Sunday, April 22, 2012

Get Away!

Ahhhh.  The Hub and I got away for a long weekend without the kids to celebrate our anniversary.  It was so needed. Not just for us but for the kids too.  We reconvened a much happier group.  The boys and our dog spent the weekend with my parents.  Nana and PopPop.  Nana and PopPop are rock stars.  They are the end-all and be-all of grandparents.  They are fun and take the boys everywhere they want to go.  They adore our children and our children adore them right back.  Nana and PopPop took the kids to the the local Wetlands Institute  where the boys got to pet flounder, skate, and horseshoe crabs. They also got to see an octopus get a crab out of a 2 liter soda bottle.  Very cool stuff.  They went to the beach and played in the sand and dug holes and chased the waves.  They ate good they slept good and had a wonderful time.  The dog even seemed happier.  She followed my father everywhere he went.  
The Hub and I went about 5 miles away from them to Cape May, NJ. We could fully relax and laughed a lot.  We laughed at the bed and breakfast we stayed in.  It was a little beat up and the coffee was horrible.  We also think that our inn keeper was pulling tubes on a daily basis.  We went to a bar and drank.  I can’t tell you the last time I sat at a bar and drank with my husband.  I think it was so long ago, you could still smoke at a bar.  We trash talked about people. We walked around the town and ate really good food.  We talked about how neither of us could imagine NOT having kids.  We revisited the possibility of adopting another.  Raising kids seems to give such a sense of love, a capacity of love that I never knew existed.   We sat on the beach bundled up in jackets and we laughed a lot.  
I have to say, I really, really like the man that I married 11 years ago. I think that he is probably one of the best human beings I know.  He is kind, funny and caring.  He is so smart and has accomplished so much in his life.  We talked about whether or not 11 years ago, we could have pictured where we are now, with 2 beautiful kids, a dog and a cat (the same cat my husband found in 1993!) I think that I pictured something like that when we got married. But before I met him, I could not in my wildest dreams, have pictured the wonderful life we have now.  I would have never thought that I would be this happy and in such a great place with such a great husband.  I was not a happy person for a long time.  I hid who I was and what I felt so that I would not feel vulnerable. I put myself in circumstances that made me miserable.  When I decided I was worth it, and started making changes, The Hub came along and renewed my faith in love.  I felt comfortable enough to be my authentic self with him.  He made me feel safe.  He still does.  
So if you have the opportunity, get away with the one that you love.  Remember why you fell in love.  Stop the normal rush and crazy of every day and take a day or two or three just to be together and laugh and joke and feel at ease.  There is nothing better.  We feel renewed and refreshed.  By the time we had to leave we missed the kids and were ready to see them.  I am not too sure the kids were ready to leave Nana and PopPop, but they seemed genuinely happy when we were all back together.   
I know this post is kind of sappy. But I did just get to spend three days and nights with one of my best friends who still turns me on and makes me laugh.  Three days without interruption, without distraction and with each other.  I am one lucky lady!  
P.S. Thank you Nana and PopPop!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Control - Who Needs It? - I DO!

I have control issues.  I tend to control everything.  This is not good for me because it tends to frighten people away and I like people.  I like having friends.  I also like my family and don’t want them to roll their eyes when they see me coming with my calendar and list.  I need to work on that among other things like refusing to be wrong.  I hate being wrong and maybe being in control helps me not be wrong.  Who knows?  I would love for one of my readers to be a psychoanalyst and give me some answers.  
Easter weekend was a busy one.  On Good Friday The Hub had off.  The group, Catholics 4 Change, were having a prayer service/demonstration for the survivors of sexual abuse by priests outside the Cathedral Basilica of St.s  Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.   The original plan was for all of us to go downtown, drop me off for the prayer service then go to Ben Franklin’s house so First Born can do some extra research on his ‘Biography of Benjamin Franklin’ project.   On Thursday Little One woke up crying with a sore throat and a fever.  Scratch the Friday plan, and I go by myself and Hub stays home with the kids.  (this was a discussion and decided the best thing to do...mostly by me) 
The prayer service/demonstration was moving beyond words.  The survivors who were there and spoke are the strongest people I know.  They want nothing but to have their voices heard and believed and for the lying from the Church to stop.  That is ALL they are after.  Standing outside in the bright sunshine, with that group of survivors and supporters, I felt closer to Heaven than I have felt in most churches.  
After the service I went to my car and called The Hubs.  When I call, he is in his car just leaving JimmyJohn’s Hotdogs. Through the phone, I hear our Little One in the back seat saying “Daddy, I tired, I gonna take nappys and if you see any choo choo’s, you wake me up. OK?”   This sent me reeling.  When I asked what they were doing, the Hubs says, “OH, we just got some lunch and now we are going to go to Ben Franklin’s House.”  I see red.  I was emotionally drained from the service.  I. Lose. My. Shit.  
Silence. Hubs says “OK, ok, fine, we will not go downtown. When is First Born’s project due?”   I say that I am not sure, a week or two, and he starts asking, “Well, when is it, one or two weeks?  Will we have another day to go down there?”  I inform my husband that I can not pull this information out of my ass at this present moment and that I have now decided to go to my parent’s house for lunch.  He says “OK I gotta go.”  GOOD!  
I took deep breaths and then spent a nice lunch with my parents.  I went to my grandmother’s house, hung out with her, made her dinner and cleaned up.  I finally got home about 7:30pm.  A 9 hour day without children..... Wow, I needed that.  
When I pulled into the driveway, Hub jokingly runs out the door waving his arms like a maniac, thanking me for coming home. This instantly makes me smile and ooze love for him. (there are certain things that he does to make me laugh that get me.... and he knows this!) The kids are in bed, Little One is asleep.  First Born is drifting off.   He shows me the kids bikes and how they went to the bike shop to get 4 new hand grips and a new tire for Little One’s bike that used to be First Born’s.  They had a blast. The Hub was telling me about how everyone was in love with Little One in the bike shop.  Little One is very animated, speaks well and although he is going to be 4 he is still wearing size 2T clothes.  He is a little pip-squeak with huge blue eyes and a messy mop of hair.  You can’t help but fall in love with this kid.  The Hub did not get Little One to nap, but he fell asleep easily enough at 7pm.  I decided that I need to let the control go and we go to bed.  
Fresh start, new day, Saturday before Easter.  I need to chill and let go of some control.  The Hub, hates more than anything to have nothing to do.  He dislikes being around the house.  We settle on the local Children’s Museum.  We decide to take First Born’s best friend J with us.  J lives across the street.  He is a riot and a lot of fun to have around.  J and First Born would live in the same house if they could.  Whenever they are both home, they are together.  It is endearing and I love that kid.  He makes me laugh and is so kind to our Little One too.
All are having a blast at the museum and The Hub and I confer that we want to get something to eat, like a late lunch/early dinner.  I am psyched that we are both on the same page.  The Children’s Museum is on the waterfront with some decent waterfront restaurants that I am looking forward to trying out.   At one point in the Museum, it is about 2:30pm we split up, me with Little One and Hub with the big kids.  About 20 minutes goes by and I am assuming that we are going to wrap things up pretty soon and head to a restaurant.  I go to look for the Hub and find him and the two boys sitting in the Museum cafeteria.  First Born is eating a hotdog and J is eating a piece of pizza.  I am trying to restrain myself and I say to Hub, “I thought we were going to go out to eat?”  He says, defiantly “We are.”   This is interrupted by Little One who wants pizza a a juice too.  Grrrrrrrrrr.  I am thinking to myself.  ‘OK, self you have a couple of options.  You could do what you always do and take over the situation, control the rest of the day and everything that goes on from here on out.  OR you could try to remain calm and let your husband, who is a grown ass man, handle the day, just relax and go along for the ride.’  (this is my inner-monologue font, incase you are wondering)  Against my better judgement and more along the lines of trying to rise above my control issues, I choose the latter.  
We stay at the museum and let the kids leave when they are ready. Translation: we stay too long until meltdowns occur.  We then take a walk along the waterfront (with no set plan, just a walk... with 3 boys... near water.... and old diesel trains. God help me! ) At 5pm everyone is hungry again so we go to the restaurant.  The Hub is feeling pretty proud of himself now as I was “wrong” in my assumption that no one would want to eat.  Can you see my eyes rolling?  
During dinner as it is getting later, I quietly remind my husband that we still have to buy, hard boil, color and (after the kids are in bed) hide eggs.  He looks at me, shocked and says, “You don’t have any eggs ready?”  This man has seen me and what I have done for the last 3 days and none of it involved hard-boiling a dozen eggs.    Calmly I said “No”  Then, again trying to remain calm and not taking over, I say, “Maybe we can just hide the plastic eggs that we have and not worry about dying real ones.”  His eyes did all the talking for him.  His look was a combination of astonishment, shock and disappointment.  So that was not happening.  
Leave dinner at about 6:30...mad dash to the Giant...take J home...Hub gets the kids washed, teeth brushed, in jammies and back down stairs while I hard boil eggs and prepare the coffee cups of egg dye... dye the eggs...put the boys to bed. Done by 8pm.  Whew!  Then the Hubs informs me that my Easter Bunny duties were a failure.  Meaning I did not get enough candy.  See, they each get a basket of candy and get to hunt for eggs (real dyed ones) at my parent’s house in addition to our house.  So the amount of candy is already too much and we have not even started.  Hubs says he is going BACK to the Giant to get more stuff.  At this point I am beat.  I decided to go to bed.  HE can do the baskets. HE can hide the eggs.  Since I was not in control of this day, I refuse to rush around anymore, like a lunatic, trying to get everything done that -had I been in control- would have gotten done 4 hours before.  When the Hub gets home, he looks at me in bed and says, “C’mon, we’ve got work to do!” Oh, he had no idea how close he came to being seriously hurt.   After all is said and done, it looked wonderful.  He did a great job and the kids were thrilled.  The rest of our Easter day goes off without a hitch. (Since we spent it at my parent’s house and they are in control of everything.)  
Then comes Monday.  The Hub has been working at Citizens Bank Park (Phillies Ball Park for you non-locals) for his company.  -----Side Note: He has been working ri-goddamn-diculos hours on this project for well over 4 months. Minimum of 10 hour days but mostly 12-14 hour days.  It has taken it’s toll on him.  His work is physically and mentally demanding. He is eating horribly, not sleeping enough, stressed, and OCDing more than usual. -------- We are huge Philadelphia sports fans.  So when one of the electrical contractors on his job, had offered him tickets to the opening day Phillies game, (Monday after Easter) we were excited.  
But nothing is simple when it comes to Hub’s work.  He informs me that we need to be at the Ballpark by 10am so that he can get his work pass.  (this means he is working during the game, uuhhggg)  Then we need to meet the electrical contractor at the their  tailgating spot in the parking lot so we can get the tickets for me and the boys.  The game starts at 1:30.  We get into the park about an hour and a half early.  The seats are awesome.  The Hub has to run around the ballpark and work but said that since we got there so early we would probably leave by the 5th inning.  Long story short (TOO LATE!) We don’t get out of there until about an hour after the game is over..... rush-hour, exiting the city with 40,000 other pissed off Phillies fans.  (we lost) Uhhgggg 
I am trying this whole time to be calm, go along for the ride, search for the positive.  But after the weekend of crazy, I am not holding together very well.  All this being said, our children are exhausted, hungry, and did I say exhausted?  The HOUR and half ride to get out of there was brutal.  That was met with a 6:30pm major hunger for boys who usually eat dinner at 5:30.  I demand we stop at the first place we see, which is a place called Nifty Fifties.  A diner like place with a 50’s style theme and 50’s style calories to match.  After the boys bellies are filled, we had another HOUR ride home.  Half way home, I started to crack up.... laughing uncontrollably.  The Hub looks at me and says “UH OH!” I am obviously not stable.  
When we get home, I look at the clock and realize we were out of the house and fairly active for 12 hours straight.  I then inform The Hub that from now on, he may come up with the family activity idea but we will carry out the details of said activity according to MY detailed plans, because none of us can handle another weekend like this one.  Control issues be damned, I am good at it.  He is not.  Oh and was I wrong for letting him take control? YES. Will I be wrong again?  NO!  

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Believe the Victims

While writing this blog entry - and I have been writing it for over a week now - I have been struggling.   I don’t like beating a dead horse and as readers of my blog, you know my struggle with the Catholic Church. I don’t like to make people uncomfortable. But, more than that, I hate seeing people in pain.  The Church sex abuse trial has started in Philadelphia and I have been in contact with survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.  Their stories are unbearable.  These survivors have lived through the most damaging and heart-wrenchingly, disturbing experiences imaginable.  All by priests whom they and their families loved and looked up to. These same priests continued to harm countless numbers of children. Even after they were caught by their superiors, who sent them for “treatment” and then assigned them to another unsuspecting parish.  The survivors are extremely strong individuals.  One man was abused when he was only 10 years old.  I think of the 10 year olds I know and shudder.  His abuse was not “alleged”  his abuse was documented and admitted to, by the priest/perpetrator. The Church decided to listen the victim only after the threat of going public.  That seems to be the only thing that makes the Church do anything; Money and Fear of Scandal.   A man who is now 35 struggles daily, sometimes hourly.  A wife of a survivor said that she and her husband go to support group meetings and sit in a roomful of survivors who will never tell anyone, except for in the safety of that group, about what happened to them.  They don’t want revenge or retribution.  They want to heal, move on and make sure no other child suffers the way they did. They all want one thing, to be believed.  
The trial of Monsignor Lynn and Fr. Brennan started on Monday, March 26th.  Days before this trial, the former “Father” Avery, pleaded guilty to raping a 10 year old in the sacristy and conspiring with Msgr. Lynn to hide his crimes.  This did not happen in the 60s, or the 70s, or the 80s, it happened in 1999.  It happened in a parish that Avery was moved to, by Lynn, after 17 years of previous accusations by victims.  Having read Grand Jury reports, this is the status quo when Msgr Lynn was approached by a scared and defeated victim.  There were so many that approached him NOT looking for money but only that the perpetrator would not hurt other children.  Some victims, after being so horribly violated by the Church, trying to maintain their faith, turned to Msgr Lynn to make it right.  Not with money or settlements or public humiliation, but just to make sure another innocent child was not victimized by those monsters.  He did nothing, or at the most, he did the very minimum.  He only did what was necessary to avoid scandal.   He is not alone in this.  There were many others above and below him that knew and did nothing, Cardinal Bevilaqua being one, Cardinal Rigalli being another. Both documented, some in their own writing, of the knowledge they had of the pedophile priests. The infamous list that was made up, by Msgr. Lynn of the 35 active priests who ADMITTED to sexually abusing children also noted, next to each name, whether the accuser could still sue!   Avoiding scandal is the common theme in the trial.  They did not care about the victims, they only cared about the scandal it would cause to the Church.  
I know it seems that I have a real bone to pick with the Church.  I know some readers will see these posts about their beloved Church and be angry, insist that I am stirring the pot and agitating the faithful.  Please know, that although I am angry at our Church and the way it has mishandled the perpetrators and victims, I am also hopeful that this will bring about major changes.  Changes that will allow many to come back into the fold of the Church community.  I am happy to see that 5 priests came forward to testify for the prosecution.  I am hopeful more good priests will be strong enough to stand up and say “No More!” I still have faith in that.  
The fact that many Church faithful turn a blind eye and don’t want to hear about the horrible things these monsters did to children and how these monsters were protected, is frustrating but understandable.  To believe these things about the people they hold in such high regard is, for some, quite impossible.  These victims are real, they are not only people that were abused in the distant past, each decade there are more victims. There are children being abused by priests right now.  Victims of childhood sexual abuse can take anywhere from 10 - 30 years to have the strength to admit they were abused.  The statistics go up for victims of clergy, teachers or pillars of the community.  So it may take them 20 - 40 years to report they were abused.  By this time the statue of limitations has run out and there is no chance for justice.  The other problem is, in that time, the amount of victims that have suffered is insurmountable.  The statistics also say that 88% of those abused will say nothing.... ever.  They remain silent and hidden under their shame.  Often they hide it with addictions.  Sometimes their brains protect them by developing mental disorders and disease.  Some take their own lives not knowing how to face it.  I guess my mission with these Church posts is to say that we are all damaged and hurt by these cases of the raping and sexual abuse of children.  Whether they be by priests or coaches or relatives.  We must believe the victims.  We must stand up for them, no matter how difficult or painful or uncomfortable.  The generation of keeping quite and pretending it does not happen has to give way to the generation of instant information and social networking.  This Church hierarchy can not remain so secretive and shrouded in mystery for much longer. 
The light of the truth has to shine bright on the hypocrisy.  The fact remains that the leaders of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, for AT LEAST, the last 50 years have known of the predator priests in their midst.   They made the decision and concerted effort to protect their “brother priests” and ignore the cries of children.  Maybe it has to do with not having children of their own?  Maybe they hold children with the same disdain that they hold women?  Maybe they have no backbone to stand up for the innocent against the hierarchy? Any excuse is unacceptable.  Maybe we should hold these men accountable for their actions and start questioning EVERYTHING that they “teach” as moral?  How can a man who turned a blind eye to the depravity and pedophilia of his “brother priest”  tell me that I have sinned by missing Mass, let alone provide absolution to that sin?