Monday, April 22


^^ Yes, that's the same child in both pics.
And no, it's not supposed to make sense.

Sol and I attend church nearly every week. Our church is wonderful in that it offers several services (Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings at 8am and 11am).  In choosing the 11am service, I was always able to sleep in a little (if possible) and get my little lady breakfasted and dressed for the day.  And I used to carry my sweet little bundle into church each Sunday, and she would either sleep through the service or sit quietly on my lap and gnaw on some cardboard book about Baby's Bellybutton.

Then one day, we celebrated Sol's first birthday.  And that quiet little churchgoer vanished.  I was left with this squirming, noisy bundle of "mom-I'm-gonna-shriek-incessantly-during-the-sermon-so-loudly-in-fact-that-your-face-is-gonna-turn-50-shades-of-red-and-you'll-be-forced-to-carry-me-kicking-and-screaming-out-of-the-sanctuary-while-everyone-watches."

Because my little monster is fine standing next to the pew and shoveling fistfuls of Goldfish crackers into her mouth during the songs (also choosing to "sing" along, which is the only point of the church service where my heart melts in an "awwwww" moment).  All that is fine, you know, because that allows Mama Mel to stand up with the other 200 people and hold the songbook open and look like everyone else in the sanctuary.  But then the song ends and the Scripture readings begin, and Sol is still singing/shrieking.  So I pick her up and she arches her back and writhes in a desperate struggle for independence. 

I blink back tears of frustration and look back at our friend Blue Eyes, who is sitting next to us (he has been sitting for the duration of the service, trying to entertain E-Machine).  Mr. Blue Eyes is trying to tame a wildebeest/boy hybrid by showing him the book of fuzzy tails that generally keeps E occupied for 45 minutes at home.  But E-Machine pats the book a few times before moving on to his toy car.  He says "Carrrrrrr" and then proceeds to drive said car along the shoulders of Mr. Stranger, who is sitting in front of us and glances back as Mr. Blue Eyes says, "Sorry."  Mr. Stranger faces forward once more and re-focuses on the Good News being imparted to us. 

Good for him.  Because I haven't heard one syllable of the Gospel reading.  I'm really just trying to collect the millions of Goldfish crackers that are swimming their way beneath the feet of every other worshipper within a 10-foot radius (cuz my baby's got an arm on her), before they step on the crackers and essentially transform our church floor into the floor of a Lone Star Steakhouse. 

It's Communion time now, and we're invited to partake in the Lord's Supper at the front of the church.  Which means I'm supposed to harness the energy of this child, carry her up to the altar, and wait patiently for the Body and Blood of our Savior.  But wait... Sol isn't okay with that plan.  In her own fabulous style, it's The Hour of the Holy Ruckus as we stand in line and wait to join the others at the Lord's Table.  I give her a pacifier and she calms down.  We line up along the front of the church, we bow, and we commune in peace with the others.  And apparently this is the most opportune time for Sol to writhe and squirm and cry big crocodile tears.  And I ask you: what in the Heart of Texas am I supposed to do with a screaming baby while I'm waiting for the chalice?  Suddenly my mind is no longer on the sacrifice of my Lord; rather, I'm imagining how this situation is going to pan out.  My mind conjures up the most dreadful nightmare: I'm chasing my daughter across the altar, toppling over the handmade Easter banners and attempting to steady the floor candelabras before the whole sanctuary goes up in flames.  What is a parent supposed to do then?  Do I stay up there and finish Communion?  Do I step down [not so] quietly and walk back to my seat as every eye is on me? 

Miraculously, I receive both bread and wine, catch a smile from the pastor, say a quick prayer (mostly of thanks, for not letting my daughter burn down the church), and return to my seat.  Before moving on with the service, Pastor offers a comment to the congregation (for my benefit, I think) about the wonderful noises children make during the service, and how those noises are "music to his ears."  I don't know if he was serious; I don't know if he actually feels that way.  But for now I'll just keep telling myself that Sol's Sunday morning opera practice is indeed music to his ears.

We end up leaving the service slightly early, feeling a little guilty but without any other option.  We can practically hear the Chariots of Fire theme playing as we wrestle two angry toddlers into their carseats.

I arrive home, exhausted and wondering what the sermon was about, and I find a Facebook notification... My pastor has written on my Facebook wall, telling me it was great to see me in church this morning.  Somehow he knows that I was at the end of my Lutheran rope.  Somehow he knows that I was pulling my hair out.  Somehow he knows that there was a point during the service where I considered waiting 4 years before coming back... for everyone else's sake.  Somehow he knows that I need a bit of encouragement to keep me pressing on in the marathon of attending church with a 1-year-old.

And a marathon it is.  With a measly 1 week recovery time before the next race.
But we'll keep going back.  It has to get easier... right?

1 comment:

  1. It is good to have a supportive pastor. I have visited churches that have pointed out the misbehavior of my children during church. I have walked out embarrassed, never to return to that particular church. It is really hard to find an understanding pastor who thinks your child's noises are "music to their ears". Your church is a keeper! My youngest is 6yrs and I still bring my "tools" to church, but he has gotten better:)