Sunday, May 18, 2008

Faith Base

I went to church this morning and sat behind two pews of people who were all related. They ranged in age from a newborn little boy and his roughly 3 year old sister to their grandfather who must have been at least 60. In between there were a few aunts, cousins, parents and uncles. It was really nice. It was lovely to see this family worship together and made me think of my own kids and why they weren't in church with me.

I don't take my kids to church. I just don't. Church, for me, is an experience between God and I filled with music and prayer. It is also about the community and having an experience of prayer with them but lately, for me, it has been more of a singular experience. After the debacle that was my daughter's baptism last summer we switched parishes and I'm still getting used to this one and getting settled. So, really experiencing the community is difficult when you're still getting used to it.

Yet, again, I digress.

When my children were infants I took them to church occasionally. Not much. Church was an opportunity for me to get out of the house alone and have 45 minutes to an hour of peace. As they have grown older I have questioned my decision not to bring them to church with me and lately it has been bothering me more and more. My husband does not come to church with me unless I beg or it's a special occasion. He has "issues" with God. Some of these issues I understand, he is angry at the death of his mother. Some of these issues I think he uses as convenient excuses. We used to go to church together one Sunday a month and he was doing really well with it but with the introduction of our children it became more difficult to continue this. If I were to take my kids to church with me and not have my husband there I have a feeling it would end badly for all involved. I have visions of my three year old running across the altar or screaming out some random obscenity and my one year old cheering emphatically as her brother put on the show.

I've talked to a number of people about this who sit on both sides of the line. The people who took their children to church from the very beginning. The people who somehow managed to subdue their toddlers and babies long enough to participate fully and prayerfully in the mass. The people who claimed they did not use cheerios or toys to get their little ones to stay calm and involved. The people who sat in the front pew so their children could see it all. Then I talked to the people who brought their kids to church but either put them in baby sitting or sat in the "cry room" aka petri dish, with their kids. These are the people who were at mass but admit that participation was difficult because they were so focused on their children, whether they were in baby sitting or punching out another kid in the cry room. The people who brought every form of snack food with them to church and their children still freaked out. And the people who sat in the front pew and received dirty looks from the presider and those around them. I'm still uncertain.

I can remember going to church as a young child. I can remember playing in church but I can also remember paying attention to the mass and experiencing and understanding. I can remember being at mass with just my parents some weeks and other weeks with my extended family. Those experiences at church with my family are what helped to establish my faith base and make religion important to me. I don't want my children to miss out on that. I would love for my kids to experience church with their grandparents and me and their father. I think it would make it easier. I think it would help them to stay calm. I think it would make religion a vital part of their lives. We talk about God and faith and heaven. We share faith with our kids but the more I think about it the more important it becomes for them to share in church with us. I just don't know how or when, yet.

I have a feeling there will come a time when my children will be in a pew with me and my parents and my husband and we will be experiencing mass together. I'm sure we'll be in the front row and I hope that they will be captivated by the experience of it all. I'm hoping they won't be eating cheerios and there won't be a mad dash across the altar at any point. I want them to experience church in the ways I did as a child and I think that needs to happen soon.


Bunchy said...

Our church is different because my kids go to their own classes while I'm in the service. But I do think it's important that they get to experience that faith firsthand at some point. Your kids are still so little, and there's lots of time. You know when they'll be ready. I can't wait to hear all about it! :)

Kelley said...

you will know when you both are ready. The kids to be able to sit and understand and you to share this time with them.

OHmommy said...

Let it happen naturally.

We have taken them from the beginning sans snacks and sitting in the front. I have some children religious books, in emergency that I pull out.

When they get a bit older. You will be amazed how much they understand.

Momo Fali said...

We have taken our children to church since they were six and nine, it's part of their lives as much as home is. They're comfortable there. We used the Cheerios when they were younger, and still take books for my six year old to look at. But, he's going to have to stop that this summer, because in the Fall he'll be in Kindergarten and attending Mass without me and without books about the movie Cars!

LunaNik said...

Got nothin' to offer here girl. Sorry. Good luck. I know you'll find a way to make it all work.

Celia Fae said...

Thanks for the comment you left on my Ms Adventures post about religion. It was just the sort of feedback I wanted. I agree, reading about an individual's experience with faith is fascinating, and I'm happy to have found your blog.

I'm with ohmommy. Kids sponge it up, even if nothing much is happening for you.

Indy said...

I hear you. When my kids were babies, it was sheer torture to have them in church with us. Now that they are older, 5 and 4, they are better. Our church has "Jr. Church" like Sunday school during the service. Our children are in the real service for 20 minutes and then they go to a special class. It works out nice. It is a nice break for me and I can enjoy the service. Do what you can without losing it. Try not to fret about it. You can take them when they are a little older. Do what you can.

Kellan said...

I really like our church for the fact that the kids are in their classes at the same time we are in the sanctuary listening to the Sunday service - they get something out of church and so do we - it works out great.

Have a good day - Kellan

ConverseMomma said...

Church was such an important part of my growing up and I still have a very close relationship with God, after a few years of searching. I returned to my catholic roots. We baptised the babies, but we don't take them to mass. Alot of that is being lazy, and being married to someone who really does not believe in organized faith. It makes me sad, sometimes. But, I tell my children about God and how much he loves them both. We'll see what happens in the future.

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