Trying the UU

Sometimes when life throws a curveball, it’s pleasant.

Since Buddy was born Andy has taken him to Mass, while I have a bit of time to myself. As Buddy has gotten older and as Sissy has come along, Andy has become more and more dissatisfied with the arrangement. His church does not have a nursery or Sunday school. Raised in a heavily Protestant area I was surprised to learn these are not common in Catholic Churches. It’s all about Mass and children and infants are expected to sit through it.

Problem is Mass is long and boring. Especially when you’re a toddler and pre-schooler.

Worse, Andy often talks about how families are marginalized at his church. All the families with children have to sit in a small, separate room that is not well ventilated. It’s also on the other side of the building from where the bathroom with the diaper changing area is. There’s not enough room and it’s uncomfortable and there’s not a lot of toleration//understanding of the needs of children.

I find it the height of irony that a church that abhors birth control is so unfriendly to families.

Last week when Andy got back from Mass he said he’d had enough and he wasn’t taking them anymore. After a bit of thought I asked if it would be okay if I took them to the local Unitarian Universalist church, and he was okay with it. He said he might come with me if he did Mass on Saturday, but as we went to the State Fair yesterday he didn’t have time.

It’s been years since I’ve been to the UU. I was raised by atheists and was never in the habit of going to church. I went to the UU once before Buddy was born and liked the discussion before services well enough, but wasn’t too interested in the worship where people sit around singing anti-dogma songs. After I went I got real sick with a case of pneumonia that lasted for months and just lost track of it.

In my mind, going with Buddy and Sissy and perhaps Andy would go one of two ways.

Scenario One: Everything is perfect! I meet my new best friend, Andy comes along and decides he really likes it, Buddy and Sissy thrive and we get very involved.

Scenario Two: Everything goes wrong. Buddy has an autistic meltdown, Sissy throws a fit at having to be separated from me, and we’re asked not to come back.

The reality was somewhere in the middle.

The really good news was that Buddy’s Sunday School teacher is also a special education teacher, so he’s having autism was no big deal. I also like that they do a lot of imaginary play, because I think developing those skills will help Buddy.

The hard part was leaving Buddy and Sissy in Sunday school and getting out of the room. Buddy would run and cling to me as soon as I made towards the door, and Sissy would break down crying. Eventually we got Buddy interested in something, and I got out, but Sissy did throw a fit when she saw me leave. But here’s the other nice thing, all UU churches are also nature preserves, and both Buddy and Sissy love being outdoors. So when they went outside both Buddy and Sissy calmed down and by the time I went to pick them up they were playing nicely.

As for me I went to a forum where they were discussing current events. As I am a liberal in a very conservative area, it was just nice to talk without having to worry about getting into an argument with someone who is conservative. I don’t like arguing. So I was able to have a productive discussion without feeling like I had to censor myself.

Lately, for various reasons, I’ve been feeling isolated, so it was nice to sit and chat with like minded people.

After the forum there was a worship service, but I wasn’t too interested in it and figured an hour apart on a Sunday was enough time away from my kiddos, so I gathered them to take them home. Met Andy for lunch and he enjoyed getting to do Mass without having to take care of Buddy and Sissy.

I think it will be a good new arrangement. I like the UU’s focus on finding a religious/spiritual path that is right for each individual and teaching respect for all religious viewpoints, and I think Buddy and Sissy will benefit from that. And, considering Buddy and Sissy are both bi-racial and raised in a dual religious household, the UU’s emphasis on tolerance will help them find other people who accept them more easily than other places. And I think Buddy could grow with the Sunday School program.

And it will be good for me to connect with other like minded individuals and not be so isolated in a sea of conservative and religious right folks. I worry about down the line and how Andy’s rigid Catholicism will clash, especially as the UU is the anti-thesis of Catholicism (rigid dogma vs anti-dogma), but for now Andy sees that I really need some time with like minded people and he’s tired of shepherding Buddy and Sissy through Mass on his own.

It will be interesting to see where this takes us.


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