It’s only Saturday but I can already say it has been a good weekend. We had Steve’s parents over for dinner tonight, which we have never done. Oh, they have been here for birthday parties and such, but never just for dinner with us-it was really nice. His mom and I were in the kitchen washing the dishes after dinner, talking away, and I was struck by how much things have changed in the years since I first met her. I can say with certainty that a lot of the changes have come about since Steve and I got married; because of their religious beliefs, it almost didn’t count until we actually had the ceremony, and while I can still get all butt hurt about the lack of support I got prior to the wedding, it was what it was.

However, it is much more than that. So much of it has to do with the fact that I have changed in the past years. We all know I have problems-MAJOR problems-getting close to people or allowing them to get close to me, and the simple fact that I have been making a conscious effort with her has probably made the most difference. I think back to different times in the past where I felt like they were not being very helpful or supportive, and at times that burden is theirs to carry. Other times, though, I realize that help would have been there had I simply asked. Wow. Novel idea, and one this recovering alcoholic should know by now! I think we are finally getting to the point where we are friends. She had a small emergency of a personal nature a couple of weeks ago, and felt like she could call me for help; it might seem silly, but it meant the world to me. Tonight, I was able to be honest with her about something personal I have been struggling with, and she totally GOT it. This is huge, and something to be grateful for.

It wasn’t just their visit for dinner that was good, though. Last night I got to talk to someone I haven’t spoken to for any length of time in months. I was thinking about her and instead of just thinking about her, I called her; such a small thing, but not. It was so great to touch bases with someone I love, and know that even though months have gone by, we are still friends. No bullshit, no drama, just like we spoke yesterday.

We worked like mad around the house today, not because we were having company but because it was time. Steve had today AND has tomorrow off, so we did all these projects that we have been putting off. Including the first lawn mowing of the season, and finally getting the downstairs bathroom shower working again. This is heaven-I have gotten used to not sharing a bathroom with the boys, so to have the adult bathroom back again is going to be great. It felt like we got a lot accomplished, and I love that feeling.

And now I am up working, with everyone else all nestled into bed. I prefer getting up early, but it was so nice to sleep in with Steve this morning! We have more projects tomorrow-tilling the garden spot and getting my raspberries planted, and whatever else might come up. It’s a good day, and I feel happy.

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There really isn’t anything I can say about the explosions at the Boston Marathon that hasn’t already been said, and better, by thousands of other people. I am not ashamed to admit that we haven’t even been following the news coverage beyond the initial reports; it is too horrible and graphic a subject for me to comfortable allow my children to see, or at least Owen and Josie. Sam is on Facebook-he already saw the carnage wrought. Me, well. I saw a couple of pictures, read a couple of stories, and that was that. Not because I don’t care-the opposite is true. It just gets to be too much.

The last little while has been full of heartbreak. A young man in our small little town hung himself in his garage last week, a seventeen year old who had just…had enough. I did not know him personally, although I know his dad. A couple of years ago his mom died after a non-complicated knee surgery; she worked at the elementary school as long as my kids have gone to school here. The boy’s father was the principal of the alternative high school and was instrumental in getting Hannah into school and graduated after she got pregnant and had Aubry. There is also another son who is Hannah’s age, and really, all I can think is that in the span of less than three years, their family has been diminished by half. Sam says he was a really good kid, a nice kid. A good, nice kid who was picked on and bullied every.single.day. I sometimes kind of roll my eyes mentally about all of the anti-bullying stuff on the news and whatnot, but then I think of my own high school years, of my children, of this young man, and I think that whether we roll our eyes on occasion or not, this kind of stuff has to stop.

The thing about it is this: kids don’t care. The only people who really care are the adults, and there is so little we can do. I say this because the day after this boy died, Sam was being picked on horribly by someone for wanting to try out for the cheer-leading team. I believe the words faggot and pussy both were thrown around, and it just infuriates me. Of course because he is my son, but on a much larger scale. Hmm, let’s see, let’s go to this assembly where the topic is suicide and bullying, and let’s listen to the counselors talk about how important it is to respect other people simply because they are people….and then let’s see if we can tear someone ELSE down.

I cannot say, and surely no one can, whether or not bullying was the CAUSE of the suicide. He had a lot of horrible things happen in a relatively short period of time, but being bullied surely did not help.

And now this in Boston, and the headlines in our local paper about three different people who were just convicted of horrible sex crimes against children, and the newborn baby that was found floating in a pond wherever that was, and the little boy I saw slapped by his mother…all of these things large and small just serve to break my heart today.

 

astonishment

Sam and I were confirmed in the Episcopal Church yesterday morning. It was quite the occasion-it coincided with the Bishop of Idaho’s annual visit, so we were able to be confirmed by him directly. It would have been just valid had the priest done the confirmation, but it added something extra special to it to have Bishop Brian do it. Sam is an Acolyte as well, so he had the extra privilege of helping the Bishop with Communion-pretty amazing for a 13-year-old boy.

It has been a journey for both of use, getting to this place where we both wanted to make a commitment to this church, or any church. Our past experiences have made us a little hesitant to ascribe to any particular religion. Also, for Sam, the desire to please Steve and make him proud has created an additional struggle for him; Steve is Mormon, and I think Sam has worried that Steve would be happier if Sam chose to embrace the LDS religion. Maybe that is true, inasmuch as we all want our children to believe in the same things we do, but still-I think Sam was worried needlessly.

Not that it matters in the long run. I am so grateful that each one of my children gets to have their own experience with religion. We talk about God, and each of them has experienced different religions, and each, in time, has come to their own decisions. I have a non-believer, a believer who doesn’t at this time identify with ANY religion, and an Episcopalian. My husband is a Mormon who believes very strongly in his own church, but is willing to acknowledge that it is not right for everyone. What an amazing, wonderful mix we have!

For me, though, this is intensely personal, this decision. I have been attending this church and doing some studying on my own and what it all boils down to for me is love. We are commanded to love one another, period. Regardless of race, religion, economic status, sexuality, ANYTHING, we are supposed to love. Although it is a struggle sometimes, because I like to judge my neighbor just as much as the next person, I know that I am supposed to love people in the way that Christ loves me-that is, wholly and completely, simply because they ARE.

You have to love a Bishop who quotes Mary Oliver. After our brunch yesterday (where he had all of the children-coincidentally, most of them are mine or have some connection to me, which I think is a big part of why we have been so embraced and loved here-fresh blood, you know?-climbing all over him and shrieking during the meal and he would just smile indulgently), he gave a little speech and then said that all of Christianity can be summed up in these words by Mary Oliver: Pay attention.Be astonished.Tell about it.

So I will tell you this. I am astonished every day, by the beauty that shines through no matter how horrible things can feel. I know that when I pay attention to everything that is around me, I am astonished by how often grace is bestowed me, how merciful my God is. And I am trying to learn how to tell about it, without fear. this is my life, and I AM astonished.

The months have flown past and my baby isn’t a baby anymore, suddenly turning into a full-fledged toddler. She did not walk forever, content to scoot around on her butt and then, finally, crawl, until last month-when she walked, finally. She whirls around like a drunken dervish, still not steady on those pins, but a bona fide toddler indeed. It makes me crazy with joy and sadness to watch how much she grows and changes every day. I should have been writing every day, if only to chronicle the changes; after having four other children, I know I won’t remember. I won’t remember the silly little things she does like climb upstairs and pop into the bathroom saying, “Hi!” as if she hasn’t seen me for weeks and weeks. I won’t remember the nights where she still cries for me to come nurse her, regressing to infancy in her half sleep. Some of the memory loss is good; I won’t remember how she drives me to distraction by screaming at the top of her lungs simply because she can, nor will I remember how hard she still is sometimes to be with all of the time. The nights where we both cry from exhaustion will be forgotten, and all I will remember is the sweetness.

Funny how everything changes in the blink of an eye, or at least that is how it seems. A month ago Owen cried because we kind of MADE him try to ride his bike without the training wheels, and yesterday he and Sam took a long bike ride together like they had been doing it for years. Three seconds ago Sam was peeping his head up the laundry chute hollering,”Let me love you!” and now he disappears into his room and closes the door.

It’s a strange time here, with one of my adult children struggling mightily and the other one just beginning to thrive, and yet I have these small little creatures who still depend on me for so much. I feel crazy sometimes, going from dealing with very serious issues with one child to convincing another that these shoes are just fine, she does not need the black church shoes. It’s like living a double life in a lot of ways, and requires so much more of me than I thought. For many reasons.

So I sneak up early before anyone is up and I have started to write. I have been blessed with a couple of good paying jobs that make me feel useful and I have fun, but I need to write more. Here, for eventual publication, for my sanity. My children keep me grounded and happy, but the writing makes me fly. Strange times indeed, and I am not sure what I even did before all this.