I will get to the good part in just a minute but first you need a little background and some other supporting thoughts in order to fully understand my position. Just know that in no way am I saying.."Look at me and all my "catholicness!"...here we go.
When I started homeschooling one of my goals was to attend daily mass as much as possible. The key word NOT being daily... for me it is more like 2 to 3 times a weekday Mass. I would love to go to Mass daily, but for everything there is a season and it is not my "go to daily mass every day" season.
Some years I have been really good about making it more on the everyday part, other years I have barely made it on Sunday. Right now I am in a pretty good season for attempting to include as much daily Mass as possible.
We have tried all different times of the day, and we have tried several different churches in the area. I have discovered that 8:00 a.m Mass is just not my thing. I can get there OK and the kids are pretty good at that time. The problem is when I am out and about at 9:00 in the morning the last thing I feel like doing is going home to do school. I want to goof off and pal around with the young mama's who bring their toddlers to Mass. So this year we have settled on going to 12:00 Mass downtown. The church is amazingly beautiful and Father Farmer is awesome. And because it is the Cathedral for the diocese we get lucky every now and again and celebrate Mass with the bishop. So, we start our school day about 8:00 go until 11:00, break for lunch, and head out for 12:00 Mass...all perfect timing!! Come back and put little people down for naps, finish up school with the girls, read some blogs, fold some laundry, start some dinner (this is just extra information that has NOTHING to do with the story..but I am nosey about what people do ...so I thought you might be to).
So, here is the part where I "blew" it. Oh yeah...just a little more background, I can sometimes run a little behind. Not on purpose..just by default.
Last Tuesday we headed out for Mass. I was a little "rushed" because I had a crazy morning and did not exactly feel like getting everyone in the car to get to church..but I knew I needed it so off we went. Parking for the Cathedral can be a little spotty sometimes leaving us to walk a small distance to get there. And since Mass is offered at 12:00 in the downtown area a lot of business men go (which I think is the coolest thing ever!!). I am walking with my 5 little ones...kinda quick. This tall good looking lawyer type strides up along side me....
"Are these all yours?" Now...let me stop for a second and recognize that anyone with more than one child is asked this question and I am sure we all find it annoying to some degree. I usually smile and simply reply..."yup". But lately I have taken to having a little fun with my comebacks..just for a laugh. So this was the chosen response last Tuesday,
"I usually don't pick up other people's kids to take to Mass with me." I think I may have said it kinda...snarkey. Sometimes I can deliver this remark with more "charity" in my voice but since I was already feeling a little "snarky" myself..that is how I sounded. I kinda rushed the kids ahead of him and walked up the steps.
He picks up his pace to keep step with us and I am feeling his eyes watching our every move. Sometimes I like the attention. Some times I can put on a good, "I've got myself all together" show. But that day..I just wanted to focus on the task at hand..celebrate Mass without wanting to swap vocations...you know what I mean?
He says to me, "I have 3 little ones. My wife could never take them to mass." Yet another comment I have NOTHING to respond with. "How old are your little ones?" I ask handsome young lawyer who is walking quickly to keep up with me. He proudly replies "One , two and three. How old are yours?"
At this point Mass is about to start and Jack has noticed that I am slowing my pace so he immediately thinks that means he can climb ANYTHING that is standing still. So after peeling Jack off the handrail I answer.."Mine are young like yours." I was unable to give him ages at this point because I just wanted to stop talking and get on with my business.
I then turn away and enter the nearest door, kinda annoyed at the conversation..just the whole taking a lot of intrest in my family at that moment was not working for me.
I need to stop the story for a minute and tell you that I know that when we are out in public people are watching us. I know that because I see them. But more importantly I know that because I am one of the people who watches other families. I am a talker by nature so I usually don't mind such interactions and sometimes welcome the chance to ..
But this day..I was the one in need of the preachin'
After Mass young handsome lawyer comes up to me, like right away as I was still collecting us out of the pew, and looks at me in amazement...
"Your kids were so well behaved. How do you do that? We have a hard time with the 2 of us and our 3 kids."
And here is the big BLOW...
I had nothing to say...
I think I said thank you. I know I was very abrupt and somewhat indifferent to his heartfelt compliment.
I get us packed up and get myself out to our car.
I close the door and I realize how terrible I just handled that situation. Thinking back I know this guy really just wanted to chat with me. He was wanting to know more about what he was seeing..
He wanted to ask me,"Why are you here?" "What specific steps have you taken so you can be here with 5 kids and no help?"
I know he wanted to ask those questions because I have been that person. I have seen people who I feel instantly drawn to and I want to know more about them or more about what they are doing..because 9 times out of 10..I like what I see so I want to know more.
I felt bad..really bad. I wanted to wait for him by his car and say.."I am sorry if I came across as rude..I was just focused and ..I'm here now."
But..I didn't. I just drove away thinking I blew it.
I wanted to say this to him..
"I don't really know what I am doing. I do the best I can. Sometimes my kids are well behaved and that is because we practice this whole daily mass thing..well..daily. I practice having patience with them by taking them here to practice. Sometimes we have a great practice..other times I know ..we need more practice."