I went to Catholic church as a child because it was important to my father due to his German family upbringing. However, I always remember my mother being the one involved with driving me back and forth to CCD and helping me don my finicking stockings and scratchy dresses because my father was usually at work and/or generally less involved with daily domestics. My mother wasn’t raised religiously and I sensed her disapproval of the Catholic church.
I went through with my Communion (of which I’m sure my Oma and Opa were very proud), but I never was Confirmed. When I reached a certain age, my mother let me decide if I wanted to keep attending church or not. I didn’t want to. And the whole family stopped attending altogether. I wonder what kept my father away? My mother’s opinions? Convenience? Familial loyalty? Laziness? More fun ways to spend a Sunday?
No members of my family attended any church for decades. Then my parents returned to the same Catholic church of my childhood to spend some time with our elderly Tante, who has always attended and has been getting lonely as many friends and family of her generation have died.
Near the same time, I started attending the nearby Presbyterian Church for quite a silly reason. Our house is so close to this church my children regular play in its parking lot, shooting baskets and riding bicycles. They never paid the building any mind until we watched Home Alone and my youngest made the connection between the cathedral in the movie and the church near our house. He wanted to go inside, so I agreed to take him to a service one Sunday.
I quite enjoyed it. This church felt much more laid back than my memories of Catholic service and I liked the message the pastor spoke of that day. It seemed less bible-y and more relatable to modern day life.
My other two children eventually wanted to check it out and my husband and I made a habit of Sunday mornings: I would take whichever kids wanted to attend church and any who didn’t would go for a meditative walk around the lake and woods with their father. Thus we added an hour or so of nice quiet reflection, be it structural or natural, to our weekly schedule. All was well.
And yet I feel myself trapped in the commitment to go to this church every week now. At least one child wants to go every week, even if I don’t feel like going or, more often, would actually prefer to go for a nice walk outside. And although I do still enjoy much of the music and messages, much of it can be a bit too… traditional for my tastes. But I go for the children, even though I have no idea what draws them to the church anymore since the novelty has worn off. The bread squares and juice shots of Communion Day (since we never have juice in the house)? The snacks and games of the Sunday School lessons they’ve stumbled into? The treats at the Coffee Hour sometimes held after service? Just not wanting to go for a walk or spend time with their father?
I suppose I could tell my children that now it’s Spring and the weather is nice, I want to go on the weekly walks, too. We can still go to church on rainy days, ha. I don’t think I’d mind never going to another church service again in my life, but I also don’t feel like it’s necessary to eschew it entirely. I do like the feeling of being a bit more friendly with the church and its patrons, especially since it is so close physically to our house, but I don’t like the underlying feeling of unspoken commitment this causes.
I suppose there isn’t a problem at all, really. I’ve never actually committed to the church. I have the right to tell my children I don’t want to take them if I’d rather take a walk with my husband. For real, I spend enough time away from him throughout the week for a variety of reasons, why willingly spend more time apart from him? I love going for walks with him – it was a huge part of our courtship – and I’d love to do it more. And yet, church has been a surprisingly tranquil addition to my recent life. And yet, nature walks are tranquil, too.
I don’t expect my husband to come to church – I respect his decision not to attend based on his beliefs. I’m not a Believer either and church is not important to me, but I like the idea of exposing my children to many different perspectives of the world. If anything, it can provide them with a good foundation for some of the more religious categories of Jeopardy!
One thought on “Going Back to Church”
Thank you for sharing! I can appreciate you allowing your children the free space. I was a child who did not come from a religious home, but more the one who tagged along with other families.. . Exploring the world of religion without the stress and pressure to be something I wasn’t necessarily ready to be. I commend you on always delving deep and looking out for your children.