If you have young children, you will have a "Mass Story". You know, a tale of the cute/embarrassing/unbelievable thing your child uttered/screamed/cried aloud during Mass, usually when it is dead quiet and very crowded.
This is my "Mass Story".
My mother was able to chose my birthday, thanks to a planned C-section. She chose August 15, for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Therefore, I have always attended Mass on my birthday. As a child, I did not really like it, even though I knew it was special. As I grew, I appreciated it more and more. It is now always a special part of my day.
When my oldest children were 3 1/2 and 1 1/2, my birthday rolled around. I carefully packed them up for the morning holy day Mass, determined to enjoy my birthday feast day with a spiritual start to the morning.
It fell apart as soon as we entered the church. As we sat down in an empty pew, the three-year-old began whining - a brain-liquefying whine. We immediately got up, went to the lobby, got a drink of water to compose ourselves, and had a gentle motherly reminder of Appropriate Mass Behavior (and "it's my birthday, pleeeease be good for me"!).
As we made our way back, a brightly colored brochure caught the eye of the three-year old. He was fascinated with brochures at the time, so I grabbed one, hoping it would hold his attention through Mass. Upon re-entering the church, the one-year old mutinied, refusing to go down the aisle. I noticed Father and the rest of the procession taking their places in the doorway, and urged my little group forward, saying, "The priest is ready to come down the aisle. Let's go sit down so we can see him." Whereupon the one-year-old threw himself to the floor, kicking his legs and waving his arms, screaming, "NOOOOOO CHRUCH! NOOOOOO PRIEST"!
But that is not all. Oh no, not nearly all..... Feeling like the mother of little pagans, I gave up. I was in the early stages of pregnancy and had little energy to handle two upset children alone in church. I had to pick up the one-year-old, still screaming ("No Church! No, no!"). I took the three-year old by the hand, and we left. We reached the parking lot. I had parked in the back, nearest the street, so there was quite a ways to go. The one-year-old was still crying and wriggling, making it difficult to hold on to him. The three-year-old became more upset, wanting to go back for another chance to behave well, so now he, too, began to struggle to free himself from my hand. In his struggle, he let go of the brochure he was still carrying, that for whatever reason was important to him.
Everything paused as we watched in horrified shock as the wind picked up and blew the brochure across the lot.
I quickly assessed the situation - I had two struggling children, and it would be almost impossible to safely pursue the paper. Besides, he would not have lost it if he had listened to me, so I figured maybe this would be a good lesson to him. We continued on to the car. When the three-year-old realized we were not going after the brochure, he desperately tried to break free of my grip, screeching at the top of his lungs. I was frantic to reach the car as my arms were getting very tired, and I was frazzled to the extreme. After what seemed like an endless struggle across the parking lot, we arrived at my little compact car. Both children were struggling so hard, I almost had to wrestle them into their car seats (I distinctly remember using my legs to pin the thrashing three-year-old down in the seat). Both children were finally restrained. I shut the door, standing outside the car. My arms ached, my back ached, my head ached. The children's shrieks penetrated to the outside. I turned my back to them, leaned against the car door and took a deep breath to calm myself before the undoubtedly loud ride home.
Feeling more composed, I raised my eyes.....and my heart sank. Across the small street from this particular parking lot is a neighborhood fire station. They had chosen that morning to have all the firemen outside to wash the trucks. Several firemen were trying hard to pretend not to watch us. They had witnessed the whole thing (the outside part, anyway!). I had sudden visions of Child Protective Services showing up on my doorstep that day (my birthday), saying, "Uh, ma'am? We received a phone call from a local fire station saying they had witnessed a very disturbing scene."!
I am sure that it looked terrible.
I laughed and cried all the way home.
Going to church with very young children is always an adventure!