Our youngest is almost 14 months, a tricky age for weathering Mass. I find myself getting more and more annoyed with squirming and squealing during church.
Tonight, while attending a feast day Mass together as a family, I once again found myself walking in the back of the church with our squirmy squealer. She squirmed so much in my arms, I finally had to put her down on the ground, feeling more than a bit annoyed.
Our daughter hasn’t taken more than one or two steps on her own. But suddenly, after I set her down, my daughter stood up from the floor and started toddling around on two feet. By herself. She is our fourth child, and I still am amazed each time one of our kids learns to walk on their own.
She was so delighted with herself, and I have to admit I was completely delighted by her accomplishment as well. Amidst my excitement, I also realized that our littlest lambs are often difficult during church because they have big things going on in their lives. Shame on me for being annoyed. My little girl is trying to learn to walk! The confines of a lap and a pew don’t allow for that, so of course she is squirmy. Today was her big day, and she needed my loving attention, even if we were in the middle of the Mass. Perhaps it is a potty-training three year old who “just can’t hold it” and must be tended to during the consecration. Perhaps it is a nine-month-old who is just learning her first consonants and wants to share those great sounds with others during the readings. Learning patience and discipline shall come later. As parents of young children, our attention is necessarily divided many times at Mass so that we might attend to these needs and moments. But, I realized today, perhaps it isn’t so much a division in our attention. As we struggle to attend and serve our littlest ones with patience and kindness, we serve Our Lord himself.