Okay, I confess: I haven't actually seen The Godfather Part III, but I did watch The Sopranos (lol), so that famous line from Michael Corleone came immediately to mind when I got up the other morning to realize that every available room in my house was filled with teenagers, and there was even one sleeping on the sofa to boot.
I posted here recently about taking some time for myself this year, but distancing myself from the role of on-call, stand-in "mom" has proven tricky. Since making the decision to take some "time off", I have been good - really, I have! I've spent my time soul-searching, re-evaluating, focusing on myself (or at least trying to learn how to do so), healing, tending to my medical issues, reading (lots and lots), rediscovering my own individual self, and letting bedrooms in my house stand empty. Like a cat lady determined to break a habit (at least temporarily), I have not taken in any more strays. I re-arranged and organized my "spare room", turning it at last into the personal library I had intended it to be many years ago when we first moved into this house. I spent some money on myself (gasp!), bought some clothes and colored my hair and got my eyebrows waxed. I started riding a bicycle, getting some exercise, taking my newly-purchased bright coral book-bag / satchel on little adventures of my own where I would find quiet and peaceful little spots to sit and read or write. I began to learn about gardening. I went on outings to museums. By myself. Free time, just for me. And I'd just started to get used to it.
Recently, my "semi-strays" gradually began to transform into actual "strays". If you don't already know, the kids I refer to as "my strays" are those whom I have taken into my home over the years, but of whom I have not had any official or formal custody. A while back I jokingly coined the term "semi-strays" when referring to a slightly different group: They have homes and they don't live with me (in the sense that they don't - at least typically - sleep here), but they spend every waking hour at my house and I definitely serve as a mother figure to them. Most of them (all but one, actually) have no mother in their lives, primarily due to drug or alcohol problems on their moms' part. They live with single fathers, all of whom drink heavily and don't - if you'll forgive me for saying this - seem to know their head from a hole in the ground when it comes to raising their kids. The only one who does live with his mother has a terrible relationship with her in which every conversation of any nature seems to erupt into a shouting match, and his estranged father is dying of cancer.
So, those are my "semi-strays" in a nutshell, so to speak. As I was saying, though, lately the "semi" part of that title has become less and less applicable. Someone's kicked out of their house after an argument, and here they are. A young man brings home his homeless girlfriend, and then one night his dad gets drunk and throws them both out; there they appear at my door. And before I know it, like the old story of the frog in boiling water, I wake up one morning to realize that I'm out of clean bedding (gotta catch up on that laundry!), there is no empty and quiet space in the house for me to sit down with my coffee and a book, I have a mile-long to-do list (this girl needs feminine hygiene products, this boy needs help getting a copy of his birth certificate so he can look for a job...), and the stash of personal necessities that I used to keep stocked on hand (toothbrushes, new socks, etc.) has dwindled to an alarmingly low level (I had stopped adding to it because I didn't think it was necessary anymore). I look around me and I feel a sense of "flashback" to the "old days"; there was once an almost-two-year period of time when the house was so full that I slept on the sofa every night myself. I was perfectly content with my full house back then; it was inconvenient and difficult and stressful, but I felt a sense of purpose that made all those things okay. Now, though... I don't look around the house and feel that same thing. Now I just see it creeping up on me and I feel... Tired? Maybe a little resentful? Not at the kids, but at the parents. Why can't they take care of their own responsibilities? Why do they keep putting me in this position? Why does throwing their kids out of the house seem to be the only tool in their "parenting a teen" toolbox? I shake my head and grumble under my breath, doing my best not to let the kids detect the shift in my attitude.
My heart is not in this right now. I don't want it, not for the time being. I want my time. But it isn't their fault, these kids with nowhere to go. They aren't bad kids - they really aren't. I am so torn, so conflicted.
I have no idea what I'm going to do, honestly. This blog is more of a diary, a journal, a place where I tell my stories and vent; it's not a manual, so I won't claim to have answers when I don't.
Ah, what a spot I'm in... :-/