Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why Sundays don't have to suck.

My friend Jenn at Baby Making Machine blogged recently about how torturous Sunday services can be when you're a Mormon mom with young children.

In case you didn't know, we Mormons have three hours of church services on Sundays. The first hour consists of a general congregation meeting called Sacrament Meeting. It begins with a hymn, followed by a prayer. Then, we sing another song and the sacrament is blessed and passed to the congregation. After that, two or three members of the congregation deliver short sermons on a pre-assigned topic. Once that's over, we sing another song and have a final prayer. Then, it's off to Sunday School for another hour, followed by a final hour of Relief Society for the women or Priesthood for the men.

In my congregation, I lead the music for the children's services, called Primary. Primary is also held during the second and third hours of church. Seeing as how I am a little busy during that time, Dill takes Baby Guy for the whole two hours (Audrey is old enough for Primary so she goes with me). To make up for this injustice, I buddy up with him for the duration of Sacrament Meeting. And yes, when I say having to take care of Smush for 2 hours during church is an injustice, I completely mean it. Bless Dill's heart for being such a trooper.

While reading Jenn's post, I basically nodded my head and thought "Amen!" the whole time. I have so been there. I am still there. Jenn: if you're reading this, it gets better, but then you have another baby and it immediately gets worse.

Fact: Church with small children is difficult. It is usually hard to pay attention to the sermons because you are either 1) telling someone to knock it off or 2) chasing a runaway. Trying to corral and maintain even ONE child for a whole hour is exhausting in and of itself -- then, add a preschooler to the mix! "Mommy, I need to go potty. Mommy, I'm bored. Mommy, I want to color. Mommy, all my crayons just spilled on the floor and rolled into the pew behind us. Mommy, I need to go potty again." Meanwhile, your 1-year-old is going, "MAAAAAAAHHHH!!" at the top of his lungs, trying to crawl under said pew to eat every crayon he can get his hands on. You feel lucky if you even manage to hear the "amen" at the end of the sermon! And then, after THAT'S over, you still have two more hours of baby-juggling. By the end, you are just so. Done. You're beyond tired, you have a major headache and you don't even care how many people undoubtedly saw your unmentionables as you wrangled your wild, squirmy monster (cute squirmy monster, but a monster nonetheless) in high heels with who knows how many Cheerios stuck to your butt.

Do you need a nap yet?

You're probably going, "Why do you people even bother?" Well, here are a few of my reasons.

1) Church is a family affair. And as such, there are plenty of other families in the congregation wrangling wild monsters with Cheerios stuck to their butts. So it's OK! You're in good company. And even those who are beyond the baby years can sympathize. Those kinds of memories are like ketchup stains -- they don't go away easily.

2) It's important to get kids into the habit of going to church. My parents were always diligent about taking us to church, rain or shine. They had five kids to wrestle -- FIVE! -- the first of us being twins. As a kid, I LOVED church. I really enjoyed seeing my friends and coloring and singing in Primary. Now, Bubby really enjoys going to church, too. She's only 3 1/2 and she already knows Sunday is Church Day. There were times when she was a baby when church was equally as impossible as it is now, but we still dragged ourselves there and went. I'm glad we did -- she's developed a love and appreciation for church at a very young age.

3) Attending church is an act of worship. I believe God wants me to go to church, therefore by doing so, I am worshiping him through my obedience. Church with babies is hard, but so are a lot of other worthwhile things in life. Yeah, I usually get home and immediately collapse onto my bed, my nerves shot to hell. But, I know God is pleased that I made an effort to worship him and be of service to my fellow congregation members.

4) I may not get anything out of it, but at least I am surrounding myself with good feelings. When I walk into the chapel on Sunday morning, no matter how hectic my life has been, I always feel at ease. I'm greeted by happy neighbors who are eager to shake my hand and ask me how I've been. The organist is playing calming, worshipful music. Everyone is dressed up and exuding a sense of reverence. And I may not be able to hear a word the speakers are saying, but I can certainly feel them. I can feel their enthusiasm and love for God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's palpable. And that alone is worth going for.

On that note, here are four things I find essential to surviving church: Cheerios, crayons, coloring books and Bear (Smush's lovey). With those items, we can get through anything!

11 comments:

  1. I agree Taylor and I attend church out of obedience, to leave the week behind, and to fulfill our callings. i cant remember the last time i actually paid attention, and lately my kids have just been horrible in church. but they wont always be this young and crazy! but at least they'll be in the habit of going so it wont be a struggle later on. hopefully :]

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  2. I can totally relate. I can't wait till Taylor gets into nursery, then at least we only have to fight with her during Sacrament Meeting. And I can TOTALLY relate to your cheerios on the butt story. Last Sunday was BAD...Taylor's teething, so she's been SUPER grumpy. I'm in heels, carrying Taylor who's screaming and trying to wiggle out of my arms...and then I look down and my slip is down like 3 inches past my dress. It was terrible. Then I get home, run my fingers through my hair, and find 3 goldfish. haha

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  3. Thanks for the awesome post Jenna!! There are so many good reasons to go. Sometimes I'm just like "woah!!!" and this last week it didn't feel worth it. On top of that I have to go straight to work after and it's just all a huge sacrifice. I know I'll be blessed for it. Or maybe I won't in this life but I'm sure God appreciates it. Haha. I'm sure someday I'll look back and miss this time. Maybe not. Maybe I'll just smile in remembrance. :)

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  4. I think of church as wrestling in a dress every week. I just try to get through without showing my unders.

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  5. I've never had to chase after monsters, nor have I ever had Cheerios added as accessories to my Sunday ensemble. But I can testify that it's also just as embarrassing (if not more so) when the people sitting in the pew behind me hear me whisper into my husband's ear, "Stop playing games on your phone or I'll take it away from you!"

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  6. When Tanner was little, someone told me the ONE thing that got me through church will now all three of my kiddos: You get points for just being in the building. And I TOTALLY believe that!

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  7. Thanks for this post because I needed it. I can totally relate but I have the added challenge of doing it all by myself in Sacrament. Matt is in the Bishopric and I'm too prideful to ask for help but more so, too embarrassed! My kids are horrible!!! I'm not off the hook with Evan (3 1/2) either during the 2nd and 3rd hour because he hates Primary. He loved the nursery so that’s all he wants. Luckily Matt can help with him but it's still a challenge with Alex. I don't ever look forward to Sunday because of this but I feel much better going. I’m teaching my kids the importance of church among other things so it makes my week.

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  8. Excellent post!

    I always remind myself that simple obedience can yield wonderful blessings whenever I'm like, "But WHY!?!..."

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