By: Sheana Ochoa
In college I took a class called “Historical Jesus”, investigating the life of the real man who had older siblings and eventually married. Whether accurate or not, it made me question what I had learned as a little girl that Jesus was immaculately conceived by a virgin and he himself was celibate. Seeing Jesus as a man, rather than the “son of god”, perturbed me, because I felt I had been duped. I remember thinking that children should not be taught religion. They should be allowed to find “god” their own way through their specific life journey so as to never have to question whether they believe in something because they were brainwashed as a child or because they have personally experienced it. Now that I have a son, I have a different understanding of god, but I still don’t want to introduce him to my ideas because I want him to follow his own path.
However, I do want him to understand there is intelligence behind nature’s design. Soon he will start asking what makes the sun come up everyday and where did the “booboo” go that was on his finger when he cut it at the playground. I guess I can explain the earth’s orbit and the cellular biology that heals wounds, but he might still wonder, as I do, who’s behind the design of all these things that happen so perfectly. I might just say, “Well, I call it god but that name is really arbitrary. You could also call it life force or love or whatever you like.”
In the meantime, I also want to practice some aspects of my spirituality without inundating him with my personal god-concept. Mainly, I want to get into the habit of praying with my son at bedtime. For me prayer is not a supplication (although I’m guilty of that), but rather meditation, simply expressing gratitude and opening up a line of communication between my higher power and myself. I know I could easily throw it into our bedtime routine between putting on a fresh diaper and filling his sippy cup with water, but I’m just not organized enough. I mean, I forget to brush his teeth some nights; so throwing in another task seems daunting.
And then there’s his daddy (yes, it took some getting used to, but this single mother by choice’s fiancé has officially become “daddy” by Noah’s own choosing) who’s not particularly religious, but does happen to be Jewish. Noah will be attending his first Seder during Passover. I don’t think exposing Noah to Judaism as a culture is the same as indoctrinating him with religion. (Besides he isn’t circumcised so there you go.)
I want my son to grow up with the golden rule. I’ll be happy if he simply practices tolerance, patience, and kindness, which starts by example at home. Personally, in order to practice that myself, I have to keep a connection to my god. When I lose that, it’s easy to lose my cool, and god knows (no pun intended) I need all the patience I can get with a toddler in the house. So, Noah won’t be baptized; he won’t have a bar mitzvah, but he’ll know the stories of the Bible because it’s great literature; he’ll know how to give thanks through prayer and he’ll know the best he can do everyday is be kind to himself and others.