And you know what? It was great!
Like most things with parenting, anticipating the outing was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay worse than anything resembling the actual experience. I have a tendency to kinda sorta maybe obsess over upcoming events, play out all of the worst case scenarios in my head, and try to troubleshoot how to avoid disaster ahead of time.
I'd be lying if I said that the whole experience was perfect and that the kids were amazing little angels. As my awesome pediatrician would say, they were "developmentally appropriate" at Mass.
It turns out our parish has 8:15 Mass in the "Our Lady Chapel" and not the main Church most weekday mornings unless there is a big crowd. So, the kids had the excitement of a fairly unfamiliar space for Mass and the intimacy of probably 40 sweet faces huddled together in a smaller space. We spotted some of my mom friends and their youngest kiddos there, too. Knowing that they come on a regular basis and seeing them in action gave me courage to persevere.
On our way into the chapel, the kids were a little antsy, so we made a pit stop to grab each one a plastic Rosary to hold during Mass. This was a great idea until Walt tried flinging his around like numchucks and nearly swatted a parish employee on the back of the head. Oh, and Jane may or may not have dropped hers on several occasions, and I may or may not have felt myself unknowingly step on the beads and (gasp!) the Crucifix. Sorry, Jesus! Note to self: Perhaps the Rosaries are better saved for family prayer time around the dinner table.
By and large, from what I could tell, the 8:15 daily Mass crowd was made up mostly of elderly men and women, homeschooling families, and a few of us mamas with kiddos preschool age and younger. So, for the most part, Mass was a lot quieter than our typical Sunday morning crowd. Also, there was no music. So, when curious 23-month-old Walt with his 98% noggin took in his surroundings and asked every other second, "Whaz DAT?!" while pointing his pudgy fingers around, I'm sure he was pretty distracting.
Jane was feeling cuddly today and wanted to sit on my lap. Walt, on the other hand, was feeling adventurous and wanted to do laps around the chapel. Remember how I wrote yesterday about being afraid that Walt might make a beeline for the altar during the consecration? Well, that didn't happen, but Walt did do something else.
When it came time for the "Our Father," I think I was trying to pick up one of the rosaries, tell Janie I couldn't hold her, and return a missalette to the chair back in front of us. Walt knew this was his chance to make a run for it. Before I could grab him, he was laughing and making a beeline for our parish priest (who happens to be named Fr. Walter). Walt ran the full 8 feet from our row to the front of the chapel alongside Fr. Walter before I could grab him. God bless all of the Mass goers who smiled at us as we made our way back to our seat.
The rest of Mass had no major hiccups. Walt tried to shake the hands of everyone (at least twice) within reach during the Sign of Peace. Receiving Communion on the tongue with Walt on my hip and holding Jane's hand went smoothly. Just when I thought the kids were reaching their breaking point and I was turning into a hot mess from the humidity, hormones, and constant wrangling with Walt, I heard the words, "The Mass has ended," from Fr. Walter. I thought, "Wow! We did it! We did it! We came to daily Mass by ourselves, and no huge disasters happened. Hooray!"
I spoke with my sweet mom friends afterward in the narthex. They were so supportive and encouraging. One even said that she didn't know that we were there until she saw me retrieve Walt behind the altar. So, uh, that's something, right?!
Since today went pretty well and I loved everything about how the day started, I'm planning on going again tomorrow. It turns out that tomorrow is the kindergarten through fourth grade Mass, so we'll be in the main Church along with a bunch of the grade school kiddos. I'll be anxious to see how that goes compared with Mass in the smaller chapel.
A few notes for tomorrow:
- Read the daily readings before you leave the house like you did this morning. Otherwise, you might not have heard all of them!
- No more rosaries at Mass for the kids.
- No more small figurines. (Today, Jane had a Disney princess, and Walt had a Thomas the Train.) Only one stuffed animal for Walt and two or three faith-related board books.
- Dress in layers so that you can remove them as you turn into a hot mess.
Going to Mass set the tone for the rest of our day, and I know it made a difference. It feels like God was able to multiply my time and help me to accomplish more, I was more patient with the kids, I felt myself being more positive than usual, the kids played together great, and they didn't request television like they usually do because they were content playing by themselves.
This mama can get used to that kind of a day! Now, I know Mass won't always go great, and our days won't always run smoothly, but you sure can't beat starting your day in prayer, receiving Christ at Mass, and praying with your children. I like this daily Mass stuff. I hope it sticks.