I usually start every church experience with a prayer that God will speak to me in some way. Whether it's through the priest's message in the homily, a song, a neighbor in the pew, I just want to hear something from God. What I heard this Sunday was my own voice, crying out, "Save me!" Josh wasn't there and I am adamant about taking Liam to church, so off we went. Normally he is pretty well behaved, but I had a feeling when we sat down that things were not going to go well.
I came armed with puffs (snacks), a picture book and another two toys and all he wanted to do was twist and squirm. We spent the entire homily standing at the back of the church. To make matters worse, it was hot. So hot. So I'm holding this squirming 23-pound mess-of-a-kid, and I can feel the sweat beads on my chin and upper lip. Nice. My hair is sticking to the back of my neck and my necklace which I have looped around is choking me because Liam keeps pulling on it.
Then an angel came down from heaven. Ok, not from heaven. From three rows back. My Emmaus sister, Donna popped in next to me right as we all stood for the Lord's Prayer. The congregation all holds hands during this part of the Mass and I just stood still, knowing I was in no position to outstretch a sweaty, shaky hand. She glides in next to me and puts out her arms to take Liam and I got to just close my eyes and say the prayer with free arms. Of course I had tears in my eyes the whole time. I was so grateful for her! She even took him to the back of the church and carried him up during communion. I wonder what kind of mom I looked like when my kiddo was crying in the back and I'm just sitting in the pew!?
The source of the problem is that nap time is at 9am, and Mass is at 8:30. You don't need to be a math whiz to know that 2+2 = crabby. I think for now, we'll switch to church on Saturday evenings, but I know we'll be back at 8:30 Mass occasionally.
I'm told over and over again that it's ok that babies cry and fuss. "A quiet church is a dead church! They are the future of our faith!" I understand and agree, but when it's your own child it just feels so intrusive and disruptive. I feel like some people look at me with pity and understanding, while others are so angry. When I see kids who are misbehaving, I don't get angry or annoyed unless they are old enough to know better.
So here's my question: For how many more months do I receive grace? At ten months, Liam is still learning what the word, "No" means and he's not misbehaving because he wants to manipulate me or the situation. Are people looking at me like I have a bad kid or am I still in the window of, "Poor baby is ready for a nap"? He's still a baby, right? At what age is the child expected to behave in church?