I took the kids to Mass today. By myself, praying for success, armed with coloring pages of the different parts of mass, a small snack of goldfish, spill proof water bottles, a board book bible, and hoped for the best.
You see, I haven’t been able to worship on Sundays for . . . um, years, it feels like.
Really, I guess it’s been months, but it feels like ages. I started to get this feeling that I was being called back to church, and I had to heed His call. But, in my acting-single-mommyhood during Hubs’ 2 month patrols, I would have to go it alone with no back up. If the kids weren’t having it, I’d have to leave. There was always this thought in the back of my head that I would ruin our Sunday by trying to go to church and failing halfway through – and then cause wailing and crying and fit-throwing when we would have to leave early. . .
So, I hadn’t been going to church. Even though I missed it SO much.
Trying Other Options
I guess I should point out that I know NO ONE at the church. It’s simply the Catholic church in the area that I attend. There is one other family that attends sometimes, and are friends of ours, but both of us are technically visitors to the church. Friends warmly invited me to try their churches. At one of which, the kids are very comfortable, because we attend Wednesday night dinner and bible-study (the kids have their own classes) there with a friend. But, I’m Catholic, and worship at a non-denominational Christian church was. . . weird to me, and frankly, boring. Which obviously it was not to the congregation there. But it was to me.
So, I prayed about it, and I thought about my quandary, and I asked friends and family members for advice and ideas. And then, I decided.
I couldn’t abandon or avoid the Catholic Mass of my faith because of my circumstances.
Sure, caring for small children excuses us from the obligation to attend Mass. . . but I was being CALLED back. I looked forward to going with all of my heart!
And I dreaded going with all of my mind. Because I didn’t want it to be a massive fail.
I had tried going to other churches, but it wasn’t right for me. I felt at home at a Catholic Mass. So, that’s where I needed to worship. And, I realized, after doing a lot of praying and reading others’ blog posts on the subject that my children were not baggage that I had to take with me and hope didn’t offend anyone.
No, they are precious blessings, small little members of the Body of Christ that will attend mass with me, because they belong there.
How it Went
Let’s just say I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the cry-room or family-room used during Mass. . . love the idea that if my kids start all of a sudden bawling their eyes out or screaming, that nobody in the church proper can hear them. Hate it because you’re not really attending Mass. You’re stuck back in a glorified penalty box, with way too many kids that don’t know WHY they’re there, and it enables children to be loud, since there’s no consequence. No one can hear you.
After our other attempts at attending Mass, Abbey also has an opinion about the cry-room, and it’s not a good one.
“It’s loud in there, and stuffy in there, and boring in there” she says. “Please do not make me sit in there!”
I feel you, Abs. I do.
So, armed with the suggestions of my dear sister-in-law, Natural Parents Network volunteers, and others, I took my kids to Mass in the church proper. The second pew. And there was only one time that the wiggly-gigglies turned to screaming and wailing. I call that a huge SUCCESS.
I was on cloud nine. I had gotten to attend mass, I loved singing hymns, listening to my children sing and follow along with their tiny little fingers on the hymnal, hearing the Word of God, listening to a great homily on the Body of Christ, participating in prayer, taking communion . . . It was GREAT!
How was I supposed to know that the announcements portion of the Mass was going to be 20 minutes long? (I found out afterward that it is “Catholic Schools Week” and that’s why they had an extra long announcement time)
And that is when the fussing started. I was conflicted. I had promised Abbey that if she could remember the rules we set for Mass and listened to me during church, that we would not have to go to the cry room.
And the only reason that Joseph was fussing was because the announcements section of Mass was droning on and on.
Abbey said “I don’t want to leave now. Please don’t make me go to the cry room!”
So, I just stayed put and hoped that either Joseph would calm down, or those around me would forgive his noise during the droning on about how great the Parish school is.
I mean, at least he wasn’t screeching during the Consecration, right?
“Let’s Call it a Wash”
After mass, at donut time, several people greeted us and said what darling, beautiful children Joe and Abbey are. I thanked them and told them that I have been staying home for so long because I couldn’t succeed at bringing my children to Mass but that I was trying my hardest to include them in the church and teach them the ways of Mass. They patted me on the back and said “good job, mama!” I was seriously on a mommy-high from making it through – no – actually being able to enjoy and worship the Lord – for once in what seemed like years!
And as I passed the priest on our way out, I thanked him for a lovely homily, and told him how excited I was that I was able to attend mass successfully with my children.
And his response?
“Just make sure that you utilize the cry room when they start up making noise- I have had several people with hearing aids with concerns that the noise of children fussing makes it impossible for them to hear me. Maybe you could sit closer to the cry-room so that you can take them in there. That’s what it’s there for. It’s hard for people to hear.”
*sigh* . . . I politely indicated that I would be sitting in the second row of the church again with my children next week. Because they did well, they can’t see anything or learn to be at Mass from the cry-room, and that I was happy to be attending Mass again. And then I walked away.
Let’s not get into how upset I was that he totally killed my happy, “We succeeded!!!!!” high.
Let’s not talk about how I mumbled that people with hearing aids didn’t need to hear about how great the Catholic Schools are because their children are not school-aged. . .
Let’s just go with what one of my friends commented when I vented about it on facebook. . . let’s just call it a wash.
And go to Mass again next week.