When all my kids were little and I didn't have any big helpers, weekday Mass was but a dream. Mass without Kevin was impossible and quite often impossible for both of us together trying to juggle all 7. My sister-in-law and I use to have phone conversations about how much we wanted to go to Mass or Eucharistic Adoration during the week. We would talk about how life with lots of littles is just a season and how God understood that we were doing the best we could JUST to get to Mass on Sunday.
And that's true. When you have 4 kids under 4 (we did when the twins were born), or 7 kids under 9, it's a very real challenge to go to the bathroom alone, let alone take them all to Mass. Alone, with no one else to help find a lost shoe, zip a coat, buckle a car seat. Alone, with no one to take the 3 year old to the bathroom right before the Consecration. Alone, with no one to help separate the 6 year old twin girls who cannot sit beside each other because they can.not.stop.talking.
Today I have a 10 year old and an 8 year old. Weekday Mass isn't easy, but it's easier than it was two years ago. The 6 year old twins can even be quite helpful if the stars are aligned.
Two weeks ago, around the start of Lent, I felt called to attend Mass on Wednesday. Like a mid-week pick me up; receiving the Body and Blood of Christ and receiving graces to tide me over til I could meet Him there again on Sunday. Of course I would be taking SEVEN children all by myself, and though I was nervous we went anyway.
The first two times we went, they were really good! All the sweet ladies came up to tell them how good they were during Mass and how great it is that I brought them. I felt invigorated and like I really had it together. Today was our 3rd Wednesday Mass.
Today was bad.
We get in and Sophia wants to sit near the front. Like 5th pew back so everyone behind us can watch our shenanigans. I obliged and hiss at the twins "do not sit by eachother!" While wrangling Oliver, I bumped into the elderly gentleman behind me and knocked his hymnal on the floor. Whisper, "sorry". Settle Ollie and Nicko with board books to look at. Ollie cannot be quite while he looks at a book. This particular book was Noah's Ark and his sweet (but so loud) voice seemed to drown out the lector and priest. "Zebra! Where Lion? I can't find da Lion!!! What dat? Bird?" And so on and so forth. A simple nod and "yes" doesn't suffice. I have to repeat back, "Yes, that's a zebra." Or else he gets louder and LOUDER and irate. He decides he's done with the book and sits down on the kneeler. He crawls under the pew, into the pew in front of us and tries to crawl under that one as well. I had to get up and go in the CENTER ISLE and into the next pew and get him. He yells, "No mommy! Me down! Me down!" Mortified. Trying to decide if I should laugh or cry because I really want to crawl under that pew. Nicholas has to pee. I remind him that he just went before we left, and we are allllmost done, can he please just hold it for a few minutes? He starts to whine loudly that he can't but thankfully gets distracted by something else and doesn't mention it again. During the Consecration Elizabeth complains that Hazel is laying on her, so I shoot Hazel the LOOK and Elizabeth moves to the other side of me beside Lucy. Lucy and Elizabeth start kicking one another and the kneeler. I snap my fingers at them. It continues. I inform them that they are in trouble, and so is Hazel for that matter, as I realize she put her boots on without socks because socks are a major cause of drama 'round here these days.
I can't remember the rest, but I wanted to ask the sweet ladies who told them (again) how well behaved they were to please not say that because I have to go home and dole out punishments to all but the oldest two kids and they will definitely question why mommy is so mad about bad behavior if the church ladies think they were so angelic.
I am not giving up. We will try again next week.