I can only do so much.
We started every morning with a walk when “school” was in session (we’re on Easter break now) and the first week of “the virus” as my kids call it, they had a few furious theological debates about things like whether God loves bad guys, and who created God. They got pretty heated but thankfully didn’t involve me too much because I had no idea what kind of answer I’d give.
Those discussions, and a couple of coloring projects, have been the extent of our religious teaching at home since we said goodbye to everyday life over a month ago now. I would feel less guilty about this if we weren’t supposed to be getting our older kid ready for First Communion right now. But, I can only handle so much homeschooling and it turns out religion is not part of my curriculum (neither is STEM.)
I asked other witches who would typically be doing some sort of faith with their kids what coronavirus has done to their practices at home:
“We hit pay dirt with our choice of godmother. She takes her role very seriously, which means we basically do nothing.”
“We have it all built-in with Catholic school - religion assignments, prayer and meditation with the daily announcements- but I’m pretty Catholic as a rule anyway. We did Holy Week stuff and I was the lector for our Easter Sunday Mass taping. I’ve made my daughter sit through Mass while we eat but I don’t make her pay too close attention. Catholicism for me is faith and deeds, so she sees me practice my faith - I say a rosary pretty regularly - but she also sees us (and takes part in) doing things for others right now. I’m trying to give her an honest, progressive view of our religion, with the hopes that I don’t drag her down with too much of the dogma, and as she gets older trust she will find her path. I hope it’s like mine, but I’m not worried if it isn’t. Jesus basically was just, ‘Yo. Don’t be a dick.’ So that’s what I’m shooting for.”
“We have done two virtual Friday night Shabbat services, but I’m trying not to force it on the kids. One time we had it on while eating dinner, and the other time the kids were kind of doing other things while it was on. Last week we did a Zoom family Seder. For me it’s more about finding comfort in tradition than in faith or god. Oh and they do have virtual Sunday school and Hebrew school, which is not optional. It’s much shorter than the regular deal.”
“I was attending virtual services for a while, but then it just seemed wrong. Some families in my parish have been taking it very seriously, baking their own communion bread and everything, but I just can't. I do like to listen to one or two good online sermons a week; it's helped give me some perspective. For kids, though? I would definitely celebrate holidays as you can (I am loving all the pictures of online seders), but beyond that? Maybe Bible stories or Veggie Tales if you think it's appropriate for your kid, or maybe nothing at all.”
“Virtual church feels very meaningless when Catholicism is all about sacraments, which you can’t do virtually. Plus I can barely get my kids to sit still for a video lesson from their teacher. The JK 4 teacher sent a link about Palm Sunday, which I just never got to.”
“We watch our church's weekly prerecorded service It's the one set ritual we have weekly as a family during this time, and I think the ritual of it is comforting...but now it is also kind of sad. One neat thing they do is a virtual "passing of the peace," where they ask members of the congregation to send in a "peace be with you" video clip and it's nice to see (surprise) familiar faces of others in the congregation. The first week the service featured a family my kids know and my son got all excited and shouted "Hey, I KNOW THAT GUY!" They also weave in historical video, like a special choir performance or scenes from last year's Easter service. On Easter, after the ‘church service,’ they showed footage from last year's 5th Avenue Easter parade (which happens right outside the church) and it made me cry looking back on those happier times and seeing the fabulous the gay couples in enormous wonderful hats. Sigh. I'll sometimes make a special breakfast or something to eat while we watch church. The kids go in and out of being interested. On Easter, the service was longer than normal and they got antsy and my daughter literally farted in my son's face, on purpose. So, it's a mixed bag. But it gives me comfort to see some of the the same faces—the pastors, the choir, and other congregants—on Sunday mornings that I'd be seeing in person if things were normal, probably even moreso than the message itself.”
“I tuned into my local church’s Holy Thursday mass. It’s weirdly my favorite religious tradition. Something that traditionally represents the beginning of spring break (yay!) and washing others feet is lovely and symbolic. We haven’t even talked about my second grader’s First Communion.”
“For me, religious practice is about culture, ritual, and community. We have continued doing Shabbat every week, and having that familiar ritual has been so grounding. We also did havdalah, a very lovely ceremony for the end of Shabbat, and I think we'll continue with it. That's where the structure of regular rituals is helping. OTOH, we relaxed a lot of structure around Passover: We had a Seder over video-chat late because it's when my brother was free. Also while I ate some matzah every day, I continued to make the breads I've recently learned to bake, because when I told my daughters we were going to take a week off from bread and challah they burst into tears. There’s been so much change and destabilization, and those breads are literal comfort food for them; I don't feel a need to push yet another unfamiliar change on little kids for the sake of tradition or supposed character building. Passover is my absolute favorite holiday, and I've been able to teach my kids about the story and values around it, which is more important to me than a rigid adherence to rules. Next year may we all be free! ❤️”
“I have been watching the weekly Mass (not live stream, just a YouTube video of our pastor saying Mass in an empty church) but not making the kids participate. I find it peaceful and comforting in the quiet of Sunday morning while they are sleeping. That would be totally lost if I made them watch with me.”
“My son was supposed to make his first communion on May 3, and now that is being rescheduled. He doesn't enjoy CCD or church so he doesn't care. The last time we went to church was right after schools closed here. I was grossed out watching people receive communion from other people who did not wash their hands immediately beforehand, but I participated anyway because everyone else was. With the awareness we have now (and knowing that one of our priests has covid), I don't know if I will ever take communion again. I can't get away from how unsanitary it is. My kids were sad to miss Easter at my husband’s aunt and uncle's house. We overcompensated with lots of candy.”
“Several years ago our church added hand sanitizer dispensers in front of the first pews so the Eucharistic Ministers could sanitize before distributing communion. I feel pretty good about that, but I never have/never will drink from the common cup, no matter how precisely they wipe it with a cloth and give it a quarter turn after each person.”
“We were supposed to go to my sister-in-law’s house for Passover. Then two days ago they said they were doing it via Zoom (rather than cancelling). I spend my entire f-cking day on video calls. I really couldn’t add another one. And, we wouldn’t have anything to make it feel like Passover (matzoh balls, etc). My kids are young enough (preschool) that they don’t know it’s Passover. We skipped it as a holiday this year for parental rest.”
I hope you enjoyed this issue of Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers. Please pass it along, if you know someone who'd like this sort of thing in their inbox a couple times a week. You can also follow us on Instagram or vent to us on Twitter here.
I’m putting in a couple of plugs for things today:
I turned 41 yesterday. Whoop de do. But, I’m running a fundraiser on Facebook for the Greater Chicago Food Depository and if you have that general helpless feeling of wanting to help but not knowing where to start, try that?
Subscriber Christina Rentz suggests, “Will you please remind everyone to keep listening to music? Support you local record store if you want to, or just turn on Spotify or Apple Music. This is the easiest, most cost effective, and good for you way to support the musicians you love in this shit time.”
One witchy thing
This the rug from my four year old’s room, which I rolled up and put in my room after he refused to put away the tiny toys scattered all over it: