So after the fiasco that culminated in leaving my previous house of worship, I just took some time off from church. At first I applied a lot of pressure to myself to find a place that would hopefully offer Hope and me a place to fit. Aunty Therapist convinced me to just take some time off; she was right.
It gave me a little time to breathe.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited the neighborhood Unitarian church. I was intrigued by and attracted to the progressiveness, the commitment to social justice, the inclusiveness of believers. It all seemed to suggest that it might be a nice place to visit and to try out.
So, Hope and I get there and…we diversified the church by a factor of 200. I mean, I was looking for diversity, but I didn’t want to exclusively be “the” diversity. Also, the congregants were…older, a lot older.
And I struggled with the service. I was raised Christian; I identify strongly as Christian even though I believe a lot of other things that many folks believe are counter to Christianity. I have never been in an organized place of worship where I could also be open about all the other stuff. I also missed the routine of a more traditional Christian-oriented service. I like it; I know what to expect and generally what kinds of things I’m going to hear. So, despite being curious and interested, I found myself overwhelmed by being in a new space and not knowing anyone, overwhelmed by the service being so different, overwhelmed by my being so different than the other congregants. People were very nice, but it really didn’t feel like…I just didn’t think this was home.
And so then we didn’t go back.
Until this yesterday; off we went to the 10am service to try again.
Hope nearly shut down when I announced that she was expected to go to the Religious Education class today. I sensed her anxiety and yet I pushed her off anyway; we were really going to give this Unitarian church thing a chance.
So, the service…yeah, I’m still not connecting the way I would like to, but ok. It was nice, really nice, but just really different. While having snacks after the service I chatted up an older couple who joined the church about five years ago. I had my little visitor tag on and shared what I was kind of looking for and how I was also a little anxious about how Hope fared in the RE class. I shared that we were an adoptive family.
The gentleman smiled and shared that he was adopted many, many years ago.
I smiled. We smiled. And I got the sense that he got me and that he appreciated that I was looking for something for me and Hope that I still struggle with articulating after the drama of our last church.
I breathed, and I smiled again.
And then Hope breezed by, casually saying, “Hi mom” as she headed to the snack table.
I was nearly slack jawed, staring at my usually withdrawn kiddo as she amiably chatted with other teens, giggled and perused the snacks.
Hope didn’t run to me. She didn’t cling or give me dirty looks about making her do this thing she didn’t want to do 90 minutes ago.
I just watched her. She strolled over to me confidently, bringing me a piece of cake that I didn’t ask for but secretly desired, just because she knows I like cake…a lot. It was even a corner piece because she knows I love frosting.
Who is this kid??? She brought me a piece of chocolate cake for gawd’s sake??? I thought to myself, well, this is the shock of 2015. Stunning really.
I introduced her to the folks I spent some time chatting with earlier.
And then, she asked, “Hey the kids are going to IHOP after church, can I go?”
So, clearly this Unitarian church is the church of the body snatchers because I have no idea who this kid masked in Hope’s clothing is right now. I’ve fantasized about moments like this. moments when Hope asked to ditch me in favor of hanging with peers.
The other kids breezed over and all these teen eyeballs looked at me expectantly.
And I said
hells yeah sure. I told her to call me when it was time to be picked up and practically threw $20 at her. I said good bye to new people I met and I left. I totally ran bounced to the car.
I left my kid with folks I don’t even know, kids she met at church, kids she actually asked to go hang out with. In retrospect it sounds a bit irresponsible to just let her go get in someone else’s car and drive off, yet I lost, like, no seconds of sleep over the decision to do so.
OMG. Seriously, Hope asking to hang out with other kids was a fantasy come true.
And about 2 hours later she texted me to come fetch her. She went on about how the kids went to IHOP and then to Starbucks. One kid is a rising 10th grader at the school she will attend in the fall and also in the band! The young man who is the youth mentor/group leader is also an adoptee. Hope gushed about how much fun she had, how accepted she felt and how she looked forward to going to another event.
She begged to go to the game night the church is hosting for the teens in a few weeks as I picked her up. I had Yappy with me so all of the kids came out to the car talking about game night and how it would be fun.
More expectant teen eyeballs looking at me for an immediate answer.
Um, yeah, sure!
So, looks like we’ll be hanging out with the UU folks for a minute. I hope this continues to be a place of growth for Hope. I am excited for her.
I’m also excited that I might have some time to myself without paying the nanny.