While I am working around the house, I have been enjoying listening to my new iPod shuffle. I wanted it so I could listen to podcasts. I wanted something interesting, faith filled, motivational.
While reading about podcasts at iTunes, I found a fun one called Catholic in a Small Town. It's a husband and wife team who chat weekly about life in a small town, being Catholic homeschooling parents. I have really enjoyed it. And on one of their podcasts, they asked about other parent's church experiences with children. They asked if the listeners had a story to share, that they share it. It got me thinking of mine. And is it a doozie!
When the Nutty Papa and I moved here 3 years ago, we were visiting the local Catholic churches for a new church home. There are three in the area and we would bounce around all to three. One Sunday, we decided to visit the smallest of the three churches. Getting ready to leave the house is always such a production with small children. You feel like you are a nomad, packing up the house and moving every time you leave. Diapers. Wipes. Snacks. Drink. Change of clothes (in case there's a blow out). Toys. Books. It's enough to make you insane. And the minute you neglect to pack something, that's the thing you'll need. So we are usually running late for church, because we have 4 small children to pack up when leaving the house. (At the time, we only had 3.)
We arrived late, as usual. When we entered the church, my well trained 4 year old marched right to the front to sit down. (We like to sit in the front. I think it helps the kids behave when they can see what's going on.) Not wanting to add to the distraction of my son sitting in the front, we quietly joined him. Immediately, the Doodlebug started fussing. She and I wrestled in the pew for a while. I tried books. Rubbing her back. Quietly singing in her ear. Nothing worked. Finally, I broke out the secret stash of cheerios. Magic.
Then the Snuggle Bug started. And at 2, he was terrible. He started crawling under the pew and he headed toward the back of the church. On his way, he knocked down a kneeler. Bam! The Nutty Papa grabbed his foot and pulled him back. He tried holding him on his lap, but the Snuggle Bug is wiggly so he wouldn't sit. The Snuggle Bug isn't a whisperer. He hasn't figured out volume control so when he'd argue with the Nutty Papa, it was in full voice. The Nutty Papa decided not to talk to him because he was talking so loudly. Then he discovered the books. He started flipping through the books. When he didn't find the one he wanted, he threw it. Bam! It naturally hit the floor... not the quiet way... but flat on the ground, and made a huge noise. This was during the sermon. I was tempted to get up and walk out. But since it was in the middle of mass, I stayed put and just prayed that it would end soon.
Soon, the Snuggle Bug decided he'd had enough and started for the door. Chojuk, wanting to help, practically tackled him and drug him back kicking and screaming. Luckily this was during a song so you couldn't really hear the screaming, but you saw the kicking.
Finally, there was the light at the end of the tunnel. The communion was done. The priest was cleaning things up. And he was asking for announcements. I began to breathe again knowing it was almost over. The priest looked back at the deacon sitting by the alter and asked him if he had any announcements. And the deacon stood and said he did. Then he walked toward us, sitting in the front row, and said, "I have something I'd like to say to this young family in the front." Oh, no! I felt myself start to slide down in the pew. My face reddened. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. What was he going to say? Nice try folks. Come back when you have better control of your kids. Time seemed to stop while we waited for him to begin.
"I wanted to applaud these young parents in the front here. (WHAT?!?) My wife and I had 4 small children at one time and I remember how difficult it was to bring them to mass. It's easier to stay home and let them be children. But these young parents are bringing their kid to church to teach them about God. They are setting the stage for these young children for a life in the church and that should be commended. Let's give them a hand." And the members of the church all stood and applauded us. I could have died!
Every once in a while, I run into someone who had been there that day. They always remember the deacon's speech. Telling me how beautiful my family is. And when I try and apologize for my children's poor behavior that day, they don't remember. My children hadn't distracted them at all.
So whenever I have bad days at church, I think about that day. I thought my children where distracting everyone. And no one, but me, noticed.