We left off back in, oh, 2008 or so, when Brady was old enough to walk but too young to stay in the church’s nursery during mass, and too young to sit still if he sat with us. We gave up, even though we never got nasty looks from anyone about our loud kid. He was just too much for us. And so we lapsed into attending church with Kyle only, and only on Christmas and Easter.
Charity is a coat you wear, twice a year.
-George Michael, Praying For Time
And then suddenly Kyle was old enough to go to Kindergarten. The day I had dreaded since the moment I learned I was pregnant was close at hand. I still worked outside the home but I knew had to arrange my schedule so that we could avoid after-care programs. Why?
Because of catechism.
It didn’t matter that we weren’t churchgoing folk, or that I comforted myself about that by making fun of churchgoing folk. Stewart and I have always planned to raise our children Catholic and enroll them in religious education classes. It’s what we did as children, and even though I remember those days with no fondness at all, I know that it’s right for us to have our kids do the same thing.
When I was a kid, I’d walk from my elementary school to the nearest Catholic school every Monday afternoon with all the other Irish/Polish/Italian Catholic kids. I don’t remember how many of us there were, but my hazy mind-screen says plenty. We would stop at the dime store across the street for penny candy. Mean kids would pick on the wimpy kids. The classrooms at the Catholic school smelled really different from our own school. An older nun named Sister Presentation was in charge. We learned prayers and Beatitudes and how to go to confession and how to hold a gladiolus over our heads to form an arch so that the special girl could walk underneath our flowers to the altar to put a crown of blossoms on the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Church was solemn and mysterious and catechism only served to make it less enjoyable. I am determined to create the opposite experience for Kyle and Brady.
The fact that the local Catholic schools hold their religious classes for first graders on Wednesdays at 4:00 PM sent me into an anxious frenzy of worry about my work schedule. If Kyle had to go to the YMCA for after-care, who would take him to catechism? Or soccer practice? Or piano lessons? Not that he was participating in any of those activities at the time, mind you. But the point is, nobody would take him there. He would be an after-care kid, unable to do any of those things.
That idea of the loss of flexibility for my children to participate in after-school activities was what led me to eventually decide to work at home, no matter what cost. That was 2010. I scaled back to part time at my day job, then eventually left my day job altogether, making my blogging job into a day job that sustains our bigger mortgage. And the rest is history that may or may not be chronicled here or at Agoura Hills Mom, but you can certainly see what I have helped to build over here at CBS Local Los Angeles.
What does all this have to do with church?
Well, once first grade hit, Kyle started catechism (also known as CCD, faith formation, or religious education, but we just call it “God School.”) On the first day there was a parent-child orientation, where we were told with a firm stare that parents are encouraged to attend mass with their children. Regularly.
That was September. Every week Stewart and I would make tentative plans to take the kids to 10:00 mass on Sunday morning, but every week, something would come up that seemed more important. And then Lisa died.
I know, that again.
On the day before she died Kyle had a special God School class that required adult participation. I was shooting a video for Kleenex and didn’t think I would get done in time to accompany him. I called Lisa and asked if she could come out here to take him, since she was his godmother, but she had a late meeting that day, and couldn’t get away in time. In the end I would up wrapping my shoot early enough and I went with him, which was when I learned that some of the prayers that we say during mass would be changing soon because there is a new translation from the ancient Latin that has recently been approved by the Church.
Good thing, because starting the weekend after Lisa’s funeral, we have gone to church every Sunday without fail. I will tell you why and how that feels in another post.
Kyle and Brady with church Santa, December 2011