Honestly, It's going to be a hard work for us to see the Pope. I'm setting the alarm clock for 4:30 AM with the hope of getting my 6 kids into two different cars by 5:15 AM (because our family has outgrown the 7 passenger van with the addition of the new baby). My husband and I will both fight commuter traffic for hours and hopefully end up near our reserved parking spots at relatively similar times.
Then we'll divide the family into 2 groups of 4 on the Metro. We'll hope that each adult can keep track of 3 lively and distractable kids on and off a Metro escalator and Metro Train. Then we will walk and walk for blocks from the Metro Station to Pennsylvania Avenue. We're facing a harsh deadline of 10 AM, when the security gate comes to a full close, despite us potentially being a few feet away dealing with any number of unpredictable emergencies with small children. If we make it, our reward is to sit in an crowded, sunny venue for one hour without access to animal crackers or other brought from home snacks, because no one wants a potential of liquid nitrogen around the Pontiff.
In the end, we might not make it to see the Pope, or we might see him pass by for only the briefest second.
Taking young children to see the Pope is one of those mental calculations that is not worth it by a mile.
However, being Catholic isn't a rational mental calculation. Being Catholic means being called to suffer, and its a laying down my life for my friends. In the end, I could probably feel as close to my Pope if I saw him wave from TV, but I know that my children will have a different experience remembering how when the Pope came to our backyard, we make a hell of an effort to greet him in person. If I'm honest, my inner 3 year old will probably react different to the Holy Father in person, than if I only see him on TV also.
In the end, I'm looking at attending the Papal Parade as a sort of pilgramage. I don't have a marked seat. I don't have a Press Pass. I don't have a guarantee of any payoff of making this trek. Yet I know it gives God glory to just make the attempt. I know it will be a good story in 10 years for my family. I also know that I'm so blessed to have a Catholic family, that whatever I can do to pray and cheer and suffer in order for more people to have access to the grace from the Sacraments that I receive without too much effort from the Eucharist, Confession, and the Sacrament of Marriage, I'm willing to do it.
Hope to see you at the Papal Parade on Wednesday too!
How I Plan On Taking My Young Kids to See the Papal Parade
1. I made a plan for where I was going to park when I got to the city. I also asked my husband to take off from work to go with us.
2. I'm using the Washington Post Map to figure out which Metro Station to use to access the Parade Security Zone.
3. I'm using a single backpack with drinks and snacks to get us to the Parade. I'm prepared to dump our snacks before we get to the security zone. I'm hoping to get to the security zone around 9 to 9:30 AM. I'm bringing cash to use for the snacks sold within the security zone. I'm taking the ratty $13 umbrella stroller, which I don't mind if we lose, and an infant backpack. I'm not sure which will be easier to use inside a crowd.
4. After the Parade, I'm making plans to rest at the Smithsonian Museums, so we can let the majority of the crowd leave before us. I'm also prepaying our Metro card for a full round trip before we access the Metro.
5. I'm stuff the van filled with snacks, water and coffee (for the adults) on our drive home which might also happen during Rush Hour.
For more reports and reflections on the Pope's visit from members of the Catholic Women's Blogger Network, please visit "A Walk In Words With Pope Francis."