Today I dragged the kids to Mass at St. Joseph's after our trip to the library. (They are next door to each other). They were not happy, but basically okay. Then right after the homily, Tess started running between the pews. Our church has this giant baptismal font--the one with the huge pool underneath a flowing fountain of holy water. I get that we're supposed to welcome the Baptist home by placing it at the entrance way, but it was an inviting wading pool to my toddler. Tess leaned farther and father inward to get holy water to bless herself. I had visions of her falling in completely.
Abigail had fallen asleep on my chest (a great rarity for Miss Chilipepper). I knew I needed to move to go after Tess, and I remember thinking "there is no way this is going to end well."
Of course, it didn't. Hannah held Abigail who started to wake up and demand to be fed. Tess started shrieking, then would go silent, then shriek again. I didn't want to abandon everyone by taking her out--besides in these old churches there really wasn't anywhere to go.
I didn't know if I should take all five kids out of church. Or if we should just brave the embarrassment and wait for Tess to settle down in three minutes.
Father Eric had specifically told me to keep the kids in Mass. My husband has asked me to keep the kids in Mass.
I told God, "I don't know if its more respectful to you to leave, but I'm just going to trust these dear men in my life and stay..."
Right then a quiet Tess started shrieking with joy. Her five year old Sister had noiselessly slid under three pews on her belly and was going for a fourth. Tess, understandably was eager to join her! "Get back here," I hissed. Then I sort of mentally rolled my eyes at a dear friend in heaven, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (whose feast day I was celebrating) and prayed in a tone you'd use to an actual sister "You wanna help me out here?"
By the end of Mass, I wanted to flee. But I couldn't because there were library books strewn across the back pew. I waited in the Narthex while my older kids packed the books into the bookbag at an agonizingly slow pace.
"I could use a pick-me-up" I thought. There weren't any smiles coming from the early exiters. "Well, I'll just give out the smiles then." I stood with my two fussy babies and gave out a big smile and friendly greeting to everyone who left Mass.
When I take 5 kids to Daily Mass, I often feel exposed and incompetent. I don't know how to get my crew to sit neatly in a pew without help from my husband. Today, my toddler joyfully played in the Holy Water and my new First Communicant spent most of Mass play with Star Wars action figures that I forgot he had on hand. It's not a pretty picture of reverence that we make at Daily Mass, but God judges the heart.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that its the "intention" that counts.