Small Success Thursday Volume 1: Longing for Communion and the Baby List

I really like the idea of blog link ups.* I’ve always thought that I’d like to participate in them, but I’ve never found one that really suits me. One time, I attempted to jump on board with the 7 Quick Takes bandwagon, but the fact is I’m just too long winded for Quick Takes. (And no one wants to read what should be 7 individual blog posts all jumbled into one, which is what my posts inevitably would have become.)

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This week, I stumbled across a link up that is so perfect for me I might as well have designed it myself. CatholicMom.com hosts a link up called Small Success Thursdays. I love it! The concept is simple: share at least 3 of your small success from the previous week. This fits in so well with my attempt to write more about our daily life. It also provides me with a deadline and some slight semblance of accountability, both of which are great motivators for me. Obviously, it won’t really matter if I don’t link up on any given week, but knowing that the link up is out there will likely increase my motivation exponentially. Typically, once I’m in the habit of writing about anything, it becomes easier to write about everything, so it will also likely increase my blogging productivity overall.

Truthfully, I blog all the time. You just don’t know about it. Why? Because most of the blogging I do takes place in my head. Usually, it’s in the middle of the night. Or while I’m doing some incredibly tedious chore. I write, proofread, and edit all in my mind. It’s so unfortunate that WordPress doesn’t have an app for that. I’ve “written” some truly stupendous entries. Some of my favorites exist only in my mind. BUT, this is exactly why I’m excited about this link up. I think it will move me out of my current habit of blogging in my mind and into the world of actually blogging on the internet, where there’s a real publish button! So, without further ado, I give you this week’s small successes:

P10701791. I’m starting to feel like we really are integrated members in the community. This isn’t really a personal success, but it’s a big deal to me nonetheless. We live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. That means if you venture much further than your backyard, you instantly become an anonymous anyone, rather than an actual someone. On Saturday, we did a lot of running around in various areas, and we ran into some kind of acquaintance at every location. At Jack’s basketball game in Ft. Worth, we saw one of Josh’s former employees. His kid was playing on the opposing team. Next, we ran by Wal-Mart for some toiletries and whatnot, and ran into a lady from our church. Later, at Babies-R-Us in Southlake, we saw a guy that works in the same department as Josh. Lastly, at Costco, we saw one of Josh’s current employees. What was really cool is everyone we saw was also with their families. So, whether they noticed it or not, we got to see them as actual someones too. Not just the caricature that we normally see in the environments where we normally encounter them.

So why is this a success in my book? My heart was made for small town living.* I love the idea of tight-knit communities and knowing everyone’s name. I long for true experiences of community. We are very blessed to experience this feeling at our church, but I’d like to be able to experience it out in the world, too. It seems that our family is turning a corner. It seems we’ve finally lived here long enough and are making enough connections where we’re forming a real community around us. For me, this is very exciting!

2. We all went to Mass together on Sunday! This is my goal every week, and, usually, it’s our norm. Unfortunately, someone in our house has been sick every week since sometime in November. This means that I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been able to attend Mass as a family in the last three months. I hate being separated at Mass, despite our children’s often less than charming behavior, which often leaves me wondering why I didn’t just go by myself. I just feel like the Eucharist is more tangibly the source and summit of our week and our family life when we all get to sit in the pew together, and I love that.* This week, I got to experience it. Hurray!

2014-02-05 20.15.453. I made a pretty big dent in my “baby list.” Right around 34 weeks I started freaking out because it suddenly dawned on me that there was stuff to do to prepare for our little one’s arrival. For some reason I had it in my head that she would just move in and that we were ready for her. Luckily, my sweet husband started asking very practical questions like, “Aren’t we going to need another carseat?” (Currently, Leila is still riding in our infant seat.) That made me realize that, even though we did just go through this process 15 short months ago, there are still a few things to be done. So, I made a list. (Of course!) Then, I panicked because there were several things to do and/or purchase, and I generally need some time to wrap my head around these kind of things. I was convinced that the remaining 6 weeks of my pregnancy was not enough time. Finally, I got to work. In less than a week, the majority of the list has been knocked out, and the remaining items are fairly simple. Looks like I’ll have the next 4.5 weeks to dream about my little one’s arrival completely stress free. (Oh, hush. I’m allowed to fantasize about living stress free if I want.)    

To check out the small successes of other Catholic mamas, or to link up your own small successes, visit the Catholic Mom Blog.

                                                                                                             

*I could write a theological discourse about how each of these are really just a manifestation of my longing for communion, a God-given desire we all share, but I’ll spare you. Or maybe just save it for another day…

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Thanksgiving, Traditions, and Itineraries

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Thanksgiving 2007. We hosted my side of the family in our Cordova apartment. Somehow I made everything using the stove, our single oven, and a crockpot.

This morning, my parents finally chose a time for tomorrow’s big family dinner, so now I’ve finally been able to put together a timeline for my family’s Thanksgiving festivities. I was getting really frustrated trying to come up with multiple “what-if” scenarios based on various times they could wish to serve dinner. One of these days I’ll learn to stop doing that to myself and do a better job rolling with the punches. In the meantime, I’m a planner, and I want a plan in advance.

I know that to some, or maybe even many, my desire to plan out events may seem extreme or like it’s a waste of time. But, I truly believe that family memories do not (in most circumstances) make themselves. This is certainly true for my little family. In the absence of a plan, we end up sitting on our behinds and doing a whole lot of nothing. If I failed to plan tomorrow in advance, we would all sit around until the last possible minute, get ready, and head out the door to go to my parents’ house. Downtime is certainly good, but who wants to look back at a life full of downtime? I want to make some memorable memories!

My plan for tomorrow isn’t particularly memorable because it includes anything fantastic, rather, it is going to be special because it contains all the things I love about Thanksgiving. You see, I’m a sucker for tradition. I’m not the type that wants to go to to Florida for Christmas or go skiing for summer vacation. (I suppose if those things were our tradition, I’d feel differently. But they’re not. So I don’t.) I like to stick with the tried and true. I don’t think that’s boring. I think that’s meaningful. This certainly doesn’t mean there’s no room to add new traditions or do away with empty routines that have been substituted for traditions, but, in general, it means I like organic growth and development when it comes to the way I celebrate my holidays.

Thanksgiving 2011 at Josh's parents' house.

Thanksgiving 2011 at Josh’s parents’ house.

When I think of Thanksgiving, several things come to my mind: THE BIG MEAL, cooking all day, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Mass, and family expressions of thankfulness. Some of these, like the parade and the meal, are rooted in my childhood experiences, but most of these stem from who I am today and why I believe Thanksgiving matters. Regardless of where my holiday notions stem from, this is my jumping off point for creating all of our family’s traditions. Josh and I compare our lists of what we equate with any particular holiday or event, evaluate what is the most important, decide if there’s anything we want to add, and, VIOLA…we have our little family’s traditions.

Despite the fact that we have been married for nearly 8 years, we still often have a hard time helping our parents’ understand that their ideas and traditions aren’t number one anymore. This is often uncomfortable and results in strife, sometimes between Josh and me, sometimes between us and either or both sets of our parents. Either way, it’s no fun. Needless to say, we’re still a work in progress. (Which, by the way, is how I ended up waiting on my parents to select a time for Thanksgiving dinner before I could solidify our own plans…)

So, what will tomorrow look like for my little family? I’m so glad you asked!

6:30-7:00AM – snuggle and drink coffee until I’m conscious.

7:00-7:45 – shower and get ready while the kiddos play or watch Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving or Madame Blueberry or something else keeping with the spirit of things.

7:45 -8:00 – Start cooking! Our breakfast first. Our family always has some kind of yummy (and incredibly unhealthy) egg & hash brown dish. I’m still working on the specifics, but I’m pretty sure it will involve ham this year instead of bacon.

8:00-9:30 – Turn on the parade and watch while we cook and maybe even leave it on in the background while we eat. (We’re such rebels!)  The kids also have to get dressed during this time.

9:30 – Leave for Mass

10:00 – Mass!

11:30ish – Get home from Mass. I’m going to have apple cider waiting in the crock pot to warm everyone up. While I’m drinking, I’ll get back to work in the kitchen. Josh usually helps too. We’ll coax the kids into a nap or, at the very least, a little rest of some sort to help curtail cranky moods for the rest of the day.

I’m sure Gone with the Wind or the Godfather will be on during this time, so that’s probably what we’ll have on in the background while we cook and chat and catch up. (I really love cooking with Josh. We ought to do it together more…)

Sometime before 2:30 – I hope to lay down or at least put my feet up; I’m so exhausted with this pregnancy!

2:30PM – load everyone up again. To Grandmother’s house we go! We’ll likely talk about what we’re thankful for in the car on the way there. Maybe I’ll even come up with some kind of cute activity to make that more fun. I’m curious to see if the kids simply say the same things they wrote on our Thankful Tree or if their responses will vary somewhat.

From 3:00 on, we’ll be at the mercy of my family. I’m hoping between my newly evaluated expectations and some kind of Thanksgiving miracle, it will be an enjoyable evening. If nothing else, the food will be delicious. At the very worst, I can suddenly become some kind of football fanatic and pretend I’m completely engrossed in a game. ;)

If we get home before it’s too terribly late, we’re going to watch the Wizard of Oz. We recorded on the DVR a few days ago. The kids have been dying to see it, but we haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet. If it is late, we’ll just watch it tomorrow while we all lounge around waiting for my grandmother to arrive from Atlanta.

Thanksgiving 2005. Our first "family" Thanksgiving picture! 9 mos preggers with Andy. :)

Thanksgiving 2005 outside our apartment in Bartlett. Our first “family” Thanksgiving picture! I was 9 mos preggers with Andy. :)

I must say that, if it were entirely up to me, all holidays would involve a little sleeping in. But, alas, that’s not realistic for our current season of life. Ben will be up by 6:30AM, regardless of when we put him to bed tonight, and I want to spend every holiday minute with my littles.

I know our plans aren’t particularly glorious or magical, but I’m happy with them. I’m a little disappointed that I played the “let’s just make everyone else happy game” but I’m quite pleased with the way it’s all going to come together.

It goes without saying that tomorrow will not work out exactly as I imagine. That’s why the schedule isn’t broken down into more specific time chunks. That would never work for us. Other than that, I’m just going to have to remember that each moment is a gift, and sometimes gifts aren’t what we were expecting, but gifts are always wonderful.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Rediscover Reverence Campaign

This is what my veil looks like. It's a champagne color, which I love because it looks blends in with my hair and isn't as bold as white or black would be on me.

This is what my veil looks like. It’s a champagne color, which I love because it blends in with my hair and isn’t as bold as white or black would be on me.

On December 8, Veils by Lily, my very favorite place to shop (often window shop) for veils, and the only place from which I’ve ever purchased one, is launching a global movement to rediscover reverence at Mass. I think this is brilliant. And lovely.

Basically, it’s a challenge to begin veiling at Mass if you’ve ever felt called to do so.

Because the very mention of veils seems to put some on the defensive, I would like to begin by saying I do not and, more importantly, the Church does not think you are failing to properly reverence the Eucharist by choosing not to cover your head at Mass.

I do, however, think it is a beautiful tradition. I’d like to tell you why.

I felt called to veil for years before I finally gave it a try. The calling started off as simply noticing the women who do chose to veil. I thought they were lovely, but I never thought I would veil. In fact, my mother has always been very vocally opposed to “those women” who veil at Mass. However, my passing glance eventually turned into a deeper pondering. Why would they want to veil at Mass? I came up with a few conclusions on my own and eventually did some internet research. The more I learned, the more lovely the practice became to me. I held a deep admiration and almost a slight twinge of envy for those who were daring enough to cover their heads. (Does anyone else see the irony in that?) But, for me, probably because of the commentary I heard growing up, it was going to take more than believing the tradition was lovely before I could take the plunge.

Because I have spent so much time thinking and praying about this topic, and in light of this Rediscover Reverence campaign, I’d like to share why I believe it is fitting for a woman to cover her head in the presence of the Eucharist. (Please note that I said “fitting”, not “mandated”,”required”, or “the Church is wrong and I am right”.) Admittedly, some of these reasons are more substantial than others, but these are the reasons that are the most meaningful to me.

  1. It is a beautiful act of humility. If a woman’s hair is the symbol of her glory (a topic which I discussed here) and Christ is fully present in the Eucharist, isn’t it fitting that I would cover my glory out of respect of the glorious presence residing in front of me? By covering my head, in the simplest terms, I am acknowledging God is God and I am not. By covering my “glory” I am demonstrating that Christ alone deserves all the glory. Moreover, I am acknowledging that any glory I possess in my nature or may attain in my life is given to me by the Glorious One who is present before me.
  2. It’s Biblical. Don’t skip this one! I’m not about to say what you think I’m going to say. While it is true that there is a cultural element to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11, look closer. I think as most women read, they are too busy getting offended and building a defense to catch one key phrase in verse 10. Paul doesn’t say a woman should cover her head because she is less than or because she is some kind of temptress or for any other reason people drum up. Paul says a woman should cover her head in worship because of the angels. This little phrase, to me, obliterates the cultural argument. Paul wasn’t imposing cultural standards because cultural standards are bound to time and place. Angels are not. Paul’s argument is not cultural, and therefore, it is Biblical for a woman to cover her head in worship.
  3. Because of the angels. What on earth does this mean? I asked one of my brilliant Bible professors, and he responded with something along the lines of, “Well, it doesn’t matter what he meant. Surely, Paul’s understanding of the angles far surpasses our own, so we should just believe him.” Not the answer I expected from my brilliant Scripture teacher. While there may be some truth in what he said, I needed more than that. And after months of having that question lingering in the back of my head, I think I may have found the answer! When Isaiah was commissioned for his prophetic service, he found himself in the presence of the angels, perhaps in heaven. (Is 6) The angels were worshiping God crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!” (Sounds familiar, right? Sounds like Isaiah got a sneak peak of the Heavenly Liturgy we emulate with our Earthly Liturgy.) As Isaiah describes the angels, he mentions they have 6 wings: 2 to cover their faces, 2 to cover their feet, and 2 with which they fly. Did you catch that? These angels, who were created for no other purpose than to worship God, have their faces covered in his presence. Maybe this is what Paul was talking about! Maybe this is the reason he gives for women to cover their heads. BUT, even if it’s not, it still struck a powerful cord with me. (It also caused me to ponder what I consider to be acceptable footware for Mass and make some changes, especially to my summer church shoe collection)
  4. If it’s good enough for Mary, it’s good enough for me. Admittedly, this is one of my weaker arguments, but I still like it. Have you ever seen a picture of Mary without her head covered? I haven’t. Maybe this is just an accurate representation of what was expected of her culturally, or maybe her head is covered because she lived with the Divine Presence. Or maybe, as is often the case with our beautiful Catholic faith, the answer is both. Yes and yes. Yes, it was culturally appropriate, and yes, it was out of reverence for her Son. Maybe this isn’t true at all. However, as I purpose to model Mary in all I do, this is one area I can outwardly represent and remind myself of my inner striving. Interestingly, this is also what resonates with my 6 year old. Last week, I was not wearing my veil. Sitting in the pew before Mass,  my little Jack tugged at my arm and said, “Mommy, why aren’t you wearing your veil? I really like when you wear your veil. It makes you more like Mary.”
  5. A veiled woman approaching Communion is a living symbol of Christ united with his Church. Marriage is often used to describe the relationship of Christ to his Church. He being the groom and she being the bride. This is seen in The Song of Songs, it is illustrated in the parables, and is made explicit by Paul in Ephesians. Over the centuries, it has been further expounded upon, most notably by Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. When a veiled woman walks down the aisle, what is the first thing you think of? A wedding. At Mass, a veiled woman walks down the aisle, approaches her groom, Jesus Christ, whom she then receives in his entirety, uniting her life completely to his. This unification is undoubtably real when anyone, male or female, receives Holy Communion, but when a veiled woman does so, the analogy is unmistakeable. The veiled woman becomes an icon of the entire Church: receptive, submissive, and obedient to Christ her Savior. (As a side note, this is also why non-Catholics and those Catholics who are not in a state of grace may not receive Holy Communion. The reception of Communion is the culmination of our earthly Christian life, much like [although not identically so! All analogies have their limits.] the marital embrace is the culmination of married life. It is a full surrender and acceptance of the other. In the case of Holy Communion, it is not possible to fully accept and surrender to one whom you do not believe in or have turned your back on in mortal sin.)
This is what I want to get next. It's always a juggling act the hold the baby, the diaper bag, and get the veil on my head as I enter the Church. I think this veil would solve my problems.

This is what I want to get next. It’s always a juggling act the hold the baby, the diaper bag, and get the veil on my head as I enter the church. I think this veil would solve my problems.

Much has been written about why women veil in the presence of the Eucharist. There is great historical information, as well beautiful spiritual insights. I learned much from what others have said, but, as I told you earlier, it took more than that for me. I needed something I could hold on to in case I ever had to defend myself. That was truly one of my worst fears and what took me so long to embrace the practice. I was so worried about what other people would think and what they might say to me. But no one has ever said anything. I’ve never received so much as a disapproving glance. I think most people either find it lovely or don’t notice. I think the ones who are opposed to veiling are actually the vast minority.

If you’re considering veiling and have stumbled upon this blog, please don’t stop reading here. There are so many pieces more beautifully written, more humble, and more insightful. I just wanted to share the big factors for me in case there’s anyone else out there than can benefit from them. Most importantly, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and he will lead you to the information that’s right for you. As I said, I really believe that veiling is the most fitting, and I believe you will probably be guided to that realization as well.

And if you’ve already come to that conclusion – what are you waiting for? Buy a veil (or make one or improvise) and get to it! I think it would be great practice with which to begin Advent (Dec. 1) or join in a week later (Dec. 8) in solidarity with Catholic women worldwide. Even if you’re one of the few who veil at your parish, it may comfort you to know that so many others out there are doing the same thing for the first time on the same day. What a gift it is to be part of a universal Church!

Mass: It Fits in the Schedule!

massWhen I first imagined myself homeschooling, one of the perks was the ability to take my kids to daily Mass. Three years later, that is finally becoming a reality. As with so many other areas where I feel called to grow, I had a list of excuses of why it just couldn’t work. My most prominent excuse was our schedule.

If only Mass were earlier. Or later. Either would be more manageable. How could I possibly go to Mass at 9AM and have any semblance of a reasonable daily schedule? How would we ever get anything done?

While visiting with a friend recently, we were chatting about the unreasonable expectations we place on ourselves in the context of our homeschools. In the course of this conversation, I discovered that one of my unspoken expectations was that we must be done with our school day by lunch time. Why? I don’t really know. Other than for bragging rights. You know, something along the lines of, “Oh look how efficient and productive we are. We finish school by lunch and then have the whole day to play and enjoy childhood.”  Yup. That’s about how my thought process went.

Discovering this was a major revelation for me and, best of all, released me from my scheduling hang up. Granted, it took me a few days to come to terms with this revelation, (Yes, I’m ever so graceful when it comes to change.) but once I did, our whole day opened up! I love our new schedule and the icing on the cake is: so far, we haven’t gone past lunch time with our book work! It is so true that when we make time for God, he allows everything else to fall in to place.

Just in case you’re curious, this is what our day looks like right now. I know my family well enough to know that there are many areas I can’t put tasks in order or schedule them into 15 minute increments. In these instances, I simply schedule blocks of time. The routine in that area may vary some each day, but I allot enough time for us to get it all done. This flexibility is also incredibly useful for the days when we’re not exactly “on schedule.”

6:00AM – Mommy’s alarm goes off. Ideally, I get up and exercise, but, unfortunately, I have a rather strong tendency towards sloth. Some Most days I just hit snooze.

6:30-8:30 AM – Everyone gets ready. We get dressed, I shower, nurse the baby, serve breakfast, etc.

9:00 AM – MASS!! Truly, the highlight of our day. Sometimes, thanks to my not-so-angelic children it’s also the low point. Thanks be to God, even when it’s the low point, it’s still the highlight!

10:30ish – We get home from Mass. It just depends on how long we chat afterwards.

10:30ish-12:00 – Formal lessons and bookwork.

12:00PM – We stop to pray the Angelus and sing the Salve Regina.

12:05 – 1:00PM – Lunch and free time.

1:00-3:00 PM – QUIET TIME! (It’s almost as good as Mass.) The little ones (and cranky ones) nap. Other options are reading, praying, or quietly working on a project that requires no assistance. No group activities allowed. In the future this will also be a great time for studying, test taking, researching, etc. (This concept may seem odd. One day I really will write a post about the value of silence to further explain why I find this so important!)

3:00PM – Those who are awake pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

3:15-5:30PM – Finish lessons (if needed), art or science projects, chores, free time.

5:30ish – Dinner.

6:00-9:00ish. Family time. Baths. Prayers. Goodnight!

9:00-10:30PM Mommy and Daddy time.

10:30PM – Lights out everywhere. Sweet dreams!

Despite having our day planned out, I am certainly not opposed to impromptu water gun fights or trips to the park or visits to/from friends. This flexibility is one of the many things I love about homeschooling and one of the reasons our family chooses to school year round. But that’s a topic for another time…

In the Narthex

We don’t have a cry room at our church, or else the title of this post would be “In the Cry Room” Over the years, we’ve belonged to parishes that have cry rooms and parishes that don’t. Regardless of what it’s called or where it’s located, it presents the same phenomenon. Something about walking through the door that separates one and their child from the rest of the church seems to make parents think that suddenly any and all behavior is acceptable.

Now, just to be clear, before anyone starts getting all upset about how I simply don’t understand what it’s like to have little ones in Mass, let me remind you: I have three very energetic little boys, currently 6, 5, and 2, and I’m also 28 weeks pregnant. I know all about being at Mass wondering why I even bothered to come. I know all about fighting off tears because of how hard I’m trying to manage my rebellious little one’s behavior, yet failing so miserably at it. But, I also know there’s a huge difference between desperately trying to convince an incorrigible wee one to behave and allowing that incorrigible wee one to do whatever s/he wants, however loudly s/he wants.

For those of you who are lost, let me back up. Many Catholic churches have some area, often a cry room, or in our case, the Narthex (which is basically just the foyer of the Church) where parents can take their little ones who are too loud to remain in the actual church. It usually has a glass wall and speakers so you can still participate in the Mass, but without your little one disturbing the entire congregation. Because of the sacredness of what it happening during the Mass, it is fitting that upset or loud little ones should be removed from the church until they settle down a bit. That’s what the cry room or other similar areas are intended for.

They are not areas designed for you to plop down right from the moment you arrive, accepting defeat before you ever even enter the battle.

They are not convenient places where you can spread your array of snack items, juice cups, video games, and toys all over the place for your child’s pleasure.

They are not your neighborhood park or playground, and, therefore, not the place for running, climbing, or any other park-like behavior.

But that’s exactly what they’re used for.

My husband and I work very hard to train our little ones to behave during Mass. We have very high standards for our children at Mass and expect our children to rise to the occasion, bearing in mind what they are actually capable of handling at their given age. We work with the children both during Mass and at home to ensure they understand what’s appropriate and what’s not. For the most part, these efforts have been successful. (And, thus, I get really annoyed when people comment about how “lucky” I am that my children behave during Mass. Luck has nothing to do with it.) But the fact remains that my children are children. There are times when the standards won’t be met. There are times that, for one reason or another, they are simply unable to behave as they should during Mass. It is times such as these that I need to take my child to the narthex.

But I feel like I can’t.

Because of the free-for -all that we will inevitably find when we walk through the door.

Because my little ones look around and think, “Wait. Why would I want to behave in the Church, when I could come to a party back here instead?”

Because instead of calming down they see all the kids behaving waaay worse then they were when were when I removed them from the church and very quickly jump on the bandwagon.

Because they want to know why all these kids (including many that are way past the age of reason) are hanging out on the floor playing video games, texting, or even TALKING on their cell phones.

There isn’t a place for me to take my child to redirect his behavior thanks to all the parents in the narthex allowing their children to go berserk. That’s simply not fair. If you’re going to allow your children to behave like wild monkeys, if you’re going to stand there chewing your gum and chatting with the mom next to you, in all seriousness, why did you bother coming? Surely a play date would have been a better use of your time.

Now, in case you can’t already tell, I have a really hard time being charitable about some things. I know I should simply pray for the narthex parents and offer a prayer of thanksgiving that, for whatever reason, they did find it important to make the effort to come to church. Some days I’m better at it than others.
Clearly, today is not one of those day.

I really resent the fact that after struggling with my child in the pew, I don’t have a place where I can take him to reinforce all the lessons we’ve been working on. I resent that all the parents who are too lazy, too tired, or too whatever to control their children undermine everything I work so hard on by the way they allow their children to behave.

I certainly don’t expect it to be quiet in the narthex, but what goes on back there is asinine. It is definitely not the sound of children who are struggling to behave and parents struggling to guide them. It’s just a giant play room. And, sadly, the parents aren’t usually behaving much better than the children.

I find it unfair that I’m stuck doing this dance where I’m trying not to actually leave the church because I know the chaos that awaits on the other side of that door. Yet, I’m trying to get far enough back where my 2 year old’s chattering or whimpering or uncontrollable squirming will be distracting to the least number of people as possible. The fact is, there’s a place I should be able to take him. I should be able to go to the narthex.

And in the narthex I should find parents fighting the same battle with me.

Parents who are actively participating in the Mass, but happen to also be trying not to drop their flailing child.

Parents who quietly redirect as their child begins singing the ABCs at the top of his lungs during the Sanctus.

Parents who, no matter how desperately hopeless the situation appears, remain convinced that they are, in fact, an authority figure to their child and have the obligation to train their child to behave better.

Parents who haven’t simply given up, leaving everyone around them to deal with the consequences.

Unfortunately, I don’t how to fix this problem. I suppose it’s a combination of catechizing the parents, offering some kind of parental support group or classes, and a great deal more charity on my part. It certainly isn’t a situation that could be resolved easily.

All that being said, I am so grateful that the Church is much more charitable than I am. She allows all people to be in the presence of our Lord, whether they realize they are or not. I’m grateful that, as always, Holy Mother Church holds up a high standard to me and expects me to rise to the occasion, just as I do with my children. It just frustrates me that these Narthex Parents don’t do the same.

Pray for me, as I obviously have a long way to go… I need to surrender my pride and grow in charity. I realize this, but, nevertheless, I remain frustrated. That being said, I suppose you’ll find me in the confession line this evening because, even after all this, and the realization that I am being called to grow, I still really dislike the Narthex Parents. St. Therese, pray for me.