May 10, 2013
Mother’s Day hasn’t always been fun around our home. If you read my blog you know that we are a blended family. In our blended family, the “other” mom, the biological parent of two of my sons, is severely uninvolved in their lives. She hasn’t seen them in almost fourteen months and calls about every three to four weeks. This has been the norm for the past nine years. She will go in spurts of seeing the boys once a month or so for a bit and then it’s back to several month to a year absences with no warning. She lives only twenty minutes away and works in our same small town.
This is hard on any child. Clearly. This is harder still on my boys. The eldest has special needs. He has never been capable of processing her behavior as something that does not reflect on him but rather on her. It hurts him terribly and despite the hundreds of therapy appointments we’ve driven him to and from and the constant reassuring words we provide that he is worthy and he is good, I worry he still doesn’t get it. Last week was terrible. She had called, as she tends to do this time of year, and he called her back. During the five short minutes they spoke he explained to her what his adapted sports were and why he loved them (it is his fifth season and the woman had no clue what it was about), he told her how old he was though she kept correcting him and insisting he was older than he is and he again had to defend that he was not a bad son and wasn’t asking for too much for wanting to get a schedule set to see her. My second son, J, keeps it all in. He avoids speaking to her whenever possible and when he does he simply says, in his words, “Whatever makes her not mad at me.”
And that is why I hate that woman.
Not for anything to do with me, not for anything to do with my husband or anyone else on this earth aside from how she makes my children feel. Every time she calls, she hurts them. Each weekend she doesn’t bother to show and can’t even be bothered to call or cancel, she hurts them. The dozens of instances she’s said she will be attending a game or a concert or sending a letter or arranging a visit and doesn’t follow through or show up, I am the parent that picks them up, that shows up, that makes up for and consoles them. I am the one that fixes what she breaks time and time again.
It isn’t me who does this because my husband can’t or won’t or doesn’t. He does what he can do. It is on me because I am a mother and these boys need and deserve to know what a mother should be and for most of us, is. They need this not only for their well-being but for the wives and children they will one day have. They need to know that what she does isn’t normal and is not at all acceptable. It never has been.
Nine years ago, when they came into my lives, I went upstairs to tuck all four children in for the first time. I entered my second bonus-son’s room, placed the blankets around him and began to sing a lullaby. When I was done, he had tears on his little three-year old cheeks. When I asked him why, he said he didn’t know mommy’s did that in real life. That was also the night I told my now-husband then very-serious-boyfriend that I had to know that we were going to be married soon or I couldn’t do it anymore. I was in love with more than him. I loved his children, too.
I suppose you’re wondering why this is being written about Mother’s Day when this is clearly not a post about a good mothering moment. Well, here’s the thing. She wants the boys for Mother’s Day. She wants a day to celebrate her being a mother. I realize I have to let this go and that I shouldn’t be petty and I should support their relationship with her, however flawed, because at the end of it all she is their mom and I am the step-mom. When it comes down to it, if she does plan to pick them up and spend the day I will tell them to have fun and smile, for their sake I will be positive. But for right now, here in my little blog-world, I’m going to go ahead and say what I feel which is that this isn’t fair. I am the mom that does the homework, bandages knees, cheers in the stands, makes them clean their rooms and take their medication, grounds them when they need to be grounded, knows who their friends are, what size shoes they wear, what girl they secretly like, their code words for when they want to leave a friend’s home, what they want to be when they grow up and why. I am the one the school calls and emails. I am the one who makes the Doctor and Dentist and Orthodontist appointments. I am the one who writes checks for year-books. field-trips and camps and makes lunches and cleans puke and does load after load of laundry and makes their favorite meals when their little lives stink and this just isn’t fair at all. I am sorry for whining and I do realize I am, but every Mother’s Day for eight years has been chaos because of her. If she shows up to see them it’s at strange hours and I don’t get to see my own mother or really celebrate with my biological daughter and son. On top of that, my husband is usually on edge because she’ll have made some awful comment or threat as she picks the boys up rendering him useless until they are safely home. If she doesn’t show up and sometimes even if she does, the oldest is so upset by her that he takes it out on Mother’s Day in general. He has broken every single Mother’s day gift I’ve ever received from any of my children. He doesn’t always do it on Mother’s Day, it could be anytime of year when he is upset with her, but those are the things he destroys.
I have no little vases formed of clay. No flowers of tissue paper, no cards with names barely etched out in wobbly hand-writing. Over the years he’s destroyed each one. His Doctors tell me it isn’t against me but an outburst of anger at her that he doesn’t feel safe expressing to her so he expresses it to the idea of a mom. They’ve gone on to tell me it is actually a testament to my relationship with him that he feels safe enough in my love to be able to misbehave without fearing I would love him less or reject him for it. I suppose there is truth to that, but it still isn’t fair. It doesn’t make it better. It makes me hate her more…and that is something I will never say to them.
To them I will say what I have always said: Your mom is doing the best she can, she loves you and you’ve done nothing wrong. I’m sure things will be better soon. When you see your mom, remember to keep it positive, to have fun, be respectful and enjoy your time together.
I suppose this is a post for all of the step-mothers and adoptive mothers and foster mothers and aunts and grandmothers and single dads out there who are raising children who may not be your own and loving them as though they were. This is for all of you who do the work of the women who will be celebrated Sunday and have to turn that celebration over to someone else. This is for the women who are mothers without carrying a child but who still carry the load, made heavier by their failings…this is your day, too. And even if no one else realizes it or says it out loud: I get it. I know how hard it is. You are a mom. You do matter. You deserve Mother’s Day, too. Cheers.
May 1, 2013
On April 15th, the company I have poured myself into for the past three years was sold. The career I had loved and the company I helped create is still in existence, but it is no longer a part of my life. And that, dear reader, sucks.
I’m not going to go into how this happened or what the details were/are but suffice to say I was blindsided and am still reeling. If you had asked me where I’d be in five, ten or even fifteen years just thirty days ago I would have answered with total confidence that I’d be working for company X. I knew it. I had no doubts. I suppose this is how it happens, it is never easy. If anyone should know that by now it should be me, but still, I didn’t see it coming. Not like this. In the past two weeks I’ve tried to conduct myself professionally, to ensure that the work I did will continue with or without me. I’m odd like that. Even if I’m no longer a part of it and even if it is if no real benefit to me, I still want to see it succeed. In this process I have also lost eight pounds and have been living on two to three hours of sleep a night. It happens.
That being said, I’m not one to wallow in what-ifs or if-only’s…I’m much more of a what’s next kind of woman. It’s not like I’ve never been through this before. Nine years ago my then-career was pulled out from under me and nine years ago I did what I do, which was to figure it the eff out and move forward. Intellectually, I am aware that I need to repeat this process. Emotionally, as I review my resume and see in black and white the accomplishments and challenges I’ve achieved and overcome in the past fifteen years, I have an over-whelming need to change things up.
In the twenty-two years I have been working, I’ve never given any thought as to what I want. I mean, I haven’t just taken any job, I’ve considered if it is the right fit and I’ve really enjoyed and succeeded at the majority of what I’ve done, but it has always come down to doing what I’ve had to do. To support my family, to provide for life’s necessities like mortgage, gas, food and my children’s care. I’ve done whatever it takes to make my life and more importantly their lives good…and every time I’ve also found myself deeply involved and personally invested in the company for which I have worked. Maybe this time it’s time I’m invested more in myself. In what I want to do as opposed to what I need to do. Maybe, just maybe there is a chance that I can have both.
I’m not exactly sure where this will lead. I don’t have forever to figure it out, the mortgage, gas and food aren’t free and are still looming. I still have to move forward and move fast. But here’s what I do know: No matter how quickly decisions must be made I will make them differently. I’m all done tying my future to someone else’s success. This time, it’s on my terms.
April 16, 2013
When your child is kicked out of pre-school after managing to download Robin Williams on YouTube and then reciting a routine verbatim on the playground, it’s time for drastic measures. Catholic School. My youngest son was enrolled at Faithful Shepherd for Kindergarten as it was determined by his pre-school teachers, his parents (me included) and anyone who had ever met him that this child needed discipline and structure. We were (all) horribly wrong. By the end of the third quarter I was kindly asked to not re-enroll him for first grade. Now, let’s be clear. He never hurt anyone. He never bit, hit, kicked, teased or bullied. He did not swear (at least not in English) He did, however, question everything and for lack of a better way of putting it…acted like himself. A little boy who will not conform. He has continued this through fourth grade and, to my delight, has not been asked to leave school since. Though it’s been close.
You may ask what on earth a five-year old could have done to be banished? As it turns out, many things.
In Kindergarten, at a Catholic School, religion class begins with the book of Genesis. As his teacher was reading and explaining all about Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, my son, Adam, raised his hand. Mrs. M. : “Yes, Adam?” Adam: “Ummm, so you’re telling me that God did all of this in six days, right?” “Yes, Adam. He did.” Adam: “So, what are fossils? Conspiracy theories?”
In Spanish class, they were learning their colors. My son, semi-fluent, was bored. Bored five-year-olds are dangerous and occasionally annoying things. He was annoying everyone. Mrs. O: “Adam, really. Sit still. You don’t have to do colors. You can say anything you’d like, as long as it’s En Española.” Adam: “Anything?” Mrs. O : “Anything” Now, right here I’d have to put the blame squarely on the teacher. If you know my son at all…even a little…you know that wasn’t a normal conversation. That was a dare being issued and then accepted. Adam: “Punta.” I suppose it didn’t help that when I got the call from Mrs. O, my first reaction was “Oh, fuck. He didn’t.”
The Christmas Pageant at his school was darling. At least it was supposed to be. They (the teachers) were bright enough not to give him a speaking part, micing Adam in mixed (and pious) company is not a bright move, but they were dumb enough to place him front row center in the angel chorus. There he was, along with all fifty kindergartener students, in his little suit with a halo of gold foil sticking up over his head. As is always the case at these functions, they took a minute or two pre-show to allow parents to snap pictures. As we were snapping away, in total silence, Adam spoke. Rather, Adam shouted “Hey! Mom!” I waved “Mom, look!” as he pointed to his halo “Irony, right?” The entire parent section burst out laughing as I slid down in my chair. He wasn’t done. I knew he wasn’t done. As the pageant progressed and the little six-year-old Mary and Joseph attempted to get through the show, my not-so-angelic son heckled them on. The inn-keeper refused to give them a room. Adam: “Aaaand you’re going to Hell” Joseph forgot his lines when the Angel Gabriel came to visit and asked if he’d still accept Mary, pregnant and all…Little Joseph “Ummm…I forgot” Adam: “Yeah, you do, or Jesus would have been a bastard.” Little Mary, throughout the last scene, had a hard time holding onto Baby Jesus, his plastic doll self kept falling. Adam : “Mary! C’mon, you’re killing the son of God” And my favorite, when the three kings brought their gifts, “Cheap for a King. They should have brought diamonds or at least got these guys a room at the inn.” *sigh* I could do nothing but sit there and wait for it to (finally) be over.
There was also the time he managed to get the entire school evacuated by convincing the other fifty kindergartener children to dump milk down the boiler. And during the Spring concert, when he “conducted” the whole way through and inserted his own lyrics. The time he went off about Catholics being vampires, drinking blood…the time he peed outside at recess, and when put on time-out, called the teacher a hypocrite because the school was teaching them about water conservation and he was “conserving water by not flushing.” So many examples and far too many phone calls home.
Oddly enough, as soon as we put him into public school, he was better. He still gets in all sorts of trouble, but not to anywhere near the same level. This is a child who can not and will not be contained by any boundaries of thought. Church was always a challenge for him. He’s spoken up at several masses and made all sorts of off-color comments. Once in front of forty priests that were gathered for my daughter’s first reconciliation. To their credit, several laughed when he asked if the guys that stabbed Jesus after he was on the cross could ask forgiveness and be absolved, or if they were pretty much screwed. And though he makes me mental and though parenting him is a daily challenge, I love that about him. I love that he questions and forms his own opinion. I love his acerbic wit and the way he can see the humor in just about anything. I love that his brain works a little bit differently than most people’s and today, as I’ve just gotten a call about a science experiment gone wrong, I need to remind myself of how wonderful his outlook can be.
April 10, 2013
I recently ran across a post written by a server at a diner. She was writing about a conversation she’d had with a customer at her restaurant. She walked up to a mother and her son, age approximately eight, and asked what they’d like. Boy “I will devour the unborn!” Silence…silence as this was delivered in the voice only an eight year old male has the ability to produce, high, clear and authoritative. The entire place went silent. The mother, looking up at her server with utter humiliation quietly stated “Eggs. He wants eggs.”
Oh, honey, I’ve been there.
My children have all embarrassed the hell out of me to varying degrees. It’s as though it is part of the job description of a child “make your parents want to crawl under a rock. Preferably at top volume.” The honest child is the reason for the alcoholic mother. I’m sure of it. And today, thinking of that mother’s horror, I thought I’d share some of my little beast’s greatest hits.
Girl Child, at age six, had golden ringlets that reached to her waist. She had (has) the biggest blue eyes known to man. On this day as we walked into a Kentucky Fried Chicken to pick up dinner (my husband’s favorite, don’t judge) she was wearing a pink princess dress, tutu and all…the picture of innocence. Until she opened her mouth. In front of us in line was a very, very large woman. As in Jillian Michaels may not even be able to help large. Said woman ordered a great deal of food. My angel, in her angel voice at top volume (it always is when these things happen) said “Mom? Mom, I thought fat people weren’t supposed to eat fried food! Why is that fat lady eating fried chicken if she’s so fat?” Oh. My. God. I wanted to sink into the f-ing floor. I couldn’t run, Atilla the Chicken Eater had already turned around and was glaring at me…so I did my best to stammer an apology, turned to devil-wears-tutus and said “Honey, it’s not your place or anyone’s to tell someone what to eat. And baby, you know better than to make comments about people’s looks. It isn’t polite.” I then looked at my watch, exclaimed “Oh! We’re late!” walked out, drove to another KFC, got dinner and went home…because honest to God I couldn’t stand there another second.
This same little angel, not a month later, was at the grocery store with me. A very large (as in body-builder large) man was in the female sanitary aisle. Now, to me this means this guy is boyfriend of the year. My daughter rewarded his stellar behavior with the following: As I grabbed my tampax, my dearest girl called out to him “Hi!”…she was darling, and he smiled back. The she said, all in short order with no pause and in a very serious tone “why are you looking at tampons? Tampons are only for ladies. My Mommy says so. Are you a lady? You have man clothes, but you do have big lady boobies. Are you just a big lady? Some men want to be ladies. I saw it on the TV at my Nana’s house. Do you want to be a lady? Is that why you buy tampons?” OH SH!T. I stammered (something I’ve gotten good at doing) “Baby, it’s, ummm, it’s not polite to ask people about what they’re buying.” Mouthed an “I’m so, so sorry” to He-Man and bolted for the register.
Fast forward a year. You’d think I would be smart enough to never, ever go anywhere in public with children, but sometimes life necessitates it. My youngest was five. We took him to a Vikings Football game. My husband brought him to the restroom, at the Metrodome this is pretty much a large metal trough, and returned fifteen minutes later practically in tears. As my husband told me through clenched teeth on our way home, the boy approached the trough, dad informed him that he shouldn’t drop his jeans all the way to his ankles as the floor was dirty. Baby OCD looked around the restroom and demanded to know “Who peed on the floor?! Which of you peed on the floor?! Are you animals?!” I share this part as it’s how he got the entire restroom’s attention before dad quieted him down, got him to ready, aim fire and all was well…until a man took position next to him. Apparently, this guy was Ron Jeremy’s long-lost brother. The five-year old was impressed. “Wow! That’s a HUGE penis! Dad! You have got to see this penis! I thought yours was the biggest ever but this is HUGE! It’s so much bigger than yours! Dad, look!” Now, my poor husband couldn’t just run away, his five-year old was in there, mid-stream. He couldn’t do anything but stand there and whisper “I’m not looking at his penis. Damn it, hurry up. Hurry. Up. Now.” Our dear son would not be swayed, he persisted “But, Dad! It’s the biggest penis ever! Hurry before he’s done!” He couldn’t grab the boy and bail, the boy’s pants were down. He had to endure the other twenty guys laughing themselves sick, wait for baby boy to finish, wash hands and walk away bringing him to me, who was then told the story of the huge penis by our dear son, at top volume…to the delight of everyone in our section. I married a saint. This is proven by the fact that our youngest has been allowed to celebrate five more birthdays.
There are dozens of other examples of my children’s mission to murder us…death by humiliation…but three should do for one post. Remember, the next time you see/hear a terrible child, remember there is a parent wishing they could run and hide…and have some sympathy.
April 9, 2013
Snow. I hate that word right now. Like…hate. I detest, loathe and despise that s-word. Today marks the seventh month of winter in Minnesota. Mother Nature is giving us the middle finger, people I love are going through Hell, my life is chaos and I’m foul…but instead of dwelling on all the crap, I thought that at least for today, I’d try to look on the bright side…find the good. I need the good right now and when I write things down, they tend to be more “true” or at least seem this way. It’s worth a shot.
We are going to get several inches of snow. Bright side: it’s raining before the snow, and we need rain. I’m getting more wear out of my winter clothing. Even brighter side, I started my summer-prep workouts four weeks late this year. My arms aren’t tank-ready and as it appears I’ll have until June before the weather requires a tank top, much less a t-shirt, I’m actually right on track. Oh, and no sun-burns…not yet. I can and do burn in 60 degree April within about twenty minutes. I wear sunscreen everyday and it never matters…I’m still going to fry. This is also a less sun damage and wrinkles kind of bright side and when you’re on the wrong end of 35, that’s a really big deal.
I never see my husband because he works insane hours and I have to handle 99% of what goes on at home. Bright side: We don’t fight much because when we do see each other, those petty things don’t seem to matter. His working this way also means that he feels fulfilled and I’m thankful he finally has a career he can be proud of on all levels. I also get to take care of things around here my own way, which I actually prefer, no matter how much it annoys me day-to-day. Bonus bright side: Bonuses.
I have no social life because I am always driving my children around to sports, friends, sports, school, dates and sports. Bright side: I have four healthy and active children. I’m on the tail-end of this mom-chauffeur thing and I know that I’ll miss it all…someday. Everyone says so. Then again, they all also said that childbirth was “a good kind of pain” and that once I got through the two and three-year old phase it would get easier…so we’ll see.
Speaking of children, they have, all four in their own way, been a challenge these past few months. Bright side: So far, challenges met. Note to God, Karma, the World: This is not a challenge/dare to make it harder. Brighter still, I’m pretty sure that based on how we’ve addressed these issues, we’ll be in a better place with each of them in short order.
This past year I’ve been re-examining my relationships with people. I’ve lost a few along the way. Bright side: I offered forgiveness and asked for it from the people and situations I needed. Some worked out, others didn’t, and in the end at least I know I’ve done what I can do. No more loose ends and way less drama. Good things.
I’m sure that within a few weeks I’ll be back to complaining. I know that so many have such larger problems…so many near and dear to me are dealing with things far, far worse. I hate that I can’t fix it for them and that right now I don’t even know how to make it easier. I get that I don’t really have the right to complain. That said, I know I will. In a month or two I’ll be dying of heat, sun-burned, annoyed that all I do is drive around and work and someone will have royally ticked me off and I’ll fall back into my whining ways…but for today, it’s all about the positive. And that’s all any of us can really expect, right? One day and one moment at a time, to enjoy what we can and we what we have…even if today that is the forecast for a foot of snow in April.
April 4, 2013
What do Henry XIII, Jerry Falwell, and the Nazis have in common? Well, I think I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
Criminalizing sodomy began with a proclamation from King Henry VIII. At the time, sodomy was defined as any non-procreative sexual activity.
Really? King Henry VIII? The greatest womanizer of all monarchs, a man who clearly had lots and lots of non-procreative activities, a man who actually changed an entire religion and murdered hundreds (thousands?) in order to be able to marry his mistress, a man who killed off wives who didn’t give him sons…this is the morality police who started all of this legal BS? OK…
Germany criminalized homosexuality with Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code. In 1929 a committee in the Reichstag had voted to repeal Paragraph 175, but the Nazi rise to power prevented any action from being taken and the law would remain on the books until 1968 in East Germany and 1969 in West Germany.
Wow…we’re taking legal advice and moral direction from the 1920s and 1930s Germans. Brilliant.
Allied troops liberating inmates of Nazi concentration camps do not release those imprisoned for homosexuality. Instead, they are forced to serve out the full term of their sentences under Paragraph 175 of the Germany legal code criminalizing homosexuality.
For shame. That’s right all you “sanctity of marriage” peeps, you side with…wait for it…NAZI’S!
According to the Vatican, anyone who is “affected by the perverse inclination” towards homosexuality is not eligible to take religious vows or be ordained within the Roman Catholic Church.
Well, here’s the problem: Lots of Priests are gay. Lots. Some of the great ones are gay; one in particular that kind of saved my life when I was only 22. Further, many preaching against same-sex marriage are also preaching against the Pope and Catholic Church. So, which side are you on, kids?
June 12, 1967
Decided: Loving v. Virginia A Virginia law against interracial marriages was struck down, with the Supreme Court declaring that marriage is a “fundamental civil right” and that decisions in this arena are not those with which the State can interfere unless they have good cause.
This didn’t decide it? Sure looks like it did…
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands rules that lesbians and gays could serve as pastors, becoming the first European Christian denomination to do so. Many other protestant churches would issue similar rulings in the following decades.
The European Evangelicals are starting to come around….
The American Psychiatric Association votes 13-0 to remove homosexuality from its DSM-II (the official list of psychiatric disorders). The APA also passed a resolution urging an end to all private and public discrimination against gays. Conservatives would accuse the APA of giving in to “political correctness” for this decision, arguing that homosexuality should continue to be treated as a disorder.
….or maybe they realized that the weight of empirical data was overwhelming and they were idiots for having this in the books. Just sayin’…kind of like they also removed Learning Disabilities and Downs Syndrome as a “psychiatric disorder” a few decades before.
July 4, 1983
Rev. Jerry Falwell described AIDS as a “gay plague” and decries homosexuality as immoral and against God’s law.
There’s a guy you want to agree with. Jerry Falwell, a segregationist who spoke out against Dr. King, supported the apartheid in South Africa (he actually sent money to help them during the sanctions against apartheid) and blamed 9/11 on “feminists”…yup, he sure knows what he’s talking about. HenryXIII, Nazi’s and Falwell…good company!
June 30, 1986
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick that homosexual activity between consenting adults in the privacy of the home was not protected by the Constitution.
DOMA signed into law.
Again, for shame.
The Netherlands legalizes same-sex marriage
April 19, 2000
Vermont approves same-sex unions, thus entitling gay couples to rights and benefits normally available to married couples.
August 01, 2001
Angelika and Gudrun Pannier become Germany’s first gay couple to legally wed in a civil marriage ceremony.
So, Germany figured this out before us. Not cool, Americans, not cool.
A letter published by the Vatican’s Congregation for Worship asserts: “The ordination to the priesthood of homosexual men, or men with homosexual tendencies, is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent, and from a pastoral point of view, very risky”
But keeping child molesters in the church is OK…as long as they make confession and repent. This wasn’t really addressed until 2010. Way to prioritize.
Belgium legalizes same-sex marriage
U.S. Supreme Court rules it is unconstitutional to criminalize sodomy.
November 18, 2003
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 that government attorneys “failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason” to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. The court gave the Massachusetts Legislature six months to rewrite the state’s marriage laws in order to fix this. This ruling was hailed by many liberals but denounced by conservatives, especially religious conservatives, who began to work for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as being between “one man and one woman.”
Many of whom are now changing their view and publicly supporting full and equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.
February 04, 2004
The Massachusetts high court stated that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples, not civil unions, would be constitutional. “The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal,” an advisory opinion from the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage stated. A bill creating only civil unions, not full marriage rights, would be “unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”
It’s about damn time…and 8 more states fell in line.
Spain, an over-whelming Catholic nation, legalizes same-sex marriage.
July 20th, 2005
Canada legalizes same-sex marriage
South Africa legalizes same-sex marriage
Really, America? We’re behind South Africa on human rights?
Norway and Sweden legalize same-sex marriage
Portugal and Iceland and Argentina, another very split Catholic and Evangelical nation, legalize same-sex marriage
Wow. We’re also behind Argentina on this…wake up, America!
Denmark legalizes same-sex marriage
February 12, 2013
France legalizes same-sex marriage
Great Britain House of Commons legalizes same-sex marriage
President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, speaks out against it and calls for its repeal. For the first time, a sitting President states his support for same-sex marriage. Several Republican Senators and Congress Members speak out against DOMA and state that they support marriage equality. Iowa, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and three Native American Tribes legalize same-sex marriage. California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Wisconsin have created legal unions for same-sex couples. In 2012 Minnesota voted against Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Just as it did on the matters of women’s right and civil rights, the United States is moving to equality.
DOMA and Proposition 8 are argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.
April 1, 2013
You ask how old they are, because that is what people do. I say 16, 13, 12 and 10.
“Oh cool! You have a driver!”
And now I say that no, I don’t. He has special needs and he doesn’t drive. You are silent, or quickly tell me about someone else’s child who is now “fine.” Which isn’t the same thing. At all.
Or I lie and avoid it.
I have learned to lie.
You ask what’s “Wrong” with him
And I tell you he has Aspergers Syndrome (because it’s the one people have heard of) and you say “Oh! I know about that! So he has social issues but he’s really smart.”
It’s not that simple.
He also has severe learning disabilities, ADHD, anxiety disorders, developmental delays and sometimes, he hears voices. But that’s too much and too personal for casual conversation so I say “sort of”
When you meet my family and say “So, a big sister and three little brothers” I quietly correct you that he is the eldest. And you say “Oh, I just assumed…”
I say “it’s OK. Honest mistake.”
It isn’t OK, he’s going to cry himself asleep tonight or destroy something of hers. Maybe both. Because he doesn’t know how to take it and even though it isn’t her fault, he’s going to blame her for being “normal”
Or take it out on his brother, who has lost trophies and awards and friends. Because he is afflicted by normalcy, too.
You try to do the “right” thing and tell me how lucky we are to have such a special and great kid and how our other children are being taught so much by him being a part of our family.
When most of it is right and mostly I agree, that we are lucky, his parents, I lie that they are lucky. They aren’t. They’re lucky to have him and they love him and wouldn’t ever want to be without him, but they aren’t lucky that we are always fighting the next battle which means spending more money and losing more time. This means they aren’t getting to go skiing or be in hockey over the summer, or have friends over when he’s having a hard time, or go on the vacation we wish we could take or attend a camp, the money and the time goes to get and give him the help he needs. Something that sounds and when written seems trivial but to kids this is a big deal. It isn’t even kind of fair to them. It isn’t lucky for them when we’re so stressed we barely speak for days on end because we don’t know how to get to a place where there can be calm and peace in our home when chaos lives here each day with no warning as to when it will come roaring back…in some new awful way. Lucky would be to have him and also have a break. Or at least a warning when the “other guy” is on his way. No such luck.
When you say that you don’t know how I “do it all”
And I tell you “It’s nothing”
I don’t “do it all” I do what I can and what I can control, mainly because there is so damn much I have no control over.
When you say “Well, maybe you just need to….”
And I smile and agree or act like I’m paying attention
You saw one weekend or one day or one hour of “good” and you have no idea what the other side is like. He is Jekyll and Hyde and you’ve met but one. So no, your advice doesn’t really mean anything to me.
When you say “but he seems normal enough, it can’t be that bad.”
I spare us both, and I lie.
And yes, there are things that would and could be so very much worse and I remain blessed to have him and all of them each day…but there are times
Times when knowing I and we are blessed and that I should treasure each moment and endeavor to teach them all about unconditional love and acceptance, times when knowing it and feeling it don’t always agree…times when he and sometimes they ask me why this is the way it is and when he will be “better” and what more I can do to help him, when I don’t know that there is more to do that I am capable of…and still have the strength hold the rest together.
Months and days and hours of hurt and pain that a parent who can’t make it all go away feels and still has to explain…
When all I can do is lie.
March 23, 2013
I’ve gotten a few messages this week asking why I feel the need to write about controversial issues. The simple answer is because I have to, that’s why.
Allow me to explain. If I had lived 160 years ago, I’d have written and spoken to whomever I could about the need to abolish slavery. If it had been 100 years ago I would have likely been called a suffragist. Put me in Germany in the late twenties and early thirties and I would have decried the prejudice and hate that permeated a country and almost took down a continent…the same hate that murdered millions. In the sixties in America I’d have written to my local paper and pleaded the injustice of segregation and racial prejudice. At least I’d like to think I would. I have to believe I could. I cannot for a moment allow myself to believe that in any of these circumstances I could have sat idly by, waiting for the world to work itself out. The only way for me to know that I would have made those decisions, controversial in their time and right through my eyes and those of history, is to do what is right today, to stand up to the prejudice, hatred, fear and the violation of the rights of other people.
I do know that in the grand scheme of things my little blog and my comments to papers and friends are rather inconsequential.
But…and this is why I persist…a great man said that one man (or woman) can change the world. While I am certainly not in the world-changer league, a few thousand or hundred thousand men and women like me reaching a few hundred more, day after day…that is not inconsequential. I am a very small part of a very large group. I can do is this, and so I have to do this. I do it for every family that is devalued under our current laws. I do it for every woman who has lived in fear. I do it for each person who struggles and every heart that has broken because of another’s beliefs. I do it because I’m human, I do it for myself, because this blog is about my thoughts, my struggles, my questions and my way. And in answering this I have a question, why don’t you?
March 22, 2013
I know not everyone who reads my blog agrees with me on this issue. OK. But for those that do and for those that aren’t totally sure about the entirety of the issues at hand, this is an amazing video to watch, listen…really actually listen to…and share.
This young man had heard that many opposing same-sex marriage often state the “sanctity” of a biological mother and father in the home is the ideal family. Now, I have my own very personal reasons for calling BS on this. Namely the fact that my ex-husband, my daughter’s biological father, tried to kill me (as in with his hands, not by being a run-of-the-mill jerk) and has had no interest in my daughter for eleven of her thirteen years of life. Her dad, my husband, has been her dad since she was five and is absolutely better for her and with her than her biological father. There is also the case of my step-sons, whose biological mother…well…I’d better not. Suffice to say she is not much better.
Anyway, I digress. Some of these “pro-family” types have been running around stating that adoption is a “second-rate” family. Biological is always best. This ticked off the amazing young man in this video. You see, he is adopted. By his dads, who love him unconditionally and are doing their best to raise a good man. You know…like parents do. He took it upon himself to pen a letter to Justice Roberts and his parents, impressed, posted this video to their blog. Which is also pretty awesome.
Watch it. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that regardless of your personal beliefs on the issue, there isn’t one damn thing about this young man that is “Second” rate.
March 19, 2013
A new Pope was installed today. As a woman who was raised as Catholic, this should be an important day for me. It should be a day to embrace my faith and feel more connected to my church and to God. I know this intellectually but emotionally and spiritually, I feel only confusion…detachment and sorrow. I want to believe and I do believe in God and in the basics but in the church itself…in and for that I feel only loss.
This Pope embraces care of the poorest among us, he is a scientist and a Jesuit. He believes in furthering education and humility. These are all wonderful things. He spoke of and has acted on purging the church of the sins of its leaders. That is a good thing too, and high time. Today he spoke of love. Love for those who most need it and love for those who least deserve it. That is exactly what I have waited for the church to speak of and to act upon. I ought to be eleated…but I am not. I am not because though he spoke of love he remains firmly rooted in the archaic notions of women’s role being minimal at best and in women having no place in the church’s leadership. He is traditional (in the sense of the church) in his stance on reproductive rights and even birth control. Perhaps hardest for me is that he, together with the church’s leadership, remain resolute in their opinions and teachings on homosexuality.
I can’t agree. I can understand that these are the church’s teachings, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why. I’m not talking about other religions who may agree with the Catholic Church on some of these social justice lines, frankly, that isn’t what I’m concerned with. I am selfishly concerned with my religion and the church I was raised in and more specifically with how on earth I can justify raising my own children as Catholics today.
I’ve asked. I’ve spoken to priests and to very devout friends. They’ve all given me the exact same BS lines and quoted the exact same scripture at me what seems like thousands of times. No matter how often I hear it, I know it is not true. I know it isn’t true. The scripture they quote can easily be refuted with another verse in another chapter. Besides, I do not and have not ever taken the Bible literally. How can I? How could anyone with an analytical and developed mind? Knowing the Bible has been written and rewritten for political purposes over a millennium with entire sections removed and added for various reasons…knowing that the original disciples, the original priests and leaders of the church were allowed to marry and that women did have a larger role in the church for centuries until someone decided they didn’t…how could I? And this is just the New Testament. The Old Testament is clearly up for interpretation. Please, please don’t comment on this part with any “Adam and Eve” stuff here. I mean, really. If Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, how did Cain and Abel procreate without committing incest? If you truly belive that “traditional” marriage is between one man and one woman because “the Bible says so” then please explain why half of the Old Testament had numerous wives. If we’re going straight “traditional” as our guide, then Cody and the Sister Wives are our model and…well…please let’s not agree on that, OK? And why and how on earth is it that the exact same scripture used to justify this hatred was used to justify laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages? Look it up. Exact. Same. Scripture. Frankly, I’m offended. I believe that God is offended. The Bible and God’s teachings are those of love. To use bits and pieces to promote hate is antithetical to Christianity and it makes me sick. Further, if abortion and birth control are so wrong, why did the church assist with birth control (granted it was rather crude in form, but still happened) for women for centuries right up until the nineteenth when it became a social issue? C’mon people…get some new material.
I want to raise my children with religion. I want them to have the peace and knowledge that I do, that there is a God and there was a Son. That their conscience is more than a conscience and that the traditions of communion and confession are important and true. That said, I will raise good people. I will raise children that believe in forgiveness over judgement. People that understand tolerance and justice on a far deeper level than they know bigotry and hate. I want to provide the world with four individuals who know how to question and think for themselves while rooted in firm and unshakeable values…and knowing what I know and hearing what I have heard from this place I used to find such comfort, I no longer know how to provide that for them.
And I need to.
They miss the ceremony and the tradition. Sometimes I do, too. We walked out of a mass several months ago when a deacon took to the pulpit and eschewed hatred and judgement for many that I love and millions who should find comfort rather than persecution in the arms of God. I took one look at my four babies and knew in that instant I could not allow them to hear such things. That even though I had always explained our family’s feelings on the issues after a mass, that by having them exposed in any form to such outrageous statements while telling them to “believe” was inexcusable as a parent. So we walked. It’s been bothering me ever since and today, of all days, I miss my church. In writing this I can understand that I miss the idea of my church…of what I thought it to be for so many years. I miss the comfort I found as I kneeled and prayed, enveloped by a sense of tradition and the teachings of Christ that I had chosen to acknowledge…of redemption and of love and of charity and peace. New beginnings and eternal life. I know that I will never go back, not the way I once was. I don’t know what I am anymore, clearly not Catholic. Not really. To continue to identify as one seems unfair to those that actually are and a departure from what I know in my heart to be right. I know that for my children I will have to find something different. A compromise of what I know to be true and what I believe they need in their lives. I will likely always cross myself and carry my rosary. I will never waver from fish on Fridays. As a family, we will still pray before dinner and still say the Hail Mary at the graves of those we love and lost. I will find something new, someday. In the meantime, for the church of my childhood and my grandparents, I will pray. I will go again to the Basilica of Saint Mary and I will kneel before Our Mother and light a candle the way I have hundreds if not thousands of times before. I will quietly ask that she bless me on this journey, secure in the knowledge I gained at the feet of Father Milano, that no matter what I am taught or told in my life and regardless of by whom, if I take the Spirit as my guide and listen in reflection to the truth of my conscience, I will be on the right path.
And for today, at this moment of what may be great change but still not great enough, my path is away.