Emotion wrangling – water works, water heater woes

My personality is such that I am generally very good, very calm in the heat of crises that do not have me as their epicenter. Other people can be angry, upset, lashing out, and I am typically pretty calm about coping with it.

Right now my son is going through a job/career crisis, in that he accepted a position as an inside sales consultant and found it was a very poor fit for him and for the company. Being let go, even under circumstances where you know you hate the job and do not want to stay is hard on the ego and big walloping bruise to the pride. I touched upon this briefly in Wednesday’s post, and I am still glad to be the mom that my kids trust enough to confide in and seek advice from when they need a supportive yet objective ear.

He did reach out to his former boss and has been welcomed back with open arms, but that was hard for him as well. While he has a lot of pride, not so much that he cannot set it aside to ensure he can financially care for himself and maintain his independence. Now that he has a fiance and family (the 2 pup-pups), it is even more critical to him that he do whatever is necessary to ensure he contributes to keep the household afloat.

K, to her great credit, has been supportive and encouraging after this change. She herself had an unexpected job termination last year, just a couple weeks before she planned to give notice and get herself out of a toxic job situation. One never knows how others are going to handle crisis of this sort until faced with it, and I admire K’s determination to weather this storm with G and get through it together.

It is kind of a traditionalist standpoint for men when they make less money than the women in their lives. G is not so much hung up on the present salary differences between he and K so much as K is ambitious and driven and seems to have a career path and he is not sure what it is he wants to pursue for the rest of his life. While I have absolutely nothing against making an honest buck or a whole shitload of them, I also believe that maintaining personal integrity and being happy with what you do to earn a living is critical.

G is not delighted to be back in retail, contemplating a return to marathon coaching, but the jobs are not terrible and provide an adequate living wage. My hope is he gets gazelle-intense and focused on finishing his degree, because he is not that far from completion. That alone opens a whole lot more doors and jobs that were previously unavailable to him.

Whatever his next moves as far as jobs and careers, I am enormously proud of him for the man he has become, for being capable of swallowing his pride and returning to his former job. He dislikes his boss as a person, but as M and I have always stressed, respect the position of authority in the organization even if you do not like and have zero respect for the person who holds it. And if you cannot respect the position, find another job. We are pretty old school that way, I suppose.

Into this mix of job uncertainty and financial challenges, K’s family shenanigans begin again. Somehow while I was not looking I have elevated to the much older and wiser position in my own family, another sounding board when things go haywire.

K’s family dynamic is complicated, and the wedding has included a lot of painful choices for both she and for G. The aunt and uncle who raised her are not invited for good and valid reasons, nor is her biological father. Now her biological mother has reentered the picture, but there is new drama with regard to the wedding and her involvement in it. From what K told me last night in text and on the telephone, her mother is creating some drama and angst over the festivities and forcing K to draw up some new boundaries with her to protect herself. I feel helpless, but know that listening, being supportive, being here for she and for G is a lot more than many people have.

Until this week, I have actually gone to sleep on how it felt like just us we 3, with G and C and me, against the world. M has been there … M has always been there. But there was a shift when he started driving a truck, and through their high school years it became cemented as just we 3, with M sort of interlaced with me. Now as we are all adults, the kids are quite naturally closer to me, although they know I talk about everything with M and a lot of what I suggest comes directly from him with me as mere conduit. They come to the house to talk to me/us about issues, they welcome M’s input and advice as well, so it’s not as if he is excluded. Our family dynamic works well, and if pressed M would concede it is by his design as much as anything else.

Our family is expanding, though, and now include A and K as well. These are relatively untested members, though, yet we feel strong and hopeful toward them; we believe both will be holding steady in situations where families circle wagons and come together.

And K knows that. I am here to listen, talk about, and support her in her decisions, even those really hard to make and even harder to implement. But I admire her courage and conviction in not avoiding the issues, as I would be inclined to do until pressed otherwise. We have her back in this, and love her all the more for defining herself as someone so worthy and so welcome into our realm.

But it’s hard to listen to someone who is basically your daughter so distraught and upset about her mother’s hurtful, harmful behaviors. Again, the mom in me just wants to step in and fix it for her, take away her pain and the responsibility for dealing with her life, and I know that I cannot do anything more than I have already.

Doesn’t mean I still do not wish to be more powerful, more omnipotent, more of a kick-ass mom. C and G thank their lucky stars every day of their life that I am not that parent. *laugh*

And our water heater started leaking yesterday, or at least it started leaking enough water to make a traveling puddle that I noticed. M and I picked out the new model we wanted, but since we need it replaced ASAP, M does not feel confident enough to undertake replacing it himself right now. So we agreed to have it professionally installed, and the nightmare that is M in frugal mode begins.

We typically use Home Depot or Lowe’s or Sears for such appliances. Sears is immediately out because the soonest they could do the work is next Thursday, and that’s a lot of days without hot water or with a leaking water heater or both. Lowe’s and Home Depot are pretty competitive on products and installation, but Lowe’s lost because they did not have the unit we wanted in stock. So we went with Home Depot.

The purchase and installation could be done today between 2 and 6. Great! He quoted what sounded like a ridiculous amount of money to purchase and install the unit, so I asked him to send me a quote for approval before I committed. Let the slashing games begin!

M was appalled by the installation portion of the quote – $848 out of $1377.98 total. I don’t blame him at all. The unit itself was less than the price listed on the website, but we were not paying $350 in delivery and disposal fees. I called them back and said we would purchase the water heater at the store and make arrangements for disposal of the old unit. There is nothing to be done about the permit fees – the government does want their cut – and I absolutely do not begrudge anyone from making a profit on their services. But $848? Seriously? Yes that includes an installation kit as well as those additional services, but M has a landfill trip planned and will take the old water heater with him at that time. While M is still grumbling about the reduced $498 installation cost, we both know we need to have a functional water heater TODAY and this is what it costs. Fortunately we have the budget resources to cover it.

The new one is now sitting in the garage waiting for the installer to arrive this afternoon. An hour of M’s time today to purchase and bring home the unit and we saved $200. The opportunity to use the Tommy Lift on the truck is always a perk for M that makes him happy – men and their toys, you know. We are not the most frugal people, and I am comfortable with and philosophical about the compromise. I seriously doubt we will be having to purchase and install another water heater during the remaining years of planned ownership of this particular home.

And finally … I am struggling to figure out my feelings about friends, friendship, and lying. It’s not big, horrible, awful untruths, but it is part of a pattern of discomfort avoidance that bothers me greatly. Part of me is angry, yet mostly I am so sad. Deception erodes trust, weakens the bonds of friendship, and deliberately lying about something trivial in the overall bigger picture is perplexing. I would always rather hear the truth and be upset for a hot second than be misled directly or by omission of select facts. In this case I believe it is a symptom of depression or anxiety or other mental/emotional disorder, but I am not an expert. Nor am I one who understands it well enough to cope appropriately.

I guess I have no answers and am avoiding the topic with the parties involved. Because while the subject of the deception is small cakes, the actual lie told to me hurts my feelings and makes me wish I could understand why. In this I am learning from K how to be more forthright in dealing with such situations. No matter what the age or where they are in life, it seems everyone has something they can teach me. And that makes me happy. Silver linings – always happy to find and embrace them.

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