Happy belated Feast of the Immaculate Conception!
We caught the late Mass tonight at a parish we don’t normally go to, and it reminded me of the last time we were at that same parish for All Saints Day.
So, you wanna hear a story?
Our tale begins long, long ago, on November 1, 2016. I had taken the four younger kids to Mass with me, and for some stupid reason we sat in the crying room.
I personally can’t stand going to the crying room, because it somehow gives my children permission to act like wild animals and there’s always someone in there reading The Hungry Caterpillar to their child during the Gospel in a voice that’s not a library voice, sometimes with exaggerated hand motions.
I don’t go to Mass to hear The Hungry Caterpillar or a poetry slam or to watch another parent put on a one-parent play, and I can’t simultaneously focus on Jesus giving commands in addition to focusing on a gluttonous caterpillar eating 15 food items in a five minute span.
It’s too much for my adult ADD mind to handle.
But, honestly? I’m not the Most Important Person, and personally I’d rather have you at Mass with the rest of us than have you stay at home reading The Hungry Caterpillar by yourselves.
And you know what? Thank you for being there. Because it’s not easy trying to keep the kids calm at Mass. And I’m sure that you, like me, are doing your best.
But let us continue.
The room is always peppered with childless adults, to which I say: DO YOU *LIKE* TO SUFFER?!
These adults are usually highly offended that there are *children* making *noise* in a room *specifically designated* for crying children, HOLD ME BACK MY DEAR, PRECIOUS, RINGLET HAIRED, SWEET INFANT BABY JESUS.
Despite all of this, we went to the crying room because I thought it would be better for my three year old and because Dan was still at work, so it was just me doing the wrangling.
The kids were mostly very well behaved. Except for the three year old.
You guys, she brought out The Works. At first she sat quietly in her seat, her hands folded neatly in her lap, and I immediately knew this was a sign of bad things to come.
She ran. She walked on the backs of our calves while we knelt. She pretended to be a puppy. She asked why that lady’s hair looked like that. She switched seats 548 times. And finally, she sat on the carpeted floor and farted the loudest and longest fart you have ever heard in your entire life.
I’m serious. Take the loudest and longest fart you’ve ever heard and multiply it by one million and that’s the kind of fart we are talking about here. And it even went into an impressive crescendo but then sort of trailed off into the distance like a heartfelt love song.
If she had been part of an orchestra, it would have been breathtaking, magnificent, and I don’t mean to brag, but critically acclaimed for SURE. But it was a fart, so.
She did this right next to me and two things happened: one, I became firmly convinced that the four childless adults (seriously why were you even there?!) in the room thought it was me. And two, my older children collapsed in laughter.
I, the Assumed Farter, MomGlared at the kids for minutes on end. They tried to contain themselves, but the sheer glee and amusement of witnessing their little sister cropdust an entire room was just too great a temptation to resist.
Three of the adults left the room after receiving the Eucharist. Yes, please flee! At once! Good riddance! Let us keep the fart for ourselves, you ungrateful snobs.
But one woman remained, and I could feel her judging me from the back of the room.
I was so embarrassed and so pissed. If she hadn’t been in the crying room in the first place, she wouldn’t have to be so annoyed!
I crafted a response in advance. The gospel had been on mercy, so hmmm, let’s seeee..ah, yes. I would listen to her tirade against me and then quietly say “well, I guess we’ve both been given an opportunity to be merciful to each other. GOOD DAY.”
I know. So merciful. And when do I ever use the words “good day”?? Am I the Dowager Countess?? Not even on my best day.
*EXTREME CLOSE UP* oh look! She has my eyes!
Mass ended and I began herding my kids out of the room. Lady in the back stopped me. Okay, lady. It’s on like donkey kong.
But that’s not what happened.
She said to me “Miss?”
“Oh, God. What?” I thought.
“You have the most beautiful family.”
Whaaa? Come again?
This was not what I’d been expecting.
She looked at me sincerely with a huge smile and said “I mean it. I am so impressed.Your children are so well behaved. I have never seen such well behaved children at Mass.”
Um. Had she SEEN my children at Mass? Did she miss the fart?? If so, HOW?! Because that fart was the size of Dallas, Texas. Didn’t she witness the gleeful, irreverent laughter? I stared at her and tears started to fill my eyes.
“Oh!” I said. “Well, thanks. I’m really sorry for the circus today. That was pretty crazy.”
“She’s little!” The lady said. “She’s just a little one. That’s what they do! But your older children were kneeling and praying and participating and ..my goodness, they were wonderful.”
I thought about it and she was right. They were doing all of those things, including trying to help me wrangle their little sister. They *are* wonderful. All of my kids are.
So at that point I was hugging the lady and thanking her and crying, and she’s patting me on the back and reassuring me and telling me she knows how hard it is and how she’s been there and basically affirming all of my life choices.
“You’re doing a fantastic job. You really are. I mean it. You have a beautiful family and you’re doing a fantastic job.” Said the beautiful woman version of Mister Rogers, obviously sent to me by all of the saints in Heaven on their feast day.
I mostly never feel like I’m doing a fantastic job. I am too often impatient and angry, short tempered and irritable and very easily overwhelmed. I struggle with anxiety almost daily.
But you know what? I’m trying my best.
And so are you.
And dammit, we love our babies.
Yes, YOU. YOU are doing a fantastic job.
One more thing.
Do us all a favor. Next time you’re at church, or the store, or anywhere really..and you see another mom with her fart headed kids acting crazy? Affirm her. Encourage her. Tell her “carry on, Warrior!” (I love that one and use it all the time). Just LOOK her in the eyes with kindness and TELL her “You are a wonderful mother.” Even if you’re not so convinced. Because we get better by people seeing the best in us. We get better when others see and SPEAK our potential.
You are doing a fantastic job. Keep it up❤️