Sunday, September 26, 2010

What would you do?

What is the charitable thing to do in a difficult situation? Here's the set-up:

There's a family of four--two little girls and Mom and Dad--who've been attending the same Mass as our family (and loads of other families) for about 2 years now. They seem like very nice people. The children are roughly 3 and 5, though they might be a bit older. It is obvious that there is no mental illness nor disability on the part of any member of the family.

The trouble is that the girls chatter like squirrels throughout Mass, and they do so without correction. They ask for (and are given) snacks. They ask for (and are given) paper and pen. They dance on the pew. They balance on the kneeler, as though on a beam, pulling hair and pounding arms of those in front of them.

When a parent does speak with them, it's usually Mom--and she actually speaks to them. At a conversational volume. Regardless of what is happening in regards to the Mass. She does this during the homily, during the readings, during the hymns, and even during the crux of the Mass--the Consecration. Her speaking to her children is never to correct them--just to answer and pacify them. The children are never removed, for any reason. The younger one has cried loudly during Mass before, and nothing was done.

I think this might be one of the families (though I've not seen other families with this type of issue at the Mass we regularly attend, but there are also three other Mass times within our parish) which prompted the message written by our dear Monsignor about six months ago, regarding behavior during Mass, and when it becomes necessary to remove a child from the nave in order to allow other parishioners to worship appropriately.

It is maddening. It is distracting, and it is completely disrespectful of Our Lord during the Mass.

So I ask you--what would you do?

I understand what it's like to wrangle children during Mass. I have five, for Pete's sake, and am not looking to be out of the Narthex Crowd anytime soon!! I know what it is to sit in the narthex as close to the speaker as I can, or where I can watch through the glass panel on the door, knowing that I can hear the Mass just fine from there, and that my small ill-behaved child is out of hearing and sight range of the rest of the people, and that this leaves only me as the distracted one. I definitely know what it's like to have the strong desire to be in the nave, seeing the beauty of the Mass, immersed in the ways in which the Mass stirs our senses, and feel as though I'm not really there at all. In other words, I've been in their shoes--but rather than sit there, I've gotten up and moved my feet!

I am finding it terribly difficult to remain charitable in my heart, especially in those moments during Mass when I am left to strain to hear Monsignor's homily, because the woman behind me refuses to whisper. I found this to be especially so this morning, when this family sat down directly behind our family. Finding another pew at that point was not possible.

So, besides "offer it up"--which, believe me, I have been doing!--what in the world would you do??

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The autumn comes

Leaves are swirling in the autumn wind and falling onto the lawn, making a tapestry of beautiful colors. They are soft and damp, and the husky smell of them blows in through the open windows. Birds are calling to one another, signaling their end-of-summer plans to find sheltered places to build their winter nests.

Mama Cardinal keeps her eyes sharp against squirrels and bees.

The house is quiet today: Squash is at work with My Darling, and Reepicheep and Frog are both on an adventure with my sister-in-law. (While normally the Frog would be in school, when an Auntie purchases tickets in April for a big Broadway show staged in September...well, the Mama might just excuse a Frog from the afternoon school hours....) Pickle and Cuppie are puttering from outside on the swings, to inside, to the basement to play blocks.

I am content.

I began, about two weeks ago, to feel the small, quiet flutterings of a certain Someone. Though my sweet babe measures only about eight inches from head to toe, I am daily aware of the goings on within. Last night, for the first time, My Darling felt the soft thump of--what, a knee? an elbow? a little hand or foot?--and murmured something sweet.

This afternoon, I find myself daydreaming about frozen, deeply snowy winter afternoons, with a small, warm babe snuggled on my chest, breathing quietly, moving slightly, eyelids fluttering, sighing in satisfaction and thanks for the warm belly full of Mama's milk.

Perhaps it's that I slept better last night and then into the morning. I feel better today than I have in a long time. The Nausea Bug and Major Pukey, thanks be to God, have packed their meager belongings and ordered the retreat of their Miserable Minions. Late this morning, I started a shoulder roast in the crock pot, with onion soup mix, carrots and potatoes hedged around the sides. The smell is so tantalizing that I am eager for suppertime to roll around.

Perhaps it's that I am currently comfortably set up in the sunroom. That would be the main common living space which was included in the addition--the addition that began Four Long Years Ago, when we first broke ground. It's completely drywalled, wired and painted. The only things remaining are trim and flooring--but we do have a temporary carpet over the plywood subfloor. We moved the living room furniture out here about a month ago, and it's just as beautiful and spacious as I dreamed it would be when we were planning our scheme years ago. (The bedroom still isn't done.........but progress is being made here and there, and I know that it will be done eventually.............................)

Perhaps it's that I have been leaning back into the comforting arms of Our Lord more lately, allowing Him to fill my heart with His peace. I definitely have my days--we all have our days (as my last entry will attest)--but they are becoming less frequent. The bad days are intensely bad, but they are fewer. My Lord is pulling me ever closer to His Sacred Heart.

Whatever the reason, whatever the circumstance, I am infinitely grateful to be where I am in this moment--enjoying carrying this small child, this beautiful soul beneath my heart. I am learning to be without my Frog each day, and though I miss her terribly, I am able to see the fruits of her attending The Wonderful School. I am loving the time that I've been able to spend with each of my other children, watching them learn and grow. Reepicheep has been busily knitting things--booties, hats, small squares--for the baby. Pickle has been reading nearly non-stop about all things space and engineering. Squash has learned to write his name (!!) and is learning to read here and there. And Cuppie is talking so much that we can almost always understand what she wants and needs.

God is so very, very good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bad days happen even here...

Disclaimer: Gratuitous whinging ahead. Read at your own peril. Even Catholic homeschooling happily-married Mamas have bad days.

I am grumpy. I'm in a terrible mood, and no help for it.

I know, I know...this funk is not something of Heaven; rather it reeks with the foul stench of the other place. And I know that eventually the clouds will lift.

But it's been a rotten afternoon, and part of me just wants to sulk in it for a few minutes, get it off my chest, and move on.

I'm trying to adjust to my Frog being gone from me each day to the wonderful school. I know full well what a blessing it is--especially for her--but it's been really hard on this Mama's heart. I miss my girl! I miss her companionship, and I really miss her capable help.

I am becoming increasingly frustrated with my Pickle. I'm stretching myself each day to find the wonderful qualities that make him the lovable boy he is, but for Pete's sake, when you have to tell a 12-year-old to look on the floor for things like shoes, rather than staring at the walls and saying, "...but I don't see them!" just gets old.

The Reepicheep is trying. Ten is a really difficult age. It's physically awkward, and it's psychologically worse. She wants desperately to be more capable than she is at lots of things, and frequently tries to do things with disastrous, or near disastrous, results, and sometimes at the peril of others. She wants to stay up late and have the privileges that come with being a teenager, but she's really not even close to teenagerhood. She rebels at the things that we know are best for her (like the earlier bed time and the necessity of school work and chores) sometimes, but other times (at this very moment, for instance), I'll say, "I need the counter spiffed up," and she'll practically scrub all of the counters, sweep the floor, shine the sink and set the table. It's just so blasted unpredictable! I know she'll grow out of it, and I know it won't be long...if we could go from eight to eleven, and skip the two years in between, that would be fabulous.

My little Squash boy....well, he just melts my heart almost every minute of the day. When he's not smooching my nose (because, you know, sometimes it's empty...) or snuggling with me and sighing and saying, "Mama......I just love you..." he's unfortunately squabbling with either the Pickle or the Reepicheep. And his squabbling generally takes the form of a very loud, insistent voice which is audible throughout the entire house, for Pete's sake, and which does not cease until the world bows to his short little whim. If you're playing for points, that's a long way down to bow.

The Cuppie......well, she's on the cusp of two. She has two volumes: tolerable and sweet, and LOUD AND HORRIBLE. If she has what or who she wants, life is good and she's terribly cute. If she does not have it or them and she wants it or them, then you'd better grab your ear plugs. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and she's apparently in need of a great deal of grease. We could buy an industrial vat of olive oil and pray that it would be enough. In other words, there is a great deal of my day which is spent attempting to entertain or appease my sweet Cuppie, and the rest of my day is spent in grateful thanksgiving to my merciful Lord that she is peacefully napping.

And may I say, I would just like one. evening. with. my. husband? We're so busy, it really feels like I can barely come up for air. I'm trying to figure out when we even have time to go grocery shopping, because we're running out of staples like bread and cereal, and I totally consider grocery shopping to be a date, but only if we have no children with us.

The upside? I'm feeling markedly better. In the last week, I've only had to battle Major Pukey and his Miserable Minions thrice. The Nausea Bug is still around, but is showing himself to be pitifully battle-weary, thanks be to God. Now if I can just get my blood pressure up a bit--you know, not in the I'm-having-a-terrible-day-and-will-probably-explode way, but in the I-can-stand-up-for-more-than-two-minutes-and-maybe-even-stand-at-the-appropriate-parts-of-the-Mass-and-not-pass-out way.....well, that would really make my day.

I guess perhaps there could be some help for it after all.