Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Letting Go So that You Can Grow
As I knelt in the pew and tucked my chin to pray I stole a peek at the little form curled up on the floor. Her head resting on the kneeler, her blanket draped casually over her little shoulders. She looked up and gave me a pacifier masked smile. And I breathed in God and His peace. This is my space. This is where I connect with Him.
Getting up to go to Mass is tough. Going to Mass with an energetic preschooler is even tougher. There are bathroom needs and drink needs and it is just so hard to sit still. I saw one friend pull her 3-year old off the choir bannister this week after the little girl had shimmied her way about 1/2 way down towards the altar. When I was many months pregnant with JR, Anthony got away from me and darted down the center isle during the consecration. I stayed in the back terrified he was going to go straight up those altar steps. He rounded the altar and ran back up the side aisle into my shaking arms. I was so furious and so embarrassed! The priest wasn't troubled in the least.
As a newish mom, I was worried about doing everything right in the eyes of others. I was the first one in our family to have kids (on both sides) and I was very aware of the watchful but silent judgment of others. I didn't want my kids having pacifiers outside of their beds & certainly not as they grew into preschoolers. I didn't want my kids eating in Mass - Mass was for worship not snack. I didn't want my kids bringing toys or turning their backs to the altar even it if was so that they could lean into me and get a little closer. Now as look at my little love curled up quietly, I rejoice that I don't care so much about the judgements of others. I don't care if people think my daughter should be kneeling next to me, if people think she should leave her blanket in the crib, I don't care if they think she shouldn't have her bag of cereal or her water bottle - I am there for God, not for the person next to me or behind me or in front of me. Anna is quiet and comfortable, and I am able to rest in the presence of our Lord. That is pretty amazing.
Letting go of the judgmental thoughts I have of myself, and those that I speculate others may hold, gives me an opportunity to change my focus away from what my daughter is or is not doing, to focus on the cross. Every thought about how others perceive me is a wasted thought that could be spent on Him.
I have been blessed with a few kids who like daily Mass. It is quiet, it is cool, it is peaceful. Once the older kids tumble out of the car we have a chance to take a deep breath. If Anna isn't going to preschool herself, she often asks to go into the church for Mass. I think she asks because of the peace. It may have to do with the lollipop she gets after Mass, but I also think it is because she is comfortable there. She can sit with her 'lovies' and just relax while I pray. After shouting and tears and spilt coffee and forgotten lunch boxes it is a luxury for us both to just be at peace in God's presence for a few minutes before we really start our day again together.
The time will come when she will be required to full participate in the Mass. Daily Mass is in some ways easier (it is shorter) and in other ways harder (it is quiet!). Daily Mass is a stripped down Mass and a perfect training Mass as she learns to be still. In Sunday Mass we require a little more of her but she has siblings setting an example of how she is to behave. What she is learning in daily Mass is that Mommy needs Mass. Mommy needs God's word. Mommy needs prayer time. Mommy needs the Eucharist. She can color or lay on the pew or curl up on the floor - as long as she lets me connect with the Lord at His table.
Next time you find yourself wanting to do to Mass and thinking it is too hard with a little one (or 3!), give yourself a break. Loosen up your rules and let go of your own judgements about how kids have to behave. Let your little one bring a book or crayons or dolls or a cookie- what ever it takes so that you can sit with God, even if it is for just part of the service. At the end of the week, you want their Mass memories to be positive (or at least neutral). You need to be able to relax connect in order to make the most of it too.
So relax, let go of the fear and self-judging, and let yourself grow closer to God.
Thanks for stopping by!