My husband and I are converts to Catholicism and if you’ve read this blog much, you probably already know that we take all the teachings very seriously. We’ve run into some issues with family members over the contraaception issue, our belief in the Real Presence, the honor we give to Mary and more minor things like our choice not to eat meat on Fridays as a sacrifice on the day Christ died.
We try, to the best of our human abilities, to live lives that reflect the Church’s teachings and we try to raise our children with full knowledge of those same teachings.
It’s never easy to live in this world but maintain a moral stance that is attacked on all sides by the media and even some friends and family. However, Christ never promised us it would be easy.
One way most true Catholics stay charged up about their faith, besides participating in the sacraments, is by seeking out and cultivating friendships with others of like minds. It is in these relationships we can truly be ourselves, to the core of our beings, without fear of ridicule. To use a popular term these days, these relationships are “safe places.”
So, it is a severe shock to when one of these safe, nurturing relationships suddenly turns toxic without warning. This is what happened to me recently.
As you know, I’ve been posting updates on this blog about my medical situation. I haven’t done this to complain, because honestly I know things could be so much worse! I’ve done it mainly as a record of what is happening for me to go back and see how it was, in the future when I want to remember. Also, this is an easy way of letting family and friends who aren’t nearby know how I’m doing.
I have a handful of people who don’t read my blog, but I want to keep them up to date, too, so I often send out a group email similar to what I post here.
For the most part, responses are positive. Prayers are offered, as well as requests if I need anything or just basic support and offers of a shoulder if I need it.
One day, a Catholic friend, one of those safe relationships I mentioned, responded to an email about my son and his learning differences.
She suggested that God is calling me to homeschool.
I responded with what I thought was love and gratitude, but said I didn’t b believe homeschooling is for us. This is what I said:
Thanks so much for your concern, and believe me it is something that we’ve talked about, but I know myself and I am in no way organized enough to homeschool. And, given that the Boy has no siblings close to his age and no kids around that he could associate with, I don’t believe we would be doing him a favor taking him out of school.
I so admire people who homeschool. My best friend in New Jersey homeschools her three daughters, but I truly don’t think I’m gifted in that area.
As for The Boy’s religious training, we don’t depend on the school for that. The Girl had to attend “public” school from first through third grade (first and second in Germany and third because the Catholic school had no room), and while she attended CCD in third grade, I believe her strong Catholicism comes from having Beloved as a father, just as your kids have you and your husband.
The bottom line for me is that The Boy, like The Girl, thrives around other kids and I just can’t offer him that kind of interaction. We chose Catholic school not just for the Catholic instruction which I do believe should come from us, but because we’d rather have the kids in a school that won’t mock their faith.
I really do appreciate your concern and I love you for caring, but please understand that I believe I am not cut out for this. I thought I would do something like that over the summer and it just never happened. I would be terrified to take him out of the structured environment of the school and try to do it here. He needs that structure and I don’t think I can provide it.
This is the response I got:
Well, I have to say that I am disappointed, but not surprised by your response.
If I knew your excuses were sincere, I would take the time to dispell any confusion or misunderstandings you have, especially the same old tired one of “socialization”. Even if I told you The Boy would have an abundance of true Catholic friends (the kind that you want your child to “socialize” with) that he could spend quality time with (not the 15 – 20 minutes of “socialization” he would get during the school day at a traditional school), we still have the real reason which is YOU don’t WANT to homeschool.
As for your other excuse, homeschooling doesn’t have anything to do with “being gifted in that area”, or “not being organized”, or “just not cut out for this”. What I am hearing is, “I don’t WANT to do it”, “I’m not willing to make the sacrifice” and “My needs are more important than Noah’s”. That’s the real bottom line. You really sell your self short on your abilities and do not put enough faith in the treasury of sacramental graces we receive from the Sacrament of Matrimony that would help you to live out your duties in the vocation of marriage, which include the education of your children. If you would align yourself with God’s will, not your own, you would be surprised at how much grace He would pour out on you to fulfill your duty as a mother and wife and to carry out His will. He will not let you fail. By not stepping out in faith, you are basically telling Him that you don’t believe He would see you through.
And I am going to tell you this because I do care about you and love you too. You routinely express and share problems and/or concerns in different areas of your life. In regards to The Boy’s school situation, I have given you (through the guidance of the Holy Spirit) the only clear truly Catholic answer there is, and you are rejecting it. I really don’t think you want answers to your problems because there wouldn’t be anything for you to dwell on or write about. I think you spend too much time complaining and looking at all the negative things in your life and don’t focus on the positive blessings you have been given (and I’m sure you would agree you are blessed in many, many ways). I’m sorry to have to share that with you and I’m not saying this to you in anything but a loving way and as a friend, but it is how I feel.
I hesitated responding to you the first time, but the Holy Spirit put it in my heart to contact you and try to give you the answer you are looking for, which is what I have done. I won’t go any further with this but I have done my part and what you do from this point forward is on you. You are a good person and have a beautiful family, Nancy. I just want you to be happy and confident in your faith.
To say I was hurt only kinda scratches the surface of my emotions. I sent this to my husband who was just as stunned as I was. I often send him emails that I feel are hurtful (not that I get many!) just to make sure I’m not reading them wrong. However, he agreed that this one was surprising and hurtful.
I didn’t know what to do, but the next day, he thought he’d call her husband, and maybe the boys, with cooler heads, could work through this. Maybe it was a misunderstanding or something to do with emails coming across more impersonal than a face to face conversation.
However, they were on the phone for over an hour and her husband said he didn’t believe the email went far enough. My husband thought perhaps the did not realize that I have thyroid cancer and that “tough love” at this time might not be the right approach.
Her husband said my cancer was just another excuse for me to complain and if it wasn’t cancer it would be something else.
He expressed concern that I am not happy in my life, not fulfilled (still trying to work out what that means – in any context, not just this one), and that homeschooling is what Catholics are called to do.
This isn’t an issue of morals or faith, as far as I can see. If the Church taught that, wouldn’t all the Catholic schools around the world shut down?
Anyway, when Beloved got off the phone, we talked for a long time. I cried a lot.
To be fair, we really haven’t talked deeply about homeschooling. Well, I mean, we have now, but until this phone call, we hadn’t.
Once Beloved pointed that out, I was sure that this is what we would choose to do, and my own demons raised their ugly little heads.
My friend was right about one thing – I am selfish. I enjoy my time alone. When the Boy is in school and Beloved is at work, that’s “my time” and I knew that if we choose to homeschool I won’t have alone time again.
It took some tears and some strength to confess all this to my husband. Because he loves me, he said he understood and that we would make sure there was alone time for Mommy, if this is what we choose to do, and he emphasized, we, by no means, have decided on anything.
We also talked about my writing. He said he too was worried about my happiness because I often say my writing isn’t going where I want it to.
I finally had to face another demon – my internet addiction. Of course, I can’t do my job without the computer, but I spend (read: waste) too much time surfing the net, checking email and playing on Facebook. I had to decide something I feared to decide before. I had to decide to do without the internet.
So, Monday through Friday, I will be disconnected from the world, via the Web. We’ll see if this can help with my problems.
I’m still hurt by the abruptness and lack of compassion our friends have shown and I pray that the friendship can be repaired, or at least we can find some common ground to remain cordial about.
Due to my cancer and all, I’m not spending energy and time worrying about their opinion of me and the choices we’ve made.
I just pray that this is not the beginning of them setting themselves up to be “more Catholic than the Pope” and stepping away from the Church completely.
Some time has past since I wrote this and I’m not hurt anymore about this. I’m sorry they felt they had to use such a confrontational way of approaching me about something they think is a problem. I assume there are underlying things going on that I have no knowledge of and I pray for them every day.
I’m posting this only because since I’ve been off-line all week, I wrote this on Monday when all this was fresh and I was still hurting. I wanted to get it out and thought there might be someone out there (not that I have a LARGE readership) that might shed some light on what might be going on.