A weekly event in my pre-children life was attending church. After we had our first, I continued going with her up until Eddie was born. She was only eighteen months old, and was still happy to sit in my lap with minimal complaint. After Eddie came along, my church attendance dropped greatly. Then, after we had our third, I pretty much only went to church for major holidays.
When Eddie was little, I tried to keep up with church functions, and with friends I had through church. However, as we all know, having young children can be very isolating. Eventually, taking the kids to church seemed overwhelming. Even the thought of requiring them to sit quietly for an hour caused me anxiety. Aside from that, wrangling children during church took all of the spiritual meaning out of it for me. I didn’t find the calm, peacefulness there that I once did.
When I started having children, I envisioned attending church with my family. I pictured us all lined up and happily spending Sunday morning together. After I actually had kids, and as Eddie grew older, that perfect church family image dissipated quickly.
I couldn’t even imagine him tolerating church for any amount of time, let alone a whole hour. I pictured tantrums, behaviors, screaming, and embarrassments galore. As I was personally struggling with my own faith, I was feeling great anxiety about taking my children to church AND the fact that I wasn’t taking them to church.
After much inner-debate, and after speaking with the leader of our church, I decided that I simply needed to try. I needed to get our little family in there and give an honest effort. So, despite the anxiety, and potential embarrassment, today we prepared for our first family church attendance in years.
This morning I gathered up everything I could think of that would keep Eddie happy. Water bottle…check. Sensory toy (soundless)…check. Headphones and music (just in case)…check. Small snack…check. GUM…check, check, and check. We drove (three whole blocks) just in case Eddie decided the walk was going to make him mad. Little did I know, after all that planning, that Eddie was the least of our problems.
We walked in as a group, and greeted friendly folks whom I’ve known for years. We met up with my mother, who also attends, and was willing to help with our kids. We then found a nice spot in the middle, AND close to an exit. Everything was going great, and I was excited that my family was looking very close to the image I had as a young mother. The music started, I went to stand up, and my youngest threw up all over both of us.
We quickly ran to the bathroom, cleaned up as much as possible, and then we went right out that back exit. The rest of the family sat through all of church, with minimal issues. Eddie was even told he was “good as gold.” We took a risk, and it was completely worth it. (Minus the stomach flu mishap)
I cannot wait to go back next week and try again. Who would have thought that after all those years of anxiety, Eddie did just fine. Sometimes it is so easy to get nasty scenarios in my head, that I can’t find my way around them. I know Eddie won’t be in the mood for church every Sunday, but now I know that he will be sometimes. That is enough for me.