Archive | April, 2011

More On Matters of Faith

One commenter on my last post said, “. . . those of us who are not Christians may actually be non-Christian by choice.”  For me personally, it hasn’t been a matter of choice.  I hold firmly that we do not choose what we believe.  Belief is like an emotion – it’s something deep inside you that you can’t control – just like you can’t choose who to love (or not to love), you can’t choose not to feel grief in the face of loss, you can’t choose not to feel glad when good things happen – I strongly believe that you also cannot choose to believe or not believe – in anything.  Knowing that there is no Santa Claus, knowing that Earth is actually spherical and not flat, you can’t choose to believe otherwise.  Yes, you can choose what information you will look at to come to your conclusions.  You can choose to repress or fake emotions.  You can choose to adhere to certain prescribed tenets.  You can certainly choose how your behavior and actions manifest your beliefs and emotions.  But you cannot choose what you believe, way down deep inside, in your heart and gut.

I did not choose to become atheist.  I spent my whole life being taught the Christian messages, periodically attending church (well into adulthood), praying, and believing.  Believing that the Bible is the literal word of God, that the events and people that populate the Bible were real, literal, actual events and people.  Believing that God was real, that he listened to my prayers and cared about me personally, and that if I did all the right things, God would walk beside me in life and reward me in the afterlife.

I always had questions and doubts, though.  It all seemed so far-fetched.    Adam and Eve but no dinosaurs (despite hard evidence of dinosaurs)?  People living for hundreds of years?  Rising from the dead?  Parting of seas?  Virgin birth?  Eternal paradise or eternal damnation and hellfire?  But I always squelched the questions and doubts.  Because if you have an analytical, intellectual mind, that’s what you have to do to be a Christian – you have to repress the doubts and questions that are inevitably raised.  Because when you get right down to it, there are no good answers.  You cannot use the Bible as evidence of itself (“The Bible is true because it says it’s true!”)  You have to chalk everything up to faith, which is very murky and not fact-based (“I feel God’s presence, I see evidence of God in the beauty of the world, and that’s enough for me.”), or, if all else fails, the old stand-by: “God works in mysterious ways.  It’s not for us humans to understand.” You feel guilty for entertaining the doubts and questions.  So you do your best to squelch the doubts, and you pray harder.

That’s how it was for me, anyway.  There came a time, however, when I decided to go out on a limb and allow myself to really entertain those doubts and questions I had.  After all, I figured, my faith would be so much more meaningful if it could stand up to rigorous analysis and doubt.  Plus, if there was a god, he gave me a mind to think and analyze and doubt with, right?  So I allowed myself to really give some weight to all those questions I had had for so long.  If God was good and merciful, then why is there so much suffering in the world – suffering that has nothing at all to do with man’s free-will?  Why does religion tear people apart instead of bringing people together?  Why is it that God’s powers seem to be limited to what humans can achieve (God can heal an ear infection or provide someone with a new job or intervene so that someone longing for a baby can get pregnant, but no amount of prayer will make a legless man’s limbs come back)?  Did all that stuff in the Bible really happen?  So someone who is good all their life still can’t get into Heaven unless they’re baptized?  What about little children who die and never had a say in whether they got baptized or not?  And even if someone is baptized and lives a good, honest life, they still can’t get into Heaven if they don’t voluntarily accept Jesus Christ as their savior?  So my dad was probably burning in Hell, then, because he was agnostic.  I lost a lot of sleep over that one.

I looked high and low, I searched my soul (which I believe in, by the way; of course everyone has an essence that makes them their own unique person.  I just don’t believe in a soul that survives the body), I agonized.  And there were no good answers anywhere.  And there was plenty of evidence everywhere that supported very non-divine explanations for things.  I just no longer had the ability to chalk it all up to God’s mystique.  If it were all true, it wouldn’t be so hard to understand!  If it were all true, it would be easily understandable by all, it would be hardwired into us (one friend recently said that she believes it is hardwired into us, but some of us choose to ignore it.  Well, Muslims believe everyone is born a Muslim, too.  And what about untouched civilizations living in the rainforest who have never had exposure to the notion of Jesus Christ?  Is it hardwired into them, too?)  If the Bible were the actual word of God, there wouldn’t be so many ways to interpret it!

My belief started breaking down.  The Bible part of it was kind of the kicker for me.  As a Christian, I was taught that the Bible is the actual word of God and that everything in it is the literal truth.  But there are so many interpretations – every major religion seems to interpret it a little differently.  Could that stuff really have happened?  If it did, why doesn’t stuff like that happen now?  The big dramatic miracles?  And once you start doubting the authenticity of the Bible, the literal truth of it, well, the whole foundation for your faith begins to crumble.

I resisted for a while.  It really was not an easy process.  I tried to talk myself back into my old beliefs.  And it just didn’t work.  Because, I found, I could not choose what to feel, what to believe.  What I could choose was the label I applied to myself.  I started with Agnostic, because that felt a little safer and less radical than Atheist.  But it really wasn’t long before I realized that I wasn’t being honest with myself.  I wasn’t Agnostic – it’s not that I was unsure.  In my heart, I was sure.  I just no longer believed any of that stuff.  And finally, I let go of it.  And chose to call myself Atheist, because that most accurately describes my state of belief.  I do not believe there is a god, I do not believe in Heaven or Hell, I do not believe in the divine or supernatural.  And once I was honest with myself, I felt a weight lifted.  All the agonizing and rationalizing and searching for answers and never being satisfied with the answers/non-answers – it was gone.  All the guilt and feeling like I could never measure up to what God wanted of me was gone.  And I felt at peace with it, and I still do.

That is not to say my life is any easier or better than it was before.  My faith or lack of faith has made absolutely no difference in the quality of my life – except to the extent that in some ways I am a social pariah because Atheism is just not socially acceptable.  (And I have a suspicion that there are many more non-believers out there than we realize – even sitting in church congregations – who remain quiet about their feelings because they don’t want to suffer the backlash of “coming out.”)  In some ways, I guess it has made things a little easier: there’s nobody to be angry at anymore for all the injustice in the world.  There’s nobody to appeal to – and potentially have my pleas rejected by – to make things right.  It is comforting to me, in a strange way, to know that the universe is random, life is random; I am not a pawn in anyone’s chess game.  And this is all I’ve got – this life, this brief life.  When I’m gone, I’m gone, so I better make the most of what I’ve got.  Love with everything I’ve got, be kind and honest and compassionate because that’s how I want to be treated.

So the only choice I’ve made is to apply the label Atheist to myself.  For me, becoming atheist has not been the adoption of new beliefs, it’s been the falling away of beliefs.  I have not joined some fringe organization that requires a conversion process.  I don’t belong to a group that has special rituals to demonstrate our beliefs.  There are no Atheist holidays to my knowledge.  I’m not an official member of some group that has plans to convert everyone and take over the world.  That would be weird!  Oh wait . . . never mind.

I can never be a Believer again.  The questions and doubts have already been cracked wide open for me, and there’s no undoing it.  And I’m fine with it.

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Matters of Faith

I woke up this morning with a sinking feeling, wondering “Did I go too far?”  See, I have my posts here set up so that they feed up to my Facebook page, and the discussion on my FB page concerning my post yesterday got pretty animated.  I have a few friends who are hardcore Christian, and they bravely took a stand in defense of their faith in response to my post yesterday.  And I am completely fine with that, I really am.  I am all for open discussion.  We do not have to agree on everything to get along, right?  Still, I am always very conscious of the fact that my friendships with people whose Christian faith is such an ingrained part of their identity are a little tenuous.  I always feel like one wrong move on my part, and I’m out.  Maybe I’m wrong about that – maybe that’s just me projecting my own bullshit.  Maybe my Christian friends really do accept me unconditionally.

Still, even though I feel it’s very risky of me to vocalize my position on matters of faith, I do it anyway.  Because I believe that I should be afforded the same courtesy to be vocal about my beliefs/nonbeliefs as the Faithful are afforded.

But of course, before it was all over, the discussion turned unpleasant.  I was told that “It would be nice if you could show some respect this weekend of all weekends.”  (Being that it’s Easter, a religious holiday that holds absolutely no religious or spiritual meaning for me, but I’m supposed to refrain from vocalizing my own beliefs, from raising valid questions, in honor of those who do find religious meaning in this weekend?)  I was ominously told that one day I will “stand before Him . . .”  I was accused of “indoctrinating” my children into Atheism.  And comments have come in directly to my blog today expressing pity for my children and the fact that they’re being raised without God.

I open myself up to this stuff merely by virtue of openly discussing my beliefs.  I do it knowingly, but it still rankles me every time.  I get the strong feeling that people can accept/tolerate that I’m atheist so long as I’m quiet about it.  Christians get to be as vocal about their beliefs as they want.  They get to post on their blogs and their Facebook pages praising the lord, asking for prayers for this and that, quoting bible verses, etc., etc.  And it’s all very socially acceptable.  But the moment I, an atheist, vocalize something publicly about where I stand on matters of god and faith, I can expect a firestorm in response.

I have faced A LOT of adversity in my life – less than some people and more than others.  I think of myself as a pretty resilient person.  I get through the hard times, sometimes falling apart, but always getting back up and recognizing everything I have to be grateful for.  That’s grace – being able to recognize and appreciate the good even in the midst of adversity and hardship.  I’ve faced some adversity as a Christian during my life, and some as an atheist, and I’m here to tell you that there’s been no difference in my ability to deal with things.  When I was a believer, I didn’t have any more or less strength or resilience than I do as a nonbeliever.

How arrogant it is of you Christians who think you have better tools of coping at your disposal than I do merely by virtue of your faith.  How arrogant of you to think that your life has more meaning than mine, more fulfillment.  Believers face the same rates of depression, divorce, financial difficulty, and crime that non-believers do (did you know that the vast majority of prison inmates consider themselves Christian?  Very few are atheist).  In fact, probably higher rates just because there are more believers than nonbelievers per capita.  How arrogant of you to think that your children are being raised better than mine are because you are teaching your children to believe in god, and I am teaching my children to think for themselves.  You cannot possibly demonstrate that your life is any better than mine, or that your children are any better off than mine are.  So it all boils down to the afterlife.  My poor children are being deprived of eternal life in Paradise because I’m not indoctrinating – yes, indoctrinating – them into YOUR belief system.

What a crock.  It makes me mad.

I feel for children who are taught that there is only ONE path to salvation, and that if they don’t follow that path . . . well, we all know the supposed alternative.

Don’t feel sorry for me or my children.  I have a wonderful life.  Yes, I have faced tremendous ordeals at times, but I experience love – giving and receiving – to the fullest.  I have a solid marriage to a devoted husband and wonderful father to my six beautiful children – who are all well-loved and cared for.  I have a nice roof over my head and plenty of nourishing food to eat and clothes to protect me from the elements.  I want for nothing.  I am raising my children to be honest and loving and compassionate.  Why would anyone be so arrogant as to presume they are in a position to feel sorry for any of us?

Get over yourselves already.

A Discussion About The Big Guy And His Son

With all the recent hullaballoo, Easter snuck up on me this year.  Seems like I was just saying to myself, “I have plenty of time to buy all the crap – er, treasures – for the kids’ Easter baskets,” and then suddenly, I went to Target to buy paper towels and cereal, and all the Easter stuff was on clearance!  I confess, I spent several long minutes considering the possibility of letting Easter slip by unnoticed this year, but I realized that the kids know it’s this weekend thanks to all the talk at school.

It brought to mind a question, though: why do we celebrate Easter?  I mean WE as in us, our particular family.  And then I thought, well, if the kids have expectations of Easter, be they baskets and bunny prints or otherwise, I think it warrants a discussion about what all this Easter business is about.  So Michael and I opened a conversation with Joey, age 8, yesterday, that went something like this:

MICHAEL: “Joey, what is Easter about, anyway?”

JOEY: “I dunno . . . bunnies and stuff, I guess.”

MICHAEL: “Well, you know, some people believe that today, which is Good Friday, is the day Jesus died on the cross for everyone’s sins, and that Easter is when he came back to life and went to Heaven.”

JOEY: “I don’t even believe in Jesus!”

ME: “Why don’t you believe in Jesus?”

JOEY: “I don’t know . . . it just sounds pretty crazy and made up.”

ME: “What about God?  What do you think about God?”

JOEY: “God isn’t real.”

MICHAEL: “How do you know?”

JOEY: “No one’s ever seen him, have they?”

ME: “So how likely do you think it is that some guy died, and then three days later came back alive, somehow got out of the cave he was put in when he was dead, and then rose into Heaven for everyone to see?”

JOEY: “Very unlikely.”

ME: “So what do you think happens after we die?”

JOEY: “I don’t want to think about that!”

ME: “Okay, but really, what do you think happens?  Do you think after we die we go to some other place, like maybe Heaven, or Hell?”

JOEY: “No!  Where’s Heaven?  Come on.  Where would it be?  Nobody’s ever seen it, have they?”

MICHAEL: “So what do you believe?”

JOEY: “Well, I believe in Santa Claus, that’s for sure!”

Okay, so his critical thinking skills have a ways to go.

***

This morning I had a discussion with Daisy, age 6, that went something like this:

ME: “So, Daisy, do you know why people celebrate Easter?”

DAISY: “Um, no, not really.”

ME: “Well, some people celebrate Easter because they believe it’s when Jesus came back alive and went to Heaven for everyone to see.  And some people celebrate Easter as a way to celebrate Spring.”

DAISY: “People can’t come back alive when they’re dead!”

ME: “Well, some people think that Jesus did.  Do you know who Jesus is?”

DAISY: “Um, wasn’t he a little baby and a little girl cried because she couldn’t find anything to give him?”

(Hmmmm, interesting.  No idea where that came from.)

ME: “Um, I’m not sure about that.  Anyway, some people believe that Jesus was God’s son, and that when Jesus grew up, he died for everyone’s sins, so that everyone could go to Heaven when they die.”

DAISY: “God isn’t real!  It’s just pretend, Mom.”

ME: “So what do you think happens after we die?”

DAISY: “That’s like bad thoughts that I don’t like to think about.”

ME: “Right.  But do you think that after we die, maybe we get to go to this really special place called Heaven?”

DAISY: “No!  It’s pretend, Mom!”

***

And there you have it, straight from the uncluttered minds of pure, innocent children.

***

It is interesting when you think about it, though (if you’re so inclined to . . .), that the natural inclination seems to be NOT to believe.  For kids who have not undergone long-term indoctrination, it’s a stretch, even for those inclined to believe in Santa.

It seems to me that if God were real, if Jesus were the way, the light, and the truth, it wouldn’t all require such a hard sell.  The knowledge would just be there within all of us, hardwired into our brains and hearts.  It wouldn’t require all these mental gymnastics to try to make sense of what is really, if you want to be perfectly honest, completely nonsensical and preposterous.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Okay, but he could have begotten a hundred sons.  A thousand.  A trillion!  He’s God, after all – all powerful, etc., etc.  So he begets a son and sends him to earth to do good works and then sacrifices him to show us lowly humans how much he loves us.  Really?  Seems like pretty small potatoes for someone so big and powerful.  That’s like a multi-billionaire giving away a dime to a homeless person.  Big deal!

And Jesus?  He didn’t sacrifice his life.  He was a puppet.  God’s stool pigeon!  He was supposedly sent here for the specific and sole purpose of one day being brutally killed . . . and then reanimated, whereupon he would physically rise into the sky, the implication being that that’s where Heaven is located – somewhere out there in outer space.  There was no choice in the matter – it was all preordained.  If you believe the story.

And who wants everlasting life, anyway?  I mean, seriously.  When you think about it, really think about it, it’s kind of creepy.  When I was still a believer, this is one of the things I had a lot of trouble with.  The idea of living forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever – even in Paradise! – freaked me the hell out.  You mean it never ends?  Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever?  Wow.  No thanks.

I get the appeal of all this.  Generally speaking, the human race is terribly afraid of death – and of life for that matter.  It’s frightening to think that we might be all alone out here, completely at the mercy of a random universe.  That there actually might not be a point to any of this – except what we each choose to make of it.  It’s comforting to think that there is some omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent fatherly figure out there who cares about our well-being and is looking after us, that death isn’t so bad and scary because, wow, we get to go to this really awesome place after we die where all wrongs will be righted and there will be no suffering.  Yeah, that sounds really great.  I get it.  The fact that these notions are appealing and comforting, though, don’t make them real.

As for us, we’ll just keep recognizing Easter as a way to celebrate Spring and life.

What a Difference Two Years and a Battle With Cancer Makes

February, 2009 - shortly after his cancer diagnosis

April, 2011

I don’t want to belabor the whole cancer thing, because we’ve been trying so hard for almost a year and a half now to put it all behind us and get on with our life, but it has a way of biting you in the ass even after you’ve left (or tried to) the ordeal behind you.  Like an earthquake, cancer tends to send out aftershocks, and we’ve had a few – this latest one being the most intense.

I was really struck by how gaunt Michael looked when he came home from the hospital a few days ago (he’s looking better day by day, by the way), and the difference that has been made in the last two years.  If one is inclined to see silver linings, clearly he is at a much healthier weight now, and has adopted a healthier lifestyle.  Which is good, because I plan on keeping him around for a while.

Home

Michael was discharged from the hospital yesterday morning, eight and a half days after being admitted.  That’s longer than he was in when he had his initial cancer surgery, and the incision he has rivals that first one – a vertical slice about eight inches long running up the middle of his abdomen.  He lost quite a bit of weight in the hospital and looks gaunt.  He’s weak and sore and has quite a recovery ahead of him.  But he still went to Joey’s baseball game last night.  He’s determined not to miss a game.  Probably not the best thing for him to have done physically, but clearly what he needed mentally.

To say it’s wonderful to have him home sounds empty and inadequate.  All I know is that I feel complete with him here, and when he was gone there was a void.  When you’re faced with losing someone, it’s funny how all the little grievances you have fall away, and all that’s left is how much they mean to you.

Today, though, I feel a lethargy settling on me.  It’s as if the euphoria of getting him back yesterday has worn off and now I’m decompressing, processing what happened.  When he was in the hospital, it was survival mode, and I was running on adrenaline.  Just put one foot in front of the other and deal, because that’s just what you have to do.  It was hard, and I was scared, and seeing him all hooked up to machines and in pain was awful, but I don’t think I really let myself think about how bad it might be.  The truth, though, is that he could have died.  He was septic and his body was shutting down.  The doctor told him yesterday before he was discharged that had he not been young, he wouldn’t have made it.  So why did he languish in a hospital bed in no-man’s land all day on Sunday without seeing a doctor, while they just kept upping his pain meds?  He could have died.  A few more hours, and he might have died.  The reality of that, the gravity of it, it’s doing a number on me.

But he’s here.  I don’t want to be one of those people who sits around wringing their hands thinking their life is so hard.  There will always be worse circumstances, people who are faced with harsher things.  And yet, I can’t help thinking . . . how much more?  We’ve been though so much.  How much more?

About Family

Not surprisingly, in a time of great stress and upheaval, my thoughts have turned again and again to family, and what it means to be “family.”

The practical help and moral support that has flowed in our direction during this latest crisis has been amazing.  Food, emails, phone calls, visits, shoulders to cry on, help with my kids.  My friend Caryl, in particular, has gone far above and beyond any call of duty, spending one afternoon driving my kids to see Daddy in the hospital and then taking them out to the bookstore and for ice cream afterwards, and spending yet another afternoon here visiting and helping with the kids while her husband fixed a broken shower faucet in our master bath.  The realization has come to me that she is one of those rare people who spends her life giving of herself – and not just to me and my family, because I see her doing it with others as well.  She’s amazing, as are quite a few other people in my life.

I commented on Facebook last night that “I have more people to whom I am grateful than I can shake a stick at.”  My friend Jodi responded with, “This is what being supported and loved feels like. No strings, no expectations – just your friends wanting to help and be there for you and Michael when you need it. The reason you have so many people who want to help is because of the kind of friend you are to all of us the rest of the time.”  She went on to say, “It’s what you’re supposed to get from your family. Since both of your ‘real’ families seem incapable, you create your own family of friends.”

In times of crisis throughout my adult life, it’s always been friends who have rallied around me, and not so much (or at all) the people related to me by blood or marriage.  I learned a long, long time ago that “family” isn’t a given, it’s a privilege, and sometimes you do have to make your own family because the ones you’re dealt by birth or marriage just don’t live up to the hype.

A few months ago I was out to dinner with a couple of friends and Jodi (who is extremely wise, who is part of a close-knit family herself, and has a thing or two to say about family), was talking about when her brother got married, and how people would ask her “Do you like his new wife?”  I wish I could remember her exact words because she expressed it all so eloquently and succinctly, but what she said was something to the effect of, “That question is really beside the point, isn’t it?  That’s who my brother has chosen to spend his life with, and her job is to make him happy and make a good life with him.  If we [meaning Jodi and the rest of the extended family] hope to remain on good terms with them and be welcomed into their home and the family they create, then we better embrace her.  It’s not about us, it’s about them.”  This really, really struck a chord with me, and has stuck in my craw ever since.  This is not what has happened with my own in-laws, and that is at the heart of a chasm between us that is so wide and deep at this point that it’s not likely it will ever be bridged.

I think some people – consciously or unconsciously – just never expect their offspring (or siblings, as the case may be) to actually go forth in the world and make a life for themselves in which the family of origin is no longer primary.  When someone grows up and gets married and has children, and takes that marriage very seriously and invests all kinds of blood, sweat, and tears into it to make it something solid and true – that rightfully becomes primary.  When there is an inability or unwillingness on the part of the family of origin to accept that, nothing good can come of it.

I don’t think Michael’s immediate family (with the exception of his mom, who passed away five years ago) ever expected to become secondary, to have their place in Michael’s life usurped by a wife.  I look at our wedding pictures, and everyone is all smiles and hugs, and it looks like we are on the brink of something wonderful with the full support and blessings of everyone present . . . but I wonder now if they just didn’t expect it to stick, or if they expected that I, the wife and mother to Michael’s future children, would remain secondary.  I’ve never been embraced as a full-fledged member of their family, complete with all the rights to air grievances that a real family member would have.  They’ve never tried to get to know me.  Michael and I have been married for almost ten years now, and they’ve never asked about my family, where I come from.  They don’t even know my middle name or when my birthday is.

When I think about it from a logical standpoint, I know that I shouldn’t take it personally.  It’s probably not me they can’t accept, it’s just the role I’ve filled in Michael’s life.  However, it all has gotten very personal and very nasty over the last couple of years.  People’s essence tends to be stripped clean when the chips are down, and in the months following Michael’s cancer diagnosis, a lot of unsavory things were exposed about people – people you assume will be there in a selfless and meaningful way when it really matters, but who, in the end, aren’t.

So this is why my extended family is comprised of people like Jodi, and Caryl, and Lisa, and Jen, and Karyn, and Karen – none of them related to me in a conventional way.

At the hospital the other day when that social worker took me into the little conference room and let me cry my eyes out, and she asked me about my family, I told her, “I don’t have family, we’re estranged.”  I meant my own birth family and my in-laws.  She said, “I’m estranged from my family, too, don’t worry about it.”  Then she said, “You go where the love is, and you leave the rest.  Life’s too short.”

Amen.

Better

I made an executive decision last night that, sick or not sick, I was going to see Michael in the hospital this morning.  It’s been awful to stay away, and going did me a world of good (and hopefully it did him some good, too).  I curled up on his bed with him for a while, we walked the halls, talked and even shared a few giggles.  Ahhhh, just what the doctor ordered.

Michael is making steps towards recovery and coming home, but it’s slow going.  While I was there, some of his medical trappings were removed.  This is progress.  I also got to see his incision, which was also the first time he’s seen it, and it’s pretty significant – quite a bit longer than I had expected. It’s all put back together by I don’t know how many sutures and eight shiny staples.

On The Sixth Day . . .

. . . the woman began to unravel.   Through nearly a week of single-parenthood, of tripping over offspring at every turn, household disasters big and small, flu, and, oh yeah, her other half away in the hospital valiantly fighting battles of body for the FOURTH time in two years, she kept her chin up and her attitude (mostly) positive.  But on the sixth day, fissures began to appear in the armor.  The smile would momentarily slip into a snarl, her patience was worn to an onion-skin thinness, and she might be spied swigging straight from a bottle of vodka behind the closed bathroom door (okay, I’m just kidding about that part, but it kind of finishes off the picture, don’t you think?).

The children, too, were coming steadily unglued.  The eldest child, saturated in teenage hormones, seemed to be doing a lot more stomping away than usual, huffily responding (or not responding) to his harried mother.  The second child, normally a sweet, undemanding boy, developed an obnoxiousness rivaling his teen brother’s, a penchant for tattling to rival his younger sister’s, and he could frequently be found engaging in physical scuffles with his younger sisters.  The third child, mischievous  to her core since birth, became downright wicked.  No avenue of naughtiness was beyond her scope of willingness, it seemed.  The fourth child could not get a grip.  She broke down in tears every 17 minutes around the clock and hovered over her mother constantly, wrapping herself around an arm or leg.  The fifth child was given to wailing over every tiny little thing, real or imagined.  WAAAAIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGG!  Over everything!  (Sister, if you can’t deal with the small stuff now, you won’t be able to deal with the big stuff that’s sure to come your way, ever!)  The sixth child decided that now would be the perfect time to step up his climbing skills and used whatever means available, be it chair, footstool, or discarded guitar, to climb as high as possible and engage in such activities as removing all items from bulletin boards (including thumb tacks).

The woman looked around her and screamed insanely to herself, “I HAVE TOO MANY KIDS!!!  WHY DID I ALLOW THAT MAN TO IMPREGNATE ME SO MANY TIMES?!?”

She then began hatching a plan to sell a few of them on the black market.

Just kidding.

The Waiting Game

An uneventful day as far as newsworthy developments.  I don’t even have any new catastrophes to report!  I guess the gods are smiling on us for the time being.

Michael is recovering at the pace he’s supposed to be recovering at, which feels very slow to us and I’m sure to him.  It’s really hard just waiting . . . waiting for him to be well enough to come home.  And it’s made even harder by the fact that for now I have to stay away because of my being sick.  And I rarely get sick!  The timing is just stupendous, no?

Daisy and Annabelle’s teacher, who was also Joey’s first-grade teacher, and who has also become a true friend, took the five older kids to the hospital to see Dad today.  (And she took them to the bookstore – and bought them books – and then out for ice cream!  It’s crazy how good she is to us.)  I know Michael was thrilled to see his beloved spawn, but apparently was only up for a short visit with them.  He’s still got pain and is easily tired.  And goodness knows those kids can wear a person out!

Anyway, I think the visit was good and bad.  I really can’t say how Michael is feeling about it, but I suspect it might have made him miss home even more.  Lilah and Daisy were apparently pretty freaked out seeing Daddy in his current condition, although by the time they got home, Lilah was fine.  Daisy, on the other hand, she is having a really tough time with all of this, and the visit may have made things worse for her.  Ever since Michael went into the hospital, she’s been mopey and very clingy, following me around like a shadow, needing constant hugs and reassurance, and breaking into spontaneous tears.  It’s hard to make a very sensitive, emotional six-year-old understand that Daddy will come home, that we just have to be patient and wait for the doctors to help him get better.

The other kids are doing surprisingly well.  Kevin has been a huge help, and he and Joey have been getting along famously, which I love to see.  There have been the usual skirmishes among all the kids, but for the most part there is a feeling of pulling together.