I just walked a mile home from our church that just doesn't do it for me anymore. Three priests in a year. The first one was why we went. he was transferred up to north Minneapolis because in the Catholic Church they move the guys around every ten years or so (no tasteless jokes please).
We all drove to church. Dermot was really congested, but we were confident that he'd cough it up by the time we got there. No cough. I went in and Joe stayed in the car with Dermot and the suction machine. Waiting for the cough.
The boys and I sat thru the first reading, no Joe and Dermot. Second reading, still no Joe and Dermot. I texted (yes, in church!). They were headed home. We'd walk home. Only a mile away, no big deal.
I sat thru the homily. I struggled to stay engaged in the wordy "story" that used to be my favorite part of church. Ryan on one side, whining and fidgeting. Owen on the other sitting dutifully.
In my head I wondered how it would affect the kids if we got up and left. What lesson would I be teaching? Because all I wanted to do was take off. I looked around at all the families. We hardly knew any of them. Small talk was all we gathered from our experiences lately. Then I drifted into more thoughts...
What do people see when they look at my family? Do they see me as a "saint"? Do they fear the rawness of our situation? Is it just easier to not get too close to us? Why don't we get invited places anymore? Is it just easier to admire my "strength" on Facebook? Is it difficult to be friends with us because we walk around with an open wound? Do I push people away? Is it safer for me to retreat and not risk new situations? Are Ryan's recent behavioral outbursts just a manifestation of our family situation? Is he so starving for attention that he says things to me that would make any "regular" mom freak out and call a shrink?
Finally, the priest was done talking. Not sure what today's message was. I know my message. Keep on swimming. Keep living. Keep trying. Maybe this isn't the church for us anymore. Maybe there's another place for us. Maybe I'll ask my other catholic friends about their churches. Maybe I'll investigate them some Sunday morning without Dermot. To see if it's safe. To see if the people are kind. To see if we will be accepted. Truth is I'll never know until we try. But then we'll have to try and that takes energy.
As we walked home down a shady 51st street, I endured an onslaught of comments from Ryan. He told me how much he hated me. How mean I am to him, how badly he wants to live in a different family and how he never gets to have any fun. I agreed with him. I told him that life isn't fair. Ever. I told him that I loved him and that someday he will remember this morning and think to himself how wrong he was about me. Until then, I'm ready to be the reason for all his problems. Gladly. He's only eight and none of the bullshit that he deals with on a daily basis is his fault. I'm 45 and I know that none of the bullshit I deal with is anyone's fault. It's just bullshit.