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.)