I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there are like me – skipping along in the blissful world of in-love without a flicker of grown up thoughts entering your mind. I mean I’m thirty TWO – No need to worry about babies or any of that business right now. But what if you have some strong beliefs in the way you want your children raised? If you don’t want them smacked? If you don’t want them baptised? If you don’t want them going to a public school? If you’re dating someone and you’re in your thirties and you want children – you should probably have some of these discussions now. Yes now. Not in five years when you realise you live on opposite-parental-polar sides of the world.
But you both like each other so much, so surely you’ll just agree on everything, right? You don’t want to be seven months pregnant, fighting about baptism and public schooling while your undelivered foetus can listen and keep score. By then those conversations might be a little too late. I’m not getting all Gandhi on you – I’m not the wise, well-thought-out one here. I’ve never thought about any of this stuff in my life, likely because I’ve never dated anyone and thought ‘Ooh I’d like to have half your DNA inside me to create something that can’t speak or do the dishes for the first seven years of its life.’
Realising some of these tough questions need to be answered, my first port of head-breaking call is my “nope, not baptised, I’m going to hell and why are you asking?” friends. A temple-tonne of my friends have been raised strict Catholic and I was aghast to hear the straight-down-the-baptism-barrel answers I was getting – clearly these guys had thought about it? Or hated something enough to know they didn’t want it all over again.
I had a Catholic upbringing and I haven’t come out the other ordained end hating on all things churchy and yes, I want my children baptised. But how far am I going to take that? Would I break up with someone over this? It’s a little odd how your brain, head and heart all start to feel a bit twisted about this. I’ve found someone who meets every requirement, ticks every boy box – but if we can’t agree on this, is that it? Should I start only dating men at local churches who won’t have 99% of the things I really want? Do *I* need to compromise a little more and take down my church-o-meter a notch?
If my partner was from a different religion (cripes don’t tell the parents) that had a very different baptism-esque ceremony would I dare let him bathe the child in it? Of course I would. Because isn’t this more about respecting each others’ own faiths, upbringings and finding that middle ground of compromise to raise your children on? I’d like to think so. So I need to get my partner across the line on this one too. “Shiraz wine please and all the kids baptised to go”.
I don’t think this is one conversation to be had and ended. No-one knows how you’re going to feel once you have a little version of your mixed selves sitting there and you need to decide what water and blessings you’re going to douse it with. But I do know I don’t want to be all wishy washy about it now and not stand up for what I want and years on simply hope my partner will want the same. I’m not stupid enough to think someone will forget or change their mind over years of wearing down. You’d have to have Jesus rocks in your head. (Jesus rocks aren’t a thing, I just made that up. I imagine they’d be heavy though and open doors at Easter time.)
So my basic baptismal thoughts for you are: keep on skipping, keep on being in love, but speak about these things and have these uncomfortable conversations now. Make sure you’re on the same psalm, Buddha belly or Bible page before you get those keys cut, open that joint bank account and spend a small fortune down the aisle to say, “I do”. (190)