As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Sunday, December 8, 2013

We Got This

This morning I attended Mass with all six of the wee ones by myself.  While I do attend weekday Mass with them on occasion, I think this is the first time I ever remember doing so for a Sunday Mass.  My poor husband has been down with a miserable cold all weekend, and could not attend with us.  And so, I braved the chaotic frenzy that is Sunday morning in our household by myself.

I was afraid from the beginning.  I told the two oldest boys (7 and 9) that it was their job to be Dad during Mass - which to them meant they could correct their siblings' behaviour at every turn (one even informed me that his little sister needed a time-out when we got home because she didn't listen to him!)  To me, it just meant stay still.  I knew I would be busy with the littlest ones, and I didn't want to be worried about what my older boys would be doing when I wasn't looking.

We sit in the very front pew at our small country church.  Not because that's where we prefer to sit, but generally because it's the only space large enough to accomodate us that is still empty by the time we arrive.  From these seats we could litterally reach our arms out and touch Father as he is reading the gospel, it really is that quaint.

Sometime during the Gospel reading my three-year-old decided he wanted to stand with his older brother at the other end of our pew.  I let it go for a bit, but when he started rolling around on the floor I asked my second-oldest son to switch places with me, so that I could be beside the little one.  Right as our priest walked down the step to stand, as he always does, in the very front and center of the church to give his homily, my dear little toddler began to sceam at! the! top! of! his! lungs! because he had wanted to follow his brother, and I (mean mother that I am) was trying to make him sit still.  Our dear priest is so patient with us, but I would not subject him to the sort of tantrum I knew was just beginning while he stood a few mere feet away from us!  And so I, baby on my hip, ducked around behind the priest and headed out to the foyer, cranky three-year-old in tow.

I marched him right to the bathroom, about fifteen feet away, hoping that the congregation would not be able to hear his screams.  Frazzled and feeling as though everything might fall apart at any given moment, I angrily sent my toddler to sit against the wall for a time-out.  He screamed, and I walked out of the bathroom and closed the door.  I stood next to the door and waited for him to stop yelling, which only took a minute or so. Then I went back inside and told him that if he screamed like that again, I would take him out to the van, that it is not okay to yell in church.  Only on my way back did I begin to wonder what I might see when I re-entered the church and glanced over at the pew where the rest of my children were waiting.

Not wanting to cause further disruption, I slid back into the first pew I could get to, which (since the door is in the front of the church) turns out to be directly across the aisle from my other four children.  The first few minutes were tense.  Would my little boy listen?  Did the time out work?  I looked at Fr. John trying hard to pretend like I hadn't just needed to make such a harried exit.  I exhaled.  I heard a bit of his homily.  And then, I glanced over - and wouldn't you know those four little Mazerolle children were sitting just as still and calm as anything?  I couldn't believe how good they were being without me directly beside them.  Knowing there was an entire aisle and a priest standing in between us, and therefore that I could not have done anything to stop them, they were all sitting there being good.  I'm still amazed!

And it was in that moment that I realized how God uses imperfect instruments to bring about His glory.  I wish I could tell you they are good because I am a good parent, and because I am always consistent and firm and patient, but it's not true.  They are not good because of my perfection, but in spite of my many imperfections.  If I had a nickle for every time lately I have second-guessed a discipline strategy I was in the middle of, or thought myself too inconsistent, thought myself too hard (or too soft), I'd be a rich woman.  The truth is that I try my hardest, and yet I am often any one of these - far too often.  And yet, on this glorious second Sunday of Advent, there they were.  Almost like God Himself was patting me on the back and saying, "cut yourself some slack, you're doing better than you think."  Of course, I know there is still plenty I could be doing better, and I am a very (very!) long way from perfect. But after the last few weeks, I really needed the encouragement.

Thank you to my very dear children, for behaving well beyond your years at the exact moment when I needed it the most.  May the Lord continue to mold me into the Mother He has destined for the raising of each one of your precious souls, and may you be infinitely blessed for the gifts you are to me.

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