Looking Catholic

The other day, my family went to the dentist
because some people (me) just don’t take it seriously when the dentist says that chewy candy isn’t good for your spacer. 

As the kids unload themselves from the van . . . and why does this take so long? Haven’t they ever gotten out of a car before? Why do they have to behave like it’s some kind of novel experience to get out of their seats, and why are they so baffled by the process of stepping from the car to the ground? And what makes them think that the next logical step, once they are finally on solid ground, is to lie down in the dirt in the middle of the parking lot? Who are these children, and why do they treat me this way, when we’re already late, do you hear me, we’re running very, very late?


As I encourage the little tykes to step lively, I notice a minivan parked next to our maxivan. There are several rosaries draped over the rear view mirror, a few pro-life bumper stickers in the back, and in case you missed the point, the license plate says “STJSPH.” So I figure that, at least for once, we won’t be the only freaks in the freak show.

I like being a Catholic; I do. I like people assuming we must be Catholic.


But what gets a little old is . . . you know, looking so Catholic all the time. I know there will come a time in my life when rust, ink stains, and spit-up are no longer the sacramentals of my vocation, but that’s how it is for now. I can’t help checking out other big families, to see how well they pull off Appearing Normal. 

So we hurtle through the dentist’s door, a mere seven minutes late, get the little patient checked in, and then we settle down. It’s a tiny room and is already chock full — and very noisy. I look around for the Catholic mom, and — uh-oh, there she is, looking mean.


She is decked out in painfully practical denim, and she wears glasses in a style designed to frighten children. She has a ferociously grim set to her jaw, is angrily bouncing a pretty little baby on her lap, and keeps barking orders at a tangle of wrestling boys at the other end of the room. They ignore her, and she growls and mutters to herself while changing the baby’s diaper on the chair. 

Oh boy, I think, this doesn’t look good for our team. We’ve all had days like this, but I do make an effort to put on a good front when we’re out in public. (Some days I even try to be pleasant when no one’s watching!) Seriously, if you have everything but the “I use NFP” tattoo on your forehead, I think you have a certain responsibility to at least appear as if you tolerate your many children. But this lady is just one mean mama.

There’s another lady in the waiting room — a slim, fresh, well-dressed woman, wearing expensive jewelry and clothes both chic and unusual. She keeps smiling sympathetically at the angry mom, and making little cheerful comments about how difficult it is to bring the kids to the dentist; but mean mom isn’t having any of it. She just chews her gum and yells at the kids.

After a while, the mean mom gets up, gathers all her junk, and leaves the office with her kids — both of them.


Only two are hers, and once they’re gone, the waiting room is calm and peaceful. I watch her drive away, in a sedan without bumper stickers or rosaries. 

The rest of the little boys stand up and walk over to the pretty lady. “Ambrose,” she trills, “the dentist will be calling you next.” Ambrose’s brothers — Tertullian, Polycarp, Athanasius, and Melchizedek — all wait respectfully while she smoothes their eyebrows and adjusts the collars of their pristine polo shirts.

Now that I think of it, she did look kind of Catholic.

Simcha Fisher


Simcha Fisher is a cradle Hebrew Catholic, freelance writer, and mother of eight young kids. She received her BA in literature from Thomas More College in New Hampshire. She contributes to Crisis Magazine and Faith & Family Live!, and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She is sort of writing a book.

Crisis Magazine Comments Policy

This is a Catholic forum. As such:

  1. All comments must directly address the article. “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)
  2. No profanity, ad hominems, hot tempers, or racial or religious invectives. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
  3. We will not tolerate heresy, calumny, or attacks upon our Holy Mother Church or Holy Father. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
  4. Keep it brief. No lengthy rants or block quotes. “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
  5. If you see a comment that doesn’t meet our standards, please flag it so a moderator may remove it. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
  6. All comments may be removed at the moderators’ discretion. “But of that day and hour no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36)
  7. Crisis isn’t responsible for the content of the comments box. Comments do not represent the views of Crisis magazine, its editors, authors, or publishers. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God… So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)