Sam’s an atheist. I like to think he’s an agnostic, but the truth is that my boy is firmly convinced that there is no God and there is only science. You can only believe in what you can prove – and why would I want him to believe lies?
This is just… wow. I’m struggling with this. I’ve always said I don’t care if my kids grow up to be Jewish – because truly, I don’t. My converting to Judaism wasn’t done because my mother had somehow failed to keep me Catholic. I patted myself on the back – I’m not one of those parents who’s all invested in their child’s religious future. I’m not going to put all that weight and responsibility on my kids’ shoulders. They can be whatever they want to be, believe whatever they want to believe. It just never occurred to me that they wouldn’t believe in God.
There are a couple of things I keep reminding myself –
1 – This isn’t about me. My journey with religion, organized and haphazard, is my own. His relationship with the Divine is his. And it’s not a sign that I’ve failed him somehow.
2 – Sam doesn’t handle uncertainty well. He never did, honestly, but he’s a lot less capable of dealing with it now. And you can’t PROVE God. You can prove science.
3 – The kid has been thru hell. His life is a lot better now, but the reality is that he learned lessons that some people never have to face. He learned that he’s not safe, that tragedy happens all the time, with no warning, and there’s no way to really protect yourself 100%. He learned that even when I’m standing right there, he can be unbelievably hurt.
4 – He’s probably got lasting, if not permanent, damage to his optic nerve that will impact him for the rest of his life.
I suppose it’s entirely natural that he’d be questioning the presence of a benevolent God at this stage of the game. There’s a part of me that’s wondering why I’m not questioning it.
But I’ve never questioned whether or not God existed. I wandered my way from Catholicism to Paganism and Wicca to Judaism. And it’s always been absolute for me. Of course God exists. You can call it whatever you want, the Divine, God, Goddess, angels – but there’s SOMETHING there, and I feel connected and a part of something bigger than myself. Bigger than my family, than this world. It’s as clear to me as the fact that the sky is blue. It just is.
I’m trying to be all zen and chill about this too. Marc is a questioner, and has been for as long as I’ve known him. I’ve never felt comfortable (even after converting to Judaism) with organized religion. Judaism makes sense to me, in part because it’s a religion based on actions. It doesn’t ask me to believe, just to act. Sam’s got his own journey – and it’s going to start in the foundation we’ve built for him. With holidays and Shabbat and a Jewish identity. He’ll have to decide where he goes from here. They all do – it’s just that the girls aren’t in the same place. Jessie’s a questioner as well, but she’s firmer in her Jewish identity. And Julie – my Julie’s still pretty sure that she wants to be a rabbi.
Actually, when I think about it now, Sam’s living up more to his heritage, as my son and as Marc’s son – he’s a questioner. He’s a thinker, and he takes nothing for granted. He believes in what he knows, and what he can prove. I can work with that.
I just don’t want him to be alone. And hopeless – and for me, belief in God has always been a source of strength. Even when it was hardest for me, after I lost the twins, and nothing made sense – I still believed in God. I still believed in SOMETHING. Maybe he get there again. Maybe he won’t. But it’s his journey, not mine, and I need to remember to step back and let him have it.