Monday, August 19, 2013

Children at church, again

A group of us moms took pictures at the playground today, attempting to "recreate" a picture we had done years ago (two kids and two miscarriages later, for me.)  I halfheartedly agreed.  And both photos were posted and tagged to Facebook today to live on cyberspace forever.  

Even my vanity is exhausted these days so I didn't protest the pic, but no, I didn't post them to my timeline.  So since most of you are deprived of these portraits, let me just say: in the old pic, I was sitting up, smiling perkily, and in today's I'm slumped over a bit, a little bigger, a lot more tired.  

Ah the joys of motherhood.  Not that it's not worth it.  It's just so darn hard sometimes.

I'm grateful I'm finding time to write today, especially after a few frustrating days of an idea, a few taps on the keyboard, then MOMMMMEEEE!  I see the dishes suffering as I do this though, and the laundry, and... eh, it will wait for me I'm sure, right? :)

The morning wasn't promising: I went to do a few errands, when loud singing in the van turned to a dispute as to who should sing which part, or which song, or whose turn it was to sing at all... in the commotion, I took a wrong turn.  As I pulled into a random driveway to back up and reverse my trip, my preschooler piped up, "Oh YAY!!!  We are going to somebody's HOUSE!  Oh NO MOM!  WAIT!  I WANT TO GO TO THAT HOWOWOWOSE!!" And I sped away before the poor owners of the driveway could discover which hellions were trying to pay a call.

They are currently loving the bath while I type.  Provided my laptop doesn't get wet, this is all good.   Let's see how far I can go...

I was supposed to post to "Catholic Carnival" yesterday about what my favorite hymn was (yes, I'm a day late and a dollar short but I'm doing this anyway)... It's probably "Adoro te Devote", a prayer by Thomas Aquinas.

Second would probably be "Be Thou my Vision."  In general, I'm a pushover for Irish melodies.  

Unless I'm in church with my children, like I was yesterday.  Then, if I'm being honest and non-liturgically appropriate, I would self-centeredly vote for the most peppy, exciting song about Jesus there is.  Preferably with hand motions.  Anything, anything to hold their attention.

Because I'm tired and overwhelmed, and I'm not the best at church discipline, frankly.  I'm not terrible at it mind you (mine are not the kids you see dancing on pews with animal crackers, but they very well might be the ones processing to the front when I'm not looking, collecting missalettes as they go.) There's plenty of techniques I could implement to prepare them better, which I will hopefully remember to do after I fix the dishwasher and take them to the doctors and come back from swim lessons, you know?  I'm so distracted these days...

St. Josemaria Escriva once said, "The Mass is long because your love is short."  He was wrong in my case.  The Mass is long because my children are loud.  Absurdly loud.  Graced with their father's lungs, every one of them.  And I've really never gotten over how wonderfully quiet it used to be at church and how marvelously humiliating it can be now.  

Case in point yesterday: We had the grave misfortune of going to an evening service.  Which meant that not only were the kids tired, they were also hungry; and not only were they hungry, they were also irritable.  (Note: when I say "kids" here, I am talking about the two that are under 4.  My oldest ones are quiet, good, sane, and helpful at church.  So mothers of all preschoolers: yes, there is hope.  But for now...)  

The moment we walk in during the opening hymn (for us, that's early), the two littles toddle into the pew because I'm not going to _start_ in the crying room, right?  I'm an undying optimist.  After examining the collection of pamphlets, envelopes, prayer books, and chewed gum bits under the seats, my preschooler announces in a stage whisper, "Mommy, I weawwy need to go potty!"

Now here's the thing: she might just be bored and pulling my leg.  But you never know... 

Choice A: Call her bluff, manage the tantrum, and face the possibility of a catastrophe to her almost really clean wardrobe (if you roll up the sleeves she rubbed on the van on the way out and ignore the marker line she drew on her lap in the car.) 


Choice B: Take her to the $&%* potty.  

99 times out of a hundred, I'm going with choice B.  And I'm usually there till the sermon, when I struggle out (no you've washed your hands plenty well, no you can't wash your face again, OH DON'T TOUCH THAT! Okay, we're washing hands just ONE more time, that's enough paper towel, that's enough, THAT'S ENOUGH!!) back to the pew.  

I slide quietly into the seat to a cry of "MOMMY!"  It's gleeful, high-pitched, and makes people smile. And look at me.  As I take back the toddler who has missed me so dreadfully for the past 8 minutes, with the mostly benevolent eyes of the congregation upon me, the dear little thing starts to yank on my shirt, very successfully.  

FYI... Fellow lactating moms of modesty: when you are buying clothing, and try on 20 shirts to find 1 you like... Make sure, before you dare walk out of the fluorescent lighting and mirrored room, that you take the following necessary step: Have ready in your purse a hook, a rope, and a brick.  Attach these together, look at your new-shirted self squarely in the glass, and hang that brick from your collar.  And honey, give it a couple real good yanks.  And then being the honest, fair person that you are: pay for the torn apparel, and also go buy the strongest turtleneck you can find... something that seals at the bottom too ... because then and only then, will you be safe and secure from sudden apparel malfunctions when a toddler wants, in her words, "Noi noi."  

I don't know how she chose that word for nursing--I assume it's the sound she would make if she vocalized chomping--but it's better than some nicknames I've heard...  However if she were at all unclear verbally, her actions spoke volumes.  

I dared not meet the once benevolent stares, and indeed avoid looking at any one else for the entire time, just pretend they aren't staring at me....  I gently pry the continually gripping hands away.  

Choice A.  Find a place you feel comfortable and nurse her.


Choice B:  Kid, you are almost two.  Wait till we get home.

10 times out of 10--since this ain't no infant--I go with Choice B.


My toddler is sweet, petite, and introverted.  But she has learned certain techniques very well from her older, overbearing sisters.  Particularly the hopelessly forte wail when one does not get what one wants.

Pulling my shirt up with one hand, pulling her hands away with the other, while carting her under my arm, I awkwardly squeeze by the rest of my family (who all somehow end up on the aisle seats) and make my way to the crying room.  I make what I hope is a reverential bob on my way out.

"Wait for MEEEE!"  My preschooler is tearing down the aisle in pursuit.  Marker stain much more visible than I remembered.  Dirty sleeves waving wildly.

The rest of church time I spend in a pool of children, little bible books, dodging sneezes and coughs, settling tussles between the pro-snack and non-snack kids (mine are non-snack in church), and orchestrating yet another potty visit. When a bell rings, I stop to say, "Look! Jesus!"  And then I turn to see my toddler has crawled onto another kid's lap to steal their cracker.  

I know the years are short though the days are long.  I know there will come a time, again, that I don't feel sheer glee at the words, "Go in peace."  

Thanks be to God. 


  1. I love that Be Thou My Vision song!!

    And, I probably shouldn't admit this, but I nurse my kids in church until they are like 2.5 or 3. In fact I encourage them to nurse in church...I OFFER it to them. Heck..I wish my 11-month old would nurse more in church...I'd much rather sit there and nurse for the entire Mass than try to keep her from eating the Missals and screeching.

    And, I can so relate to your last line!

    Motherhood is so very, very hard sometimes. Your girls are absolutely adorable though!

  2. Amelia, I'm so glad you admitted that. I admire your sensibility! I can see where that makes sense... they would be quiet that way, tis true! Yes, thank God kids are cute, really... And Imelda, lol!