My first real struggle with gaining some independence from my mother came when I questioned the faith I was born into. My mother is a strict Roman Catholic and my father was an atheist. I kind of had the best of both worlds when it came to belief. My parents decided that their offspring would be brought up in my mother’s faith until we were old enough to decide for ourselves. I did not realise this agreement existed until I discovered my mother welching on the deal.
I remember distinctly when I first questioned the faith I was indoctrinated into. I was 13 years old and attending Christmas Eve midnight mass in a church that I was unfamiliar with. This Catholic church was massive and, being one of the most popular, it was also very crowded. This only added to the oppressing heat of that summer’s night. I found myself almost hypnotised by the monotonous drone of the priest’s words I’d heard countless times before. I stood transfixed staring up at an enormous wooden sculpture suspended directly above me on the ceiling depicting Christ crucified on the cross. I remember being impressed at the size of the sculpture. That impressed feeling soon turned to one of confusion. I felt an overwhelming sense of how morbid my immediate surroundings were. We were literally idolising an effigy of a man being tortured. A representation that was even popularly worn as jewellery on the end of a chain around one’s neck. As a comedian once said, “I greatly admire JFK but if I went around wearing a piece of jewellery of a dead man with a bullet hole in his head folks would think I was crazy”.
I’m not saying faith is wrong. I’m saying some rituals of certain faiths don’t make sense to me. The revelation that occurred at that midnight mass caused a personal crusade to understand more of what religion really was. I was to discover it was one hell of a journey, historically. This journey of discovery had me, through the years, forego the Catholic faith to become an atheist, then evolving into an agnostic before culminating into the faith I am now, which is spiritual. Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. It includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves. I believe all life is connected to a higher power and death is not the end, it’s just a transition to another plane. We are here to learn, what and why I do not know … as of yet.
Anyhow, back to my mother and her tenacity in trying to save my soul. I wasn’t having it. Even though I tried to reason with her as to why I no longer shared her faith it fell on deaf ears. For over two years after my revelation at midnight mass I constantly argued with my mother over my refusal to attend Sunday morning mass. Every Sunday started the same. Sometimes she won and I’d relent just to get her off my back but more often than not she’d lose. Finally in the midst of the usual “get out of bed and get ready for mass” from her and “if God is supposedly everywhere then he’s in my room” from me a voice from another room interrupted us and was heard to clearly state “leave her alone. If she doesn’t want to go let her be. She’s old enough”.
My mother’s stubborn stance suddenly changed to one of alarm after my father spoke those words. Usually, my father was outside gardening Sunday mornings, therefore he was not normally privy to this Sunday morning ritual between my mother and I. My initial puzzlement at my father intervening grew into suspicion when my mother continued with a desperate look hissing repeatedly “get out of bed now!” Making sure to hiss quietly so my father couldn’t hear. My brain ticked rapidly, my mother’s reaction made me realise something was afoot.
“I’m old enough for what?” I asked her
This question caused her panic to turn to fear and then it dawned on me. I always knew my father’s view on religion and suddenly I realised what might be going on.
“So I had a choice? All this time you’ve been at me to attend mass and I had a choice!”.
She opened her mouth to speak but I knew by her body language what was coming so I interrupted and told her quietly, but very sternly, “If you don’t back off I’m going to tell Papa I made that choice over two years ago and you’ve been forcing me. I wonder how he’ll react to that?”. This threat had my mother slump her shoulders in defeat. I knew then from her body language our Sunday morning battles were over and I’d won the war.
My mother left my room in silent defeat. That’s right lady, walk away. Best you step away from your blackmailing hormonal demonic teen.