When we meet new people and I mention Moppet's name, something I often hear is 'Oh, but that's not a Hindu name, is it?' No, it's not, I reply and wait for the inevitable follow up question: So you're Indian but not Hindu? What are you then?
For simplicity's sake I say we're Christian, and while it is factually correct, I often feel like a hypocrite saying it. Moppet's Papa and I are Christians simply because of the families we were born into but neither of us practice the religion. Sure, we got married in a church, and Moppet has been baptized, but that was more for our extended families than for us. Christmas and Easter are celebrated, but as social events, not religious ones.
I'm still finding my own way through this, but the clearest way in which I can explain my position is that I believe in God (or some sort of a higher power) and not in any religion. It never really worried me until Moppet arrived. Because I don't know how I'm going to explain this to Moppet. I would like her to understand the religion she is born into, but I want her to choose the religion she follows, if at all. And I don't want my own beliefs, or lack of them, to influence her choice.
But is that possible? Parents are such enormous influences on their children. And aren't we really, at some level, bringing up our children to be stronger, faster, smarter, more successful versions of ourselves?
In my own family, my father is agnostic and my mother, a believer. My dad ensured that I went to Sunday school and got religious instruction, but he also encouraged me to question, think for myself and make my own choices. While this has been his guiding parenting principle across all things in life, in the matter of religion in particular, I think his own beliefs have influenced mine greatly. I remember the long discussions we have had on religion, some when I was just 10 or 11 years old. I remember his honest explanation of his agnostic position, and today I wonder if my experience of religion and spirituality as a child might have been different if it hadn't been seen through my dad's agnostic lens.
As an adult, I have no regrets about that. But as a mother, I wonder if I can be involved in my daughter's understanding and experience of religion without colouring it with my own.
I wish I knew.
Edited to add: I realise that the post does not quite explain why I want Moppet to experience and understand religion, if I don't believe myself.
One, as Kiran mentioned in the comments, religion does bring a sense of identity. There is a sense of community and belonging that I do not want to deprive Moppet of. Growing up, we went to church as a family every Sunday, my dad included. He believed his obligation to our church community was a social one, and fulfilled it religiously [sorry, just couldn't resist ;-)] I owe Moppet the opportunity to belong, and should she later choose not to, that is her decision to make, not mine.
Two, faith also brings hope, strength, and a sense of purpose. Especially as a child, when life can be so confusing and overwhelming, I think it is nice to be able to believe in a guardian angel, to know that miracles can happen. For all my feelings about religion being man-made, and rituals designed for an earlier time that have no relevance in today's world, there is certainly much human wisdom in religious texts that I would like Moppet to learn.
Thank you all for your comments. I know there are no easy answers, but your support and understanding gives me hope.