Back before I had kids I would see the two year old climbing all over the pew and think to myself, "Horrors! Surely my children will never do such a thing!" or something like that. That makes it sound like I think in "British"... normally my mind is not that proper.
Nowadays when I see a toddler standing on a pew who isn't pelting other parishioners with hymnals I wonder what they have done to get their kid to behave so nicely.
Our real problem is that because of Kyle's schedule we have to go to either the 4:30 Saturday or the 5:00 Sunday mass and that means that we don't even TRY to get the kids down for their naps. The only thing worse than a baby who has not napped is a baby who was from her crib untimely ripped. (five points to anyone who gets the reference.)
So we usually roll into mass about 2 minutes late. We like less that a mile from our parish but even if we left our house at about a half hour before we had to be there we would probably still end up late. I'm convinced our neighborhood has a Bermuda Triangle thing going on.
And of course, because this is Massachusetts and everyone talks "wicked fast" the priest is just about to begin the Gospel.
Madeleine genuflects before entering the pew and I am proud. Super proud. I'm beaming. We sit down, she sits and folds her hands and goes, "Jesus. Hi. Amen." I'm not smiling like the Cheshire Cat. SO CUTE!
Kyle usually starts off holding Juliette and I am trying to explain what is happening in the mass to Madeleine. Everything is quiet for a minute or two. Soon enough however Juliette is squealing so loud I'm convinced no one can hear the lector and Madeleine is crawling under the pew back and forth transporting the hymnals.
Kyle hands Juliette to me. The squealing gets louder. He tried to pick up Madeleine who now is making a fort out of said hymnals. He picks her up and tells her it is time to pray.
Kyle heads to the back of the church with her where there is no cry room. She is told she has lost her cookie. I hear her NOOOOOOOOs tapering off as he distracts her. Usually she is trying to wash her hands in the holy water font. I'm down with that.
Meanwhile Juliette realizes that I am holding her but she is not nursing. That won't do. She is pulling at my shirts and head butting me in the chest. Kyle comes back just in time. Madeleine says, "HI MOM! HI BABY!" I hand Juliette over to him who starts teething on his shoulder. Madeleine sits in the pew for about a minute. Then she puts down the foot rest, stands on it, and starts leaning forward into the pew in front of us. Her butt is in the air and she cannot get down.
As I am getting her down Kyle is distracting Juliette with the hymnals. He hands her one and she immediately throws it on the floor and reaches for the next because that is just the stage she is in. Madeleine picks up the hymnal, examines it, and starts pointing and loudly saying, "Jesus mommy! Jesus mommy!"
Luckily for us they are normal very good during, as Madeleine calls it, the "HI JESUS" part. The point where I point up at the Eucharist being held in the hands of the priest and tell Madeleine, "There is Jesus." To which she usually says, in a whisper, "Hi Jesus."
On the way back from communion there are people pointing and smiling at them. Those people have clearly not heard what has been going on in the back of the church.
We get back to our seats and without fail one of us has to take one of them to the back of the church again. This is made particularly tricky if we have arrived late and the person at the end of the row has refused to move in so we were stuck in the middle. Usually by the end of mass they have let us out and back in again so many times that my guess is no "isle seat" is worth that amount of trouble. Or they have peaced out right after communion. Once again, this is Massachusetts.
We stay until the priest has processed back up the isle and head out. We stop at the statue of Mary in front of the church because Madeleine loves Jesus Mommy Hail Mary. It hasn't been a peaceful experience and I didn't have much time for contemplation. However I have the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity inside of me so I know that I am the closest I can possibly be to God.
Being a mom doesn't give a lot of time from prayer but it provides a lot of opportunities to grow in holiness.... even though by the end of mass I am usually more tired then when I hit the gym.
Even through their craziness I see the fruits of taking my children to mass in my day to day life, especially in how Madeleine has grown in her prayer life. And she is only two! It's hard but I certainly wouldn't do it any other way. While my children are young I'll have to remember that even though I don't get long peaceful stretches for prayer that God is still working within me through my husband and children. Putting the needs of my children before my own is part of my vocation and it's by living my vocation in even the smallest details that I will grow closer to God. Outside of receiving the Eucharist nothing revitalizes my faith like loving my family because they are my gift from God and my path to Him as well.
I guess what I am saying is that I will take my time alone with God whenever I can get it, those are essential to restore me for day to day life. However since those moments can be hard to come by I am slowly learning how to make the little moments of life a prayer as well. Dishes, laundry, even peeling Madeleine off of the pew during mass. I'm just thankful for the richness of our faith, the goodness of God, and the vocation of being a wife and mother. Especially to such a holy man and such sweet little girls.