yes, things can get better

If you’re stuck in the middle of the crisis/chaos stage of acceptance, you’ve no doubt got your hands full just trying to cope with immediate needs. Been there, don’t want the t-shirt, hopefully not going back again – but, as you probably know, chaos is only a short trip away without medication compliance. Right now, as always, grateful for every good day.

Today Ben calls me to make sure I’m pleased with the job he did with household chores yesterday. “Did you see what a great job I did?”, he asks. “Remember, Mom – if there’s anything I missed, just tell me and I’ll fix it. You know I’m good for it. I want you to be happy with my work.” I say, “Wow, you’re really conscienctious, honey.” He says – and I can hear the smile in his voice – “Yeah, well, you know I like money.”

He has his sense of humor back. And satisfaction guaranteed, to boot. How about that?

I sometimes pay Ben $20 when he visits on the weekend in exchange for a very specific list of chores I need done around the house. The more specific, the better: “Lift up the picture frames and dust underneath them. With Pledge. Only on wood surfaces.” This clarity, I’ve discovered, leads to much more focus and better results.

Paying a 28-year-old child for dusting and vacuuming? Sure. He’s on disability and though he wants a job, he isn’t that realistic about landing one. He looks – with his job coach – in places that are a bit out of his reach, either geographically or in terms of work experience and history. Meanwhile, he has no money for, say, an occasional movie or a Quizno’s sub. He hates to ask for money from me. He has his pride, and I’m glad of it. So I give him work to do, which I need done, and pay him for it. Win-win.

What surprises me, though, is how much he cares about the quality of his work, and how important it is for him to get the positive feedback from me. He really wants to earn this money. He hates handouts. That makes me proud.

It wasn’t that long ago Ben was telling me that housekeeping was the result of a government plot designed to poison our minds against dust and germs. It was ten years ago that he ranted and raved about this so much, following me around the house while I was cleaning, that I almost threw the vacuum cleaner at him. And then he called the local police, claiming that his mother was getting violent. Fun times. This the basis of the chapter “Almost Arrested” in Ben Behind his Voices (my book, repped by

Things can get better. Really.

0 thoughts on “yes, things can get better

  1. OK, I have tried emails but still cannot get any info on the book availability. We are in the "T-shirt phase" and would love to read an encouraging story!

  2. Hi Karen – that's because we haven't signed a deal yet! I wish I had a publication date for you – so does my agent, Claire Gerus Agency. We have several bites, but nothing definite yet – so if you know of any publishers who might love the story, please have them contact her at I really believe that Ben's story will provide some hope, info and comfort to families – now if the right publisher will see that it is, indeed, "marketable"…

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