In lieu of an actual Carnival this month, I’d like to introduce you to Sarah, a.k.a. “MightyMom,” who blogs over at “My Wonderful Life.” A mom with three children, two with special needs, she never seems to lose her perspective … or sense of humor. Enjoy!
It’s quite the adventure. Let me tell you about it. But first, a few introductions.
I’m MightyMom, a Pediatric Nurse, a teething ring, a wife, a jungle gym, a mother, a burro, and I was a lifelong Methodist until 3 months ago when I discovered that the Methodist church is actively pro-choice on a national level. Since then I have taken the kids to Catholic Mass with Subvet (my other half). I am anxiously awaiting the beginning of RCIA classes Sept 16th. My kids are Sonshine (almost 5), Gator-boy (3 1/2) and Sugars (18 months). All 3 of them have developmental delays. Speech, socialization, physical, sensory integration (kinda like mild autism).
Our church is one great big echo chamber. I’m telling you, the squeaking of my shoes echoes in there! And I ain’t joking when I say BIG. There are always 1,000+ worshipers at the 10AM Sunday Mass, with average weekend attendance totaling around 3,000. Due to sleep schedules (I work nights and the kids nap) we go to the 10AM Mass … the one where if you don’t get there early enough, you’re gonna be standing in the aisles.
We always make sure to get there early … we need to be up close so the kids can see what’s happening. This helps them stay focused and attentive (more or less). So all in all we get to church about 30 minutes early. Which is just about the time that the Family Rosary starts up.
Now, I spent 3 months trying to teach Sonshine to speak when he was almost 2 and only had 4 words. And each time we go to Mass, I remind myself every 6.7 seconds – from the opening of the church doors until we pull back into our driveway – of those three months of prayer and struggle.
So, would you like to join us on a trip to Mass??
It’s the same thing every Sunday. Outside the doors, I announce, “We are now going into the church. This means you need to be QUIET! Do you understand?”
A rousing chorus of “Yes Ma’am” a grin from Subvet and OFF… WE…… GOOOOOOO!!
Sonshine (louder than normal): “Look, Mama! It’s JESUS, Mama! YEEEEESS It’s Jesus on the Cross … Jesus with Booboos on the Cross, Mama!!”
Did I mention our church is like an echo chamber?
Mom (frantic whisper): “Yes, dear. Now we need to be quiet and take our seats. Come on.”
About the time we get seated, the Family Rosary starts.
Everyone (mumbling prayerfully): “Hail Mary, full of grace…”
Sonshine (chatting cheerfully, five words or so behind everyone else): “Hail Mary, full of grace … It’s Jesus, Mama!! Jesus with Boo-Boos!! … Blessed are thou among women, Mama!! I’m saying Hail Mary, Mama!! And it’s Jesus and GOD on the CROSS, Mama!! With Boo-Boos!!”
Mom (frantic whisper): “Very good. Now say your prayers QUIETLY, please.”
When the Rosary is finished, Sonshine demonstrates that he has learned to cross himself now … with his left hand, smacking himself almost hard enough to leave a mark. Closing my eyes, I envision our future interview with Child Protective Services:
“Ma’am, your son has bruises on his forehead, shoulders and chest…”
“Well, see… um … we’re Catholic and … um…”
Very early in the Mass, Father Tim blesses the children and sends them to the chapel. Both boys and I join the other kiddos in our child-oriented lesson, during which my 2 sons studiously attempt to reweave the wicker on the chapel seats as they attempt to focus on whoever the teacher is that week.
Though it isn’t apparent when you look at him, I do know that Sonshine listens. One week the story was about courage, about having courage to tell your parents when you do something you shouldn’t, such as breaking a glass. Now, all during the story the boys appear to be otherwise occupied. Generally being wiggly, noisy, and distracted.
When the story concludes, we rejoin Mass. The congregation is usually singing as the kiddos (and this mom) come back in. We get to our pew, Subvet and I exchange thumbs-ups to say that Sugars was marginally quiet during the Homily and the boys did not succeed in destroying the chairs in the chapel … this week. We’re halfway there.
As the priest begins the Eucharistic prayers, Sonshine decides to choose that moment to let me know that he had, in fact, been listening.
Sonshine (oh, when will he learn to whisper?): “Mama! You broke the glass, Mama!!”
Sonshine, “YEEESS! You broke the glass and was COURAGE, Mama!!”
(Oh, the story book … got it)
Mom: “Shhh, it’s time to be quiet. See, Daddy’s gone to get the Body and Blood of Jesus, We have to be quiet now.”
Sonshine (a little louder): “Have to be quiet, Mama! Have to be quiet and break the glass, Momma! And Jesus has Booboos, Mama!!!”
Mom: “Hush now, or we’re gonna have to leave. “
Sonshine (WAILS): “NO, Mama!! Wanna see Jesus!! Mama, wanna see the Body and Blood of Jesus!!! PPPPLLLEEEEAAASSSSEEEE!!!!”
(Oh yeah….worst mom of the year award coming my way.)
A few moments of quiet pass, during which Gator-boy (y’all better pray for my sanity once he starts talking) starts getting fidgety. Out comes Momma’s purse. Some women carry makeup and wallets in their purses….I carry……..
Church appropriate distractions. (if ever you need such items…the calculator and tape measure work the best)
Then begins the weekly wrestling match. WWF has nothing on Mightymom vs the Hooligan Duo in the pew. Trying to teach them to kneel has been a challenge, to say the least. Usually finds me with a boy on each side of me (toy in hand) on the kneeler with a handful of the backs of their pants and pull-ups. This way I can “apply gentle pressure” should they decide they don’t want to kneel anymore. (I’ve never faced the folks who sit behind us. Better not to know.)
I will say that since we started going to Mass, my shoulders, hips and back have gotten much stronger. (It’s all about counting your blessings, folks!)
On come the announcements. Sonshine (of course) has a comment for each picture they project on the wall to go with the announcements, but by this time I’ve given up and am just trying to grab up all our stuff so we can make a quick getaway. I sincerely hope the poor guy who usually sits in front of us is hard of hearing. I figure since he doesn’t bust out laughing or show signs of irritation he MUST be!!
Father Tim says those blessed words “Mass has ended, you may go in peace”
We head out the door, load the clan in the van. Subvet looks at me and says “Well, we made it through another one! Shall we stop at Sonic on our way home?”
You’d better believe it! Momma needs a treat! J
Thank you Dear Lord
For these precious children
For the special encounters we have with them
For the lessons they teach us.
Thank you for their ability to talk…even when they talk too much.