I am not a very good Catholic.
For far too many reasons I will not go into now. I will post about those another time, but here’s a preview:
Reason #1: I did not get married in a church, but instead in a hall normally reserved for the funeral luncheons they book from the cemetery across the street – quote from the caterer: “Oh it’s so nice to be doing a wedding instead of a funeral!”; and which was officiated by a lesbian, non-denominational minister, on the day of the worst storm and flooding of the year.
That I am now a couple of months shy of finally being divorced is no mystery to the faithful among us.
But this week I was sitting in church for the mandatory parents’ meeting regarding my oldest son’s upcoming Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.
Reason #2: It has been so long since I have gone to church for an actual mass that I thought to myself…when the hell did everyone start commonly calling “Confession”…”Reconciliation”??.
ANSWER: Since 89,000 B.C. That’s when.
I have a lot of problems with the Catholic Church and religion in general, but still, just because I will most likely burn in Hell doesn’t mean my kids have to. I thought I would at least do the bare minimum and give them the biggies I was raised to believe in, to ensure Heaven for them some day. And the first of those biggies is baptism.
It is INSANE to me that people could ever actually think if a child is not baptized and they God-forbid die, that they will not go to Heaven. What a load of crap. But hey – rebellion is owned…not given.
Therefore I had my oldest child baptized.
Reason #3: I kind of forgot to get a “real”, professional baptismal sheet cake, ran out the day of the ceremony between the ceremony and the party – before all the guests came over – and bought a small, round carrot cake. Complete with two little orange icing carrots on the top.
Me and my girlfriend then ridiculously, hastily wrote in icing on the top “Happy Baptism!” or something like that and then drew a cross on it. Yessss ma’am.
Then my second child.
Reason #4: I hate those little white suits babies are supposed to wear for baptisms. They look like funeral suits and they seriously Creep. Me. Out. I hate them.
So my second son wore a white Polo shirt with khaki pants to his ceremony. Stay classy.
Then there was my last born. BooBoos. Boo for short.
A month or so ago me and the kids were camping with my parents. As my mother and I sat alone by the campfire a feeling of unease came over me in a powerful, sickening way. It had been brewing for weeks and I could no longer avoid confronting it.
I was drinking Scotch that my father had given me. It was so good and it was starting to relax me. I was getting all loose. I realized that I had to ask the question out loud no matter how unfuckingbelievably embarrassing it was.
“Mom?” I asked sheepishly.
“Yeah?” She replied.
Big, deep breath from me.
“So…” nervous, fake, bad sitcom actor laugh, “So…did I have Boo baptized??”
“What?” she said.
“I…did I have him baptized?”
“Of course!” she blurted out. “Of course, yes you did.”
“Oh good. (Loooong pause). Yeah, see…did I though?? Did I really??” I said, wishing the reason I was asking it was because I was drunk and not mentally ill.
“Yes…so and so was there, and you had the party and you got the cake and…” she continued.
“No” I interrupted, “No, those things happened at NONO’s baptism…not Boo’s”.
“Oh”. She said looking down at the fire. “No, you definitely did. I would have been ON YOU if you hadn’t. You did. How can you not REMEMBER THAT!? He’s only 5 years old!” She nervously laughed. (Loooong pause). “Oh my God…DID you baptize him?”
Now I was making her doubt her sanity, her religion, her very existence!
“Shit”. I said.
Yes. Super Shit.
You see, I went on to explain, the thing is…the thing is…hmmmm…the thing is that I remember almost nothing from the first two years of my two youngest sons’ lives.
My middle and youngest sons were born 13 months apart with my oldest son being only two years older than my middle….and that entire time period, from the birth of my middle child until my youngest was about 10 months old, is a blur of breast-feeding, exhaustion, breast pumping, exhaustion, trying to force feed and force naps and force any sense of normalcy into my life.
My most vivid memories of that time are of standing at my kitchen counter, dressed like a hobo, hyperventilating and trying not to freak the FUCK OUT at the three little boys I was trying to just…keep…alive.
That night at the campground I finally had to admit to someone that I might as well have been lobotomized for all I remembered of the infancy of my children.
I told my Mom that I had a very very vague recollection of looking at my 4 or 5 month old Boo and thinking, yeah I need to call the church and get him baptized. But then I hooked myself up to the electric milker and I blacked out for probably another oh, six to eight weeks.
I knew who I had chosen to be his Godparents, so I finally said to my Mom, “I can’t stand it. I have got to text his Godmother. She will know”. Yes the non-mother will know!
Oh the shame. Seriously.
It was 10 pm and I was going to text my friend who I asked to be his Godmother and was going to ask her if MY son was, indeed, baptized.
Big swig of Scotch. And now I was just laughing at the pathetic-ness of it all. Shame took a backseat to the black hole in my head that needed filling.
Here is our text exchange verbatim:
ME: Ok. Don’t think I’m a freak. I’m drinking. (Sure, blame it on the booze). But me and my Mom cannot remember if I had Boo baptized. You are the Godmother…but did I baptize him?
(See how I threw my Mother under the bus there? See how I did that? WE cannot remember.)
HER: YES! LOL!!!
(Yup. Rip roarin’ laugh out loud funny. For HER.)
ME: Are you sure?? I can’t find even one picture from his baptism. We are laughing. Are you really sure??
(Subtext: Please tell me you are as big a douche of a mother as I am and that it’s natural to not remember significant life events of your children).
HER: I got him a book. There are pictures!! I swear I’ve seen them. I got him a book to put memories, cards, etc of the baptism in. Real nice.
ME: It’s like it never happened. That whole year was a blur! lol
Uh huh. L O L
I didn’t even know what memory book she was talking about.
I wanted to stand up like Pacino’s Lt. Colonel Frank Slade and wail into the night sky, “I’m in the DAAAAHHK HERE!” But I would have spilled the Scotch.
Sweet Jesus. For weeks I had looked for even one picture of that day and I could not find any. Not one.
Did I burn them? Eat them?? Did I hook them up to the suck-o-matic torture device and SUCK them clean of their very imagery???
In the meantime, my mother – who is a whiz at family genealogy - had the brilliant idea to look through her online records of our family in which she adds baptismal information, and corroborated the corroborator’s texts.
Apparently this event took place.
I dunno. I have serious doubts.
This feeling is like the worst black out you’ve ever had from an all night college bender where you wake up at 6 am face down on the floor of a Taco Bell wearing a tiara, a Flashdance sweatshirt and moon boots you’ve never owned, when the last thing you remember happening took place 19 hours earlier.
(That probably never happened to me by the way. All I am saying is with several billion people on the planet the odds are pretty high it has happened to someone).
I suppose I will have to cave and ask my ex-husband to look through the thousands of pictures he has on his hard drive for evidence. I am sure he will get riiiggghhht on that for me.
So there I was, sitting in church this week, reminiscing of lactation and profound memory loss and thinking, you know, I really identify with Doubting Thomas.
Maybe a TV news crew filming the Reconciliation/Communion?
Reason #5: I sometimes want proof.
And to my very first point, as a Catholic that is hard to reconcile.