I have this theory. Maybe if we go to some weekday Masses, that is Masses that aren't on average eighty minutes long, my children will get used to being in church and not act like they're being murdered sixty minutes in. Not that they aren't used to being at Mass, but you know, desperate times call for desperate measures.
I'm not sure where this theory came from, but I got it into my head and figured it couldn't be worse that standing outside while a certain two year old screamed for sixty minutes either.
Maggie has actually, in general, been doing much better at Mass. Most days she can make it to homily being almost entirely quiet. She'd have a few little joyful squeals of "Ga-wa" as she stared at the crucifix in the front of the church, but her behavior has really come a long, long way this summer, while I was juggling the four of them by myself.
Patch on the other hand struggles. Or I struggle with Patch. Which I know is entirely age appropriate. And I've more of less resigned myself to spending the next years in the vestibule and maybe forever (at least that's what it feels like some days).
Still I've felt guilty about Sadie having to hang out in the vestibule with us. She's good at Mass, a little day dreamy, but she is perfectly capable of sitting for seventy or eighty or ninety minutes in silence. But I haven't quite felt comfortable just leaving her in there for an entire Mass by herself.
Yesterday she asked if she could go inside and sit by herself. I told her yes, she just needed to make sure she followed along with everyone else, and she could sit wherever she wanted to.
I watched from the vestibule as she quietly walked to the front and genuflected, her knee touching the ground, before entering the pew.
Paul had taken Maggie inside too, and I was wrangling Patch and James, wishing that they were both asleep, although neither of them was.
For forty minutes I watched as she stood and sat and knelt at all the right times, her head turned intently forward the entire time, while I wrestled with Patch and swayed back and forth lest James scream every time I stopped moving. Midway through the homily Maggie was done, and Paul brought her out to sit with us too.
|That's Sadie at the bottom right hand side in her chosen seat.|
As Mass drew to an end Paul took our middle two out to the car. I stood at the glass door and watched Sadie.
Mass was over and she knelt. People filed out. The church was nearly empty. She continued to kneel, her head bowed.
Finally I quietly walked up and put my hand on her shoulder and whispered that it was time to go. We had to get home for Maggie's therapy session.
She jumped up, bobbed another genuflect, whispered "I love you Jesus, bye!" and followed me out, her American Girl Doll, Kate, tucked under her arm.
In the car she told me that Kate had done a good job, but wasn't good at kneeling. And she asked if she could sit by herself, even on Sunday's. I said yes, that sounded like a great idea.
And then I reminded myself of a time when she was small and bouncing off the walls at Mass, of the time when she bit Paul's shoulder hard before smiling sweetly at the elderly woman sitting behind us, of the meltdowns and tantrums and hours that I thought would never end. Having that little reminder that the tantrum phase isn't forever is heartening when you're in the thick of things.
Maybe it won't be forever before we're all back in the pew together too.