Mass used to be so easy before kids, my husband and I would wake up with a morning kiss, make a delicious breakfast, shower and arrive at mass 10 minutes early. We would look nice and well put together and we would hold hands and smile frequently at each other. It was perfect. I’m fairly certain that there were rainbows and butterflies constantly surrounding us. We would often look at the large families sitting together stretched across a pew and dream of the days that we too would have our own well behaved perfect family.
Fast forward 4 years. We now have two beautiful boys, Theo who is two and Elliot who is 9 months old. In them our dreams have come true, they have made us realize our purpose and they make our life complete. However, Mass on Sundays tends to get a little sticky…literally. Gone are the days of waking up fresh faced with a smile. Sleeping in our house is only reserved for our boys, because between night feedings, bad dreams, and illnesses let’s just say my husband and I no longer wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed. In fact, sometimes we wake up so tired, my initial thought is to check the Carbon Minoxide detector just to be certain that our fatigue isn’t caused by anything other than being a parent. We still enjoy a family breakfast tradition of sticky buns, followed by a quick change into nice clothes. Gone are the days of makeup, perfect hair and perfectly pressed clothes. When we arrive on time, dressed and looking somewhat clean, I consider it a good day, even though if you look closely you will see sticky bun icing around mouths, handprints on daddy’s pants and spit up on my shoulder.
We try to arrive early, but unfortunately due to our overly tiredness…we tend to push the clock. God has blessed us with a home only two blocks away from our parish and even though we live so close, I can only chalk it up to the Grace of God that we make it on time. Every week I have a mini- anxiety attack on the way fearing the glares of the perfect families that arrived early, and every week I realize that I overreacted (as I tend to do) and that we aren’t usually the last to arrive.
We learned in our baptismal class that the best place for little ones to sit is close to the front, so that they can see what the Priest is doing. This has worked great for us, especially when we just had Theo, because he LOVED watching the Priest, especially during communion (in fact, his favorite game to play is, handing us a toy and saying “the body of Christ”). Now that we have two, things aren’t so easy. Little Elliot is too little to understand that we are quiet in church, so 9 times out of 10 mommy has to retire to the crying room, while Theo and daddy stay and enjoy mass. Our motto has quickly become “divide and conquer”. I try at all costs to avoid the crying room…I fully consider it to be my personal hell. Kids running around, playing, eating and shrieking reminds me of trying to worship in a room full of zoo animals. Trust me… if your kid wasn’t loud before you went inside this glass box of kid overload, they will be upon entering. Kids feed off of the other kids energy, so you can imagine the energy level. Basically when we get to the point of retiring to the crying room, I’m waving my white flag on the mass. But that’s what you do as a parent…you suck it up and do what’s best for your kid, even if what’s best is a screaming, loud, cheerio eating party (hey, when you put it that way it doesn’t sound half bad..) instead of a holy experience.
I used to spend my entire mass worrying about what other people thought of my boys, worried that they would be too loud, or not look nice enough. I was worried that we would be late, or that we would leave crumbled up cheerios on the floor. I was worried that people would think that I was a bad parent, or that I wasn’t raising my children in a way that glorified God. It wasn’t until recently I realized that I was the problem, and that if I could relax and enjoy Mass, then my boys would learn to enjoy mass too. At the end of the day, those are the type of boys I want to raise, boys that love God and enjoy learning and growing in their faith. Boys that actually want to go to church.
Knowing that our boys actually enjoy going to mass makes me feel like we are doing something right as parents, and feeling like we are doing something right is what gets me through our less than perfect Sundays… especially when we have had a particularly difficult Mass.
Also an occasional after church glass of wine doesn’t hurt either.
Jess Stricker is a wife, mommy, and a self- proclaimed witty commentator. When she’s not writing funny stories, she enjoys shopping, watching reality TV, and the occasional glass of wine. Despite her mom haircut, she really is pretty cool, at least that’s what her two boys (Theo and Elliot) would say if you asked them. Jess is a freelance writer that tries to see the funny in everyday situations and has a tendency to find herself in awkward situations more often than the average Joe. If you need a laugh, follow Jess on twitter @JessicaElaine09 and keep up with the crazy at Random Blog Drama. Enjoy!