Deliver Us (Moms) from All Anxiety

mom-with-kids-strollerBy the time the priest got to the “deliver us from all anxiety” part of his weekly schtick, I wanted to shout, “Can I get an Amen?”

I was indeed anxious, and yet I was simply witnessing what was going on two pews ahead of us at the Palm Sunday mass yesterday. The young mom juggling her circus of kids in a crowded church during an extra-long holiday mass wasn’t so lucky.

As I watched her hand rock-rock-rocking the stroller where her 14-month-old was fussing, it brought it all back to me. The inability to just sit for an hour and listen. The constant focusing on the fussing. The non-stop parenting that little kids require.

But it wasn’t just her toddler who was keeping the Mom meter running. Her three-year-old son and her five-year-old daughter were battling each other for space in her lap while ignoring the man next to them known as Daddy.

At one point, the dad reached over and rubbed his son’s face, and his boy actually shook him off as though he had a huge case of cooties or perhaps a hand full of cauliflower. One thing was clear though: it was all about Mommy, all at the same time.

There were so many people attending the mass because of the holiday that the “Cry Room” was full, leaving that family of five to fend for themselves out in the pews with the impatient grown-ups, the quieter, calmer older kids and the mom blogger two pews behind them taking note of their every move.

The five-year-old rolled her eyes at her little brother, who looked up at his mother as though a great injustice had been committed, simply because the toddler was out of his stroller and into her arms.

When she put the toddler back in the stroller to begin the rock-rock-rocking again, the two older kids began pushing , then wrestling each other for a spot in her lap. Then everyone had to stand up for the presentation of the Passion anyhow, and the three-year-old voiced his objection while the five-year-old tsk-tsked him.

My own kids, ages 13 and 11, were quietly listening to the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem to adoring fans who would, just a few days later, turn on him. But I couldn’t stop watching what was going on in the Circus Pew.

The mom was subtly working so hard to keep the fussing from turning into a full-out bawl or perhaps, brawl, while the dad either felt left out or incredibly grateful not to be the mom. (My money’s on the latter.)

Eventually, the three-year-old relented and scootched under Daddy’s arm to sit in his lap during prayers, but only after the mom had to pick up the toddler and wander around while rocking him in her arms.  You know, like so many other moms, so no big deal, right? I mean, she chose to be a mother, so she shouldn’t complain. Not that she was.

But I was anxious for her like I was constantly anxious when my kids were her kids’ ages, and I only have two of them. While everyone else at church yesterday probably worried that her kids would make it impossible to hear the mass, I kept focusing on the mom and how exhausting the hour-plus had to be for her. And how it would probably continue all day long until she collapsed into bed, early.

I wanted to tell her that it gets better, that she will get to sit (and stand…the Passion is a lot of standing) without all that fussing and kid juggling. I wanted to tell her she’s doing a great job, that’s she’s a good mom. But I didn’t want her to know I was watching her the entire mass.

So, I’ll tell you. You’re a good mom. And if she sounds like you, then know you’re not alone, and that it gets easier. And please stop second-guessing yourself:

Tell us: What exhausts you the most about parenting. (It’s okay. We’ve all felt that way at one time or another.)

No responses to “Deliver Us (Moms) from All Anxiety”

  1. Fran

    So, we go to the same church? Please, promise me you won’t write about the time my then 2 year old almost knocked over the eucharist in the foyer … or about how I nurse the baby in the pew just to keep him quiet … or about the time the 3 year old screamed for THE ENTIRE MASS until I finally took him outside and let him play in the dirt – bad mom!

  2. Peggy Reichar

    I am mother of 3 grown children, 2 girls and 1 boy. I have 5 grandchildren and expecting 3rd great-grandchild.
    Believe me I understand your frustration. I was lucky though, because my husband was really involved in the kids and the home.
    I just want to say, you will survive this. At some point they will leave home and go on their own. Just make sure you raise them to be independent or they will never leave.
    I can now watch a movie, read a book, decide on a moments notice to go out to dinner. Good luck and love your kids.

  3. Lana

    That is the good news. It does get easier and it gets better. Between a ten year old and toddler, the tears never end, and sometimes, the tears are mine. It is hard, but it gets easier, and I know this because I watch my ten year old growing into a wonderful and responsible young man. And that is when I am reminded that the worst of it is over and I have something wonderful to show for it. Then, my toddler will be grown up. Yea, I feel sorry for her too but it is will be worth it when they are older.

  4. Julie

    Ok, so I was like you….. would see the mom’s struggling with younger kids and it would come back to me. Mine are now 21, 19 and 17… then 19 months ago God got a sense of humor……. I now have a 10 month old son and WOW does that really bring it back!! :) Being an “older” mom I find my arms aren’t quite as conditioned for baby wrestling as they used to be!

  5. Melanie

    Jen —
    I’m going to read this to the undergrads in my Marriage & Family class. The topic for the lesson is Raising Children in a Social Context — this will be perfect.

  6. Barb

    When I see a mom (or dad) struggling anywhere I try hard to do SOMETHING to help…if it’s on a plane, I just want them to know don’t worry: I won’t be that person sending stinkeye their way…I remember it REALLY well and my oldest is 21..

  7. zeemaid

    thanks for the reminder… I’m one of those moms who juggle three kids and actually don’t go to church for just those reasons. Nice to see someone sitting back with perspective. Sometimes I feel like moms of older children forget what it’s like and sit in judgment of our struggles. ;)

  8. Lanita Moss

    It is funny that you should mention this today. I remember being at a Palm Sunday mass with an 18 month old and being afraid that she would start to cry. As she began to ramp up her unhappiness with being held FOREVER, I kept feeding her cereal and then candy all in an attempt to stave off the fit. Didn’t work, I had to carry her out and pace outside.

    She is now 11 and I told her yesterday that it was Palm Sunday…second longest mass on the Catholic calendar. Not a good Sunday to go to church. Guess I’m admitting to being a bad Catholic now…oh well.

  9. Cadie Connors

    I love the line in this post: “Her three-year-old son and her five-year-old daughter were battling each other for space in her lap while ignoring the man next to them known as Daddy.” LOL. I am Catholic, and I, too, have experienced exactly this, though it was with three little boys under the age of 3. And I agree, second guessing ourselves in situations like this is part of what we do as moms. For me, getting everyone out the door on the days I work is the most stressful time of my day. When it’s all over, and I’ve just arrived to work, I beat myself up for the the way I said, “Boys, get your shoes on!” “Boys, do you have your back packs?” “Boys, get your coats on.” But after I have said it four hundred times while racing around the kitchen, brushing my hair and packing up my things for work, it’s hard not to sound like “mean mommie.” Hang in there mommies!

  10. Jen Singer

    Shannon, so glad to hear that.

    The Mommy: Four kids under 7 and no Cry Room? That’s tough. Very tough. We moved out of the Cry Room when our youngest was 5. Still, once they were battling each other for my lap just like the kids I saw yesterday, and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I left them in church with my husband and sat outside. Naturally, that’s when the monsignor walked by. But I’m not Catholic; I’m just raising them. So I figure I get points for showing up at all, let alone nearly every week.

    Is there a class for kids or babysitting there? There’s a children’s mass at our 9 a.m. mass that takes the kids ages 4-2nd grade away for a while. Other churches I know have babysitting. Maybe it’s time you banded with the other parents and got some of these things going.

    And you’re a good Catholic and a good mom!

  11. The Mommy

    OK. I’M the one bawling. I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve tried to be good Catholics and attend Mass with all 4 kids. It’s so stinkin’ hard! A big reason for that is because our church doesn’t have a cry room. My oldest is 7. Can you tell me when? When can I go to mass and actually focus on mass instead of the fussing? I just want to know that the light at the end of the tunnel is, in fact, getting closer…

  12. Shannon

    Thank you. As Mom to four kids (an almost 4 year old & 10 month old triplets) I needed to hear this today.

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