A little over a year ago, I wrote this post. It was during the lockdown and I was in high amped worry mode. I was extremely anxious about my daughter who was laid off and was frustrated because her unemployment was on hold — along with 1.5 million other Californians who were lost in the system. She wrote to her assemblywomen, senators, governor, etc. but nobody helped. She’d call everyday to the EDD and nobody answered the phone. They had an 8 a.m. to noon window where they would accept calls. The one time she got through, the person said they were hired to answer the phone but couldn’t access the system. To this day she is still owed thousands of dollars from 2020. I’m going off track, but here’s what I wrote in October 2020:
I read a fascinating story that said “Study Confirms That Parents Still Lose Sleep Worrying About Their Adult Children.” I am definitely on of those parents who loses sleep and I know my dear friend Gabby, who shared this story on Facebook is one, also.
Even before our children are born, we worry about them. We’re relieved when we count the 10 fingers and 10 toes in the hospital, but we still worry. We’re relieved when they do well on their tests in school and make the team, but we still worry. We worry about safety, about their grades, about what they’ll do for a career, about who they’ll one day marry or if they’ll get married at all. The list of things to worry about feels endless.
We hope that our worries will ease as our children get older, but it turns out that’s not the case.
A photo from our beach vacation two years ago.
Can you relate to this as a parent, too? On my current list of worries is the bad air quality from California fires, my kids driving through the Cyclone Bomb weather, which is a rare event with high winds, rain and even snow, plus their general safety living in the Bay Area. I worry that they are secure in their careers and find their work satisfying and are able to make a living.
Here’s more from the story about parents who worry about adult kids:
A recent study conducted by Amber J. Seidel of Pennsylvania State University confirms what many parents already know – you never stop worrying about your children. Her study went on to show that parents actually lose sleep worrying about their adult children.
Parents, it looks like we’ll be worrying forever. If your children are already adults, you may already know that to be true.
In Seidel’s study, 186 heterosexual married couples with adult children were surveyed. On a scale of 1 to 8, they were asked how much assistance they offer their children. Assistance could include financial, emotional or even chatting on the phone. Choosing 1 meant daily assistance and interaction where 8 was only once a year.
The parents were also asked to choose from 1 to 5 regarding stress. In this case, choosing 1 meant no stress, and 5 meant the maximum amount of stress.
The third thing these parents tracked was how much sleep they got at night. Moms got an average of 6.66 hours and dads got slightly more with an average of 6.69 hours.
The results were not the same for moms and dads. For moms, it didn’t matter if they were the ones offering assistance or if their husbands were the ones offering assistance; moms were stressed out and sleeping less either way.
Dads showed a lack of sleep and more stress only when they were the ones offering assistance to their adult children. If their wife offered assistance, it didn’t affect them. This either means that dads are not affected in the same way as moms or that the wives weren’t telling their husbands about the assistance causing the dads to be stress free due to lack of knowledge about the situation.
I found it interesting that the dads didn’t lose sleep if their wives were the ones offering support. Or, like the article said, maybe they weren’t aware of what was going on. But the moms lost sleep regardless who was the main person offering support to their kids.
Do you worry about your children too, regardless of their age? What do you worry about most?
I got a call from my daughter today who was extremely upset. It tears at my heart. I don’t think our kids truly understand how our hearts hurt when they they are suffering. The call reminded me that I wrote about this years ago when my son was close to finishing his college years and was going through a rough time.
Now it’s my daughter’s turn. I hope I was helpful on the phone. I hope she gets through this period of her life where she’s facing hurdles. All I can do is listen. Hopefully, it’s enough that she knows I love her.
This is what I wrote five years ago:
“You’re only as happy as your least happy child.” I heard a friend say this recently. I do believe it’s true. When you see your kids happy, you’re happy, too. When they are smiling and proud of their accomplishments or in love, we feel thrilled for them.
On the flip side, when they’re struggling, we have an ache in our hearts.
My son had a horrific last week of college, but managed to get through it alive. I got several phone calls where he wasn’t sure if he’d make it. He had five papers to write, plus finals, and I doubt he slept much.
I kept telling him using a swim race analogy, “You’re under the flags. Keep going. You can do it.”
I also received relieved phone calls as each hurdle was overcome. Today, he’s coming home for a brief stop before he starts his new life. I’m a worrier and I’m wondering how is he sleeping? How is he going to drive a U-Haul trailer with his worldly possessions up to his new life? How will he survive on his own?
My daughter was home for a week and it was a pure joy for me. She got me out of bed at 4:50 a.m. and drove me to swim practice. I loved the beauty of the early morning and the shifting lights in the water as the sun rose. By the time we were done, I felt elated. It wasn’t even 7 a.m. and I felt like I had accomplished so much. I hope to continue on with the early morning practices, although I must admit I’m back to my noon routine today. At least I’m going. Right?
Besides swimming, we hiked at the Tram, went shopping, got pedicures, went out to lunch and hung out together. The constant activity was different than my normal quiet writing days.
I love having my kids home. But, I’m proud they have their own lives and are ready to take on the world without me.
P.S. On the last morning, my daughter, husband and I took a walk. We noticed we had company. Olive the cat followed quietly a few feet behind us. We’d stop to look at her and she’d look the other way. Finally, we stopped several blocks away to admire an apricot standard poodle. Olive decided that was enough. She stopped for good. When we returned home, several miles later, Olive was nowhere to be found. I retraced our steps and called “Here kitty, kitty.” She leaped out of the bushes across the street from where we saw the poodle. She was terrified and confused. She wouldn’t let me touch her but after one pitiful “meow” she followed me. When she finally recognized our neighborhood, her tail went up and she jetted all the way to our house leaving me behind.
What are your thoughts about “You’re only as happy as your least happy child?” Do you think it’s true? Have you experienced sadness because your child is upset or unhappy?
I looked back to the first of September 2019 to see what I was up to in my life. It was before COVID hit us — and we had no idea what the year 2020 would be like. I was curious what my big concerns were way back then.
What I discovered was I was dealing with a homeless man who would haunt me for the remainder of the time we lived in our old house. He magically appeared in our yard whenever we left town — I’d spot him on our Nest cameras. Or, he’d bring his belongings and sleep on our steps at night. I felt like he was stalking us. He’d write us random notes and leave them on our gate or cars — saying he’d force us out of the house and that he’d contacted the FBI. No, I don’t miss him at all. I welcome my new intruders: the two coyotes I spotted on my morning walk, the bunnies, deer, bobcat and javelina.
In September 2020, I wrote this:
While we were on our working vacation at the beach in August, I had a friend’s daughter taking care of Olive the cat and staying at our house. One of her first times over here, our big wooden gates were shut and after opening them, she found a pile of blankets behind our trash cans! UGH! I looked through my video feed and found him at midnight, opening and closing our gates, peering through our bedroom window and jumping over our wall into the backyard. I don’t blame our house sitter at all, but she was no longer comfortable staying here! She made daily stops, but didn’t want to spend the night.
We called our neighbors who promised to keep an eye out for us, plus the police, who said they’d patrol our house carefully while we were out of town. They promised to arrest him if they found him trespassing. We returned and I haven’t seen him again. But, I did notice he stole our lock to the gate!
Here’s what I wrote about our intruder September 2019:
Last week I wrote about how I was minding my own business at home waiting for eye surgery and discovered on our Google Nest security feed that we had an intruder trespassing on our property nightly. We started locking the big wooden gates that open onto the street. We also have a garage door and an archway gate that are locked. On the camera feed, I saw the stranger rattling our gates, peering in through our bedroom windows, climbing over the wall into the backyard — and taking an object to smash the lock on our archway gate. I was terrified. Then I went for my morning walk on Thursday like any normal day:
I went for my morning walk today as usual. I almost skipped it because I didn’t want to leave our house with the big wooden gates open (they lock from the inside.) During my walk, I constantly checked the Nest app on my iPhone for activity. When I was a block from home, I looked at the app and the guy was there! He had returned!
I couldn’t stop shaking and when I got home, the gate was closed! I yelled and said I was calling the cops so get out! I checked my app again. The intruder had left three minutes before I arrived home. I called the cops and waited, not stepping foot on our property, but feeling safer in the middle of the street. The policeman came right away and said he’d look for the guy, he was probably close-by. He also suggested we get a lock for the outside of our big wooden gates or hire a security firm. I’m thinking Rottie. We had one before and this never happened.
Friday morning the nightmare continued. I woke up at 5 a.m. to my husband yelling from outside the house to call the cops! I grabbed my glasses, my phone and my hands shook as I tried to dial 911. My husband kept the guy at bay on our steps while we waited for the police to arrive. The 911 operator kept me on the phone and asked me to narrate what was going on.
A few minutes later which felt like an eternity, a half dozen police arrived. They said, “Marco! What are you doing here?” to our intruder.
Marco answered, “I live here. I bought this house.”
“No you don’t. You said that about the house down the street,” a policeman answered.
They handcuffed the intruder and drove him away. Both my husband and I were shaking with fear, anger and tried to lower our adrenaline levels to have a normal day. It didn’t happen. We both struggled.
I find myself waking up in the night, looking at my Nest app, listening for any little noise. I’m hoping each day it gets a little better. This person turns out to be well-known, a Palm Springs native and harmless. Of course, we had no idea of that with his erratic behavior and his trespassing from Saturday night through Friday morning. It brings our homeless problem right in my yard, not some abstract issue I read about in the newspaper.
Have you had an intruder at your home? What happened and did you get over your fear?
I was looking through my posts from this past year amidst the pandemic. I was feeling frustrated in September when I wrote this post. That was before we decided to put our home of 28 years for sale. Before we decided to leave California. So much has changed in my life since September. And again, so much has not. This post could have been written by me today. When will we see a return to normal? Or will we?
Waffles had the pandemic malaise too.
Do you ever have days where you wake up full of energy and ideas and can’t wait to get started on the day? Today was that day, and somewhere after my walk, doing laundry and sitting down to work, I lost that drive.
I struggled with what to start on, staring at my computer screen for a fresh burst of inspiration to come back at me. I have too much on my to do list — from writing to cleaning out the laundry room. I don’t know what to do first. Second, I started to worry about what this fall and winter season will bring. Will we have a second wave of the pandemic? Will I get sick? Will loved ones and friends get sick? I want to hurry to next Spring and skip the next few months.
Worrying about the uncertain future makes it hard to focus. How do you stop worrying? I also started thinking about how I miss my life before this virus hit. I think it’s going to take a toll on a lot of people emotionally and mentally — let alone physically. As human being we crave interaction with others. I miss my family, my occasional social outings and my swim friends. I don’t think it’s healthy for people to be cut off from each other.
I miss my mom. She’s in assisted living a few miles from where that first nursing home outbreak started by Seattle. If I were to visit her, I don’t know if I’d be allowed in. I’d more likely be waving to her from outside her window. I’m not going to hop on an airplane in the near future, so it’s a moot point.
On a more positive note, we had a treat this weekend with my son and his girlfriend making an impromptu visit. Since my kids live in the Bay Area and all the gyms are closed, by son has been looking for weights. Weights are one of those premium items where the prices skyrocketed. It’s ridiculous! More than $2,000 for an Olympic bar and weights. We have a set laying around and my husband said if our son came down to pick it up, he could borrow it for as long as he wants.
It was great to see them in person and give them hugs. I’m lacking in hugs from other family and friends. Maybe someday soon?
Are you able to carry on like “before” or do you see a change in your motivation? Has your ability to focus changed?
View from our campground at Big Bear Lake, where we enjoyed the RV life.
I’ve been feeling anxious. I don’t know if I recommend moving to anyone. It’s a huge undertaking — physically, mentally and emotionally. I wake up in the middle of the night remembering something that I need to do. Then when I wake up in the morning, I have no clue what those important things were that kept me up in the middle of the night. I think I should put a pen and notepad next to the bed, so I can jot down the items as they come to me.
I sit with a list next to me while I work. I add to it and cross off finished items with a red pen. A friend gave me that tip and it is satisfying to see a page of red lines. My list is now in the 40s and I’ve crossed off 16 things. So much to do and the days are disappearing fast.
Anxiety is hitting me hard. And then we got pulled off course from packing, canceling services, and signing up for utilities by our RV. Yes, that thing we’ve forgotten about for a couple years. You see it didn’t start. So, when friends volunteered to help us out with our move on Friday — so we asked them to help us put in new batteries in the RV. There were three batteries to replace.
Our friends arrived with tools and installed the new batteries. Now the RV starts like a champ. Hooray! Now let’s sell it. But first it needs to get smog checked before we can update the registration and sell it. So my husband drove it to get it smogged. He was told at the gas station that it had to be driven for 50 miles before getting smogged since it was dead and the had new batteries. Next, we learned the tires need to be less than five years old to sell the RV, even if the are in perfect condition. So we drove to Costco to check out tires, hoping to make a dent in the 50 required miles of driving. Costco doesn’t have the right tires for our RV. Then my husband realized the RV was out of gas, and since we were at Costco, he’d buy gas there. I reminded him that we hadn’t been to Cosctco since the advent of COVID so our membership had expired. We went inside, renewed our membership prior to his trying to maneuver his way in the Costco gas lines in the beast called our RV.
Then he drove it home and I went through the drawers and shelves to make sure all our stuff was out. What I discovered was a bottle of Tide laundry detergent that had oozed out soap from a top shelf and dripped and pooled on four lower shelves. I spent several hours over two days, fighting the Tide. Literally.
Today we are driving the RV out of town to an RV consignment shop. They will smog check, get new tires, and sell it hopefully.
Our RV which is getting in the way of packing.
Now it’s time to get back to packing! Too many days are slipping away.
Today I’m looking back on when things got crazy. They’ve never stopped. I also am not okay with the “new normal.” Nothing is normal. Nothing.
Here’s a recap of the day before we sheltered in place. My kids who live in the Bay Area already went on shutdown.
Our cool as a cucumber cat is helping to keep me calm.
I was doing okay, but yesterday when my kids called me and said they were under mandatory “shelter in place,” I started to panic. I’m wondering if the world will ever get back to normal? They were working remotely in my son’s house in the Bay Area.
The mandatory shelter in place started today. Yesterday they were told to prepare to be home for at least two weeks. My daughter is working remotely and decided to get out of the city and drove home last night. It’s so nice to have her home! I wonder how long she will be here?
Waffles the pug came home, too.
My dad agreed to let me grocery shop for him and I found everything he needed except for toilet paper, of course! While I was driving from his home, my daughter called and Waffles, her pug, ate something and was trying to throw up, but nothing was coming up. I told her to call a vet and I got really stressed out again! She called back in tears and said that the vets she called would NOT take new patients in their practice due to the Coronavirus! I was in the car and while she was talking to me and I noticed a big white pick up truck on my tail! Then he swerved in the lane next to me, and started yelling and screaming, giving me the finger. He threw a milkshake at me! It hit my windshield and the car was covered. I’m still shaking.
What in the h*ck is going on, folks? Is this really the time to become completely unhinged?
This is the guy in a white pick up truck with a Home Depot trailer that threw a milkshake at me.
Let’s take a moment to breathe some fresh air, calm down, take a walk and enjoy your families. And love up our dogs and cats, too!
As a follow up, Waffles the pug spent the night at the one facility that accepted new patients — the emergency pet hospital. It turned out he ate berries from a bad bush and was placed on an IV after his belly was emptied from the toxic berries. At 16 pounds, he’s a little guy and quite fragile.
What excitement has your family experienced in this topsy turvy new normal?
We got away for two weeks and life felt like it did before the pandemic. It gave me hope that yes, we will return to life before COVID-19 at some point in time. These past six months (or 165 days) of sheltering in place will come to an end.
With my husband required to work remotely, and my writing that can be done wherever, we returned to a tiny beach bungalow for the third summer in a row. We had planned this vacation way before the pandemic, but with the onset of working remotely, we extended our stay and had more time to escape the desert heat and relish in a change of scenery.
There’s something about the ocean that is spiritual and calming. I didn’t realize how much anxiety had been building inside me until I got to the Pacific, walked along the shoreline with waves lapping at my ankles. I could breathe. My back straightened up. I no longer felt trapped and scared.
A beach walk near Santa Barbara
The most freeing feeling was diving under a wave. I’ve always worn hard contact lenses — well since 7th grade anyway. I could never freely dive into a pool or ocean without goggles and worrying about losing contacts, which I’ve done more than once. Last fall I had cataract surgery and no longer wear contacts. It took me a couple dips into the ocean to realize that I could swim and dive under waves without fear.
Our kids joined us for a few days, along with my son’s girlfriend and one of her sisters. We shared meals outside, beach walks, and excursions into the city of Santa Barbara. That felt normal like prior summer trips. We’ve been visiting good friends in the area since before the kids were born. We caught up with other couples and had fun laughing and talking over meals, always outside and socially distanced. But what a nice change from all those months of no social activity.
Santa Barbara Harbor
Yes, I’m back in my house, it’s 109 degrees outside. But, I still have a little bit of that feeling of hope that things will get better. And life is good.
What experiences have you had that give you hope that the pandemic life will end?