praying the particulars: wrangling children at church

A Prayer for Wrangling Small Children at Church:

God of infinite patience,

Help me not to lose my mind at Mass today.

When my son falls off the kneeler for the umpteenth time and howls at me indignantly, let me not say I told you so! but I love you.

When the baby gets so fussy during the homily that no one within six pews can hear the priest, let me not sigh with irritation but distract him with smiles.

When I miss every word of the readings (again) because I was fishing books out of the diaper bag, let me not brood about what I lost but notice the small service I gave to the least among us.

When I spend communion time pacing the floor of the gathering space, or trying in vain to nurse the baby in a corner of the cry room, or taking the toddler to the potty for the tenth time, help me to see that this is Eucharist, too – the gift of self in love.

When that older couple behind us, the ones I worried about the whole time – that we were annoying them and distracting their prayer and giving them reason to think the future church is going to hell in a handbasket – when they tap me on the shoulder after the final song and tell me we have a beautiful family, help me believe them. And even thank them graciously.

And when we’re tempted to skip Mass next Sunday because it’s just so hard in this crazy season of life, and it throws off nap schedules for the rest of the day, and what are we getting out of it anyway, let me remember the importance of coming. Because children are part of the Body of Christ. Because I need community and they need me. Because much of what is important about parenting isn’t easy anyway.

God, you promised that wherever two or three are gathered in your name, you are in their midst. That means our pew, too. The one covered with spit-up that two boys are trying to climb over.

Bless my hyper, healthy kids. Bless our diverse, dynamic church. Thank you for the weekly reminder of what matters most.

With gritted teeth behind that laughing smile,

A mama in the third row

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