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Dear Oprah,

I’m pretty sure you weren’t raised catholic like I was.  It seems like I’ve heard some of your childhood story, but I have no knowledge of your religious upbringing.  I do know that you have Super Soul Sunday on tv, which I have caught a few times, and enjoyed your guests immensely!

I went to catholic school through 6th grade.  There are no horror stories.  No mean nuns.  Actually, I only had one nun teacher and that was in first grade.  It was really just regular school that also taught biblical lessons, the catholic sacraments and held Mass.  I am grateful to my parents for giving me a frame of reference, from which to begin my relationship god, but like so many, I have fallen away from Catholicism.  I have no particular reason other than it was too abstract for me for too long, and by the time I found a more practical vehicle through which to communicate with god, there was nothing else that could substitute.  So I am a new-age-y nut which some may consider “god-less”since I don’t have a church.  But that’s okay…God knows where my heart is.

Grammy and Papa have introduced Pierce and Mikey to Sunday School and Catholic Mass.  I believe that any relationship with a higher power makes for a better life, and what better than a kind and loving hour of education once a week, and the occasional grueling hour of Mass for a 4 and 7 year-old, to lay the foundation.  However, Greg and I know that taking two boys to Mass can be very distracting and require more sacrifice than we are willing to suffer.  Therefore, we make no assumptions that Grammy and Papa want to escort two little rascals to church if there is no Sunday school.  We wait to be told to have them ready and on the front stoop.  I think Grammy wishes we would just take the initiative, and have them prepared to go—truthfully, she wishes that we would show up, ourselves, in church once in a while.

Anyway, we hadn’t prepared the kids for Mass today, and then the 7:15 phone call came.  “Are the boys going to church with us today?”  “Uhmmmm…well….we hadn’t planned for it because we weren’t told that you wanted to subject yourself to the gauntlet.”  Okay, I didn’t say that last part.  Being the good catholic that my mom is, she responded with a healthy dose of disappointment that worked the magical powers of guilt on me.

I woke the boys, slowly, and listened to their protests.  But eventually, I got tough and stopped trying to cajole them into Mass followed by 5 pieces of French toast and a glass of chocolate milk.  Funny how when you drop the axe on their hopes of getting out of something, they surrender pretty willingly.

We got them bathed and dressed like the perfect little model children that they are.  I have new shoes for them that I thought were a little more dressy, but Pierce really wanted to wear his new little boiled wool, brown felt slippers.  I have to laugh at these moments, like the tot wearing cowboy boots with shorts in 90 degrees.  Rather than be embarrassed to be seen with these monsters of fashion faux pas, I find it hilarious watching people’s reactions.

When my 80-year-old mother and 76-year-old father showed up for their 7-year-old and 85-year-old grandson’s, we had a little trouble getting the slipper wearing Pierce to put on his little old man sweater.  He was just ornery (sort of like a little old man—he was really playing the role to the hilt.)  Grammy told him he couldn’t go to church with them if he didn’t wear a sweater—what a dumb threat!  I think he may have considered removing his pants at that point.  I told him he was not going to get “hugs and kisses and goodbyes” from me and he would also be cold, but he was going to church!  Pretty soon he showed up in front of me ready to slip his arms into his sweater, get buttoned up and topped off with “hugs and kisses and goodbyes.”

As I walked my parents and brood out to the car, Mikey, with his hands full, opened the screen door and dropped his tablet and book of video games.  Immediately looking at me to see signs of his mother’s irritation–I didn’t disappoint–retrieved his things, and bounced out to the car with Pierce behind him.  When they got there, Mikey was yanking on the car door handle even though it was locked and Pierce was jumping and landing on his knees in the wet grass just for fun.  I looked and my dad and told him that I knew what his list of confessions would be this week.  “Father please forgive me for wanting to strangle my grandchildren 18 times.”  “Father, please forgive me for bringing the devil’s spawn into your house.” “Father, please, DON’T forgive them, they know exactly what they do!”  Ohh…the sacrifices….

Spiritual tidings,

J

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