A mother’s expectations for the World Meeting of Families

I have to confess that sometimes I'm envious of other families. They seem to have it together.

Aug 07, 2015

By Kelly Bothum
I have to confess that sometimes I'm envious of other families. They seem to have it together.

I'm not talking about how they look, because I think my brood is pretty adorable, but how they act, how they make it to church on time while we usually roll in with wet hair and wrinkled shirts after the priest has walked down the aisle; how they volunteer for everything and we're high-fiving if we remember to bring in a can for the food pantry; how their kids aren't fighting over whose turn it is to get the bulletin.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad my kids know that church and helping others are part of our family DNA. They say their prayers at night, and they've mastered the changes to the Nicene Creed enough to laugh at me when I forget the words.

Most days I'd say we're doing well, but we could be better.

And that's why I'm excited for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, just a short drive from where we live.

I want us to be better as a family, and I know I can't do it alone. I want to see and hear how other families make it work. And I'm not talking about how to keep the kids from using the hymnal to torture each other (though that would be helpful, too).

I'm talking about how to approach the subjects that aren't always easy to explain, such as homosexuality, children born to parents who aren't married, those fighting addiction and those in jail. Those aren't just topics for us: They are real, actual members of our family. They have names and faces in our picture frames. We send them Christmas cards.

I want someone to talk about real family life, not just theology. I want to see other good-enough parents who want to be better, who want to know how to fight the technology trap and evade the siren's call of secular indulgences. I want to know that I'm not alone. So yeah, a million people gathered for Mass on the Ben Franklin Parkway sounds good.

My kids identify as Catholic because that's what we tell them they are. They go to church and they think it's pretty cool that Pope Francis will be close to where they live. It makes him seem like a real person, not just some guy speaking a language they don't understand.

But I know there will come a time when doing something because your parents do it isn't good enough. They may question their Catholic roots or want to see what else is out there. So I feel like these years are something of a test.

If that's true, are we passing? Sometimes. But we need to study more. I need a group project, one I can carry out with other families who can relate. I want cheering and excitement and passion, not for our favorite sports team but for our faith.

We talk every day about loving one another, but we also have daily screaming matches over whose turn it is to walk the dog, emptying the dishwasher. We preach love, but do we live it? And how do we love others when it's hard, when someone lets us down, breaks our heart or goes against everything we've been taught to do?

We're told to live with an open heart, but I'm not a surgeon. How do I make that happen and how do I teach my kids to do the same? These are the questions that I have as a parent.

I'm hoping the World Meeting of Families can give me some answers, or at least help me move the dial from pretty good to great.

I want to rise to the challenge, or at least I can certainly wrestle the crowds to celebrate my family's faith.

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