But then, a number of years later, Shannon asked for a keyboard for her birthday. The small inexpensive one was long gone. It had been moved to the basement and I'm pretty sure one of the boys pulled on a cord too hard or turned a switch with too much force and it had stopped working. Now Shannon wanted a good one, an expensive one. The deal was that she had to take lessons again. If I was going to invest a small fortune in a good keyboard, she was going to learn how to play it. She agreed. Now she goes to lessons with no arguing. She does it because she wants to. We found a piano teacher that is a teacher by profession. She listens to what Shannon wants to learn how to play, not just the next song in the lesson book. Shannon is happy playing piano because she came to it on her own.
Shannon also played and still plays soccer. She had played for a number of years and she had a coach that she had loved during that time. We even switched soccer leagues to stay with him as well as a great group of girls. But then he tragically died and Shannon wanted to take a break from soccer. It was very understandable. She had had the same coach and she played with the same group of girls for a number of seasons. If she played again, not only would she not have the same coach, but she would be with a new group of girls. She wasn't ready for that. So she stopped.
But then one day, Shannon said that she wanted to play again. She missed soccer. We talked about what league to sign up for and that we wouldn't know what team she would end up on or who would be on her team. She understood and so we signed up. She ended up with a few of her friends from that original team as well as another great coach. Shannon stayed with that team until she moved to travel. Shannon was happy because she came back to soccer on her own.
Chris and I were both raised Catholic. I went to Catholic school for 12 years and Chris' mom was the director of her parish's CCD program for about 25 years. Chris also has a sister that became a nun. When we were little, we both went to church every week and we both had parents that, when on vacation, would find a Catholic Church so not to miss a week.
Fast forward a number of years when Chris and I now have a family. We joined our community Catholic Church, signed the kids up for Sunday School and went to Church every week. When the kids were little, the kids were up early anyway, one of us would take the older ones to church while the other would stay home with the babies. We would switch off each week and that was our routine for years until the kids got older and started going to CCD during the week. Then we started going to church on Saturday night. It really was perfect. We would go to church, then have dinner, and then sleep in on Sunday morning.
Fast forward again, and now my kids have travel soccer games and travel basketball and tournaments and they could be late on Saturday night or early on Sunday morning and we haven't been going to church on a regular basis. I would do my best to get us there, but the reality of it all is I was alone in this battle. I battle with the kids every Monday to go to their CCD classes. I would hear moans and groans from them when I told them we were going to church and Chris is more in the camp of you can pray anywhere and doesn't have the need to go to church. As much as I agree with Chris that you can pray anywhere, I also believe that as parents, it is our job to share our faith with our children and there is something to be said about routine and doing something every week and sitting quietly in church away from soccer and basketball and homework and housework and just sitting quietly. There is something about being still and quiet in church that I think is hard to find in our crazy, chaotic but wonderful life. But I was tired of battling this battle alone. I was tired and so I stopped looking at the soccer schedule and basketball schedule to figure out when we could get to mass. I was tired of being the only one fighting this battle. I was just tired and so we stopped going to church and we slept in on Sunday. I didn't tell them we weren't going. It was more of a gradual thing and an all at once kind of thing at the same time.
The kids still go to CCD, Molly has made her First Holy Communion, Shannon was just Confirmed but we weren't going to church. But then this weekend Shannon made a comment that we don't go to church anymore. I told her I think about it every week but it became such a battle with you guys I kind of gave up. Timmy over heard this and said I think about church every weekend too. I asked Shannon if she wanted to go. She said yes. Timmy said he wanted to go as well. I told Shannon that Ryan had a basketball game Saturday night and she had soccer training at 10:30 Sunday morning so if she wanted to go she would have to get up early and we could go to the 8:45 mass. She said yes. Timmy was hesitant about having to get up early. I didn't push it. That night I found this sticky note on my door from Shannon.
So I set my alarm and got up to get ready for church. I walked down to Shannon's room and she was up getting ready as well. I walked into Timmy's room just to let him know that we were going if he wanted to go with us. He rolled over and moaned but in the end, he got up to come with us. Then when I walked back to my room, Chris was up. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was going to come to church with us. I said, "Well, if you're coming, then Molly and Ryan need to come too."
Now, when Shannon said that she wanted to go to church. I was secretly jumping for joy inside. She had come back to it on her own just like piano, just like soccer. The guilt I felt of not going to church for so long didn't feel so bad any more. But now, the whole picture was about to change. I was going to have to wake up Ryan and Molly and it wasn't going to be pretty. Ryan did his usual moaning and groaning and sulking and complaining but did get up and got dressed. Molly on the other hand, my sweet, "Yes, Mom," "Okay, Mom," "I love you, Mom," must have still been sleeping because the girl that was screaming and yelling was not my Molly.
"Shannon, this is all your fault, just because YOU wanted to go to church, look what you've done!!!! Now we all have to go! Sunday mornings are suppose to be MAGICAL because we get to sleep in, well Mom, you just KILLED the MAGIC!!!!!"
I kid you not, I'm a magic killer. What was I doing?!?! This is why we didn't go to church anymore. I was right back to where I left off those many months before. I almost walked out with just Shannon and Timmy, but Chris, my "you can pray anywhere" guy said, "No" and helped get everyone into the car.
We went to church this past Sunday as a family. I sat there exhausted from my morning and thinking about how I am a magic killer. But then I also starting thinking about Shannon with her piano and how she came back to it, and then soccer, she came back to it, and how maybe, just maybe we as parents might need to step back sometimes and let them make their own choices, and hope and pray that we have guided them well. As I sat there, hoping and praying for guidance and patience, my family all together, Molly's head nestled into me, despite me being a magic killer, Molly leans over to me and whispers, "Can we leave after the halftime show?" "Halftime show? What do you mean?" as I looked at her puzzled. "You know, when we get up to get communion and they start playing the music, you know, the halftime show?" Okay, I guess this girl has watched too many of her brothers' basketball games and football games, and there has been too much football playoff games on TV this weekend. And that's when I thought, this is messy glory. You got to get through the messy to get to the glory. And even though our morning wasn't perfect, it was good.
~ Gretchen Rubin