Sunday, October 23, 2011

One step at a time


I was so thankful and reassured by emails after my last non-monthly-letter entry.

Overall the sentiment seemed to be: Your family is doing something amazing that you've been waiting for for a long time. You've gone into this very well researched. It's not you that's causing this, it's that you're left relying on others to make their move before you have the freedom to carry on with your life as you want to.

All of the emails put our life in perspective a bit more and was a great reminder of the support, friendship, and community we'd been central to in Providence.

So there's been some progress since the last post.
Not as much as I'd like (we haven't moved, for example), but there's progress.

I'll try to explain in short (but I'm sure this will get lengthy).

We are living with Ren Man's grandparents. We chose to live here for several reasons:
A)Ren Man's grandparents live alone
B)They are 84 and 93 (the 93 year old is blind)
C)They fall once every couple of months or so
D)There has been an attempted break-in to the house
E)The whole 3000 sqft house is heated
F)Ren Man's grandparents do not use the upstairs (three bedrooms and a bathroom) or the living room (24x24)
These all seemed like good and wonderful reasons for us to move in. Ren Man's grandparents initially voiced concerns over the fact that we have children but came to believe that the children would be a positive thing and bring "life" to the house.
Mommy protectiveness held in check that someone would possibly think that OUR children would somehow lessen the appeal of US.

This living situation is not working because~
A)The television is on every waking hour (news ie this person was killed, this child was molested, etc AND the game show network - not so bad if it didn't have commercials)
B)The children are offered dessert and candy without our consent which leads to us having to explain why whatever sweetness is not a great idea right before bed
C)We can not on a whim decide not to come home for dinner
D)There must ALWAYS be a table cloth on the table (for kids to pull on)
E)We are told by Ren Man's grandmother that she loves having us etc, etc but told by her children that we stress their mother out a lot by being here because:
-We leave snacks out for the kids and don't pick them up (it's called grazing ... kid's do it)
-We leave the mudroom a mess (because we live here, so do our shoes)
-Other annoyances? Surely, but we can never be sure because we're not told directly, generally.
F)Often we're explicitly told one thing (don't do the dishes, you're too busy, I'll do them) and then we hear a complaint from an aunt that goes in direct contrast to that (my mom is upset that you never do the dishes)
G)Groceries. We were originally getting them for Grammy (she pays, we go get them because she rarely leaves the house) but I had to stop. I was seething as I picked up this diabetic woman's $166 worth of coconut, condensed milk, butterscotch chips, pie crust, frozen strawberries, etc.

I truly don't think Ren Man's grandmother intentionally says things to other people to hurt us. I think she believes what she believes (for example she's been telling everyone that her cleaning lady left because we were too overwhelming - "we" who she looked for every week, washed windows with the kids, teased the kids, etc etc - she's been told the cleaning woman has been talking about leaving for months (long before we arrived) but she's adamant that we are the reason she left ... not to our face of course) and ignores all other truth irregardless of how evident to those around her ... and her children tend to believe her and then they are frustrated with us on their mother's behalf ...

So I'm ready to leave. Let's do a yurt. It seems like the most efficient (least expensive square footage and non permanent) option.
Ren Man's dad has to think about it. Because it costs money. Even though he says he couldn't live with his mother either.

This leads us to ...

the farm
This is mostly what we're having to work through with his dad. He's like Ren Man I guess ... you tell either of them a new idea, results of your research, something you want to try and they say: "No, it won't work". A while later they often say: "hey, why don't we try ."
So some of this is that. Other things are bigger issues. Ren Man's dad doesn't "believe" in organic. His food is "just as good" as anyone else's. We try to explain that while he believes that, consumers don't. He is adamant that consumers won't spend the prices we have on our produce. We show him how our prices are low in comparison to other area farmers and that even if they weren't ... we're not competing on price.
We've asked UVM extension to come in to mediate and we've had one meeting so far. That's where it seems like progress. They came, they explained things that we've already explained to his dad, his dad listened .... we're meeting again in a couple of weeks. We're talking about collaborating more.
I understand. Ren Man's dad is nervous. He's been doing this for 30 years and then some kids come in who have read a few books and think they know everything. Milk prices are good right now, after all. And feeding cows corn maximizes output.
And then we go back to explaining.
It's all about trust, and stubbornness, and patience.
We're getting there. I think.

Big Family Dynamic
And the last component is very complicated but comes down to Ren Man's grandparents quickly running out of long term health care and Ren Man's dad only owning 1/3 of the farm ... meaning Ren Man's grandparents have too many assets for medicaid. So do we (meaning "the family" or more specifically Ren Man's grandparents and dad) have to sell the farm to pay for medical expenses before Medicaid kicks in? We hope not and have figured out how to buy the remaining shares ... if the other six children agree to The Plan. But The Plan means they will likely not have an inheritance. They all say they don't care about that. We'll see.

So we're talking about moving to the double wide that's on the farm. Something I said I'd never do. I don't want to live in a trailer. But more than that: I don't want the television on, I want to know who is coming and going (there's a revolving door here with Home Health, Family, a private nursing agency, a visiting psychologist, a priest, etc), I want to be able to leave toys around without feeling stressed because of what someone else will say, I want to be off this busy busy road ... the double wide gives us all that. Maybe we'll have to stop calling it The Double Wide.
And you can all come visit if when we move because there won't be stress about too much mess, or noise, or unhealthy food.

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