Sunday, August 15, 2010
Let me say up front, in case my parents are reading this, that my faith is both deep and sincere. And let the record show that I have always attended church regularly, even before I had children. Having said that, being a mom brings a whole new level of meaning and urgency to church attendance, which I can summarize with two words: FREE CHILDCARE.
We are just coming off VBS season in the world of Christendom. For you unfortunate heathens out there, VBS stands for Vacation Bible School, but it could just as easily stand for Very Best Several-days-of-mom's-life (yes, I realize I am playing fast and loose with the rules of acronym construction. Bite me.) This is when very kind but obviously deranged or guilt-ridden people in a church put together an entire week of day or evening programming for children, and you, the parent, get to drop yours off free of charge and go and eat in an actual restaurant. The most unbelievable part is you don't even have to be a member of the church. In fact, if you do a little research, you can hit the VBSs of a whole bunch of churches in your area, which hopefully have wisely staggered their programs, and you might not even have to see your child for several weeks. I missed the boat this summer, because I assumed Charlotte, at 2, was too young for VBS, but I did at least get her in to our church's VBS. Kevin recalls that when he was growing up, his mother fully exploited the VBS system, which is even more vast in the Bible-belted nirvana of Arkansas than here in the bleakly secular northeast. He thinks she might have even put him into a Mormon one, which, based on her commitment to Christianity, I kind of doubt, but based on her probable desperation as a full-time mother of small children, I would believe (and would not judge).
And VBS is just the tip of the iceberg. There is an hour and a half of childcare every Sunday, there is childcare for every major church seminar, congregational meeting, and potluck. There are two hours of free childcare every Thursday morning for the mom's Bible study. I attend all of these religiously. Or actually, not so religiously, if I am honest about my motives. Like I said, I was a regular church attender before I had kids, but I did my share of playing hooky and certainly I rarely attended seminars and Bible studies. Because I figured that God realized what a busy person I was and that I probably had something very important to do, like getting my eyebrows waxed. Now, if I am not in church, you can reasonably assume someone in my family has contracted the plague (which sadly does happen fairly regularly) or a sink hole has swallowed my car (fortunately a more rare occurrence). You could not reasonably assume that I have lost my religious devotion, because I would come for the free childcare even if I suddenly became an atheist or a Buddhist. If I discovered that other faiths had similar perks, I might hit them up now and then too, but if I am not mistaken, Christianity, and evangelical Christianity in particular, has the free childcare market pretty well cornered. Which makes me wonder why every parent in America doesn't attend church, at least while their kids are young and pretty clueless. People are really missing out.
Of course, it does help if you actually believe what is being preached/taught (although honestly, I would listen to a 2 hour Amway pitch if they were offering free childcare). And if you want your kids to also believe those things, even better. Our church already has Charlotte coming home with Jesus tales. It's unbelievable. And incredibly comforting, too, because I can suck just that much more as a parent.
And that's what Christianity is all about anyway: God making up for us sucking. I am SO all about it. See, I am a real devotee after all.