Nine children. Put them all on a bench next to each other for an hour and then on top of that ask them to be quiet – you are practically asking for the impossible. Especially if there are toddlers involved!
My time at church is peaceful, quiet and super spiritual. Then I sit down! Yep, as soon as I sit on the pew the struggle begins. The baby wants me, the two year old demands me and the four year old just squeezes his skinny little body between me and whoever is next to me. I begin to sweat. I look down and see my daughters freezing. Seriously – are we in the same building?
My husband doesn’t want us to bring drinks and snacks for the 2 and 4 year old anymore. The 20 month old still gets a bottle and snack though so I have to answer about 50 questions about whether or not each of the little boys has a snack or drink. Maybe after three years they will get used to this!
So the baby eats her snack. She is super sweet and shares with her brothers. That is lovely until a goldfish gets away and falls beneath the bench. The baby tries to pick it up and realizes – this is the perfect time to escape. She heads for the exit while the 2 year old on my lap sticks his feet on the back of the bench ahead of us to keep her in. That might be helpful IF he didn’t step on her fingers in the process. She cries in pain so I pick her up and carry her to the back.
The baby is content to just be in my arms and hang out in the back of the room. But the two little boys will not stay on the bench if Mommy isn’t there. So sure enough, the 2 and 4 year old boys come running back to me. At first I think “this might be okay if they just stand next to me.” Yeah right – in my dreams! Before I know it the 4 year old dives under the pews and starts crawling – NOT the ones we were sitting at. In fact, we didn’t know the people he was climbing under. My awesome 13 year old comes to help reign them in. We head for the door.
In the foyer, the two boys sit in chairs for two whole seconds. Then they are bopping up and down and running to stand in the window sill. Who do these children belong to?
Of course there are other parents in the hall enduring similar entertainment. I look to them for smiles of reassurance. Then out of the blue the 4 year old says about the little boy and girl in the hall “She is so beautiful and he is so handsome.” My first thought is the scene in Dumb and Dumber
At that comforting moment, the 4 year old pops up from the chair and bolts down the hallway. I am holding the 20 month old and trying to keep the 2 year old from following. A friend comes out to rescue and brings the two year old back to sit with the family. BIG mistake – he starts flipping out so my daughter brings him back out. I realize that the only hope I am going to have of surviving is to go back in to church. The baby was no longer upset so we stood a chance.
We return to our bench to find an animal cracker smashed into the carpet right outside our spot! Guess where we sit!! I sit down and look at our feet to make sure I am not stepping on something (or someone!). I witness the two year old crushing a goldfish. I hardly brought any food and yet we have a mess in two places. I diligently pick up every crumb I can, take a deep breath and sit back.
I am pretty sure some of you think I am making this up or combining various church experiences to make it look good. I assure you this was last Sunday. I have left out the loud voice of the two year old thinking he is funny talking while everyone else is silent. And the FOUR year old calling out his brother’s name during the most reverent part of the meeting. I am so busy with the littles I did not even look to see if some of the bigger boys were making paper airplanes, if the eleven year old was sitting on the floor or laying across the bench. By the time the last Amen comes around I turn around to see if someone will be escorting the circus from the building.
When I ran into a friend who also has three littles I told her I was going to write a post about this. She laughed and said “Sometimes I don’t even know why I come.” That got me thinking – why do I come? I heard the first speaker and that was about it. I come for my children. I want them to be at church and to make it a part of their life. They don’t hear much or any of the speakers at this point, but they are learning that it is important. They are learning that this is our life. They are also learning that Mom and Dad love them enough to battle them each week. Well, maybe the older kids are learning that as they recognize, we did this for them too. But the truth of the matter is – they probably won’t realize it until they have kids! Silver lining – we survived six youngins at once – we will survive three!