December 28, 2012

It came out, during our visit home, that my mother secretly baptized Dot when she was only two days old. Which means, the first day Mom visited us, she decided not to consult with us or to discuss any of this with us. Instead, she took a cup of water in the hospital room and did what she “felt in her heart.”

She has apologized and asked for forgiveness, but it was one of her patented “I’m sorry, but really it is all your fault” apologies and it is hard to know what, precisely, she wants forgiveness for since she pretty clearly feels she’s done nothing wrong. I know she acted out of love and an imperfect understanding of the meaning and importance of baptism. I know she meant well. But my struggle with faith has been and still is an earnest one. I don’t take faith lightly. I don’t take baptism lightly. 

The reason all of this came up is that N and I asked Mom about having Dot baptized in Mom and Dad’s church. But our church doesn’t hold with re-baptism and neither do I. And now I will never be a part of my daughter’s. None of the rest of Dot’s family will be a part of that, either. What should have been a communal event was turned into something secret and based in fear. 

And, we have been pretty thoroughly shown that my mother doesn’t respect us as parents.  Which stings, damn it.

I joked with N more than once that I wouldn’t have been surprised if Mom had done this, but I really hoped that she hadn’t. I hoped that she respected me more than that, as a parent, as a person of faith (even of shaky & imperfect faith).

It’s going take time to process this, to know what to do with it. I love my mom, but I may not be able to trust her for a while. And now I find I can’t respect her religious beliefs, either. 



  1. OMG. What the Hell is wrong with people? An older friend of my DH’s, who I can’t stand, did the same to my dead twins hours after I delivered, when I was too doped up to tell him to piss off. Later, I was really angry. Is he clergy?! No! He’s just a man. Maybe it’s different in Catholocism, but in the religion in which I was raised, “normal” people don’t have the right to baptize anybody. Grrr!

  2. How can a “regular” person baptize someone? I guess perhaps in a situation where there was no other option, person dying, no clergy around. But other than that it seems to me that Dot was not really baptized.

  3. I know how angry I was when my mil backed me into a corner (literaly!) with her priest and tried to bless my eldest dd, if I’d found out she’d done the same to Florence, I would be beyond furious.
    I’m so sorry your Mother thought she had the right to do this. I’m sorry you have to work your way through more pain. Sending love..always seems so feeble, but it’s all I have. x

  4. Oh dear. I’m really sorry and I am quite gobsmacked that your mother would do that. My parents are religious but have never even asked me about baptising the children. I had the twins blessed in hospital before G died (I actively wanted this but didn’t want them to be baptised as I worried that would be ‘giving up’) and I could never quite bring myself to have either J or R christened when their sister never would be. And I don’t take it lightly even and if I can’t do the follow through I’m not going to set up down that road.

    It must have completely shaken your trust and respect. Perhaps because your mom has shown so little of those two qualities towards you and N? Sigh. Just so sorry.

  5. I shake my head sometimes at what people will do. I know how you have struggled with faith and to come to a point when you are ready to baptize your daughter and have had that taken away from you . . . and the disrespect of not telling you. There’s a lot to deal with there.

  6. I’m so sorry, Erica. That was definitely NOT RIGHT of your mother to do.

    Did you ever see the classic “All in the Family” episode where Archie sneaks off with his grandson, Joey, and baptizes him in the font at their church?

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