28 April 2009

Of Cults and First Communions

Because my kids attend a Catholic school, special Church occasions like receiving certain sacraments (Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation) are built into the school calendar. My son's first communion was one such occasion. For those of you non-Catholics out there we take communion every time we can get it (some people attend daily Mass, others like my family and I attend Sunday service). And Church doctrine states that the priest actually transforms the host and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. So receiving the sacrament of communion for the first time is kind of a big deal. The boys get dressed up and the girls, well, they look like little brides dressed all in white, veils and all.

Evan's first communion was last Saturday.

And my mother blew it off for a singing competition.

A few months ago my mom asked me when Evan's first communion would be held. I told her it had been on the school calendar since August and was scheduled for Saturday, April 25th.

"Oh, well, I won't be there. That's Sweet Adelines competition," she said.


At the time I was too gobsmacked to say anything. I figured she'd see how ludicrous she was being to ditch her only grandson's big day for her singing group's competition.


My mother's been singing with the cult of Sweet Adelines for about a decade or so. At first my sister and I thought it was great: it gave her a hobby, kept her off the streets. Her favorite aunt, Dottie, was a director for an internationally-known Sweet Adelines group and I think this is where my mom got the idea. Music has always been part of her life and I'm happy that she found an outlet for her creativity.

But now it's a bit too much. Sweet Adelines has slowly, but surely taken over her life and totally brainwashed her. I don't know, maybe she's been hypnotized by glare coming off all the sequins on their spangly costumes. I mean, really, choosing the choir over family just pisses me off. And I even tried to enlist the aid of one of my mom's friends, a teacher at my children's school and fellow Sweet Adeliner. "Mrs. W, I need your help. Could you tell my mom that first communion is more important than competition?" I asked her at lunch one day. Wanna know what she told me? "Take pictures." Yeah, this from a Catholic school teacher! See? Cult.

And Evan was let down that one of his grandmothers wasn't there. "Doesn't she know that family's more important than things?" he asked me in the car on the way home from school one day. I told him I agreed wholeheartedly with him and that he should take it up with his grandmother.

But even though Evan was disappointed in his Nana, he was happy the rest of our family was there for him: my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her family drove down from Chicago and Frank's cousin and her family were in town for the Science Olympiad state finals and were represented by their oldest daughter (their son was competing), my sister and her family were there as well as my step-brother and his family (including my new niece, 4-week-old Nicole).

Evan looked rather dashing in his suit and signature red bow-tie. My mother-in-law does not throw things away. Case in point: she still had the suit Frank wore for his first communion. Evan wore it, too. He looked straight outta '78 in his 3-piece Pierre Cardin blue polyester suit. The pants were a little too flared for my personal taste, but Evan was happy. "Three-piece suits aren't in vogue anymore?" Frank asked.

Uh, no. I tried to get Evan to pose like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, but he wouldn't.

My son's first communion went very well, though he said afterwards, "The communion wine tastes horrible!" (and he was very relieved to hear that he does not have to drink it every Sunday).

So we're good until the next big deal: Flynn's first communion in two years. And you know she'll be all kinds of decked out.

I'm hoping there won't be a Sweet Adelines competition scheduled for that weekend as well.


Looseyfur said...

Misc, I can totally understand your disappointment. My parents are very much this way. Their interests and needs come first. For example, I lived in D.C. for 5 years. My mother came out to visit twice. Once was when I got married. The second she told me she was going to be in Virginia for 5 days. She spent one night at our house and 4 nights with some guy she'd met on the Internet. My dad iwill drive 12 hours in a day to go see a bird (he's a birdwatcher) on the Mississippi in St. Louis, thinks that driving to Champaign from Rockford is too far. Of course, that's the same thing my in-laws in Peoria tell MacTroll. I'm wondering if it's just the narcissistic aspect of the Baby Boomer generation?

Anonymous said...

Ah, Sweet Adelines. My mother-in-law is likewise afflicted. She loves it. She even drives out of state at least once a week to meet up with her chorus (that took first place this weekend and yes, I'm totally bragging on her). She takes singing lessons and has a quartet as well. It is her passion, but for as much time as it takes she still has other interests. She takes care of her grandmother, makes it to almost every one of the million baseball and softball games her sons play in, she helps me out all the time with the kids, and is on the go all the time. And she works full-time! The amount of hours she puts in isn't appealing to me, but she manages to do it all and be there for her family. I don't have any advice for you about the set-in-stone conflicts like school events, but maybe it is (in part) a time management issue. Try not to feel too bad though. She is the one that missed out.

VeganLinda said...

He looks great and it sounds like a very special day! I'm sorry about your mom. It can hurt so bad when our parents fail in our eyes as grandparents. It is harder to take than them hurting us. My family of origin is wonderful, but I've given up that they will EVER put family first. The best I can do is try to be better as a parent and grandparent (when that day comes).

Katherine is right, she is the one that missed out.

VeganLinda said...

Okay, I have to add. It is great that you could vent, but I suggest letting it go now. As someone who would give almost ANYTHING to have my mother back (even if she annoyed the heck out of me from time to time and/or hurt my feelings), try to appreciate the time your children DO have with your mother and what she does do with/for them and you. It is gone waaayyy too soon.

Misc said...

Thanks Loosey, Katherine and Linda for your comments. Loosey, this is the first time my mom's done anything like this (and she's not a Boomer). Am I disappointed in my mom's behavior? Yep and I hope it doesn't continue. But I'm a big girl and taking Linda's advice to let it go. I don't have my dad so not having her here doubly hurt, but I'll get over it.

Katherine, I think your MIL's chorus bean my mom's chorus (I think they took 2nd). :-)

Mrs. Chicken said...

Oh man. I hear this. My mom didn't come stay with me this summer when my hubs went to Italy (I was preggers and almost due) because she had to "close on her new house." She closed on her house WEEKS later.

Evan looks adorable. I can't wait for the poo to reach this wonderful milestone.

Mary A. said...

As a fellow S.A. orphan I can feel your pain and I hope that when you were venting in frustration I didn't come off as non-caring. I think since I have ALWAYS come in second to S.A. it was second nature and not surprising to me. Katherine is a very very wise woman when she says that your mother is the one who missed out. Evan and Flynn (because you know it will be the same weekend in 2011) will remember that you and Frank were there and when they need to be there for their kids way on down the road they will be because they learned it from you.

Robin said...

Googling "sweet Adeline's" and "cult" brought me to this page.

I'm so sorry for your mother missing your sons communion. My father has been in the hospital for the last month and my mother has conveniently had too many singing engagements to help with his care. The day he was admitted to the hospital she went singing. He almost died. Sweet Adeline's may do good things, but it also destroys families.