So, we're a few weeks in to having everyone back at home. So far, things are still really good. We've had a few hiccups getting everyone on the same page in terms of sharing the responsibilities of the household and farm. Nothing a few conversations, a little mom-style come-to-Jesus meetings, and a dry erase calendar in the kitchen couldn't handle. However, there is, what I would objectively consider (if I could manage to be objective), a normal level of tension in the house. And that's what's driving me crazy. I know it's 'normal' for everyone to get their feathers a little ruffled as we all adjust to living under the same roof again. After all, we're all adults now...and most of us are used to our own ways of doing things. It doesn't seem out of the ordinary that Kid2 gets testy when Kid3 or Kid4 gets on to the grandmunchkins. (Although, she doesn't seem to mind when *I* step in when J is acting up or generally being disrespectful to her mom.) It doesn't seem out of the ordinary that Kid4 is very (and I mean VERY) determined that no one invades his personal space. He doesn't want anyone (not even me) in his room. That's his space and I think that's reasonable. (I don't want anyone in my room either - that's MY space, my place to get away from the noise and commotion of having 7 people under one roof.) I can understand him being defensive about people coming into his room - even if he is being more than a little anal about it. What does worry me is my response to hearing anything close to raised voices down the hall. MY compulsion to hit the mute button on the TV, my compulsion to walk down the hall and make sure the raised voices aren't a conflict erupting, my compulsion to be constantly aware of the interactions between my kids - that has me worried. I know where that's coming from. That's years upon years of dangerous outbursts, violent meltdowns, and utter chaos coming back to bite me in the rear. I don't trust that my kids can interact without Kid3 going off into a rage. It's been almost 7 years since Kid3 had a meltdown. It's been 8 years since his last hospitalization. He hasn't even had a verbal vomit episode in over 5 years. (For a few years after the meltdowns stopped, he would still go over the edge when stressed, it was just intense verbal debris...stopping just shy of getting violent...but it was always intensely stressful, wondering if/when he would cross the line.) He has done so well and for so long, I couldn't tell you the last time I even worried about his triggers. In truth, I had almost forgotten what it was like before. I had absolutely no worries about his interactions with others. I didn't feel the need to watch him like a hawk. Heck, I stopped even paying attention to how he interacts with others. I just knew we were past all of that other stuff. But here I am, back to showering in the wee hours before everyone gets up - so I can hear what's going on in the house later. I'm back to hitting the mute button any time I hear Kid3's voice elsewhere in the house. My headphones are back in my desk drawer - no more tuning out the world with a little music while I read. I'm on hyper alert again...with nothing really to warrant it, yet. Kid2 and Kid3 have had a few disagreements, well within the range of normal. She doesn't want him correcting her kids, and she's been very polite and reasonable about it...so far. He is kind of scary and intimidating at times, just because he's a big, hairy guy with one of those 'mean-looking' kind of faces. He doesn't mean to be, but he is and she doesn't want the kids to feel afraid of him. She wants him to wait until they have time to get to know Uncle M before he tries to 'enforce' any of the house rules. Unfortunately, Kid3 is very much a spectrum kid...rules are rules and they must never be broken, EVER. The world would fall off it's axis if the rules are broken. There is a part of me that is just instinctively on high alert. The last time these two lived under the same roof, my house was a war zone. I could NEVER, EVER leave Kid3 in a room unsupervised with Kid2. If I was lucky, I could leave Kid3 and Kid4 long enough to go pee. To say I lived on pins and needles at all times, at all hours, is the world's biggest understatement. I thought my days of living like that were over. I don't want to live in that mental state again. EVER. Unfortunately, that's exactly where I am right now. Part of me knows it's to be expected, given our history. Part of me wonders if I'm doing this because I know what could eventually happen. Part of me wonders if this is what PTSD feels like and I'm just being unreasonably paranoid. Part of me wonders if maybe I shouldn't be a little less on guard and just let my grown children figure these things out. Someone will surely come get me if things start getting out of hand. I just don't know how much of this is past fears raging out of control now that we're all living together again and how much of it is truly warranted. Where do I draw the line between normal and maybe I need help for ME to get over how we lived before, if that makes sense. Hopefully, over time, I'll learn to trust the peace that seems to have settled over our family these days. Hopefully, in 6 months, I'll look back at these first few weeks/months and laugh at how worried over nothing I was. Either that, or I'll have my own little room, in my own little wing, with my own little cotton I-love-me jacket, and lots of nice nurses bringing me happy pills. Cross your fingers, rattle beads, and think good thoughts that I'm just unreasonably worried and bordering on loony bin material. I'd rather be bonkers than have my fears become warranted. Geez...that sounds SO not normal - to hope you're just crazy and worrying over nothing. But luckily, I know where to find other parents who understand my particular brand of crazy.