Going to Mass with a one year old is always easy – said no parent ever.
I am embarrassed to admit that recently I woke up on Sunday feeling a bit of dread about going to Mass. Just the thought of corralling my high-energy one-year-old while also attempting to pay attention myself was exhausting. Typically, I walk out of the church at the end of Mass feeling completely defeated and unable to recall any of the homily.
After a particularly frustrating week, I spent a significant amount of time scouring blogs looking for advice. Do you know what I found? I found that I was not alone, and that there were a lot of other parents fighting the same battle each week. With renewed determination, I attempted to view Mass through a different lens. Rather than see my son’s behavior during Mass as a never-ending series of distractions, I decided to look at it as an opportunity for growth.
With each of the following four frustrating behaviors, my son also challenged me to grow deeper in my faith.
1) Baby Prayers
My son was quietly playing with a toy on the pew. Suddenly, he sees the man behind us. He was well intentioned and making funny faces at my son. My son, of course, was responding loudly with fits of laughter.
We’ve all been there. The church is completely silent, and then your sweet child begins to boisterously babble, giggle, or cry. It always seems to echo throughout the entire building leaving mom and dad slightly frantic while trying to quiet the child and not distract others. It is easy to feel like the entire church is staring as you quickly escort your child to the cry room for a few minutes. I once heard a priest describe these as “baby prayers” and have always appreciated that description.
Your squirmy one-year-old squawking “baby prayers” out during the quiet parts of Mass is a beautiful reminder that we too should be praying when all seems quiet in our lives.
Many people ask for help from God when things are tough. However, do we still remember to lift our hearts in prayer to God when all is “quiet” in our lives? Do we thank him when things seem to be going well? When the baby finally takes a good nap? When your toddler went an entire day without an accident? When you were able to take a shower
before noon? We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to:
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
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2) The Great Escape
It is no secret that young children do not like to sit still. Sometimes my son feels like it is just too hard to contain all the energy building up in his 28-pound body and he just has to run! Good thing there are always kind ushers to help catch him when he is just too fast for mom.
Next time your son is running full force towards the front of the church while you trail behind red faced and feeling a bit embarrassed, remember – at least he is running towards Jesus! We should all follow his example and run the race daily towards heaven.
Running straight towards Christ in all that we do, regardless of the any obstacles that are in the way, is challenging but has eternal rewards. In 1Corinthians 9:24 we are told:
“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.”
What a great reminder that while running, our goal should always be heaven.
3) The Stare
Church can be a distracting place when you are still making sense of the world around you. The other week, my son was so mesmerized by the church’s ceiling that he fell backwards.
Next time you become frustrated from continually redirecting the attention of a distracted child, let it be a reminder to always stand in awe of the God who created us.
Kids often get distracted during Mass, but sometimes God is trying to sneak in a small lesson. The image of a child looking in awe towards the heavens should send chills through our soul. We too are called to stand in awe. The Psalms are filled with prayers of praise that should lift our hearts and minds to God.
“O Lord, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!
I will sing of your majesty above the heavens
with the mouths of babes and infants.
You have established a bulwark against your foes,
to silence enemy and avenger.
When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars that you set in place—
“What is man that you are mindful of him,
and a son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little less than a god,
crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
put all things at his feet.”
4) The Toss
Sometimes while quietly looking at books during Mass, my son decides that he dislikes all of them. What results is a steady stream of books being dramatically thrown on the floor while mom and dad unsuccessfully try to catch each projectile.
Each time your child starts to throw things, let it be a reminder that we should be throwing our worries to God.
As moms, we have a lot of things to worry about on a daily basis. It is easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed by it all. But just as my son throws his books on the floor without even a thought, we too are called to throw our worries to God and not give them a second thought. 1Peter 5:7 tells us:
“Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.”
Young children can be challenging during Mass. It is draining to constantly quiet a babbling child, while also trying to participate. As moms, it is important to direct our hearts to God, even when are focus seems to be divided. Sometimes we just need to think about things a different way and see the challenges of motherhood as an opportunity to turn our hearts to God.