Easy Like Sunday Morning, Only Not
People always refer to the Lionel Richie lyrics “easy like Sunday morning,” only I can’t help but think that Sunday morning isn’t easy at all.
During church this morning, and even after church this morning, I sit and ask myself why we take our kids to church? It certainly isn’t an easy task. It definitely leaves me frustrated, and it may be paranoia, but I feel like everyone is looking at me and wondering why I can’t control my kids. To top it off, I usually don’t leave feeling like I’ve heard the message for the day. Instead of listening, I’m fetching snacks, crayons, and sippy cups. Instead of praying, I am juggling kids between arms, saying “shh, be quiet” and trying to keep said kids from tearing up the hymnals. Instead of joining in fellowship with our church members, I’m counting down how many songs we have left until mass is over. And let’s not even discuss all of the preparation it took to get to church in the first place and how we are always running out the door.
Needless to say, all of this has me contemplating why we go through the same routine of taking our kids to church every Sunday morning when it leaves me asking for Jesus and wine, when I should have gotten both of those things at church. Joking about the wine at church, people. I’m fully aware that’s not the purpose of the wine at church.
Let’s Get it Over With
We either go to 7:30 mass or 9:00 mass on Sunday mornings. I’m not going to lie and say we don’t sometimes enjoy that 7:30 AM mass because it allows us to go ahead and get it over with. Terrible, right? But it’s true because we know the ordeal that it is to take two toddlers to church. Let’s not even discuss that family that has seven kids under the age of about 12 who all sit so perfectly quiet like little angels from heaven. I NEED their secret.
Our kids usually wake up pretty early, so if we go to 7:30 mass, that means we are home around 8:45, and we have the morning to play, and the boys seemingly do a little better at that time of day. If we wait and go to 9:00 mass, the boys usually end up hangry and tired, and we usually end up alternating kids in the cry room or the atrium, or when it’s really bad like today, we end up outside because even the other people in the atrium and cry room with their kids are looking at your kid.
Chad and I both come from devout Catholic families. We both attended Catholic school, and I taught at a Catholic school. There were certain behaviors that were expected of us growing up, and in return, we have those expectations for our kids. That seems to make church even more difficult sometimes. We have to remind ourselves that they are only two and a half and sixteen months, however, there’s a fine line with saying that. At what point do you stop saying, “They’re only ____.”
A couple of weeks ago, we were both standing in the atrium with both kids, so yeah, they were both acting up, and he looked at me and said, “Do you think we expect too much out of them?” and I answered, “Yes, probably so.” But truth be told, I’m ok with that. I want to have high expectations for our kids in every aspect of life. I expect them to behave in church, I expect them to behave at school, I expect them to be kind and friendly with good manners. Those expectations will continue and only be met with more and higher expectations as they grow older. I will expect them to do chores, I will expect them to do well in school, I will expect them to work hard at everything they do. Because if you don’t have high expectations for your kids, they will never meet them, and they will never reach their fullest potential.
So Why Do We Take Them To Church
So, that brings me back to my original question, why do we go through the trouble of taking them to church when it is anything but easy? I’m not going to lie, I had to sit and think about this. I had to ask this question to Chad. He always seems to have better answers to questions like that than I do. Thankfully today, our answers pretty much lined up together.
Here is the list of reasons we came up with as to why we take our kids to church:
- First and foremost, we take our kids to church for the obvious reason – to know God and to learn to praise, worship, and celebrate Him. We pray with our kids at home, they know about God and Jesus, we read Bible stories with them; however, they need an understanding of God’s house, the sacraments we celebrate within the Church, and our church family that joins together with us in a weekly celebration of our Lord. They need to learn about the Sabbath and how to keep it holy. We want our children to grow up in the Catholic faith as we did, and to do that they must be present. The only way they can truly learn about these things is by taking them to church and showing them exactly what it means to be present.
- Simple, it goes back to expectations. If we take them now, they will know what behavior is expected in church as they get older. It is a little more difficult with our sixteen month old, as he’s too young to really understand why he’s being taken out, but we can already tell that our two year old is starting to figure it out and starting to behave better overall. Not only is he already learning how to behave, but he is also learning about the liturgy. He already dips his hand in the Holy Water and does the sign of the cross, he already shows us his prayer hands, he already does the sign of peace, and he already repeats things the priest says. Imagine if we took them to church for the first time at five. Sure, they would understand you telling them to sit there quietly, but they would be asking a million questions because the whole concept would be foreign to them. Hopefully by five, we have children that are taking part in the service and asking about the meaning behind the different parts of the liturgy because they will already know how to act in church.
- If we don’t take our kids to church, what will happen to the church? Think about that for a minute. What would happen to the future generations of the church if no one takes their kids? There are so many answers to that question, and none of the answers are good ones.
- We want our children to grow up with a faith community just as we want a faith community for ourselves. A community they can have that supports them in all aspects and helps them to grow in their faith like we need a community to support us. We want to see others bringing their kids to church too. We want to support others by saying, “Hey, we get it. It’s hard. I see you battling your kids like me. Let’s do this together. Let’s raise our kids to show each other the same support and love for their faith that we are showing each other.” How comforting is it when you see another parent battling their child look at you with that face that says I get it! The struggle is real! It is beyond comforting for me because I’m reminded I am no alone. I am part of a community of believers.
I’m sure if I sat longer and contemplated, which I’m sure I will do later, I could think of several more reasons as to why we take our kids to church. Regardless of the exhaustion and battles that comes with bringing our children to church each week, we will continue to do it. We will continue to do it because we are raising kids that we hope not just know who God is, but have a true understanding of how much He loves them and how much he desires a relationship with each of them. We want them to be true examples of showing others Christ like love and forgiveness. What better way to learn that than in His house with fellow believers?