I have always been something of a church goer. I grew up attending a lovely church in London, where we all knew each other and it was a wonderful environment for kids. I graduated through Sunday school, Brownies, Guides, until I ended up one of a merry team who helped during the service serving at the alter. Once my contemperaneous alter boys and girls had all gone to Uni, we would all come back and help at the Christmas midnight mass each year after a trip to the pub!
On a more personal note, religion has played a very strong guiding hand in my life - and religion of the encouraging you to think for yourself variety - and has given me a framework by which I try to live my life. My parents never expected me to follow it, but opened up the experience to me so I could choose for myself.
It has been, therefore, very important to me that Eve should also be welcomed into this community and have the opportunity to experience this for herself. It was very important to me that she be baptised (and has carefully selected godparents too), and that she attends church. Therefore, each Sunday her heathen father goes rowing or to the gym and I take Eve to church.
The church I go to is very much a family church with lots of children. When I first took Eve, M (the vicar) at the end of the notices during the service took a moment to introduce Eve to everyone and welcome her. There are so many children that the Sunday school has three classes divided by age. As well as the church side, this is the only opportunity I get to be around Eve and lots of other children on a regular basis and she loves it. She even has a couple of little friends, both boys who are a few months older and she loves to play with.
However, I am not altogether comfortable at the church. It is becoming, and maybe it was before but without a child I never noticed, a window into the expat wife scene in HK. Most of the women there (with some noticable exceptions of a couple of my pre-baby friends who happen to go) are the traditional expat wives. The de-rigeur number of children is 3 and they don't work.
I have not really managed to make friends. I am viewed with some suspicion for a number of reasons. Firstly, I only have one child, secondly I work, and thirdly I go on my own and usually don't wear my wedding ring so everyone seems to think I am a single mum. I am sure that, over time, I will make friends and Eve enjoys it so that is reason enough to keep going. But I do find myself longing for my church at home.