Well. What was it, like 3 posts ago, maybe? That I mentioned how lately, Henry has been so superlatively behaved at Mass he was next in line for a halo over his head? Right. That was then. This is now.
Yesterday was quite possibly the worst day in my 4 year career as a mother. Worse than the severe case of the baby blues I suffered for at least a full year after Henry was born, the year of infant-induced sleep deprivation, and the terrible two's, *combined*. It was just a tough, tough day, and to be honest, I'm still feeling a bit traumatized.
So, yesterday I brought Henry to 10 am Mass with me, like always. Mike wasn't with us, and usually, you could eat off of the goodness that is Henry's performance during Sunday Mass. And it started out fine. We were up in the front, like always, near the chorus. Henry was ok, although not quite as good as always. He was deliberately doing things he knows he's not allowed to do, and he was doing them with a smirky face. Not a good sign. But nothing prepared me for what was to come.
During the Consecration, Henry's behavior escalated. I warned him a few times, and when he didn't cease and desist, I told him that we had to leave. That's when the trouble began.
"NO NO NO, I *NO WANT* TO LEAVE!!!!!!! NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!"
So, what does a mother do? Of course, scoop up aforementioned child and swoop them out of the sanctuary as rapidly as possible. I've done this in the past, and it's worked out just fine.
Well. That was many, many Henry pounds ago. Henry, at nearly 4 years old, weighs close to 50 pounds. He's a solidly built kid, always has been. He's stocky and he's *strong*. He flung himself on the floor *during the Consecration* screaming, kicking, and flailing. I grabbed our stuff and attempted to grab him. Didn't go so well. With all of my strength, I literally could not lift him. He was fighting me with every ounce of his strength and will, and let me tell you, it was pretty effective.
By this point, to say that I was sweating bullets would be the understatement of the millenium. I was desperate, *desperate* I tell you, to get out of that church. Every time I got somewhat of a grip on Henry, our bags and coats slipped off my arm and fell to the ground. We're in the front of the church, and I can feel every eye in the house on my back as I'm struggling.
Finally, I had had it. I grabbed Henry with all the adrenaline-driven force I could muster, and abandoned our coats and bags in the pew. I dragged him out the side entrance and gave him an earful. I was physically shaking from the exertion of trying to contain him and move him against his will. But I had an even bigger problem. We couldn't go anywhere without my car keys, which were in my purse...which was still in the church. I could have cried right then and there.
Doing some crying was my son, who was still throwing a fit and now sobbing that he didn't want to leave. I would have loved to still be able to receive Communion, but if these 4 years have taught me anything, I knew that after the point we were at, there's no going back. I had to get him extracted from the situation ASAP, and I had no help whatsoever. And I have to say, maybe this is me being oversensitive, but I was feeling a bit wounded that not a single person (and there were many) in the surrounding pews came to my aid. Seeing my struggle with the out of control preschooler and our belongings, I was hoping that someone would offer to carry our things, but alas. Likely, people thought that they would embarrass me further by acknowledging the disturbance.
At this point, it was a lose/lose situation, so I waited until the organ struck up the Communion hymn, and stole back inside, Henry sobbing in tow, to grab our stuff. When he realized that we were then proceeding to the back of the church, he began full meltdown mode again. I dragged him to the back of the church where the ugly scene continued. By this time, I was so flustered, I could barely button our coats. Not that he let me put his on, no sir, so the dragging continued, this time coatless. I began to fear that someone was going to think that I was mistreating Henry; we're out in public, on a busy street, and I'm dragging my child as he sobs. I would manage to carry him for a few strides until he wrenched himself painfully out of my grasp. It was absolutely excruciating. By the time we reached the car, I was in tears.
We get to the car, and unsurprisingly, Henry refuses to get into his car seat. I try to restrain him and harness him in, and at least 5 full minutes later, I haven't gained an iota of ground. I give up. I actually drove home without him strapped into his car seat, something I've never done before, but I didn't know what else to do.
When we got home a few minutes later, I was furious. Never in my life have I been so embarrassed. I left Henry screaming in the driveway and hurried into the house. If there was any doubt in Mike's mind as the state of affairs, I'm sure he figured it out pretty quickly when I came in and announced
"I need you to come out here and get YOUR SON."
I left Mike to deal with Henry and ran upstairs to our bedroom, where I sobbed for 15 straight minutes. I then knocked back a shot of whiskey. All before 11:30 in the morning. Yes, it was *that bad*.
As I sobbed in Mike's arms shortly thereafter, I couldn't really articulate why I was taking this all so hard. Every parent has experienced their child acting out in front of others. As Claire, my bellydance instructor says of veils - they're like kids; you think you have them trained, and WHAM! They embarrass you in public.
It's like I feel that in some way I'm a failure - a failed Catholic parent? I'm not certain why I feel this way. I just felt so helpless, and having my (significant) struggle witnessed by others evokes a tremendous feeling of being exposed and shamed.
One of the things I sobbed to Mike is that I seriously don't know how I'm ever going to go back to our parish; I'm paranoid and self-conscious even when it's not warranted, so this is so much worse! Given the Nervous Nelly introvert something to *really* freak out over. My sweet husband says, soothingly:
"Oh, don't worry, Sweetie. Next week my parents are here visiting, and you can go to the Latin Mass!"
Sigh. Yes, it's true, my mother-in-law and I usually go to the Traditional Latin Mass at an old church downtown when she visits, so I won't have to go to my parish, but that doesn't really solve my problem though, does it?
The rest of the day continued in the same vein, with Henry pulling out all the stops, and me going to bed, exhausted and physically sore from the exertion. It just wasn't a good day. Certainly an emotional low point in my journey as a parent. I took it very, very hard.
But I like to think that God uses everything for good. I'm not certain what that is in this case :) but I'm thinking positive. God has a plan; I just have to do my best in the circumstances that He has asked of me, and I am Henry's mommy. Not all days are going to be easy days; perhaps I can grow as a parent based on this experience.
After Henry went to bed, Mike and I played a board game, and we had a really good time. The game had a good vs. evil thing going on, and I chose a character aligned with good, *halo*; his starting point was the chapel :) I was in there praying a lot, which helped my character build up strength. It was light hearted and fun, and helped me to feel a bit more normal after an unendingly long day....
Oh sigh. I just got off the phone with my dentist's office, and they needed to reschedule my wisdom tooth extraction (I know, right? could this week get any worse?!) for tomorrow afternoon, meaning that I have to bring Henry, because Mike will be teaching. *SOB*
God is using all of this to build grace within me...right? Somebody reassure me :)