This past weekend our family attended mass at a church where we were very active parishioners over a decade ago. I always joke that we are professional church hoppers… not that we are sketchy, but we moved 4 times in our marriage and always joined the closest church. We have been back to this church a handful of times in the last few months because it is quite close to where we now live.
Unbeknownst to us, they were celebrating First Communion on Sunday. There was an excited energy in the church as the nervous little second graders fidgeted in their white dresses and starched shirts. Unfortunately for my LARGE family, this meant that despite arriving 15 minutes early, the only place we could sit as a single unit was the crying room.
Crying rooms can be a hot topic issue to some… we definitely use it on our littlest ones! But we do try to make a point to sit in the regular church until we have to take out a wiggly or chatty little person. But this wasn’t always the case.
When I was a young mom with 3 under 4, we lived in the crying room. And I found myself once again sitting in the exact same spot that I had a decade earlier. I just had to chuckle as I looked over at my boys. My oldest, now 13 reached a sad milestone for me, but an awesome one for him recently… he is officially taller than I am! So, there he sits tall and straight next to two of his brothers and one of his sisters. All of whom sit nicely in the pew without any supervision whatsoever.
It made me smile because all those years ago I was also blogging and wrote a post about sitting in the crying room. My boys back then were (and still can be 😉) WILD! I remember them stacking their coats on the floor at the end of the pew, then standing up halfway down the pew, taking a running start, and penguin diving on their bellies off the end of the pew onto the cushion of winter coats.
How negligent, you are probably thinking. Maybe I was, or maybe I was doing the best I could. I had a little baby girl that I would be holding and taking care of. Sure, Adam did his best to discipline, but there were two very strong little boys, and only one of him. Looking back now, it was pretty chaotic, but boy does it bring a smile to my face as I look into the faces of my big boys and think back to when they had buzz cuts and pudgy cheeks.
What really put the icing on the cake was seeing a family sitting towards the front of the church that used to be our crying room buddies. Their son was a few years older than ours and was a busy little dude. You guys… that kid is now well over 6 feet tall!!
I have this weird problem: I assume nothing changes when I leave a community. But then I get slapped in the face by things like this… how on earth is that cute little boy I remember now towering over me??
It was an ironic situation as his family sat towards the front. I watched with awe as they reverently prayed quietly and were attentive to all areas of the beautiful mass!
Having a large family is a unique thing… I have been stuck in a crying room situation for the last 13 years and will be again starting over in October with a newborn. I LOVE my family and wouldn’t trade big family life for anything! But sometimes I wonder if that family towards the front will ever be me. People keep saying that they grow fast, and I believe that when I look over at my oldest kids. But this season of babies has been very long.
My current toddler has literally bitten holes in my chapel veil, loves to poke at the people that sit in front of us, shows off his Olympic run down the aisle, and yells tractor and bobcat for most of the mass.
How negligent, you are probably thinking once again. Maybe, but I also have a HIGHLY sensitive 5-year-old and a 3-year-old that has decided that she needs to be held the entire mass. Adam and I tag-team the troops, which most often leads to one of us hanging out in the back of the church while the other gets smothered by the little girl’s excessive affection.
Mass usually leaves me feeling completely drained and exhausted, but we show up, dressed in our Sunday best, because it matters. We are proving to all seven of our kids that this is important. 18-month-old Joseph may not “get it” today, but he will soon look a lot like my oldest son Phillip and will tower over me before I even realize it. So even though it is hard, we show up because somewhere in the blur of everyday life, they grow up and get to ages where they do “get it” and they will learn to love and cherish the Eucharist.
Until next time, your sister in Christ,