On the upside, being awake in the wee hours makes checking Nick’s blood sugar easy (166 – just slightly elevated). Also, Chelsea stayed the night at a friend’s, so I’m able to come into the living room and use the computer instead of tossing and turning in bed while Bobby wheezes and coughs. His asthma continues to trouble both of us; I wish he’d go back to the conventional specialists (oxymoron?), but he considers them useless for anything but pushing steroids. Instead, he travels down to Petrolia every so often and sees an guy apparently knowledgeable about herbs, Chinese medicine and other traditional therapies – all of which I am willing to support, when they work, which is exactly how I feel about medicines in general. Eastern, Western, ancient, modern: Don’t close your mind to any of it, but start with the most natural and keep going until you find what’s useful. I’ve taken a stand against dosing the kids with meds unnecessarily, and I’ve also wasted a lot of money on homeopathic stuff that doesn’t work. Some does! I swear by B&T cough syrup, for example, but it wasn’t herbal remedies that cured Bobby’s illness last year and it’s not Chinese capsules that keep Nick’s diabetes in check.

I understand the defensiveness people feel about opting for non-Western medicine – I’m reminded of how I used to have to defend our organic/local food choices before such a lifestyle permeated the public consciousness. What makes me slightly crazed is when the folks who depend on the herbal/homeopathic treatments (again, some of which I use and recommend) are unwilling to make allowances that some modern medical treatments have value. I think less whooping cough is a good thing. I appreciate antibiotics, despite their decades of overuse. If medical research into diabetes care never happened, my son would not be alive. I embrace whatever options keep my family healthiest.

Not wanting to take a crazy-making steroid makes sense. I wish Bobby would at least go back and see what else they have to offer – maybe nothing, but maybe more options exist at this point than we realize. Doctors, herbal practitioners, friends who’ve been through similar situations – they’re all resources from which to pick and choose advice and treatments. Continuing to go on with compromised breathing is only creating pain all around.

All right, done with that rant! Do I sound mean? I can be impatient when it comes to fixing things. On which note, the other source of angst on the domestic front involves figuring out how to deal with my adult kid who moved back home last November. (She turns 21 this Sunday!) I want to provide a safe, loving place where she can regroup and relaunch, but how I imagine the dynamics of doing so and what is actually manifesting in reality keep diverging. In my mind, the steps are so clear: Do this and this and this, and then everything will work out. (Always easy to see how other people’s lives should go.) What happens, though, is I’m greeted with extra animals, extra clutter and a lack of taking said steps, so my attitude is one of constant annoyance and criticism. Which, I should remember from when she was a teenager, doesn’t help.

And all that teenage stuff? Those years when I struggled daily to solve the constant fighting between us? When my dream of creating a joy-filled home seemed impossible because no matter how hard I tried, none of my mothering attempts were “right”? When I made major mistakes because I’d never raised a stubborn, angry teenager before, only been one? But loved her anyway and tried every way I could to convey that? Well, the problems manifested in those years continue to influence our relationship today and still I don’t know how to overcome them. Everyone recommends the tough love approach, but that’s never worked – we end up with too much tough and not enough love. So I’m trying to cultivate greater patience. To encourage instead of scold. To have expectations of success and lay that foundation accordingly. To quell the burst of irritation that erupts the moment I step into my home. The struggle between my desire for clean and minimal, and everyone else’s penchant for cluttered and stuff has been going on for years – that the balance has tipped due to Chelsea’s return does not mean she should shoulder all the blame.

I need to figure all this out. My home should be a place I am happy to return to. A sanctuary, not an ordeal. (The writer in me is smacking her head in frustration. “This is all too much telling, not enough showing!”)

If I were storytelling instead of venting, I’d write something like, “The earplugs fail to muffle the wheezing next me. Repeated kicking of my husband also results not in increased quiet, but mumbled complaints punctuated by coughs. I debate leaving the warmth of the bed, trading comfort for peace on the living room futon. Guilt encourages me to stay – after all, he’s the one who can’t breathe. I’m only unable to sleep. A good wife would cuddle up regardless. But my commitment to ‘in sickness and in health’ is eventually overcome by the rattling breath, occasional hacking fit and my own need to be able to function in the foreseeable future. I stand, gather my pillows and make my exit.”

And then: “Dog hair covers everything. Sandy’s shedding already required a daily vacuuming of the house, but this extra dog is nearly twice her size and wafts just as much hair onto the floor, the couches, the dog bed he’s taken over from Sandy. The small dog, also a result of Chelsea’s penchant for collecting animals, causes little trouble beyond the occasional barking, but she, too, contributes to the hairy takeover of my home. And the cats! Two cats were fine, but the additional two contributed by our daughter means four cats’ worth of hair and dander – at least the oldest one prefers to be outside. The clutter around the house already triggered despair in my order-loving heart; the extra critters mean the vacuum runs twice a day and I hesitate to sit on the couch lest I arise with hair stuck all over my clothes. Meanwhile, piles of clothes, notebooks and toiletries take up the space between the futon and the bookshelf. Our oldest daughter has moved back home.”

I do like to write. And therein lies my sanity.