As a parent of 3 young children, there are some things we do that I sometimes wonder to myself ‘why bother?’. Hear me out;
This morning we woke up earlier than anticipated (ahem, Amelia) and figured we could go to early church (before Sunday school) instead of late church (which is after Sunday school). We no more than get into our pew this morning (on time, for once), and the shenanigans begin. Amelia dumps cheerios everywhere. Lucy proceeds to unpack the diaper bag looking for some elusive item she believes to be in there. Lucy and Gabriel fight over a book. Amelia and Gabriel fight over a book. Amelia yelps for the umpteenth time. Amelia proceeds to follow in Lucy’s footsteps and tries to not so gingerly unpack the diaper bag and finds a ball-like lip gloss that she plays with. Until it rolls away in front of the pews in front of us. Amelia yelps some more. Books and sippy cups get shoved under pews into other peoples legs. Sippy cup leaks on the floor. More fighting between I don’t even know who. More dropping of cheerios. More crunching of cheerios under my feet, more destroying of the diaper bag. More time of me tending to my children and less time of me paying attention or actually participating in Mass. Lucy goes up a few rows and sits with an adoring cousin for awhile and it helps. 2 is a lot less than 3 some days, it seems. All of a sudden it’s Communion time and I realize I have sung 1/2 of one song and have no idea what the Gospel or any of the readings entailed. We go up front for the Sacrament and return. By the end of Mass, J and I look at each other and just shake our heads. Some times are better than others. Some Sundays our kids behave great, other days are more like today. We stopped taking loads of toys to church because they ended up being more of a hassle than it was worth. So why bother?
Turns out, J and I have very similar beliefs on church. Go figure. We both feel very strongly that our children need to be present weekly IN church. All of our children attended their first Mass before 2 weeks of age, which was also their Baptism. They may not understand or know all of what is going on, but if they are not there, how are they going to learn? We are ok with them reading or looking at a book quietly during Mass since they are so young. Gabriel is getting to the age that he can participate in more of what is going on and we are trying to encourage him to do so.
We bother, because for us, it’s what we do and how we live. It’s how we build our life, base their upbringings. Its how we learn morals, values, and church practices and teachings. It’s important that our kids are there with us. And it’s extra rewarding when we see the fruits of our labors thriving. Today one of Gabriel’s Sunday school teachers informed us that he was one of the few who could recite the Lord’s Prayer during their class. Lucy was the only one in the 3 year old class, which I help to co-teach. I love hearing the kids’ questions about readings and God, sometimes quite humorous. Today Gabriel specifically requested that he could have ‘The Kids Bible’ for his looking book during quiet time. And last night when G and I were out on a date, he didn’t blink an eye when I told him we were going to pray before eating our pizza, and he said the whole prayer. To us, it’s very important they are there with us.
Next time you see a family with young children attending church or any other social event, for that matter, be thankful they are there. They care enough to take their kids to a somewhat uncomfortable and possibly very embarrasing situation, in hopes that they are raising their kids in a better way, in a way that will hopefully produce positive influences on society and moral citizens. And please, keep smiling at them, because that helps a little too. 🙂