The look on my 9-year-old’s face was a scowl to instill fear into the most callous of villains. This was the second time in two minutes that her 9-month-old brother Joseph reached over and aggressively ripped her beautiful chapel veil from her head. This time a chubby little handful worth of hair came out with it. After terrorizing Kate, Joseph got bored of being held and wanted to get down. As soon as his bare feet touched the floor, he decided it was a bad idea and squawked. But he quickly remembered that he didn’t want to be held and so up and down we went, him hollering at me, and me sweating at my impromptu squat workout.
As if his drama wasn’t enough excitement, my two-year-old added a bit of spice to the mix. She is the sweetest little thing- happy-go-lucky with a beautiful, dimpled grin on her face most of the time. Except when we step foot into the church. Then the whine machine turns on and doesn’t shut off until she gets strapped back in the van. She loves her daddy, but when in church-mode acts like she has never met him before and demands that I hold her. So, I pass the baby off to Adam and pick her up instead. But she isn’t comfortable enough so shifts her weight and throws her head back, knocking me in the jaw.
Baby Joseph is mad again because he too forgets his love for his dad the second we walk into church and just wants mom. But then my 4-year-old gets in on the action. That sweet little girl is HIGHLY sensitive so needs to be sitting tight up against me at all times and if someone tries to sit next to me, she has a fit.
This summer I have really been praying about this. “Lord, it is so hard sometimes! These kids are so busy that I just can’t pray! Lord, PLEASE give me patience!”
Now we all know that expectation and reality are usually humorous opposites. Every week I walk into the church assuming that it is going to be the most reverent, incredible mass ever! Every mass is incredible- but reverent?
Several weeks ago, I had to rush a child down to the bathroom to go #2 right after communion. You guys, I was literally doing my Thanksgiving in a toilet stall! My prayer sounded like this, “Lord, this is NOT where I want to be to give you thanks for the miracle that I have just received in receiving you in the Eucharist. But I thank you for this child. You understand my circumstance and I pray you bless me as abundantly as if I were quietly and reverently kneeling with a beautiful prayer on my lips.”
Let me jump back to last Sunday and all the drama we were having in our pew. The veil pulling, aerobics session, chin bruise, and bargaining with a 4-year-old all happened well before mass even started. So, at 5 minutes BEFORE mass starts, I grab the youngest two, and we beeline from the very first pew, to the crying room in the back of the church. I set Joseph down as soon as we close the door behind us. He is the fastest crawling baby I have ever seen, so he was up at the glass door in no time at all. He pulled himself up and started slapping, in a cadence only a 9-month-old can master. My 2-year-old was happily reading books at the top of her lungs but stopped and looked up at me. We are starting to potty train and is very aware of how things work. The look she gave me told me that she was in need of a diaper change. O great… what I didn’t have was a diaper bag to remedy this situation.
Normally I am a pretty calm, collected individual, but at this moment I started to feel panic rising up inside of me. I prayed, “God, for 12 years I have had a child young enough to make sitting through Mass hard. I am so tired!” Don’t hear this wrong. I am happily pro-life and LOVE my large family. But like most worthy things, it can be a real challenge at times with 7 kids 12 and younger. Mass is one of those times.
I decided it was time to tap out because I was so burnt out. I marched back to the front of the church and passed the kids to Adam, informing him of the situation. He grabbed the little two and after a quick diaper change in the van, he sat with them in the crying room. After Communion, I was talking to Jesus about my situation. He reminded me how important it was that I was there, regardless of how I felt about it. He reminded me that just because I always have a baby in my arms, doesn’t mean that that baby is the same one. They grow up! He reminded me of a beautiful image of my oldest boys who are 11 and 12 serving before the altar of the Lord. They have the honor of intimately being in the most sacred of places, where the miracle of transubstantiation takes place. They are literally standing in the company of angels.
He then reminded me of my 9-year-old on her First Holy Communion Day. She was radiant! But besides her exterior beauty, she was internally beautiful. She was so aware of what she was finally able to receive. Her holy attitude towards the Eucharist is so inspiring.
Now that I am sitting here writing this a week later, I can also chuckle about how my 4-year-old told me this afternoon how I was a really good mom, but Mary is the best mom in the whole world. Thanks, I think… but that’s a pretty solid Catholic comment!
So yes, Sunday Mass is less than peaceful, but it is so worth it. I’m now far enough along in my motherhood journey to see the fruits of the sacrifice in the older kids.
Miraculously, we had someone offer to babysit our three youngest kids, so we went to Saturday night mass for a change. It was so glorious. I even wore a white dress because I knew I wouldn’t have boogers or drool wiped on my shoulder!
Thank you, Jesus, for my busy, beautiful family. Help me to persevere through the trying times. I am blessed beyond measure.
Until next time, my dear sisters Christ,