Friday, September 28, 2012

To Forgive, Divine

I think any frequent readers of my blog could guess that I am not exactly a shining  example of Catholicism. I have broken multiple commandments . I consider it my duty to dishonor my father and mother, I take the Lord's name in vain often and creatively, and when my kid asked, I told her Jesus was married. I was a fallen Catholic (which sounds epic and dark, but really just means you don't take communion during mass), moved on to being a lapsed Catholic, and now am what my mom calls a cafeteria Catholic, meaning I pick and choose what I believe. The church and I disagree on gay rights, women as priests and allowing priests to marry, abortion, conversion missions, and a few other odds and ends. I refuse to use the new responses in the missal, sticking with "And also with you" instead of "And with your spirit" (which is clunky as hell and makes me think my patronus is going to come out to shake hands) and I think whomever decided "consubstantial" was a good word for a group response has a really wicked sense of humor.

So obviously, I am going to have a few problems with helping my daughter work her way toward receiving two holy sacraments this year: penance and communion. Last night was our first meeting to explain how it all works. This year, they have changed the system and the entire family gets to go to confession (not together, thank the Lord and all his ponies), but back-to-back. I'll be honest, I don't think I have entered the confessional since pre-Cana [mandatory marriage counseling in order to get married Catholic]. That's almost 12 years of sins, all piled up waiting to be confessed. Father is going to need a bigger booth.

Luckily, the lovely woman running the religious education program talked about this very subject, aka, how to confess your sins without embarrassing yourself or the priest. She started by first explaining the difference between mortal and venial sins (which can be summed up as the difference between death and vanity.) What I found worrisome, however, was that she seemed truly concerned that some of us might have actually murdered someone. Lady, this ain't North Jersey and we are not on The Sopranos. Of course, this has prompted an entire group of second grade moms to ask each other where the bodies are buried and to try to get each other to 'fess up to homicide every time we greet each other. Then she moved on to giving examples of issues we may find awkward to confess. Now, I personally would have gone for the small potatoes, coveting thy neighbor's Coach bags or using the Sabbath to run errands. Nope, this soft-spoken, almost baby doll-voiced women went straight to abortion and porn. (Not just regular porn either, but a porn addiction.) Jesus! I think even the priest popped an eyebrow at that and this was the guy who had already admitted that our confessions go in one ear and out the other. I think he is going to start paying more attention when she enters the booth, don't you?

Plus, who in their right mind is confessing that level of sin on family penance day?. You certainly don't risk talking about that with your husband, kids, and a dozen other families from the parish sitting outside in the pews waiting their turn. Sure, you may go for the out-of-town priest brought in for the day to handle overflow to ensure the parish priest doesn't recognizing your voice, but even then you are taking a risk. If you really feel like that is the day you need to make your soul glossy and clean with the Lord, then by all means, but I am going to stick to the day-to-day sins, thanks so much. While in theory, no one is supposed to be listening, in practice, the booths aren't soundproof, the church is really quiet, and some people have no concept of inside voices.

Luckily, I have a few months to relearn the Act of Contrition and get my sins in order. I am trying to decide if now is the time to commit the big ones, since I'll be forgiven for all, or just stick to perfecting my ability to commit the little ones. Either way, I am going to try to go last in my family. It's bad enough that I worry lightning will strike every time I step into the vestibule, but I certainly don't want to be responsible for giving the priest a heart attack. Somehow, I don't think the other priests will be quite so forgiving about that.

Friday, September 7, 2012

House Rules

My husband and I have an arrangement. It is one of several little deals we have worked out during the course of our marriage to keep both of us happy. I'm not talking the basic, "don't dingle the strippers" or "paychecks are not for beer and lottery tickets" type of stuff. I'm talking the meat and potatoes of day to day life.

For example, we have a rule about cooking. "If I make it, he cannot complain about what time it is served. If he makes it, then I cannot complain about what time it is served." What this boils down to is that I cook early, he cooks late. We are eating in daylight when I'm in charge and by the light of the moon when he's in charge.

There is also a well-known rule about working late. I've mentioned it here before. It's the Barnes and Noble tax. For every egregiously late night, I get a $25 BN gift card. Look, I'm not a monster. I understand that shit happens and sometimes you have to put in the extra time. Those nights don't count. A quick phone call and a reasonable explanation is all I require. However, on those nights when all communication is nonexistent, or "I'm leaving in two minutes" turns into two plus hours, or one late night becomes three late nights, plus the laptop gets broken out as soon as he sits down? I get paid for that nonsense. Why? Why punish my husband for following his own basic, workaholic, human nature? Because it reminds him that there is a price to pay for ignoring his family, for not being home in time to put his kids to bed, for forgetting that when he dies, God isn't going to ask him for his résumé. It's actually sort of sad, it has worked so well that I haven't bought new books in months.

Recently, we had to come up with a new rule. I just joined the PTA and as a result, am expected to attend a multitude of family functions. My husband, the anti-social misanthrope, hates these things with a flaming passion. Hates. So our new rule is our simplest - I go, he doesn't. Our biggest fundraiser takes place on a Friday. I'll be at school from sunup to way, way past sundown. My husband agreed to take the entire day off - with one caveat. He does not have to step even one foot inside the building. He's not getting out of the Father/Daughter dance for love or money and the soccer beef & beer is required for coaches, but everything else? I'm flying solo and he's got the kids.

This all sounds like we have a very distant marriage, but he much prefers to stay home and watch goofy lawyer shows on TV and I way prefer to socialize with the ladies and not worry if he is having a good time. It also saves on babysitting fees. One ticket to an event, zero alcohol, and an extra $20 for the inevitable basket auction is one thing. Two tickets, enough alcohol to get him through the event, double the amount of auction tickets because he gets competitive about seeing who can win, plus $10 an hour in babysitting? That's a whole other thing entirely. Why throw money away so we can look like a happy family? Instead, we can save the money and actually BE a happy family. He always stays up and waits for me and will attentively listen to me vent or gossip and I always smuggle him some dessert and wait to chat until he finishes what he is watching. It really does work out well for both of us.

So, when you see me out without my husband, don't worry that things are rocky at home. Know that I got a kiss on my way out and I'll get another one on my way in and that the drunk guy in the corner singing karaoke at the top of his lung? He isn't with me.