Feeling Defeated in My Sunday Best

My family has been traveling and on vacation the past week and a half, which is partly why my blog posts have been infrequent.

I’ve always been the kind of Catholic to take liberal use of the “travel dispensation,” regarding Mass attendance while traveling. Until this trip.

Our current chaplain encouraged, “If you have stopped in a town where there is a Catholic church, I expect you to make every effort to make it to Sunday Mass.”

Last weekend, I attended Mass by myself at a cathedral. This week, we knew we would be home in time for our local civilian parish’s evening Mass.

At one point, my husband offered to stay home with the kids, so I could attend Mass quietly and reverently. As tempting as it was, I knew my son hadn’t been to church in just over a week, we had missed the beginning of Lent due to a family-shared stomach bug, and I just wanted to go as a family.

I should have taken my husband up on the offer to go alone.

My son didn’t want to go to Mass. When told he had two choices – to go on Sunday, or to go every day this week, he emphatically exclaimed he would rather go, “None-days!” My son has taught me long ago, when I make him go to Mass on days where he doesn’t want, he refuses to participate, and is absolutely miserable. Which makes me miserable.

But, he’s four and is a child, and therefore doesn’t get to call the shots.

I was so excited to attend Mass – I was ready for new fire to be breathed into me, since our Lent has, thus far, been lackluster at best. We entered our church, and my son insisted on sitting up toward the very front – of a marbled church, with wooden pews, and very high ceilings (read: no noise reduction possible).

I couldn’t hear the priest the entire Mass … we surmised something was wrong with his microphone. The only thing I heard from the homily was how Adam and Eve were content to blame someone else for their choice of eating of the forbidden fruit, and how even today, we are always quick to push the blame onto others for our actions. I didn’t get anything else out of the homily – no inspirational moment, and no conclusion of the small part I heard, simply because I couldn’t hear.

At the time of Consecration, Little Miss was fooling around while I struggled to hear the words of the priest. She hit her nose on the pew, which cued an instant ear splitting scream, tears, and wailing as I frantically rushed her up and out of the back of the church. When we returned as everyone stood to recite the Our Father, I noticed her nose started bleeding. And, I had removed baby wipes from my diaper bag. Thankfully I still had some napkins buried at the bottom of the bag…

I failed to remember that most Eucharistic Ministers don’t confer a blessing upon those who go up for Communion, and we wound up not sitting in the priest’s Communion line. I felt like a fool, having my son and non-Catholic husband come up for Communion – after I remembered neither would be getting a blessing.

After yesterday, I just feel defeated.

I know my children need to attend Mass, and need to get into the habit of doing so. I am struggling to identify why my young children should be forced by their mother to go to Mass on a weekly, or several times a week, basis. I am struggling to figure out why I feel the need or desire to lead them in faith-based activities. It would be so easy to just give in, and say, “Alright, you don’t have to…” or, “Never mind, I will go by myself.” I feel as though I am setting myself up for these struggles and challenges, and if I were not practicing my Faith (with the big “F”), things would be so much easier at times.

Perhaps that is what Paul meant when he warned in the New Testament that being Christian would not be easy…

Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when He gave the example of a camel passing through the eye of a needle being easier than entering the gates of heaven…

Because, this week, as a mom, it isn’t easy.

So, I am struggling this week, but still linking up with “My Sunday Best” over at A Blog for My Mom.

This entire outfit is OLD – everything was bought in Hawaii. I’m a huge fan of high-low skirts, allowing me to bend over to deal with kids without fearing I’m flashing anyone behind me. Unfortunately, the mainland designers don’t seem interested in high-low skirts. Little Miss is proudly wearing one of my spare veils – a distraction I use rather frequently, which helps both of us sit through Mass together.

16 thoughts on “Feeling Defeated in My Sunday Best

  1. It does get easier! 🙁 Once reading is a real option, those misalettes are amazing. And in the meantime, could you offer your sweet baby boy a religious coloring book? I’m sorry you’re feeling defeated and hope things begin to look up. <3

    1. Thank you!!

      My 4 year old doesn’t care for coloring our religious themed coloring books, and abhors the Mass books he’s allowed to have. Yesterday, none of our Mass books (of which the baby *usually* loves) were doing the trick – I chalk it up to being 5 PM, instead of our normal morning Mass routine for her!

      Thank you for the words of encouragement!!

  2. Maybe leaving him behind might help. Just get up, get dressed up, tell him good bye that you are going to visit God at church, and you will be home sometime later. No explanations, no fights, but he has to sit at the table and do something (like color in his church color book) the entire time you are away. You go and get 100% out of your Mass, and he gets left. Period. One day he will understand, but right now he is very young and there is nothing tangible about Mass for him. Faith is beyond his understanding, and it is a lot to ask for him to try to talk to a God he can’t see and who doesn’t speak.

    1. I agree that Mass is all about the intangible for him right now. And, I know he is under no obligation to attend yet – that battle will come in another 2-3 years! This may be something worth considering, even though I kind of like going together as a family most Sundays…

  3. I love your outfit. I wish I could find some skirts like that. And I’m so sorry you are having a hard time. I have absolutely been there. Please continue to go every week with both kids. My father was not Catholic. I got left at home for six years, having all kinds of fun with Daddy. I hated “having” to go to Mass when I started preparing for First Communion. So even though my husband was not Catholic until #3 was a couple of months old, we always went together every week. I know it is not easy. The trick is not to EXPECT to get anything out of it. You are just there. When your son can’t behave any longer, have your husband take him out. Slowly he will be able to stay longer and longer. Always sit up front so he can see. One day you will realize that you are finally able to listen and pray again. It may be years. But you are forming the habit of church-going in him and that is important. I KNOW it’s hard, believe me.

    1. Thank you so very, very much for your words of encouragement!! I am blessed that my husband does support me, and does go to Mass with us every Sunday – although I allowed he and the kids to have their “travel dispensation day” while we were visiting his family.

      And, the same reason you expressed hating “having” to go to church starting at First Communion preparation is the exact same reason why I want to go as a family – setting the standard at a very early age.

      Honestly, my 4 year old can (and does) sit (or lay like a limp noodle) through Mass. Yesterday, he was a limp noodle, and crossly would refuse to say the prayers (i.e. Intentions). That, I think, was the most disheartening for me.

      I just always wonder what (aside from graces) I am getting out of being at Mass with my littles! Maybe I do need to just “Expect to not getting anything out of it.”

      Again, thank you so much for your encouragement – and, for sharing it does get better!

  4. I’m so sorry you’re having this struggle right now 😖😖😖 Do you guys have The Picture Bible? It’s comic book-style and all our kids are so obsessed I actually won’t let them bring it to Mass because they’ll fight over it… Maybe your son would be interested in that one? When one spouse isn’t Catholic it’s so hard to instill that sense of obligation in children – my mom didn’t convert until I was 10, and as a kid I definitely faked sick more times than I can count to avoid going to Mass. Maybe some day you guys will be at a parish where your son really connects with the priest and that will help? 4 year olds are tough. Elizabeth told me she hates going to Mass the other day, and almost immediately started talking about how much she loves going to Mass…

    1. We don’t have The Picture Bible, but we do have a comic book-style Rosary book, which my son usually loves. I’ll check out your recommendation!

      And, I have to give my husband mad props – for not being Catholic, he is one of the first of us to sometimes advocate going to Mass!

      Part of the problem is, while traveling, it doesn’t allow my son to have that personal connection with our priest – he sees our chaplain almost several days a week at our “home” community. But, Fr. wasn’t there this week, because we weren’t going to that church.

      Fickle 4 year olds…! 😂

  5. That 5pm time is killer. We have to deal with that in our town too, and my two young girls (2.5 and 9 mos.) are not having it. I like the advice given earlier about expect to get nothing, but that our physical presence is a gift to God. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked myself and discussed with my husband whether or not Mass is important for our children. He is a more diligent Catholic than I am and assures me that not only is it a good practice in itself, but it lightens the heart of our priest when he sees us because he has too many challenges and can use subtle encouragement. I do wish there was a way to get these kids to stay in the pew for an hour though!

    1. I like how your husband reminds you that your priest is subtly encouraged by the presence of small children. And, I know some priests who have reminded me that Mass attendance isn’t compulsory until the children are the “age of reason.” That said, I don’t like the idea of compulsory Mass attendance being sprung upon them one day… instead, I’d prefer to fight these battles when they are little.

      Doesn’t help in not feeling defeated some days!

      The one perk to the 5 PM time I discovered yesterday? Going to dinner afterward would be a great reward! But, it could also get pricey doing that every week… 🤔

  6. I’m reminded of a conclusion I had after an awful Mass experience, “Thank goodness none of this depends on me!” Glad you survived…sometimes that’s my only hope for Mass.

    Faith isn’t a game where you rack up points, but if it was, hauling rowdy kids (and spouses of different faiths) would each be worth about a million points. Look at you winning! 😉

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.