This is the day that broke me. This is the day that sees me giving up on any sweet soft-focus ideals I had or have about being a Nice Catholic Family. This is the day where I am blinking back tears during the consecration and deciding that IF and WHEN I decide to come back to Mass I am going alone. And this day wasn't especially or significantly terrible, it was just the latest in a Long Series of Sunday Mornings where I emerge from the church feeling the need to hide, crawl under the covers, drink myself into a nice cheery stupor.
Oh God I even feel too broken down to write this post. I'll come back later. GAH.
All right. It is much much later in the day. I have exercised, I have eaten an entire chocolate bunny (hey, at least I exercised), I have Mad Men to look forward to after the kids are in bed. Everything is better. But I'm still going to write a Woe Is Me blog post.
SO YES. Church. I cannot do it.
Here is what I told Phillip last Sunday: "We are not doing that again. We are either going to the early Mass or we are going separately so someone can stay home with Emma." And he said, "Okay," because really, even if he would have liked to say something else, he knew that moment was not the right time to say it.
And again, my kids are not SO horrible. We don't ALWAYS have to take Emma out (just most of the time). My kids aren't ALWAYS fighting with each other or noisily rummaging through their bag of un-church-like goodies or asking me how many songs are left. And no one has ever EVER said anything negative about my kids in church. Not even when I am fully expecting and braced for it. Even this morning when we happened to sit in front of what seemed to me to be a Particularly Holy family and I thought FOR SURE the dad was BEYOND ANNOYED with my 18-month-old who needed snacks and pacifiers and books and shrieked about not getting all the pencils and enevelopes and CLAPPED WHEN PHILLIP ASKED HER IF SHE WANTED TO GO HOME, the dad grinned at Phillip and said, "Oh no, no, not a bother at all, not at all." GOD BLESS THOSE PEOPLE.
But for me? For me it is EX. HAUSTING. I am frustrated, embarrassed, angry at my kids for not being perfect little angels and mad at myself because my parenting has not developed perfect little angels. I can't hear. I have no idea what the readings are. I haven't the slightest idea what the homily was about. That entire hour is taken up with Managing Movement, Noise, & Making Sure The Baby Doesn't Draw On Everything In Sight.
This morning I suggested we go to one of the churches I'm interested in, not least because we could go to a 9am Mass. The 10 at our church seems to be too late for Emma (she usually goes down for her nap between 10:30 and 11) and the 8 at our church is asking too much of my Just Wants To Relax on the weekends husband. So off we went to the 9 and I was excited because I am excited about a new church and we even found an old friend and everything seemed great except NO, Emma was STILL AWFUL, the kids were STILL arguing over a book about dragons (and you guys, who brings a book about pagan legend dragons to CHURCH? I mean, I probably got my first Bad Parent label right there.) (The book is cool though. I'm just saying.)
Afterwards our old friend, who is single and childless and (I thought) for SURE reminding herself to never sit next to us again, was SO NICE and encouraging and said exactly the right things. But I still had to stop myself from crying in the car. It just feels so POINTLESS.
I mean, I don't feel like a very awesome Catholic to begin with, and now I can't even get through Mass without wanting to send my kids to Siberia?
Anyway, I've been thinking. I'm thinking it is (about!) time for me to let go of thinking my kids should be in church with me every single Sunday, on excellent behavior, learning by osmosis. It's not realistic. Not my kids, anyway. They LOVE Sunday School. They are BOOOOOORED at Mass. And you know, I was bored at Mass until I was a grown up, and shoot, sometimes I still am. They aren't old enough to go to the Children's Liturgy of the Word (the chunk of time where the grade school kids get to have a kid-appropriate lesson during Mass) and they're too old for childcare. But this is just an in between time and I need to drop my Children Who Sit And Stand And Pay Attention expectations. Does that sound horrible? It does to me, in a way, but right now I am feeling like If At First You Don't Succeed, Lower Your Expectations. My Protestant friends would never expect their similarly-aged kids to sit through a long talky liturgy. They go do kid stuff! And plenty of my Catholic friends are the same. I don't have bad kids and every little annoying thing they do in Mass makes me think I have Bad Kids and GAH.
Like, it would be TOTALLY FINE WITH GOD AND EVERYONE ELSE if I started going to church by myself on Sunday nights. You know? I don't have to model this Nice Family. I don't have to look like I'm doing a good job. I don't have to make sure my kids look cute. THAT IS NOT WHAT CHURCH IS FOR. Or if we didn't all go together. Or if we didn't go to the same place or if I put the kids in childcare ANYWAY or we alternated staying home with Emma. I am not a good enough Catholic to be thankful I am there to receive the Eucharist. I am mostly sitting there thinking THIS IS POINTLESS WHY AM I HERE.
So! Room for personal growth, etc. Not denying that.
But honestly I think my Other Not So Positive Church Feelings have been playing into this. I feel disengaged from my current parish for a dozen different reasons. I already know that we will be going somewhere different this summer (after my committee term is up). I feel disillusioned about certain things, annoyed with others, frustrated and tired and unwilling to invest. I am a terrible terrible parishioner right now. So I feel bad about that, but also NOT bad because DUDE, I have been a GREAT parishioner for a LONG TIME and I have good reasons for moving on. I just can't move quite yet. And I have to manage all those thoughts while parenting three small people who would REALLY like to be eating their doughnuts and running around the church parking lot.
BLARGHITY BLARGH SBCBS@OURoiawjogasdkvjn;aowireutteuASDLV:AISURPOGUPA!!!!!
Also! Those of you who feel compelled to tell me I have the wrong perspective on church and it's not about what I can get out of it and Jesus said let the little children come and all that, I know. I KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW. Please let me have my immature, terrible Catholic, pissy mood please. SEND CHOCOLATE BUNNIES.