One of the Least...

There were times, in my pre-married and newlywed days, when I had the opportunity to take a public stance for my faith. There were times when I had an opportunity to pray or rally for something (usually pro-life related) in a very public way. Needless to say, although not impossible, it has been much less feasible since becoming a parent, especially since becoming a parent to more than one child.

I don't know if you've ever had the opportunity to take an uncomfortable public stand for something - be it praying outside an abortion clinic, attending March for Life, or something of the like. Maybe you're a stronger person than I am, but things like that make me feel so uncomfortable. Public rallies and prayer services and whatnot...I've done them. I'll do them again. But wow, do I feel self-conscious when I partake in them.

Recently, that familiar old feeling returned for me. 

In fact, I have been feeling it alot in the last three years, but I'm not always aware of the fact that that's what I'm feeling. Sometimes I mistake that feeling for frustration or annoyance.

I told you about my Saturday morning Mass dates with Sister Stinky. For the most part, she and I have been going to a different parish (one with a later Mass). Have I shared that trick with you? When I want good behavior at daily Mass I do not take my children to our home parish. I don't know what it is, but it's like the difference between how your kids behave in their own home vs. at a friend's house. My girls are definitely more comfortable in our home parish, and their frequent movement (Sister Stinky) and vocalizing (Sister Nugget) makes their level of comfort quite obvious. So, when I want a little more stillness and silence, I try going to a different parish. (This works wonderfully when you're Mass-training toddlers or have a colicky baby, btw...if they act up you don't have to ever return to that parish ever again. A lot less pressure on you as a mom!) 

Anyway, for a number of reasons, going to an earlier Mass at our home parish has worked better the past two Saturday mornings. And, oh my goodness, my Sister Stinky still behaves pretty well but I find that I am sooo much more self-conscious of her behavior. I imagine that everyone around me is judging me, based on how she is acting that morning. Is she too loud? Is she moving around too much? Do they think I can't control my child? (For the record, Sister Stinky really is at a stage where she is a good kid at Mass, so this doesn't have a ton of basis in reality. For a 3 year old, she does pretty well!)

This past Saturday, though, it hit me, I am called to stand with Christ in this little, cute, yet sometimes embarrassing and distressing disguise. The people at our parish are pretty kind to little kids and their moms (our church is sandwiched in between two retirement communities so we have a lot of grandparents and great-grandparents in the assembly), but that doesn't change the fact that sometimes I still feel overly self-conscious when I am with my oldest girl. That self-conscious feeling leads to anxiety which leads to me being a lot harder on her than need be. But this past Saturday, I realized that it doesn't matter what the people around me think. Christ wants my little Sister Stinky there, blowing sweet little kisses to the tabernacle. He doesn't mind her numerous questions, and he understands that she's little and wiggly. 

Last week, we had some friends over for a playdate, and my fellow mom/friend said to me that she and her husband often remind themselves, "Right now [our son] is the poorest, weakest person that we know." That stuck with me. She was talking about how, ultimately, our little ones are Christ to us in the starkest way, and that our caring for them has to be paramount in terms of our ministering to others. 

So, this wiggly little person...she is Christ to me right now, at this stage in my life. And the most beautiful, most public witness I can give to the love of Christ right now is embracing her, kissing her, answering her questions, and holding her little hand during Mass. 

It never ceases to amaze me how much God leads us to holiness through the vocation to marriage and parenthood. 

And now what we wore Sunday! 

And I had to include the other little cutie as well. :-)

Have a lovely week!

For more tips on taking little ones to Mass, check out Faith Beginnings: Family Nurturing from Birth to Preschool!! Available on Amazon or possibly at your local Catholic bookstore.


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