They traipsed into the pews like a herd of elephants. Someone dropped the kneeler to the ground before Fulton’s wheelchair was parked and with a quick twist of his joystick, the whole pew in front of them shifted.
“Father really needs to bolt these things down”, Kelly thought to herself while apologizing softly to the family who had just been tossed like a ship at sea. Thankfully, no one ever seems to get mad at the boys. Now it was her turn to keep her cool as they attempted to sit through Mass as a family.
She’d heard older families talk about this day, when all your kids can sit with you during the service and not cause a racket. Kelly wasn’t quite sure she believed them, but here they all were packed in the handicap pew with no Cheerios. She kneeled down and prayed, “Lord, give me strength” before Teddy started screaming NINJAAAAAAGGOOOOOOOOOOO! and swishing his arms in dramatic ninja fighting style.
Tony clapped his hand across Teddy’s mouth as father entered the back of the church. Everyone stood up and Tony reminded Teddy to be quiet, which he obeyed while still throwing karate chops and punches at the air. Kelly wondered why they could never get their act together and make it to the shorter, early Mass.
Before long there were requests for sips of water, tissues, prayer books, scratches to the head and, of course, Teddy had to go potty. Damn his cute smile! Edie, who never really wanted to give up most favored baby status to her two younger siblings started clinging more and more desperately to her mother. Kelly gave her a hug, and tried to place her arm around her, but as she felt Edie’s weight pulling the dress down her shoulder she had to wiggle her off and remind Edie, as if she’d never been told, that this was her First Holy Communion Year and she needed to act like a big girl in Mass and be a better example for her brothers. Edie flopped onto the pew and disappeared under a pile of coats. She was discovered after the gospel trying to take a nap.
Kelly looked at her watch after Father finished his announcements, ten minutes, and attempted to not audibly groan when she realized he still needed to start his actual homily. “I’d like to discuss three things that I noticed in todays reading…..” She tried exchanging sympathetic glances with Tony but he was now holding Teddy on his lap trying to keep him quiet while Teddy whispered loudly, “Is Mass over?….Is Mass over NOW?”
“Edie…pssssssst, Edie! Where’s that other prayer-book? Is it in your purse?”
“I left it in the van. do you want me to get it?” She asked hopefully.
“No. Take your feet off the pew.”
Kelly tried focusing on the homily when a distinct smell hit her nose. She glanced at Fulton. He met her eyes and only smiled. She decided to worry about it later and hope the families around them didn’t notice. Thank goodness for all the incense!
Somehow, they made it through the rest of the service, though Kelly didn’t remember sitting still for more than a couple of minutes. As she carried Teddy up to receive Communion she tried distracting him by pointing out the saints on the ceiling. “NOW IS MASS OVER???” She knelt and pinned his arm down so he couldn’t grab and shake the shiny paten…again.
As they returned to the pew, she strapped him in his wheelchair and knelt beside him. Edie came into the pew and stepped on her mother’s calves. Kelly winced in pain as she tried to offer up her prayers of thanksgiving.
“Thank you Lord for finally helping us reach the point where we can all sit together. Give me patience to not snap at my little ones when they get fussy but to model a true love of the Mass. Also help me to not yell at them constantly all week. Amen.”
She knew it was asking for a miracle on all fronts but she figured God was up for the challenge. She eyed the exits, thankfully, they weren’t blocked by ushers and she figured they could make a smooth getaway after the last Gospel. She stood up and started straightening the pew, when Tony caught her eye.
“We’re staying for Benediction aren’t we?”
She forced a smile and shoved a sippy cup at Teddy. “Yes, yes…of course we are.” And she sympathized with Fulton as he blurted out, “We need to leave!” Before dropping her head in shame as he added, “I NEED a change. I POOPED!”
Maybe next week, they would all make it through Benediction together.