Sunday, November 07, 2010

It's Hard to be Hated

Yesterday, this man announced his retirement. Part of his reason for retiring in a couple of years is that the experience has taken a toll on his family. I am sad for him, for the church, for the people he served. He was always such an example of gentleness and grace. Still is, actually.

Then I read the comments on the online version of the story. I shouldn't have. No wonder the guy is bailing out -- and what I read was mild, I'm sure, compared to the vile comments thrown at the guy for the last seven years. But it was still nasty. Being hated takes it's toll.

See, I've been hated. There's a situation in my life about which I have not written here (and won't begin to give details in any way now) and in that situation, I am hated. I've had anger and deep, deep negativity thrown at me for about 20 years now. And even though the anger and hatred really isn't about me, it affects me. It affects my family. (Kinda like how layoffs aren't personal, but they sure affect me personally.) Yes, I made mistakes in managing this situation, especially early on, but I don't think I deserve -- or my family deserves -- to be treated like this.

I try to keep my head up and stay positive when the nastiness gets thrown my way, or questions about the situation arise from various quarters, answering as honestly as I can without getting to emotional or specific. Actually I try not to think about it, or think about it as a simple circumstance of our life when it does bubble up. True, there hasn't been any kind of incident in several years, but it's still there, in so many subtle and not so subtle ways. As the holidays approach, the issue feels closer to the surface.

Anyway, the point is, as vastly different as the two situations are, I understand (as much as I can given the disparity), that it's hard to be hated. It's just plain hard.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Disproportionate Growth

M's annual cardiology appointment was today. It didn't go quite as well as I hoped.

I'm nervous every year for this. We like to say that if you're going to have a heart defect, M's is a pretty good one to have. But it still doesn't make it easy or okay. I wish I didn't know the routine at the pediatric cardiology office so well.

We've known it would be likely that M would have to go on meds at some point. We knew there was a real possibility that the growth of his aorta would be disproportionate to the growth of the rest of his body. We hoped we'd at least get to a teen year before that was necessary. But we got that news today, when he's just 11.

He's still okay - more than okay - on a daily basis. He can still do most of what he wants to do. But his aorta is getting too big compared to the rest of him, and we need to do what we can to keep that in check. That means blood pressure lowering medications - even though his blood pressure is relatively low anyway. And we don't know for sure that this will work.

We do know that if his growth continues on this path - that is, disproportionately - he'll be at increased risk for aortic rupture. The numbers say we are about halfway to surgery.

I know meds are better than surgery. But I admit I had a moment where I wondered, don't we get a pass? After C's health crisis, aren't we done? But I know we aren't immune from anything. Just because we endured one crisis doesn't mean we won't have more.

And even with meds, M will still need a valve replacement one day. The ultrasound showed clearly how misshapen his aorta and the valves are. What should be round with three leaves...isn't. It's striking, really, even to the untrained eye.

The whole focus is, of course, keeping M as normal a boy as possible. He's concerned about being able to sail in the summers, play soccer in the fall and play baseball in the spring. He'll still be able to do all that, at least for now. I know we're lucky. I know it could be so much worse. I do.

But still.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Insanity of Sanity

We road-tripped to our nation's capital this weekend for the comedian-led-but-really-quite-serious political rally. It was mostly good. I'm glad we went, even though the driving was long, and the teenager...very much a teenager.

We drove down Friday night (after an interesting soccer game for C...been a long time since I've been called "Toots" by an insecure, and obviously poorly-endowed middle aged man -- but that's a story for another time) and arrived 2AM Saturday at a friend's house. We didn't get up too late in the morning, but needed to be a little social before heading out the door again!

When we finally made our way to the local train station to get into the district we had our first clue of how crowded the event would be. To use the same oft-used, ironic description of the event, it was INSANE. Just getting fare cards! There we started to see some of the awesome signs, however, and costumes.

When we finally got onto a train, we were crammed in like sardines. Truly. Sardines. I held on tight to S's hand and hubby kept close to C and M. We all finally made it downtown but the preshow had long since started while we waited in line to get OUT of the train station. While waiting to get out we saw the 3rd or 100th person dressed like the extreme Senate candidate from Delaware -- but this one had props. She pulled out a clear lucite lighted v*br*t*r from a protective felt bag and showed it off.

There were so many people walking to the event area, and, once there, there were even more. It's a bigger crowd than I've been in since the January 1993 innuaguration. We spent a few minutes trying to figure out where, if anywhere!, we could actually get to someplace to see something, and it was pretty impossible. There were people in and on every possible crevice and surface, including on top of the port-a-potties. For real! We all started to feel a little overwhemed by the crowd and made our way to the steps of the national archives to just sit and regroup and get something to eat (even though vendors were running out of food). We were able to hear precious little of what was going on on-stage - but did catch the strains of Ozzy Osbourne.

THe people-watching, however, was terrific. Sure, there were some signs we discouraged the youngest among us from sounding out, and a couple similar costumes (directing the kids to look elsewhere), but mostly it was a fun, respectful, nice crowd. There were all ages and most colors. After a while, the insolent teenager (having texted how awful this was to all his friends back home) asked if we could try to get on the mall. Sure.

I really don't think anyone anticipated there would be that many people who would go. The permit are was about four blocks of the mall -- large blocks, mind you, completely open -- and we couldn't get onto the mall for another five blocks behind that. The side streets were completely jammed.

But we did make it close enough to hear the closing address. It was a serious message and our polical leaders would do well not to dismiss it. Especially with the size of the crowd there to support the message.

When the rally was over, we stayed put for a while. We talked with people. We observed attendees picking up trash with garbage bags brought from home - and not just their own trash. Yeah, I know this was mentioned at the start of the rally, but people were seriously out to be...reasonable. And nice. It was cool.

After half an hour we made our way through still-big crowds to one of the museums to kill some time before trying to hit the train home. We waited until after five before trying to get to a station...and were once again packed in like sardines on the train-ride home.

Was it worth it? I think so. There's more I want to say about it, but I am still processing much of it. I'll depend on some revisionism by my kids when they think back to this - C said it "sucked" and yeah, it wasn't what we expected/hoped for, but I think the bigger message came through. I think going to this was about more than the actual event.

Plus we got the kids home for trick-or-treating.

Parenting criticism from non-parents

It's happened again. That early 20s nephew -- whom I love -- has criticized my parenting. Most specifically, around all tht stuff that happened with my sister in August. He with his stellar, stable upbringing and vast experience. Good gracious. I should just let it go, and I'm trying to, but...sheesh.

He called last week to wish M a happy birthday, and thought he could get away with talking to me like I was M's secretary. Um, no.

Among the terrific moments in our conversation:

  • He accused me of going to his parents house that night, the last night of our vacation, to "start shit." Um, no. I went for dinner. His mom is the one who brought the whole thing up. I wanted to have dinner and hopefully an enjoyable last night of our vacation. Given that I was coming home to unemployment and was stressed enough about that and getting the kids settled in a new school year, a blowout with my sister was not on my to do list.

  • He accused me of not being able to let things go. This is so laughable. Yes, there are some things I've written about and "held onto" but the vast number of crap and utterly ridiculous things my sister has done/said over the years I have let pass (and use as fodder for "sister stories" among my friends). Hell, I was trying to let go of the issue when I went there that evening - and she brought it up.

  • He made some weird comments about my parenting "beliefs." He said, "You even wrote a book about your beliefs." It will be interesting what his reaction is if and when he ever actually reads what I wrote. The book is light early-parenthood reading, not a manifesto.

  • After describing a couple of my reasons for holding C back, he said it was unfair for me to hold one or two unfortunate incidents against my sister. If there had been just one or two "unfortunate incidents," I'd likely agree with him. There are, however, too many to count. I said I had reasons of which I hoped he never knows details -- and that's the honest truth. I hope he never knows about the affairs, among other things.

  • He talked about how his mom always told them about the fun she'd have with cousins, the adventures they'd have, and he wants that same relationship with his cousins. I appreciate the sentiment - but that's total revisionism on my sister's part. I can count on one hand the number of times there were such opportunties with cousins on my mom's side (and there'd be fingers left over) and the cousins on my dad's side? Well...there are two who have long standing drug and legal problems and we were not allowed to spend time with them without adults, and the other is much younger than my sister, so my sister would occasionally go over and look after her for a weekend when my aunt and her (7th) husband went away. Totally not the kind of fun my nephew is thinking about.

I'm feeling far more bothered about this than I have been about the actual blowout with my sister. I understand that his view is a bit skewed as he tries to hold on to some semblance of a normal mother -- even though he calls me when he has blowout with her. But since I have tried to be there for him when she has her meltdowns and stops talking to him, I admit I did hope for a little understanding. It was and is probably unfair for me to hope for that from him, her son, and I am trying to learn my lesson there. And just be available the next time the two of them have one of their blowouts.

Oh well.