Do you know where her other shoe is? Did someone step in the cat puke? Where is my blankie? No, not that blankie. The other blankie. I cannot go anywhere without that blankie, and you know it! Jeez, try and keep up...mom.
Sometimes, frankly, you don't even want to go to church. You just want a day off. But you know you should and you're always glad you did, even if, when it's over, you're not glad glad. Because sometimes early mornings like that spill over into late mornings in Mass. Small people are sliding off pews, and someone tears a page in the hymnal, and the stage whispers are turning into something that no one could ever call a whisper.
There are cheerios spilling out of that little tupperware container because the one year-old has gotten a hold of it, but you're so busy trying to pry the pen out of your three year-old's hands because he has attempted to tarnish the thus-far unblemished pew, and you just will not have it, that you aren't able to snatch it in time before it makes that awful, powdery disaster of a mess. And dear Jesus, will you please take the devil out of these chidren for just a few minutes, at least while we are here in your house trying to be like civilized people?
And that's when it happens. That's when you feel the heat of a scowling Death Glare boring holes into the back of your neck. You sneak a peek at the pew behind you. There she is. Glowering. Your inability to completely control every action of every single person in your care (thinking, feeling, real humans with opinions and free will who are still learning to compromise and moderate and close their lips during quiet time) is ruining her personal, private Jesus time. Ruining it!
Recently I had a little discussion about this phenomenon with some smart, sweet girls on Twitter. And I only say "girls" because if I say "women" that makes me "ancient". If I say "girls" maybe I can be something younger than "super old". But I digress. Sarah from A Beaten Copper Lamp of Deplorable Design (I'm saying that three times fast as we speak) mentioned that she had seen a haggard mother on the receiving end of the Death Glare during Mass that morning. She was clearly trying, but her kids seemed to be getting the best of her, and Angry Lady had apparently had enough.
We got to chatting about how the scenario of families of young children being made to feel embarrassed at their own parish for coming to Mass, which is not always very easy or pleasant with young ones ( and by "not always" I of course mean "hardly ever"), is apparently a common one. And I couldn't help but marvel at the entire concept.
Unless I am missing some crucial information or there is some piece to this puzzle that has not yet been revealed to me, if someone professes to be pro-life, they must, necessarily, also be pro-child. Because it seems that the result of celebrating a culture of life is going to be, you know, a whole lot of children.
Have you met children? They are loud. They are messy. They are unreasonable. They are also at the most impressionable, perfect stage to learn about their faith, how to love God, and how to love each other. So even though they are loud and messy and unreasonable, they need to go to church.
If a person wants some personal, private Jesus time, perhaps they should consider participating in Eucharistic Adoration outside of the community celebration of Mass. Maybe they can pray to Jesus in their own quiet, child-free homes before or after enduring the stresses inflicted upon them by all those inconsiderate juveniles and their irresponsible parents.
Parents who have said "yes" to the blessing of children from God, who have gotten up and hauled their brood to church on Sunday morning, who are tired and frustrated by the demands their blessings are putting on their already-thin patience and who would like nothing more than to have all of them sitting quietly in their seats with their tiny hands folded in their pristine laps, do not need a Death Glare. They need love.
If the sippy-cup rolls under the pew, pick it up for them. If it looks like they're about to cry, offer them an encouraging smile. If they are trying to juggle the diaper bag and a car seat and a stack of books while corralling several wily humans, offer to carry something for them. Lift them up. Celebrate their sacrifice. Show them the love of Jesus.
And please, whatever you do, leave the Death Glare at home.