I recently attended mass. I can’t say that I am a regular attendee but this was a mark of respect for the anniversaries of a number of family members. The children were with me this particular weekend so it was time to don the best clothes and put our best foot forward and I was looking forward to showing off my beautiful little family. This enthusiasm was soon dampened when I found out the anniversary mass was at 9;30 in the morning. Three plus myself all to be suited and booted and up and out for that hour on a Sunday. We were not off to a good start!
My darling sister said she would help by taking one of my wee cherubs over on a sleep over so that I only had two to suit and boot. See who ever said that prayers aren’t answered?
Off we headed to mass and when we parked up on the college road the eldest refused to get out of the car. Did I mention that it was raining? Oh yes teeming down and my hair is getting frizzy after I got up ten minutes earlier so that I could afford myself the luxury of looking a little less like worzel gummidge heading to mass and now all my good work was being undone because the young lad wouldn’t get out of the car. A few deep breathes later and a gentle nudge from yours truly and we are on our way up to the top of mass like a good Christian family.
Well that’s how it should have gone. He point blank refused to come inside the church. I brought my daughter up to the rest of the family and returned to the back of the church to gently coax my child into the building. Well I didn’t stand a chance. Stubborn is not the word for it. As a parent when you find yourself in these situations there really is not a lot you can do? I couldn’t drag him up the aisle and have him roar the place down. I couldn’t just let him stand outside because he would think that he got his own way so I managed to move him into the vestibule. A safe place where I could see him and that he wasn’t freezing. For the duration of the mass he scowled at me through the glass.
I looked around and all I could see were perfect families with their 2.4 children. One such family sat beside me and my feelings of failure were multiplied as the mass went on. I glanced… he scowled some more. At one stage the decal of the cross on the glass sat on his forehead perfectly as he huffed and puffed at me and all I could think was… he is the actual anti Christ! I had to pray for forgiveness for the impure thoughts that I was having in an actual church.
The family beside me were oblivious to my frustration and disappointment and the little girl in the husband’s arms made a few little noises and with that the dad hopped from his chair and swept the daughter out of the church. My initial thought was … well that was a bit rash? She wasn’t exactly being unruly the noises were barely audible. Then I thought well maybe that’s where I’m going wrong. I should insist on perfect behaviour and not give them an inch. Maybe then I wouldn’t be staring at my 7 year old as he breathes his hot breathe on the glass like the dinosaurs in Jurassic park warning me that he’s ready for battle.
Then a moment of clarity. I glanced over to the other vestibule only to see the dutiful dad was indeed on his phone. I guess the perfect parenting technique was just a rouse so he could text away only to return to hop up the aisle just in time for communion. I didn’t receive for fear of combustion from the murderous thoughts I was having about my son.
So we left the church and I vowed to return more often so it wouldn’t be such a shock to the system. I also vowed to stop looking to other people’s lives as examples because we all know that things are not always how they seem to be.