Monday, August 2, 2010

Our Catholic children, part whatever...

Because I've lost count :) But I blog frequently about raising our little soldiers for Christ in the Catholic Church, taking them to Mass, and all of the things that we do at home to instill the faith. It's important stuff. Our holy calling. *puffs out chest* There's my precious guy at left last week at VBS, with his little frog name tag :) We had a rain forest theme for VBS this year. Anyway...

My friend Cam over at A Woman's Place... (as I caught up on all of last weeks action in Google Reader; I had over 150 new posts!) wrote about how stressful it is to take both a toddler and an infant to Mass and manage them both. To top it all off, there is this potential for mean people to give you the evil eye for your noisy kid and make you cry. I mean really, the child is 1, or 2, or 3 years old; they have a reason for their behavior. Mean people do not. They're just obnoxious. I thought I would lend my support by revisiting this important topic...

What this all boils down to is the things we do to try our best at our vocation as Catholic parents. This is no easy feat. And there's no guarantee of success. I'm thinking of a great line from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, that Mike and I just re-watched last week (and that I blogged about last year here):

Gimley: "Little chance of success? Near certainty of defeat? What are we waitin' for?!"

It's not easy, no sir. Now that he's approaching 5, and he's noticing that Daddy doesn't go to Mass with us every week, Hank has started lobbying to "stay home with Daddy" on Sundays. I see it as a challenge of the vocation, and I press on.

A few weeks ago, Hank was sick, so I left him home with Mike and went to Mass by myself. I thought it would be great. I mean, seriously. I could do the following:

(1) HEAR. You know, things. Like the readings and the homily. So impossible with a chatty 4 year old in tow.

(2) Relax. AAAHHHHHH. I'm so tense when Hank is with me. It's just like belly dancing with a veil. I don't like to dance with a veil. I dance because I love to dance, and I want others to enjoy my dancing. If I have a veil with me as a prop, it distracts me. I think the quality of my dancing goes down because I'm worried about what my "partner" is going to go. And *at any moment* that veil could, of its own accord, go bad. REAL BAD. It's just like having small children, I tell you. You think you have them trained, and then WHAMO! They humiliate you in public. So I'm always a tad "on guard" at Mass for this very reason.

(3) Remain in the sanctuary for the entirety of Mass. Oh, the bliss. I can stand when the congregation stands, without a surly 4 year old on my lap demanding that I read to him. No fear of extraction of any small melting down bodies. No trips to the potty.

(4) Pray. This comes from the ability to hear myself think, and to relax, see items (1) and (2), supra.

I thought this would be great, right? Well. I got there, in all my relaxed sereneness, and I found that...I missed Hank. Something was definitely missing from my Mass experience. I am the mother of a young Catholic child, and I wanted him there with me, no matter how miserable he makes me on a weekly basis. No matter how much attention he calls to this desperate introvert, I wanted him there with me. Clearly, parenthood has turned us all into sadomasochists.

We gotta stick it out. Somehow. This makes us all stronger witnesses for life. At least this is what I tell myself as I pray that somehow, miraculously, the floor will swallow me up.

My experience at VBS last week was also a good reminder in this regard. As my own son ruined my whole day last Monday and embarrassed me in front of dozens of people, I thought to myself of "The Incident." That would be the worst day in my Catholic parenting career, right there. And from that experience, I learned to think more before I reacted. Child is melting down in Mass= I want to burst into tears and sprint from the room. Instead of giving in to my baser instincts, I need to remain calm. Yes, I will still be somewhat humiliated, but at least I won't inadvertently make the situation that much worse. Last Monday, I longed to call Mike to come and fetch Hank to send him home in disgrace. But I resisted, because I knew that would make the Henry scene that much worse. In the end, it was the right decision, but in the meantime: it sucked. Bad.

We'll get through this trial. Catholic parents: Unite.

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