Happy Birthday Arabella! That’s right, it has been one year since my “miracle baby” was born. So many milestones, so many memories… year one is just filled to the top with baby moments that you never forget. Though we did not participate in the typical religious ceremonies such as a christening we still had plenty of fancy dresses and special occasions.
I suppose if you want to split hairs we did technically participate in two fancy dress related “religious” events. Arabella was able to meet Santa Claus to commemorate her first Christmas and then a few months later she found the Easter Bunny at the very same mall! Now I know there are a lot of Atheists who don’t think “religious” holidays should be observed by nonbelievers… well, Rich and I are not those Atheists. Christmas and Easter are significant for our families, they both bring back amazing memories and we want to pass those along to our child… end of story. If you notice I said we met them at the mall, not a church, a mall. There was not a manger or crucifix in sight, just a jolly old man and a big fluffy bunny, sounds pretty secular to me.
I’ve lost count as to how many times religion has tried to sneak into my baby’s first year. Despite my best efforts to not step on the toes of my religious friends and family it seems I managed to somehow offend them with my secular lifestyle. One of the absolute funniest examples occurred around November 21st. We had been taking photos each month to document her growth, the standard procedure involves a little sticker or sign indicating what month you are celebrating and a stuffed animal for size comparison. I chose some cute stickers that had a different color and animal for each month as well as Arabella’s Charles Darwin doll. It didn’t take long before it was revealed to me that some people were less than pleased to see these shots. I was actually told that they didn’t appreciate seeing my baby next to “some heathen”. Now when I heard that two things immediately came to mind. 1. I cannot believe I am associated with someone who cannot identify the father of evolution. 2. I know this person is not a creationist, I have known them my entire life and do not believe for one second that their fair-weather faith can stretch that far out of the range of sanity. So why were they offended? Would it have been better if I had used her Nietzsche doll or maybe Marie Curie? What was it about a plush Darwin sitting next to my baby girl that made their skin crawl. I will never know the answer to this, the discussion will never occur and even if I tried to bring it up, it would just be dismissed. As you can see I did not take their frustrations to heart, I continued my Darwin growth chart and maybe I will never stop.
About a month ago Arabella and I were involved in a car accident. I was left with a concussion, eye injury and many bumps and bruises. Thanks to research and development Arabella made it without a scratch on her. In case you didn’t know, rear facing car seats are amazing at protecting our little ones. I was so thankful to the people who invested their time to discover which conditions keep our kids safe from the stupidity of others. Though I may tip my hat to Graco and the other leading companies, not everyone saw it that way. When discussing the accident in mommy groups I was bombarded with prayers for a quick recovery and messages that God was watching over me at that moment, and he kept us safe. Well, as much as I appreciate the well wishes I have to say that not even a traumatic brain injury can make me believe that God saved us that day… nope it was seat belts, car seats and having the speed and impact happen to combine in a way that left us able to live another day.
One year down and a lifetime to go, I have to wonder what challenges I will face trying to raise Arabella to be a strong, secular woman in a world that doesn’t always promote acceptance. Though our parental instincts make us want to protect our children I have no intentions of shielding her from the world. I want her to learn about the beliefs other people hold, to understand reasons why they feel the way the do and to acknowledge that it is okay for people to hold different beliefs. I want her to find that you don’t need to define a friendship, we can love and care for those who do not follow the same path and be supportive of them without betraying our own values. I am still working on all of this myself, I try my best each day and know that it can only get better as I am now setting an example for my child.