After today, I need to go back and read my own encouragement for mass with young children. It's just hard right now.
Today, for the first time ever, I had to walk about of morning mass. On Tuesday, our friends the Dunnes were at mass (all eleven of them) and as usual, their sweet older girls helped me to keep Gabe and Faith occupied. I was thrilled to bits that I didn't have to take either of the big kids outside even once. What a gift.
Today, however, the Dunnes were not at mass, and boy-oh-boy did I miss them.
**Note: Please try to hold your applause at my Super Mom time management, parenting, problem solving and diaper bag stocking skills until the end of the blog post.**
We were just a little bit late to mass, so I threw Gianna under my arm (bless her easygoing, happy little heart) and grabbed my Baby Bjorn to strap her into once we got into the church. As soon as we stepped foot into the church, though, Gabe and Faith started playing a loud, giggly game of tag, and I also noticed that there was some Liquid Gold oozing out of Gianna's diaper and up her back. I gritted my teeth and herded the kids into the very back pew as soon as the readings were done.
After a rushed attempt at installing the big kids each with a book, I started to lay out a blanket to do a quick diaper change. (And yes, surprised and perhaps slightly disapproving reader, I planned to do this on the pew in the back of the church, since taking three children under four years old all the way to the restroom (catching the older two first), changing a diaper, then walking back, would take up about 15 minutes of the 20 minutes left in the mass. Not an option there.)
I quickly realized that I was completely out of diapers.
What to do? Oh...why yes, I did have a single dirty burp cloth that I could, feasibly, like in a pinch...just layer in Gianna's dirty diaper so I could at least get us through the next twenty minutes. So that's what I did, amidst the blood-pressure-raising-pitter-patter of my toddlers' crocs running wild and free all over the back of the church.
Since I was in a pinch, that's what I did.
At this point, Gabe and Faith were completely ignoring my urgent, whispered demands to sit down on the pew and were playing a game of tag in the back five pews. Gianna was starting to fuss a little as I handled her like a sack of potatoes and fumbled pitifully with all the straps on the Baby Bjorn while trying to grab at Gabe and Faith when they happened to run near enough for me to grab at them.
At some point, I gave up on the baby carrier straps and on the fly, took a good opportunity to grab Faith when she got close enough. Then I marched outside as gracefully as I could with a fussing daughter under each arm and a baby carrier hanging from around my neck. Gabriel didn't follow us, and I didn't have time to or enough hands to grab him too. Outside, I eventually figured out the baby carrier, calmed Faith down, ventured back inside, found Gabriel lying down under the pew, and tried to sit down again. Immediately, Gabe and Faith started arguing over the same silly little book, then somebody hit her head on the pew, then the baby started fussing...and I gave up.
Despite talking creatively in the car before every single mass about what specific good behaviors I am looking for...despite lots and lots of praise for good behavior...despite correction for poor behavior. Despite going to mass dozens and dozens of times in their short lives, with running around and fighting never being OK with Mommy any of those other times.
I have three children under four years old. Babies, really. I get it, I really do.
Very, very, calmly, I picked up my things, somehow got hold of both children, and walked out. I know I just lost a little teensy battle today, ya'll. I know that it was just one really, really bad day at morning mass.
And I know that I'll be back.
But oh...the chaos sometimes.