!
Love and thanks Mary, x x x x

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:44pm

What I didn't mention is that Jenny comes with an instant granddaughter - who is a delight - of course - but how quickly one forgets about how to deal with toddlers.... Tom is being the most wonderful father for her but - as always - things are complicated... Still - I can't wait for Christmas! Santa has let me know that he has been busy for all of them!

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 1:11pm

In the style of HO here's a Wednesday Joke:


The room was full of pregnant women with their husbands.

The instructor said, "Ladies, remember that exercise is good for you. Walking is especially beneficial. It strengthens the pelvic muscles and will make delivery that much easier.

Just pace yourself, make plenty of stops and try to stay on a soft surface like grass or a path."

"Gentlemen, remember -- you're in this together. It wouldn't hurt you to go walking with her.
In fact, that shared experience would be good for you both."

The room suddenly became very quiet as the men absorbed and pondered this information.

After a few moments a man, name unknown, at the back of the room, slowly raised his hand.
"Yes?" asked the Instructor.
"I was just wondering if it would be all right if she carries a golf bag?

This level of sensitivity can't be taught!

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:46pm

Obviously a devoted husband and father... (noises off - leaves stage to confer - ) ah - that should have been devoted golfer! Thank you Bear!

g Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 1:32pm

thank you , Mary , for (Long pause.) This is exactly what I needed trying to squeeze moodscope blog into my very busy today's ( SIC ! ) schedule . Pacing ....

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 5:00pm

And thank you G

g Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 1:34pm

this is becoming one of my addictions . rather than doing the graph i read the blog and comments - have my favourites already....and life happens somewhere else ..

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 5:03pm

The blog and comments are every bit as beneficial as the graph (although the inclusive package is best, naturally) as it makes you aware that, 1) you are not alone and b) that all of your fellow sufferers also live - or struggle to live - "normal" lives. Maybe we all live more interesting normal lives than some. I wouldn't know - I've lived with bi-polar since age 7. At least this addiction is a "soft" addiction: it doesn't hurt anyone else and it benefits you. Stay with us g - we love you!

Dave Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 3:39pm

This is probably not on topic, but this morning I went to the local DMV and renewed my drivers we all know that generally this is not a big deal, but when we struggle, something like this can be daunting with all kind of apprehensive thoughts...but you know what, it went just fine and like most other worries and frets, they never came to steps I know but positive steps. Love Ya All Dave

susan Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 4:39pm

Very positive steps, Dave. Well done. Tick that one off your to-do list with glee. xx

Mary Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 5:05pm

Brilliant, Dave! When we get an experience like this it really bolsters our confidence. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. We love you too, Dave.

the room above the garage Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 10:24pm

Love it Dave, that great feeling when a mountain becomes just a hill. Brilliant xx.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 7:47pm

In the words of Liza Tarbuck, on Saturday evenings, radio 2: Big Up, Dave! Well done you, for a) getting out there and doing something uncomfortable and b) daring to share with us! Fandabedozee and Bear hugs x

the room above the garage Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 10:25pm

Love her.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 7:48pm

Norman.....a whole four weeks?

The Gardener Wed, Nov 25th 2015 @ 9:03pm

I've just been on an ego trip. I was sadder than usual when I left my husband. His state, and real fear for the future. Then I'd been invited to an art show drinkies party with people I'd only met last week. It was in a very busy bar in the next canton town. It took me 10 minutes to get in, because there were several men who greeted me warmly 'we know you, your garden and your writing'. Very warm greeting inside, talked and talked, including a large gentleman who had nothing to do with the group but we had mutual memories of the Far East. Most interesting, skip back and forth between English and French. Came home, and read Mary's blog - hero, indeed, now need much bigger hat, and Mary rates very high in my admiration of her writings. But I think we have much in common - including family dynamics and the need to tread circumspectly. Waiting for my 'lift' I picked up one of our huge photo albums. Pure joy - lugging grandsons on sleds through thick snow. Allowing them to dunk me in Balinese swimming pools. Endless birthday parties - I always made the cakes - got more and more OTT as I got older. Picnics up gorges. Drawing, of course (one was stencils on a huge old bed sheet - good enough for the Tate modern). Taking liberties with elderly neighbours at riotous New Year parties. I nearly 'exorcised' the daughter-in-law spectre - all we did with those kids was harmless, we were PALS (and still are, the lot of us) perhaps that is where the real problem is. And, Mary, I am more than a 'tad' eccentric, I had a brilliant but definitely bi-polar father. In the genes.Coming back to all these blogs was like a glass of brandy after all the fun I've had this evening. Sante.

LillyPet Thu, Nov 26th 2015 @ 7:48am

I hope it's not too late to respond to your blog Mary! How lovely you made the chaotic whirlwind of your son's visit and character sound! :)
I can relate to it in that my two are still at home, teen and early twenties and I know that I would have afar more orderly life if they had flown the nest! I welcome their friends for more mayhem, giant sleepovers popcorn music movie nights and morning after fend for yourself breakfasts! They do clear up, of a fashion :) but it's great, lifts my spirits, like you said shakes up the routine and I'm making the most of the fun while it lasts! Big hugs Mary. LP xxx

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