Earlier today I broke up a wrestling match on the altar of my Catholic Church. It was a friendly match between my two daughters, but it occurred during Moms and Tots Daily Mass, something new we are trying on Tuesdays.
Tuesdays are usually a busy day for my children and I anyway. We help set up for and stay for a toddler group down the street, which takes up most of our morning. I try to finish catching up from the weekend. I try to do some writing in the afternoons/evenings. Marcus has parish council meetings one Tuesday a month. I often meet with friends in the evenings for book club or knitting.
With our busy Tuesdays, my husband was skeptical when I told him I was going to try daily mass with the girls. They are no angels in church, though they love going and talk about it all week long. But I know that they’ll learn the more we go, and this seemed like a friendly atmosphere, so it seemed like the perfect way to practice.
And I needed church today. We don’t go every week, and I feel a difference between the weeks that we do and the weeks that we don’t. The girls had been naughty at toddler group, and I needed to go and sit and pray before returning home.
Fast forward to the wrestling match on the altar. There were numerous. Running up and down aisles. taking out all of the books and pulling down all of the benches for kneeling. Laughing, yelling, clapping…crying.
The laughing, yelling, and clapping were the girls, and the crying was me.
Every other child sat there. Sure, the little boy behind me walked back and forth in the pew and once tried to make a break for it. But my girls just wouldn’t and couldn’t sit down. I felt like whatever I did was wrong. There was no controlling them.
I feel that way a lot. Like there is something I must be missing about parenting, and I just can’t seem to get it right. I know my children are not the worst behaved ones in the world. I know they are sweet, developmentally appropriate, quite bright, and that they are good girls a lot of the time. And I also know that no matter what I see on the outside, other children and other families have had days like the one I had today. I only remember these and feel these because they are mine. But it doesn’t make them any easier.
I am so hard on myself. Parenting just isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. More than anything I want to feel like I know what I am doing. I worry so much about doing wrong by my girls. Not only that, but about everyone watching us, and shaking their heads at my parenting. Knowing something that I don’t.
After mass, though, the three other women with children in church came up to me, hugged me, talked to me, and comforted me. They commiserated with me, said they understood, and offered suggestions for next week.
Marcus asked why I was going to try daily mass with the girls.
This was why. If I’d had a rough morning at toddler group, and hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have had that experience with those moms. I would have gone home, and maybe had that crying moment at home, with no comfort. And I so desperately needed the comfort.
God blessed me today.