Friday Freak-Out & Mom Issues X 2


I’m writing this post on Thursday and it’s the last day of school for Avonlea and Marilla.  I have mixed feelings about school ending today.  I’ve been launched into creating a new daily structure for our girls over the next few months.  It’s hard enough for me to get my own schedule in order, let alone a six-year-old and a nine-year-old’s, so I’m a bit freaked out.  The ironic fact that our summer officially begins on Friday the 13th is not lost upon me.

As many people with bipolar disorder know, structure can make all the difference between stability and its hellish opposite.  Now that I’ve had my taste of stability for the last year, I don’t want it to end anytime soon.  I’m going to give this summer my best shot so I stay the hell away from Hell.  (a.k.a. the hospital.)

I’m happy to say that I planned a few fairly substantial activities for the kids in advance.  Next week, I’ll get fifteen precious hours of child-free time while they attend the local (free!) vacation bible school.  They are technically Jewish, but no matter.  It’s still a good education for them! The following month we’re splurging on a two-week-long Science Sleuths day camp run by County Parks; it’s an excellent program that our older daughter has loved attending in the past.

We have a summer membership to our community pool, but that’s an activity I’ve placed my husband in charge of due to my still-intense social anxiety.   I hope that given my recent progress which I described in my “No Profundity” post, I’ll make an effort to visit the pool over the next month.  However, I’m not going to pressure myself because honestly, life is challenging enough right now.  There are other cool things to do in this area, which is visited by tourists from around the world, aside from the pool.

This morning both of my girls tearfully told me how much they will miss school – they said they’d miss their friends, their teachers and the fun activities.  Two nights ago they even begged us for a school yearbook.  I never had a yearbook in 1st or 3rd grade – how times have changed! $30 later, they got the yearbook and they’ve enjoyed pouring over its pages, fighting over who got to take a turn every ten minutes.  

I felt stunned regarding their positive attitude toward school because I had a completely different experience.  I was 100% elated to say goodbye to each school year, and I certainly never shed a single tear in June when I bid my teacher  and classmates farewell.  I never thought that the girls’ school would be such a hard act for me to follow, but in a few months they’ll return to their beloved school, so I won’t stress too much about it.

Meanwhile, come next week my Mom is visiting this area.  She’s excited to spend time with her grandchildren and meet the adorable Lucy puppy at last.  She’ll stay at beautiful hotel called the Chaminade which holds many happy memories for her,  including numerous stays with my Dad, and my wedding rehearsal dinner.   It’s hard for me to believe that my Mom has been a guest at this hotel for two decades because she started visiting here when I attended college at U.C. Santa Cruz.  The Chaminade used to be a monastery and it has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean/Monterey Peninsula.  Craig and I used to live in a tiny studio underneath the hotel property next to the infamous cemetery.  (See “Cemetery Days” for more about that.)

I haven’t seen my mother in a year.  The last time we were together I was almost med-free from my ill-fated lithium taper.  I was hypomanic during our visit and she wasn’t doing well emotionally.  My bipolar relapse had just begun, and culminated in another hospital stay. This upcoming visit, I hope, will be 100% better than the last one.  (I’d be thrilled with at least 80% better!)

I’ve written about my Mom’s shortcomings at length, especially in terms of the stigma towards my mental illness she has harbored. (My post “Stigma from the Source” covers this topic in depth.)  But she also has wonderful qualities – she even passed one or two of them down to me! 😉  Moreover,  Mom is great with children, especially since she worked with kids with special needs for many years as a speech pathologist in the public schools.  She was able to easily connect with the kids and her colleagues and they saw the best side of her.  Before that, she was a working actress in Los Angeles and had won the University of Michigan’s first award for television acting.  She’s very histrionic, to say the least.  

I look forward to watching my mother interact with my girls, and I’ll try my best to refrain from flipping out at her inevitable criticism of me.  There’s always something during every visit.  The usual comments include: “Your hair…what have you done with it?”, “I thought you said you were 140 pounds – you look much heavier than that!” and the classic: “What do you do all day, especially now that you have this summer break?”

The truth, although it’s hard for me to fully process it, is that my formidable Mom, the woman who drives all around Los Angeles on highways I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot-pole, is slowing down at seventy-eight-years old.  She could live another fourteen years like her robust Jewish grandmother did, or live another day.  Who knows?   I don’t have tranquilizers or alcohol to see me through the crunchy moments with her this time around.  I need to remain stable.  I need to be strong.  I know I need to give her a break, but that is much easier said than done.  I know I’ll have experiences to write about, that’s for sure.  


17 thoughts on “Friday Freak-Out & Mom Issues X 2

  1. I’ll keep you in my prayers. I am facing much of the same dilemas as you as summer vacation is quickly approaching here as well. I hope you have a wonderful visit with your mom. I can understand your trepiditions though. I have them whenever my Dad comes to visit me, or mother in law makes her way to see us as well. I’m always here for you to vent to!

  2. Sweetheart, it looks like you’ve got summer events well under hand! I think the girls will find all sorts of things to do, especially with Lucy there to help with the occasional gaps. As for Mom…deep breaths, humor, and watch out for the trap doors. My mom was great at luring me into the trap doors. And I always fell hard. I don’t know how many times my sister told me not to go there! But how to avoid them? My sis always used humor. Whatever my mom said or did, my sis would just laugh and laugh and say things like, “Seemed like a good idea at the time!” If she asks what you’ve done with your hair, ask her what she’s done with hers! Believe me, I know how hard this visit will be…and you know that I know. Point is, she no longer holds power over you. You’re no longer that small child dealing with that larger-than-life “screaming-meanie.” You’re a mom (and a very good one!), you’re an adult–an equal, and you have every right to be who you are. And remember that Granny is right by your side, giving you strength and love!

    • Thank you, dearest Nina, for “getting it” all so well. I love how you describe your sister’s humor in how she dealt with your Mom. I love “Seemed like a good idea at the time!”

      It’s going to be a difficult week no matter what, but it helps me to read your comment nonetheless. I am so lucky you understand this situation & can give me a much-needed, much-appreciate reality check. Sending you tons of love – I’ll definitely let you know how it goes. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooox

  3. Best of luck this summer. I do not look forward to it. My son gets out the 25th when he “promotes” to high school. He’s growing up! He can’t wait until we celebrate his birthday by downhill mountain biking in Mammoth. Hoping for minimum injuries that week.

    • Thank you, Kitt, for making me feel less guilty for not exactly looking forward to summer! It must be kind of surreal to have a son on the cusp of high school! I hope you have a good time in Mammoth – we love it there. I’ve been visiting that area since I was little, and we honeymooned there too. (With both of our dogs in tow!) I too hope for minimum injuries that week for your family & I will definitely hold you all in my prayers.

      • No stay-at-home mother looks forward to summer! (or none that I know) Lack of structure and constant demands from kids can really be stressful for anybody. I really don’t get why mothers (especially mothers who struggle with mental illness) choose to home school their kids unless there are unique circumstances which warrant it.

        As soon as my son was kindergarten age, I enrolled him in the on-campus program which extended his day to a regular 8 am-2 pm school-day schedule. I needed him with other kids. He begged me to home school him when we lived in the Mojave Desert community of Helendale. The sun and dust of the desert triggered migraines which kept him out of school 1/3 of his days, but I insisted he go whenever he could. He benefited from it. The kids in his class loved him. When I volunteered in the classroom, they would come up to me and ask if I knew that he was smart and that he got straight A’s. In the Mojave Desert over-achievement is more of a rarity as the socioeconomics are quite different than here in south Orange County where a huge percentage of the kids test gifted and get stellar grades. So the desert was a boost to his ego. We lived in a small unincorporated community, his elementary school had few student, and the kids were very sweet.

        As far as our trip to Mammoth is concerned, my son wants to bring the dogs, but then I’d be stuck with the dogs while they bike. Besides, I want to stay at Mammoth Mountain Inn at the base of the gondola and really spoil myself. The bike park has easier trails that I can take on and they offer lessons.

        Small world as far as the Sierras are concerned — my husband and I married at Lake Tahoe!.

  4. Hi Dyane,
    Good luck with this transition, and I hope your visit with your mom goes well! I’d love to get together with our kids this summer. Do they enjoy the river at Highlands?

    • Hey Barb! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and for your comment. Yes, the kids LOVE the river @ Highlands so let’s meet up there after my Mom’s visit. My email is but I think you have it! :)) Or you can message me on Facebook. take care dear B! See you soon!

  5. Sounds like you have some great activities lined up for your girls. And I hope all goes well with your Mum. I don’t think my Mum understands what I have gone through and probably never will. Mental illness was not discussed in her generation (she’s 79) in her upbringing, so how could she understand it?
    So be patient, if you can with your Mum.

    • Thank you so much for commenting, Glen! You and I both have moms approx. the same age who don’t understand what we’ve been through. Because of their generation and the fact that mental illness wasn’t discussed, you’re right – how could they truly understand it? I’m going to try to be patient, as you wisely suggest. I’ll let you know how the week unfolds. Take care & I’ll “see” you on your blog! 🙂

  6. Thanks so much, dear Becca! I know you understand some of my challenges. I consider you a “Mt. Everest Mama” with 6 babies to care for – not to mention yourself, the house, and your honey (and Buddy!) you deserve a Presidential Medal of some kind! You are amazing and you inspire me every day.

    I’m really enjoying your personal blog…and I’m really excited about your brand-new Bipolar Parenting Project blog here on WordPress too! 🙂

    I’ll be contributing there soon, and I’ll continue to spread the word about the Bipolar Parenting Project. Love you!

  7. Oh Dyane, my heart is breaking right now! I know all too well how difficult it is to live with a mother that hardly ever sees the good in you! I live with it on a weekly basis! I have to cook a Father’s Day meal tom and I’m hyperventilating already just thinking about her comments! All my love!

    • By now, my dear friend, you’ve cooked the Father’s Day dinner and I hope SO very much that it went well….and that for once she didn’t make any mean comments. I’ve been praying for you, sweetie. Thank you for understanding my plight. I adore you!

      • The Father’s Day went better than I expected, but I think it was mainly because my mother finds it hard to criticize me in front of my father. It is as if she now hides her true self since he has returned from abroad. If he only knew the truth!

  8. It’s difficult, Dyane, to hold onto the present and not revert to reacting as the child you used to be, especially in bp defensive mode. It helps to separate your issues from her issues. I know I have enough baggage without trying to carry anyone else’s. But honey, I am not a porter. I’m just a gal with bp who’s doing the best I can half a day at a time.

    Just lifted up a prayer for you and your mom for a peaceful and loving week.

    • Dear Susan, I’m sorry it took me a while to respond. Your comment moved me very much, and the fact that you took time to lift me & Mom up in a prayer made me feel great! I love what you wrote above, especially about how you aren’t a porter!!! 🙂 I wish you all my best and thanks a million for your warmth and empathy! with love, Dyane 🙂

      • You’re so welcome, Dyane. The situation really struck home with me. It took me decades to learn to put that baggage down. I h ope your weekend went well.

Comments are closed.