So our family word of the year is “responsibility.” I found this ironic as I was leaving the school parking lot for the second time this week after dropping off something that I had specifically put in Magoo’s backpack in the morning and that she had somehow taken out and left at home in the ten seconds I wasn’t watching.
As I was leaving the parking lot though, I felt lucky. I realized that if I was going to have to drive somewhere 10-15 times a week for the next ten plus years, this was the place I want that to be.
To be honest, I’m not sure why we chose Catholic schools for our children, but I think the main reason was that both TJ and I had grown up in Catholic schools, and it just felt natural. There was probably a bit more to it, but I think that was the primary reason.
Now, three years into it, I think about it a lot more. Every time we write over our monthly tuition check and I realize that we will be paying up to three to four times that amount every month until they get to high school when we get to write over just that much per kid, I think about what we are getting for our money.
We live in a very good school district, and we have a school that’s just a few blocks from our house. The bus would come every morning and pick Magoo up just a few doors down. The same bus would bring her back to us at the end of the day, and I wouldn’t have to wake the little two up from their naps. School would be something the girls could go to and then come home to us.
It would be so much easier.
It would be so much cheaper.
But it has never been a consideration since the day Magoo started preschool. Once we were hooked, we were hooked.
I love that my three year old can recite the “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” and “Guardian Angel” prayer. I love that my six year old can recite more prayers than I can and can name more saints that I can. I love that two years ago Magoo said the whole rosary with us and that each morning she wants to jump out of the car so she can get inside in time to say the morning prayer with the school. I like that the priests come and visit them in their classrooms quite frequently. I like that they know these men and that they trust these men and that they see them as actual human beings rather than just people who stand up on the Altar on Sunday mornings.
And I love how it structures their day. This is the last year Magoo will only go to Mass once a week. Starting in second grade, they go every day. At first, I admit, this sounded a bit extreme to me. But after having attended many of these masses and realizing the struggles kids go through being in a classroom all day, I am so grateful that they get to begin each day in a quiet, safe place where they can center their day around what matters. And I love that they get moral lessons and more religious teachings during these homilies.
And I love that they bring this all home to us. That they share the prayers they learn. That they share what they discover about the saints. That they ask us to pray. That Magoo will come home and tell me that loving Jesus is the most important thing. That they spend part of their Fridays in Adoration and Magoo has used this time to pray for things that are on her little heart and that she says this is one of her favorite parts of the week because she says she can go in there and just be quiet with Jesus. And my liberal bleeding heart loves that she has learned from the very beginning that many people in this country and most of this world don’t have the advantages that she has and that because she was given much, much is expected. And I love that the school facilitates this. That it teaches them to donate their time and their money and their gifts to those less fortunate. Even when it means I’m running to Walmart at midnight to grab said items for donation.
And I love that Catholic schools and the Catholic faith in general always gives them some place to come home to. Life is difficult and our journeys are wide and far and varied and filled with uncertainty. I don’t know where any of us will be in twenty or thirty years. But I do know that when we are lost, oftentimes we go where we knew first. We go back and remember what was there from the beginning. And I am grateful that for my girls, a large part of that will be their schooling and that this schooling is centered around their faith. Over the years, they may find their faith falter and perhaps some times they will more than falter, but they will always have a place to come back to.
And I love the role models the girls have. And honestly, I love the role models I have. Catholic schools are very much a community, and parents are quite involved with volunteering in many different roles. At this point, there’s not a whole lot of volunteering I can do because of the two little ones, but I know many of the moms who do volunteer at school, and I am so grateful that my girls have them and their teachers to look up to when I am not there. And I like that these are the people I am surrounding myself with and whose families are growing up along side of ours. It’s a place of encouragement and love, and I find other families who are striving to instill in their children the same values we are trying to instill in ours — faith, love, respect, dignity, compassion, and empathy.
Last night I wrote about how it’s important to maintain our sense of self in the midst of forces that are trying to steer us from our path. That’s a struggle. It’s a struggle for us all. So when we surround ourselves with people who aren’t struggling against us, whose goals and values and perspectives are similar, we can let our guards down a bit and know that we won’t be drifting too far off.
Catholic schools are expensive. They can be less convenient with no bus service and a large need for volunteers. They require a lot, academically and morally, of their students and their families. But I find, that for us at least, that centers our family life around school life, and as such, our family life is centered around our faith.
So happy Catholic Schools Week 2015. Last year I wrote about why we chose Catholic schools. This year I wrote about how we all benefit from Catholic schools. Perhaps next year I’ll write about just how exhausting (and expensive) Catholic Schools Week can be!