My husband and I took James and Violet to a wedding a few weeks ago. One of my Young Religious Unitarian Universalist (YRUU) graduates got married in an absolutely beautiful ceremony at Belfast's City Park, with a view of the bay just over the trees in the background. Absolutely lovely. The words of the service were poignant and inspiring, and I listened, rapt with attention; this marked my first UU wedding experience. Sure, I saw Violet, out of the corner of my eye, yanking the baby's breath out of the mason jars decorating the aisles of chairs. And yes, I was completely aware of James, who was hot, couldn't sit still, and desperately wanted to either a) rush the minister and demand playtime or b) head the opposite direction to the playground.
I go to the UU Church in Belfast with my children nearly every week. My husband stays home. This is totally acceptable, and in fact, I'm one of many "single spouses" that do this. Warren's a hermit and needs some quiet time, while I'm a social butterfly seeking spiritual fulfillment. Plus, I want the kids to be raised with UU principles as well as with a loving understanding of different religions. That said, my kids are too little for this sort of deeper understanding, really...their understanding stretches as far as, "Hey, that set of legs there, he'll always pick me up if I yell," or, "That nice lady always gets me a cookie, whether I say please or not!" We're blessed to be surrounded by compassionate adults in our church who are supportive of childhood.
My husband, however, doesn't know this. He's not around it on any sort of regular basis. So there we were, sitting at the wedding, surrounded by people I know and love. They're familiar with my children, who are far from the only wild children - they're all wild, and there's quite a cluster of them at our church at the moment. Some sit still better, some yell louder. Everyone's got a talent! They all share the talent of being able to piss their parents off! But Warren was completely self-conscious, and it got worse at the reception. At the reception I was really able to digest the extent of his anxiety, so we left after about half an hour. I didn't even get to eat the baked cheese grits (a southern specialty with Velveeta!) I made for the potluck, I was so worried about him!
When we got home, he confided, "I just hate it. I'm there, surrounded by these people who randomly come up to me to tell me how much they love my children. Then, when I try to stop either of them from doing something - like getting in the bride's way during her official entrance! - I know I'm being looked at by all these damned loving and compassionate peaceful UU hippies like I'm a big, bad, mean parent."
I was speechless. Well, briefly, anyway. It's not often I don't have something to say. I did pause, though, for longer than to take a mere breath. If Warren felt this way, were there others? Were there other people who might be interested in Unitarian Universalism, or at least the support and community we provide, but were too intimidated by some idealistic notion of compassionate, self-righteous perfection?
Well, Warren, and others, I ask you this: you think that because these people are UUs, striving for peace, that they all deal with the trials and tribulations of parenthood with the serene demeanor of Bob Ross and his friendly little trees?
Bullshit! And that, my friends, is what this entire blog is all about.