Sunday, April 23, 2017

As the Burgh Turns

Pittsburghers have endured a dramatic week:  Mr. Rooney was laid to rest, the Pirates season probably was as well when Starling Marte was suspended 80 games for PED use, but on the other hand, the Penguins moved on to the second round of the playoffs.  Closer to home, we had our own challenges and minor heartbreaks, but mainly we were counting down to today:  the moment when Harrison's mother gets to start the job of raising Harrison full time.

I asked m y daughter a few times if the week was going by slowly.  She said no each time, but for me it was, truth be told.  Mainly because I was limping to the finish line.   Harrison and I were cycling back through a round of upper respiratory junk that had me worn out.  I had slept through the cat throwing up on the bedroom rug two nights in a row, and it told us that I was too exhausted to be in tune with the baby.  Fortunately, he was struggling with the same symptoms, so we both were spent at night and he was sleeping as hard as I was.  Today my head feels like the Steel Drumline is marching around in there.  We made it through our last night together, but it wasn't quite the fun "sleepover" type night I had hoped for.

There had been a number of stark reminders during the week that made it clear that long term, a full time overnight work schedule even on the days when we had Harrison in daycare were hectic.  My work was coming into play as an issue as well.  And of course, somebody was sick with something more than they weren't.  I kept thinking that millions of households work like this - we can do it.  And I'm right, they do.  And we could have.  But it was a challenge.  And at the end of the day, were all the challenges and expenses worth it?  Nope.

So now we embark on the future.  Whatever that might look like.  It's likely not going to be as smooth of a ride as I would like to envision.  But we'll all be better rested to deal with whatever life throws at us to work it through together.

One thing I've learned from all the mistakes I made as a parent is that the child must come first in all decisions.  We all say that they do, and we're sincere when we say it.  But I think, looking back on it,  I was deluding myself in many cases when my kids were small.  I was selfish in many respects.  I had an only child's sense of entitlement that didn't really dissipate until my kids were in real trouble.  Harrison is far luckier in that his mother has put him first every step of the way.  This is no exception.  It's not as easy as one would think to purposefully put a hole in one's resume at the peak earning time and agree to isolate oneself at home with a baby.  But he'll be better for it, so there was no questioning.  So I took my inspiration from her and committed to this, even though it meant I was shutting the door on any possibility of a late career change.

I daydream sometimes of finally doing what I want to do in life, which is write.  Just take off and try and finally write something that gets published.  I need to let those errant thoughts go now if this is going to work.  I wondered a couple of times over the last few weeks if I could do that - any time there was a glitch or something unpleasant at work actually.  But, yes, I can for my grandson's sake.  I still have this blog - and he'll give me the topics to populate in it now that we will have more energy to pursue our adventures.  Ironic that now at this point in my life I need to decide to focus on a career to help my family, when two decades ago that was the selfish and wrong decision.  Oh, how the world does turn.

But for today, the future is still a step away.  Everyone's exhausted.  I have a lot to do and Law and Order re-runs have given way to Predator 2, which is just a way to say, "I'm twice as bad as Predator 1", so it's time to buck up, headache or not, and get moving.  Tonight we all get to sleep in our own beds.  It's the small things sometimes that get you through.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Coming Home at the Holiday

Our first Easter.  For all of us, it's a first of a kind.  For Harrison, it's his first on the planet.  For his mom, it's her first with him.  For all of us, it's the first in this house.   But this house has seen 67 of such Sundays come and go.  It's part of what I love about it - like I did our first little house here - it's been a silent witness to a lot of history:  some of it small and personal, like children running down these wooden stairs on Christmas morning.  But it was around for larger events, some happy:  like the Steelers six Super Bowls and the Penguins four Stanley Cups, but some tragic:  JFK's assassination, then MLK, and Bobby Kennedy.  It heard discussions about the Cold War and McCarthyism,  Vietnam and Iraq.  Watergate likely got mentioned within these walls, as did all the other "gates" that came after it.  And whether the occupants were happy about it or not, it bore witness to the first African American President.  I love sitting among all those whispers of the past, which is why I'll never buy a new house.   But of course, the older the home, the more challenges one faces to keep it in one piece, and Lord knows, we had our full share of those since moving in last summer, some self inflicted.  At one point, I bought a bottle of cheap champagne and promised myself I would uncork it when the last of the repairs was done.  Yeah, that's still in the cabinet.

At some point, the attention turned from the house to the reason we bought the house, which is the baby and progress just sort of stopped.  I still have pictures leaning against the wall in the office that I've never found room for on the walls.  I look at that them some days and wonder what the heck is wrong with me that I can't take care of the simplest things?

Well, the reason I can't is because there aren't hours in the day to deal with every little thing, and the little thing that demands the most attention is the baby.  So, one can imagine - if I feel that way - how his mom must feel.  She works overnight, which means she needs to sleep during the day.  Trying to care for an infant in those circumstances, even with our help, is exhausting.   Life was racing by without her getting to participate or enjoy it.   The house was sitting silent witness to her son's development more than she was.  She felt it.  I saw it.  And it was hard on all of us frankly.

So, in a week she'll be home to stay.  We've told her we'll support her so she can stay home with Harrison for a while.  There is a small piece of me that keeps thinking this must be a rash decision because it flies tin the face of everything my dad ever taught me.  My dad, who sacrificed his own happiness many times, just to make sure he had income coming in.  Well, Dad (or the piece of me where he still lives inside my head), I am taking on the provider role so she can do the important job of raising the next generation.  So, it's not rash, it's the right thing.  And the bigger part of me knows that.  Now, granted, it makes figuring home game Sundays out in the fall a lot easier, but that's not the point.  If you could see the look on this baby's face when he's with his mother, you'd not question the decision.

We did make the decision rashly - I didn't want any of us reflecting too deeply and therefore becoming afraid to take the leap to let her give notice, but at the end of the day, I think supporting this might just be my one great achievement in life.  My greatest gift.

Now the house will stand witness to a family being raised here again.

So, Happy Easter everyone.  Happy Easter, my dear house.  I hope this is the first of many.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Baby in Bloom

Well you can likely tell there hasn't been much to talk about lately - not that I can talk about anyway.  Such is life with Baby.  Trying hard not to only ramble on about "my grandson did this" and "my grandson is so adorable", there's literally almost nothing more to discuss.  Now that the weather is beginning to take a turn, I hope that also takes a turn and we can introduce Harrison to this wonderful city he was lucky enough to be born into and have adventures to recount.  But, he's still nursing, so spending too much time away from his still single source of nutrition isn't possible, but his mom also has to try and get some sleep.  And of course when the weather was bad, we were forced to, like the city seems to all do, hibernate.  Now on a crystal clear day with perfect spring weather, I felt like I got to see the outside of my house up close for the first time in months.  We thought we'd take Harrison to the park yesterday afternoon, but he had other plans - a nap sounded better to him.  Today we actually finally made it to the zoo after a few false starts.  But that's how it is with an infant - life is on his schedule.  Not yours.

But it's a wonderful compromise to make.  For one, you realize it's a domestic calm before a storm that won't stop for at least 18 more years - for his mother anyway.  For us, his grandparents, who knows how long we'll have this intimate time to share with them.  At some point, they'll want and need to strike out on their own, and make their own home.  We'll have time enough then to do what we want and when we want it, and I'm guessing we'll miss the time we have now once we do.

Yet, I do long to be out and about in the city as spring blooms around it.  Spring in Pittsburgh is an amazing time.  Every morning you wake up to a different landscape.  Trees budding, flowers blooming literally overnight.   The cool spring air that will prevail for the next couple of months has its parallel in Texas for maybe a week.  There's a deep to the greens, purples, yellows, pinks and so on that you never see in the south, even on a hillside riddled with bluebonnets.  And of course, in Montana, spring is a tease.  A warm day followed by snow the next, so I don't really recall "spring" in my youth - just a lessening of winter into the summer.  But, here spring is a true new beginning.  The sound of baseball on the radio, returning to the dog park and reacquainting oneself with fellow dog lovers we've not seen for months, art festivals and concerts outdoors.  How can anyone not love it here in the spring?  I can hardly wait to show it all to this little boy.

And to show this little boy to the city, because he's blossoming right along with the flowers.  An amazing transformation is occurring - daily he becomes more self aware, and of course, more aware of all of us as not just the objects that carry him from here to there and pick him up when he demands it, but as people I can tell he is beginning to recognize and have affection towards - the family outside the mother figure, who has brightened his world since birth.  Yesterday, I saw him look around for the dogs and want them to come to him so he could reach out for them.  He's been tolerant of them as constant companions since birth and grabbed on to them in the past, but with no real understanding of what they were - they were just larger versions of his Chewbacca plush toy.  Yesterday I could see him recognize them and want their presence.  This morning, after he woke up early, we laid down next to one another and he regaled me with his version of conversation:  just sounds based on watching us talk, but I assume in his mind, he was regaling me with grand morning talk until he drifted off to sleep again, his tiny hand in mine.  At that moment, I could have given away all of my time in this city I love so much to just stay there forever.  There aren't many moments in life better than that.

I remember loving this period as a young mother as well - happy babies finding their way into their own personalties, yet still so innocent that they love you unconditionally.  (And of course, still helpless enough that you get to dress them as you want to without a pitched argument.)  Yet this is the time they begin to be sponges and absorb so much of what we do and say.  This is the moment where we as caregivers can make or break the future, I realized as I watched his ever increasing awareness.  We can teach him love and tolerance, or we can pass on our prejudices and fears.  The lessons begin now.

As with everything related to parenting, this is both an awesome and a difficult responsibility.  We all have deeply ingrained belief systems that center around us being comfortable with who and what we know.  As we begin to widen our grandson's window into the world,  we need to be aware of the messages we send him.

I am reading Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts right now with particular zeal because his portrait of Nazi Germany in the early 30's and everyone's dismissive attitude toward it - assuming that a government  of extremist psychotics could not last - seems hauntingly familiar.  That regime pandered on the fear of the populace as well and then turned it against itself.   If you think that can't happen here, remember that most people didn't think it could happen there either.

At the zoo today we saw people from all walks of life, we heard different languages spoken.  But we all had one thing in common: wanting to be out with our families on a beautiful day.  These weren't people to wall out or to infer they are less than we are because they look different than we do.  They're just families.  Like us.   I plan on teaching Harrison when I'm with him that Hillary's campaign was right:  Love Trumps Hate.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Working at Life

One thing a personal crisis does, I've found, is lead to a professional crisis.  Particularly if the workload is stressful or heavy and causes a perceived interruption with dealing with the personal issues.  So, I've been questioning everything:  is this what I want to be doing with my life?  Could I make some changes to be in a better position to help my family through this current state of affairs?  A lot of self questioning is going on inside my tired little brain.  So, I think that set the stage one day last week when I was standing at the Keurig waiting for it to brew a strong cup of coffee.  As I was waiting my mind wandered, and I thought if I were to teach a self-actualization class (not that I know the first thing about how those classes really go), I would assign this exercise:

Write your eulogy.  Not the one you think someone would give you, but write the one you'd want someone to give you.  The sky's the limit.  Then read it out loud.

Here's mine:

Cheryl loved her family more than anything and was a fierce advocate for them.  Of course, this included her daughter and grandson, but not all of her family were two-legged.  She was also a tireless animal rights advocate and raised and loved countless dogs and more than a few cats, giving them happy, full lives.  She believed that it was important to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, and made the statement many times that she believed we will ultimately be judged by how we treat those creatures who are dependent upon us.

She was also committed to helping others by being open and candid about her experiences as a parent, which she felt led to the tragedy of losing her daughter at the age of 23.  She believed that if she could be forthright about that experience she would help other parents be more vigilant, patient and mindful of their children and prevent the same mistakes she felt she made.  Her candid writing helped countless parents.

That's it.  It's all I could come up with.  Granted I only had a few minutes to think about it.  What I noticed as I ran it down in my mind is that what didn't spring immediately to mind is my career.  I was relatively successful at it.  I rose up to be a part owner of a company, supervised staff, many of whom I'm still close to and who mean a lot to me, and it didn't make the little blurb I thought of while the Keurig chugged away.   I've done work since that I'm proud of.  Some that I wasn't as much - I confess to now, at this point in my life, finding living my life here in Pittsburgh as more important than my career.  The call of the ball field as baseball season is about to start will begin to be heard.  And then there are the hockey playoffs, and it'll be warm enough to take my grandson to the zoo.  All those things are what I spend my time thinking about.  I try to do the right thing by my company that pays for all that, but it's no longer all I live and breathe.  Because, to the point of the eulogy, when I did let the work dominate, the family suffered.  And I've since learned that they paid too high a price for that.

Anyway, I would have everyone read their fictional eulogy and then ask them:  how much of that is not true?  And why?  Then, think about that and think about what you need to change to make it true.

Well, for me - little of it is true.  It's how I feel, but I don't think I've changed people's lives. and I don't think I've been a "tireless" advocate for animals.  I'd like to do a lot more of both.

It's the conundrum I've had for years:  support your family financially or do what fulfills you?  It's a rare and beautiful thing if you get to do both.  Most of us are not so lucky.  We do what we need to do to put food on the table and a roof over the heads of our kids.  I've been lucky that I've been able to do it a lot of the time with people I care about.  That's probably more than a lot of people can say.  But it is it enough?  Most of us also don't have the luxury of making a choice.  Bills still demand to be paid, after all.  Which is why what I have pressed for - and maybe I'd add this to the eulogy actually - is a work-life balance.  Give your work the attention it deserves for what it gives you, but don't let it swallow "you" whole.  Because, of course, the irony is you'll be less effective at work if you're unhappy in life.  Both hands need to wash the other.

Anyway, I massively digress.  I actually think it's a good exercise, even if self-actualization techniques might well be hock-'em.  So write down the things you want to be remembered for.  And then, ask yourself, are you that person?  If the answer is no, then let's talk about what you need to do to change it.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Onyx Colored Memories

I was in a weird funk yesterday.  Understandable, as the black cloud that enveloped us earlier in the month remains hovering, a sort of constant hum of impending crisis and drama in the background of absolutely everything we do.  But then Facebook reminded me that it was seven years ago to the day that my mom died, and I realized that the heavy workload and the weird personal crap had pushed that fact to the background, but not quite let it get buried, and that was why I was intermittently weepy and felt like a wrung out dish rag.  Odd, however, I thought to myself, that it was impacting me so heavily.  It just is what it is and it was almost a lifetime ago it seems like now.  Maybe because it is just time to say something to her that I didn't get the chance to say with the sincerity I needed to say it at the time.

Despite the time that's passed, I do remember that strange start to the day like it was yesterday.  I had just gotten in to work when the nurse who found her called my cellphone and tried as hard as she could to tell me without saying it (much like the trooper who had to deliver the news about Kelsey, you could tell it was absolutely the last thing on the planet she wanted to do - I had to literally ask her, "What are you trying to tell me?").  But as soon as she got the words out, I lost it.   Fun times at the office.

And of course then there was the absolutely surreal experience of going to her room with her lying there, the smell of death already hovering, as we waited for the funeral home (at least I knew who to call, since we'd done business with them just a few months ago) to come pick her up.  Trying to clean out your parent's belongings with the shell of your mother in the room is just something that you never grow up thinking about doing.  But, besides all of that, and then the complicated arrangements to get her to Arlington to be buried with Dad, her actual passing was extraordinarily anticlimactic for the mercurial relationship we had shared over the years.  She was there, a worrisome presence in my life when I went to bed the night before.  And then, at some point, all alone in the early morning hours, her heart gave out and she was not there anymore.  All of the anxiety and stress of trying to care for her in her last days (Alzheimer's is a bitch - let me just simply sum it up that way) was just gone.  Poof.

It would be a lie that no one who knew me in those last months would believe if I told you there wasn't a large measure of relief mixed in with the grief, but there was a large helping of grief as well.  Despite everything, she was my mother.  And we had shared some good, loving times as well.

Therefore, with all of that said, how does one, seven years removed from the end of the most complicated relationship of one's life, think of one's mother?  We each will have to answer that for ourselves in the end, but for me, what I try to dwell on is the mother who, I now know, chose me to be hers.  The mom who made me milk toast or cooked rice with warm milk and sugar when I was sick.  The mother who always baked me a little bit of extra pie crust with cinnamon sugar on it.  (You'll notice there is a theme with food here - probably why I tend to eat my way through grief.) The woman who bought me my first Subaru for Christmas one year and sent all of us to Hawaii on a lavish vacation.

I would see that same woman in my mother's eyes every so often in the last months in the nursing home.  Ruth would break through occasionally and she would look at me and you could just see her.  The real her.  It was actually sort of painful, because in those moments, you could tell that she knew.  She knew that her mind had betrayed her.  But in those moments, she was sane and grateful and she loved me.  I clung to those moments like a life raft those last months, although a piece of me also wanted them not to ever surface again.  What must it be like to know you're not you anymore? I didn't want her to know that pain.

She snuck money out of her account and bought me a necklace during one of those moments.  It came to the nursing home, and they called me because they knew she'd been doing crazy things with money, and I was worried she'd drain us.  Not knowing it was a gift at the time, I called the company and had them put a block on any more ordering, then had a meeting with the director of the nursing home trying to decide what to do with it.  I decided to give it to her.  I'd stopped the bleeding with that company anyway.  So they did.  The next day, she gave it to me as a present for taking such good care of her.  I felt like such a schmuck - I had almost sent it back and demanded her money back.

I'll have that necklace until my dying day, even though I rarely get the occasion to wear it, because it symbolizes to me the complexity of the relationship.  It's heart shaped out of polished black onyx.  Sort of perfect - there was love there between us, but it was sometimes a bit toxic and black.

For anyone else who struggles to reconcile potent and complex parental relationships like I always have, I would say this:  it does no good to hang on to the resentments of the past.  They poison your present.  It does, however, help, I find anyway, to hold close the warmer memories.  My parents were such flawed individuals.  I carried the baggage they left me around for years.  But, you know what, they tried as best they knew how.  They gave me the love they knew how to give me.  I'd rather dwell on that in the end.

Love you mom.  I really, truly deeply do.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Fear Factor (Explicit)

Well, I haven't been totally honest with you over the last couple of weeks.  And I cannot be now.  What I will say is there is a lot of stress in our little home - not internal, but from an external source - that has brought us to a crisis point we have not seen, just in my personal estimation, since 2009; the year that culminated in my daughter's death (and before those of you who know us freak - it's not like a health issue or anything like that).  As a side observation, the Penguins were reigning Stanley Cup Champions then as well - I don't know if there is something I should make of that.  But anyway, I am sure in time I can come clean as to what is causing our angst, but for now I'm risking a lot to say even this.  But here is what I will say freely:  in all lives there will be moments that threaten to overwhelm you.  In all lives there will be moments that you will feel so completely unfair and unwarranted that surely God must hate you, if you are of that ilk.  Or perhaps circumstances will make it seem that you are being tested beyond what any human since Job could possibly withstand.

And yet, the bills will still come due, the groceries will still need to be purchased, the laundry will still need to be washed, and the job still needs to be gone to.  And maybe above and beyond the crisis itself, the very fact that life will not pause one. fucking. minute. so you can catch your breath will be the unkindest cut of all.

Yet it won't pause, so don't expect it to.  I can tell you this because I have now had the unhappy duty of living through this before.  Shit.  I lived like this for a decade.  So, how do you continue on in the face of great adversity?  How do you not only do that but remember to take the trash out on Thursday evenings while you're at it?

I think I pose the question now because I need to answer it for myself again in all honesty.  I figured I needed some sort of proverbial slap in the face to snap me out of the malaise I was finding myself in when at one point during the week I suddenly noticed that the sweater I was wearing had a large amount of spit up on it left over from the last time I pulled it on - meaning it probably smelled lovely too, but I wouldn't be able to tell because it had been a bit since I took the time to shower.  And I ended up eating Goldfish crackers for dinner that night.  And we didn't get the trash out, thank you very much.  I knew at that point I was sliding into a pretty dysfunctional place that did nothing for anybody.

So, like I tend to have to do, I had to think about everything and take some time to sort it out in my head.  And if I know why I'm behaving the way I am, I can figure out a solution to it.  What I've come up with so far is first to answer the question: what is it that keeps us paralyzed when something traumatic is going on?  Is it resistance to wanting to do the work it takes to try and work the problem?   I decided it's not for me.  I can carry the weight of a problem forward, but it's the fear factor that makes me hesitate.  When the stakes are particularly high, like they were with Kelsey's illness, making wrong moves can have dramatic consequences.  This carries some similarities.  Things,  once done or said, cannot be undone or said so you don't want to do anything for fear of making even a teensy mistake.   Yet, sitting paralyzed can be just as dangerous.  Therefore, when weighing the two options:  move forward with the knowledge that you're no expert at navigating the shark filled waters you're entering, or sit on the beach and let the tide carry you away.  Either way the water is going to suck you in, so might as well have some control.

Which, for me, I realized, is another huge hurdle to overcome, as it was when battling the eating disorder.  I have a strong need to be in control.  This is so out of my control that it's terrifying.  We're deluded if we think all things will always be in our control.  But what I can control is how I react to the situation.  Sitting unwashed in a spit up ridden sweater was letting this crazy ass situation to control me.  I need to control me first, and then maybe I can find a way to take a hold of things and help my family begin to tackle the problem.

I also have to let go of the notion that it's unfair.  It is.  It's horribly unfair.  So are children in Africa dying of starvation.  So are six million dead as a result of the Holocaust.  So are a million things that happen to a million other people every single day.  No one ever said we should have a corner on fairness.  Fair is the stuff of fairy tales.

That said, it takes a bit to wrap your head around a situation when something earth shattering comes at you, because it often comes with no warning and with stunning speed.  One day your biggest concern is that everyone in the house has colds.  The next, that seems like a day at DisneyWorld.  I think it's fair that it takes a bit to let something that is so dizzying truly sink in.  But after a day or two of wearing filthy clothes and eating crackers for meals, enough is enough because the problem isn't going away during your pity party.

That said, one definite lesson I learned during the last decade is that when navigating a crisis, self care must be taken.  Tax oneself to an extreme and you will lack what it takes to take care of the family who needs you.  Days will be long, hard and emotionally draining.  Therefore, do not feel guilty if you sneak a few hours for a movie, a massage, or, like me, a hockey game now and again.  I'm not kidding.  You have to recharge every so often.  It's truly not optional.

And of course, I know too well that not all things have happy endings, so steel yourself for what all might happen because I believe sincerely that's the best way to battle the problem with the appropriate level of zeal it will take.  Happy endings are another thing for fairy tales.  But, and here's the thing not to lose sight of, not all things have unhappy endings either.  And the best endings of all are the ones where the journey was hard.  It makes it that much sweeter.

Therefore, here I go.  One foot in front of another.  Let's see where this yellow brick road will lead.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Family Values

Pittsburgh is an amazing town.  I love it with every fiber of my being.  But sometimes you have to realize that Pittsburghers come along with it.  For the most part, I find that part of the wonderful part of living here:  their kindly meant, if not always kindly delivered, bluntness.  Their hard working sincerity.  Their love for all things Black and Gold.  But the large population of Old World Catholics sometimes means that not only are they stuck in place geographically, but in mindset as well.  And sometimes that means they don't understand anything that is outside the "traditional" family structure.  We are not traditional.

And we are not unusual in that.  Wikipedia, for what its worth, states, "The percentage of married-couple households with children under 18 has declined to 23.5% of all households in 2000 from 25.6 in 1990, and from 45% in 1960."

Yet I'll challenge anyone who might look at us and think something is missing because there is a single parent and two grandparents.  The only thing missing in my house is Ripley, who was supposed to be here with us to be a gentle companion and protector to Harrison as he grew.  Rooney and Geddy are doing their best to fill the void.

What does the word family mean in today's world?  I know what the dictionary says.  I think we exceed that.  I think the fact that there is all of us working together - pulling together through sickness (unfortunately, a little too much of that just lately) and health, in bad times and good times, to make sure that Harrison has not only what he needs, but more than he could think to want.  But, most of all, that there is never a moment of any day when he is not showered with love.

So, that's us - maybe we're more of a "bit" untraditional.  But what about other "non-traditional" families?  Same-sex couples, true single mothers, mixed-race relationships?  I worry in today's political climate there will be a backlash against "non-traditional" family structures, even though it would seem that we are the sizable majority.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say there is one thing we all have in common - social conservatives, wild eyed liberals and everyone in between:  we want to strengthen the family.  How we see that happening is where we differ.

I worry, and hope it's an irrational fear, and that I'm wrong: that the current administration will take steps that undermine the true American family in whatever guise it comes.  Same sex couples should not be worried about their parental rights by sweating out whether marriage equality will be struck down by a conservative court.  Why would the Supreme Court strike down basic human rights?

Why would a government whose forefathers came here to be able to practice religious freedom make any child feel persecuted or "less than" for practicing their faith?   Why would a government based on the basic presumption that "...all men are created equal..." knowingly discriminate based on color or nationality?

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
My family may not look exactly like Ozzie and Harriet.  But I want them same thing all families do:  good education for my grandson, for him to be safe, for him to have affordable and quality healthcare, for him to have clean air to breathe, and for him to be seen as equal in the eyes of the law to all other individuals.  So do all families for their children.  We should join together to work toward those things.

My family on a Sunday morning