Confession: I’m Raising My Kid Without Religion

ag·nos·tic  

/agˈnästik/

Noun

A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena.

Not to be confused with an Atheist. They are definitely two different things. I’m very irritable when it comes to labels, but in order to define the way in which my mind thinks, this is the only way I can really describe it.

Believe it or not, I just came to this realization not very long ago. I have been pushing the boundaries of my beliefs for a few years now, but as of just a few months ago, I have realized that I am indeed, simply agnostic.

Let’s back up a long time ago, to my childhood. I was raised in a semi-non-religious household. My parents were more interested in extra-curriculars to really have interest in God and religion and all that comes with it. As a baby, I was baptized in a Methodist church and would frequently visit the Methodist church with my maternal grandparents. Though, to this day, I still don’t really know what they believe and I don’t know what they taught me.

When my parents divorced and then re-married, I was introduced to a non-denominational church. Looking back on it, it was really more of a ‘modern Pentecostalism’ church. Live band, lots of awesome singing and music, speaking in tongues, and being filled up with the holy spirit.

I totally dug it. I also believed things about the world, that I would now find to be appalling. In fact, I am still ashamed of myself for feeling and thinking the way I did in those years. I would proclaim that sex before marriage was a sin and you would go to Hell. I had been known to make statements about how being gay was sinful and disgusting. (At the time, I knew not even one gay person)

I would stand in my pew and sing my heart out, during my early and late teens, and I would praise God for the graces he gave me. Which really, looking back wasn’t much. For the anonymity of my family and those that I was shaped by, I will not go into details, but I was a damaged child searching for answers. Searching for a place to belong. I was a kid searching for something or someone to accept me and take care of me for a change.

I moved out of my mother’s house when I was 17, finishing my senior year of high school away from my immediate family and still religion followed me. I found a church behind our house and I thought, “This is what God wanted. He placed me in this house and I found my way here, for a reason.” I attended the youth group and was part of many skits and plays that fostered the idea that if you didn’t believe in God and you didn’t believe in the Bible you were going to Hell and there was just no hope for you.

When I graduated high school, I went on to college. From there, I tried to find and seek out a religious group for which I could belong. I found none that were as inclusive and as welcoming as I did when I was growing up. I believe, now, that it was because in college, people are more open minded. People don’t feel as though you are black or white.

I met my first real gay friend and before I knew she was gay, I told her that I thought gay people would go to Hell. She came out to me shortly after and that was the moment when I changed my entire view on things. I also realized, I was gay. Though, again, I don’t really care for labels and in the grand scheme of things, who knows what I may or may not be.

I met my partner of 10 years while I was attending that same college and she is my first and only partner of the same sex gender. We have been together for 10 years, we have a beautiful baby girl who will be a year old in less than a month. So, in a sense, for label-sake, I am a lesbian. However, only because I couldn’t imagine being with anyone but my partner. Not because she is a woman, but because she is the person I was meant to be with. Should we, which is very unlikely, split, I am not sure which gender I may or may not find company with.

Anyway, once I found my partner, who is an atheist, I started to question what I really believed. My entire religious upbringing was very cut and dry. If you were gay, you went to Hell and God didn’t love you. Well, that’s a bummer. I had been loyal to Him. I had gathered Him followers. My father got out of jail and turned ‘jailhouse Christian’, so when I came out, he shunned me for 6 years. Why? The deacons of the church told him that if he allowed me into his house, I would corrupt his children, my younger siblings, and his entire family would go to Hell for ‘condoning my sins.’

This was another breaking point in religion for me. So, now, not only does the religious community tell me that if I’m gay (because I love a woman) I am going to Hell, but my dad (my only male figure and hero) agrees and has shut me out of his life (though has since come around and we have a great relationship, the damage to religious ideals is done.)

So, where does that leave me?

Well, today, I start this blog to discover what that means. I am not really sure myself. I have scoured the internet and communities to find like minded individuals like me. People who want to parent their child without religion, without forcing their ideals on their children.

How do you do that? I am not sure.

I want to arm my daughter with all the knowledge she would need to have an intellectual religious conversation. I want her to have answers when she is asked questions about her beliefs. I want her to be able to make her own decisions about what she believes.

I know, I know, she’s not even one yet and already this idea of religion plagues me. Religion has come to my life in times when I needed it most and made me feel amazing, but it taught me some very ugly things. I feel as though I was indoctrinated as a child and I don’t fully know what I believe anymore.

There are days when I feel like my questions about my beliefs will just send me straight to Hell. My thoughts on not raising my child in the church or discussing God and religion with my child will condemn us both to Hell. Then there are days, when I just feel like that’s ridiculous. That religion is only a form of scare tactics to keep people in line and fear is a great motivator for making people do the things you want them to do, or believe the things you want them to believe.

Where do I stand on this? I’m still not sure. I know that I doubt the belief in God and the teachings of the church enough to question it. I know that means I am in a sense, Agnostic. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I KNOW that God does or does not exist, but do believe, there’s a possibility that my entire childhood is a lie.

I don’t want that for my kid. I don’t want her to live in fear of her every move. I don’t want her to feel judged for every mistake. I don’t want my daughter to be told how to feel, groomed how to think.

So where does this journey lead?

Hopefully, where I want it to lead. A child who grows up knowing she can be who she wants to be, believe what she wants to believe. A child who is taught to love everyone and accept people for who they are. A child who doesn’t need God or the teachings of the church to define her or dictate her decisions in life.

49 weeks.

49 weeks ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

49 weeks later, she is showing so much personality and bringing me so much joy! I hope everyone is having a fantastic week and will have an awesome Valentine’s Day. I will be at work! One of my very favorite people got a nice Valentine’s Day gift this year, a BIG FAT POSITIVE pregnancy announcement. I’m so very happy for her and soon, hopefully, she will have fun stuff to do with her son or daughter like I do with Peyton.

I don’t usually post pictures of our weekly photo shoots, but this one, it takes the cake. Here are some of my favorite shots:

If you want to see the picture that made the cut for week 49, check out Peyton Weekly.
Take Care ❤
Rachael

Only 4 More Weeks Until We Have a One Year Old

48 weeks ago, my baby was born. Peyton came into the world and we were blessed with a beautiful child. I am still in awe that my kiddo will be a year old in just 4 short weeks. Never did I think we would have a child, I was resolved to having cats. Now, not only do we have a child, but she looks JUST LIKE ME. I can’t even understand how lucky we are. I can’t even fathom what we did to get a baby girl who is beautiful, smart and sweet.

Peyton is learning all sorts of new things. She knows where her nose, toes, mouth, eyes and SOMETIMES her ears are. She can clap, wave, high five, and point. She has been saying new sounds, ‘s’, ‘t’, ‘d’, ‘b’, ‘h’ And we are certain we heard her say ‘cat’ when we did. She sticks her tongue out and she’s eating big people food. She’s mastered her sippy cup and doesn’t drink formula until she goes to sleep for naps or bedtime. She loves spinach, even though her tummy doesn’t, she loves apple juice, organic puffs, and goldfish crackers.

In the last year, I just can’t believe how much she has grown. She’s in 12 month pants and 18 month shirts and onesies. She wears a size 3 shoe. Look at those ladybug shoes! It’s amazing to me how much she is growing. She’s getting taller and she’s always on the move. She has 8 teeth that we know of (whose going to stick their fingers in her mouth? Not me!!) there are four on top and four on bottom.

It amazes me that she is crawling around and wandering from one piece of furniture to another. She will start to let go of something to walk and then she thinks better of it! She loves peek-a-boo, headstands, and somersaults. Her favorite songs are ‘itsy bitsy’ and ‘twinkle twinkle’.

Her all time favorite is ‘apple apple‘. If you haven’t shared this video with your little ones, you should try it! They will probably like it. She loves the Bubble Guppies, Your Baby Can Read, and Blue’s Clues.

I’m not really sure of the purpose of this post, other than to put down all the things that she is doing, the things she’s learning, the things that she loves and all the things about her that astounds me.

Here’s a nice little video of her (Make sure you turn up the volume), its a little dark in our apartment, but if you haven’t see a kiddo watch ‘Your Baby Can Read‘, here’s Peyton’s second real day of it:

Take Care ❤
Rachael

Family Visit and Letter to Peyton

Dear Peyton,


Mommy doesn’t want you to be one. I can’t imagine that you are already old enough to drink from a sippy, to walk from couch to chair. I can’t begin to believe that you are waving and SAYING “bye”. I can’t get enough of you little baby laugh. You are never going to be a big kid to me. You will always be Mommy’s tiny, precious, beautiful miracle. My very heartbeat.

In just a few short weeks, you will be ONE. I can’t believe it. I refuse to believe it. Pretty soon we will be hearing you count to ten and ask why the sky is blue. I am not ready for that. I don’t want my baby to grow up! Where did the time go? Where has the last year gone? I have no idea. You are growing up to be so smart and so funny. You are made with such a unique and beautiful personality. 

In less than 5 weeks, you will have your birthday. You will be ONE. I want some more cuddles before you get too big. I want some more smoochies before you are too embarrassed. I want some more bath pictures before its too weird to be taking them. I want to put you in just a few more footed pajamas before they don’t make your size anymore.

You will always be Mommy’s little girl. I promise. It matters not how old you are. You will always be a baby to me.

Love, 

Mommy ❤
***************
So we spent the weekend with my family. My family lives 2 and half hours away, which means we always have to prepare for riding in the car with the baby. In her whole ALMOST ONE year of life, Peyton has not ever really slept in the car. So, we were concerned that this would be an issue. So, I started the day by headed to WIC and they pricked her little finger for iron. She was spot on. Then we went to Mama’s doctor’s appointment with her. After that, it was pretty much nap time. This means, hopefully a sleeping kid on the way to my parents’ house. Sure enough, we headed towards our destination and shortly after we got going, she fell asleep.
Once we got there, we headed to my dad’s house first. She didn’t really warm up to my dad right away. Which is pretty normal. She’s used to quiet and calm. My dad is neither of these things. So, she was a little shy around him. Every time he looked at her, she cried. When we put her on his lap, she cried. So he lured her with an oatmeal cream pie. It worked for a few minutes.
It worked pretty well for a few minutes. Basically any food that he offered her, she would take, but tickling? Nope. Playing? Absolutely not. However, when my youngest brother came in the house, she took to him with no problems at all!
This is probably my favorite picture from the weekend. SO sweet! Anyway, we hung out at my dad’s house for a while and then we headed to my mom’s house where we were staying the night. After a really long night of sick sister being rushed to the hospital, screaming nephew and no sleep, the next day was full of bed head and cats.
We spent the afternoon there and then headed back to my dad’s house for the rest of the day. We had a nice ham and mashed potato dinner. It was pretty awesome. While we waited for dinner, Peyton and their pitbull Petey looked out the window and pondered the cold outside.

I love these pictures. Also, we discovered something else. Peyton started to recognize when the camera was on her. She would hear the camera come on and she would turn her head, wrinkle her nose and smile. It was the most adorable thing I have ever seen. She is usually very hard to get to smile for the camera. For the last 10 months, its like pulling teeth to get her to smile for the camera. So, since then every time the camera is pointed in her direction, she smiles like this:

She also made up with her grandpa. It is the most adorable thing to watch. Ignore all the talk in the background, the people in the house didn’t know I was video taping the whole tickle session.
After dinner, we went back to my mom’s again to stay the night. We had a much quieter night but still an early morning. Peyton’s sleep schedule was off on this trip. However, she did eat Lucky Charms for the first time and her Aunt J gave her the first of many temporary tattoos.

 
That afternoon, she played with the blocks that Grandma gave her for Christmas. She was quite happy to watch Grandma stack the blocks so she could kick them over!
She had a little chicken nuggets for lunch, in a high chair she’s not used to. She is used to a full tray, so this was an interesting experience for us. She thought for sure she needed to stand up in the chair.
After some lunch she helped Grandma play cards. Grandma won in the end. Of course she did! With this lucky charm on her lap, who wouldn’t win?!

Before we left my mom’s house, she had a nice little wrestling match with her Cousin M. Her cousin is the first grandbaby of the family and she’s 5, just started Kindergarten. She’s the only girl with 2 younger brothers, so M is always thrilled to have a little girl time.
Of course, when we left my mom’s house, both my mom and sister cried. They always do when we leave. We went to my brother’s house and hung out with him and his wife. We had not been to their house before and it was pretty neat to just hang out and watch The Lorax. We didn’t get to finish it, but Kim and I have decided we will see if its on Netflix, because what we saw of it, was pretty cute.
It’s so cold outside and the air is so dry. It doesn’t help that she has the craziest hair on the planet anyway, so when I took her little hat off, her hair looked like this:
She loves her Uncle C. He’s pretty cool and he likes to dance with her and sing crazy songs to her. Here, they were hanging out on the couch reading a comic book. I just know he’s going to make an awesome daddy someday.

We stayed the night at my brother’s house and then came home today. Kim is sleeping and I am blogging. Peyton is playing with all her toys that are not being shared by her cousins. I have two more days before I have to be back at work and I plan on spending that time relaxing and watching TV, playing Ruzzle on Facebook (Thanks, C and H) and playing with my baby girl. 
She’s going to be one soon, you know. I got to get in all the cuddles and playtime I can!
Until next time, 
Take Care ❤
Rachael