Easter Freedom

My daughter and I have always been exceptionally close. I chock it up to the hours and hours she spent attached to my breast while she was an infant. And by hours I mean days. Actually, months. Okay, years. The kid nursed for the first two-and-a-half years of her life.

My bosom buddy is six now and breastfeeding has been replaced with quality time doing other things together, such as reading, playing tennis, taking hikes and playing with Barbie’s urinating pups.

Whereas my daughter is in full-day school this year, I still pepper our playtime with little lessons, including stranger danger, knowing when to call 911 and how to escape our home in case of a fire.

The only problem is that I never know how much of what I am trying to squeeze into to her 6-year-old mind is actually being retained.

Fast-forward to Easter Sunday.

The morning started out with its typical drama: Hyped-up child finds hidden Easter basket and consumes way too much chocolate without permission. Then, the real fun began: Mom nags child about getting ready for Mass, child cries about having to leave basket at home, and having to wear white shoes instead of brown boots, and having to wait until after Mass to eat bacon… yada, yada, yada.

When we finally arrive at church we were met with the usual crowd, plus all the Cheasters who had fulfilled their Christmas obligation and were back for round two.

Even though we were sitting in a pew with family and friends, my daughter was slightly overwhelmed by the excess churchgoers who were forced to stand in the side aisles. The residual overflow of parishioners made it impossible to move more than a few inches at any point during Mass, so I wasn’t surprised when my daughter asked to sit on my lap.

Communion was also a challenge given the sheer volume of people in attendance. My daughter walked in front of me as we left the altar rail and promptly ran into a wheelchair-bound gentleman who was trying to move himself, so as to free up space in the side aisle.

I quickly assisted him by rolling his chair to an open area near the confessional. It took a bit longer than I had expected since we had to navigate around a steady stream of parishioners coming back from Communion. In the meantime, I lost track of my daughter, but figured she had made it back to our pew with the others.

Wishful thinking.

Just as I was lowering the brake on the man’s wheelchair I hear a shrill voice rise above the choir of Alleluias: “Excuse me! Excuse me!”

I instantly knew whose panic-stricken voice it was; but before I could make my way back into the side aisle I hear: “Excuse me! I need to go back. I can’t find my Mommy! I need to call 9-1-1!”

Admittedly, it wasn’t very funny at the time. However, once Mass was over, I was able to speak to my daughter in-depth about what triggered her desperate response. That’s when I found the incident to be quite amusing.

What most people don’t realize is that my laughter was really a reflection of relief.

This Easter I obtained freedom from the monumental worry I constantly carry around wondering if my child listens to anything I say.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.