I wonder how anyone stays true to the Catholic Church in today's world. I feel really blessed that Matt and I have had the purity that we have, and I worry a lot about keeping my kids' innocence in tact while still letting them engage the world.
Last year before we had a tv, my brother-in-law invited us over to join them to watch a basketball game. They have a nice set up in their basement with a projector surrounded by an assortment of couches and chairs - it feels like we're at the movies. Anyway, it's a college basketball game airing around dinnertime on a beautiful Saturday. Safe for kids, right? Not so fast. The commercials, my goodness. Movie ads with cars smashing into bridges and bursting into flames, guns drawn and pointed in people's faces, and all of it was larger than life sized. My sister-in-law was totally on top of it. "Kids, close your eyes!" She'd shout when she had an inkling. I stared at my nieces and nephews in shock as the older ones all dutifully closed their eyes. The younger ones tried to peak, but my sister-in-law was prepared and clasped her hands over their eyes. It was learning moment for me, as I watched some excellent mothering in action. In shock, my gaze moved to Abigail who was frozen, staring at the screen.
Then there's the giant posters of scantily clad women at the mall. Or the billboards on the freeway decrying animal abuse with a picture of a torn-up dog. Or the pickup truck next to us at the stoplight with the window cling of a silhouette of a woman in a sexual position. Or even the advertisement on the stall door in the public restrooms offering help for domestic abuse with a picture of a frightened woman. "Mommy, lady sad!" Eleanor says, her face inches from the picture, studying the intense emotion. "It's okay!" I say with forced cheerfulness. "She'll get some help and then she'll be happy!" I scrambled to finish my business, pull my pants back up, and turn Eleanor away from the picture as Abigail tries to move in for a peek. "Mommy, lady sad," Eleanor remembers an hour later as we're eating fruit snacks and string cheese at our safe little kitchen table.
Surviving childhood with their innocence in tact seems impossible. Letting Abigail listen to "Shake It Off" involves diligence with the volume button - "Hella good hair" is not a line I want to hear her in her cute little voice. Darting down the cereal aisle when I see a couple of teenage boys coming up the center aisle, "Like, fuck that shit, she's such a bitch." I cringe and say a quick prayer that the girls didn't just hear what I did.
Keeping the radio on the local Christian station, not letting the girls watch television, and prescreening all movies - even the innocent sounding ones (Minions was too crude for my taste for young kids) are easy enough tips, but so much slips in during regular, normal, "safe" daily life, like simply driving to Theodore's next wellness visit.
I know some really awesomely devout Catholic moms whose adult children are living very openly sinful lives. I also know lukewarm Catholics who produced grace-filled pillars of faith. Before I even have to think about Facebook and sleepovers and shorts that are long enough, there is still so much to worry about.
My mother-in-law, a women whose five children are all still practicing Catholics, responded to my question of "how?" with "prayer and fasting." So I do. I fast from electronics on Sundays, Facebook on Mondays, and chocolate during the day on Fridays. I pray St. Gerard chaplets during my morning walk and say specialized bedtime prayers at night. I pray for grace. I pray that I'm doing enough.