Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Parenting is hard. I mean, right? It’s hard, so hard.
All I wanted today was mass. To rest my soul in community. Levi woke up ready for war, and naturally, could sense how much I needed him to not be freaking out, which led to a much larger freak out kind of day.
I’m just one. The woman in front of me alone with three boys. She’s back and forth with the littlest, holding the middle, up again after the youngest. And she’s in heels. Heels! And I’m just one.
There’s the pregnant mom to my right. So pregnant. So tired. Her son is maybe almost 3, and simply won’t stop talking. She has shushed him so many times it’s became the theme music to my mass.
There’s a couple who stroll in, she’s absolutely gorgeous in a blue dress, and on crutches. I actually open my mouth and say, “how are you in crutches and yet still look that nice?” She smiles, although I’m genuinely wondering how on earth people have it all together. I managed to not put make up on despite the pep talk I gave myself this morning about trying just a tiiiiiny bit more. Oh well, maybe next week. Probably not. But maybe. No.
Then Levi remembers he wanted to bring his stuff animal tiger to mass, and starts losing it. Nothing I say calms him, so I find myself on the steps of the church, in the cool breeze, away from distractions. I’m analyzing the situation. If I stay out here, he’ll win. He’ll know any freak out and I’ll leave and that’s it. If I go back in every parishioner will want me dead. Because said small child can’t pull it together. I note the obvious- he’s absurdly tired, he ate only sugar for breakfast, and he’s 3. But almost 4, so that one doesn’t work.
We sit in silence for a second. I decide to threaten him, because I’m a great mom. “If we don’t go in and listen, we won’t have anything to tell your animals about mass.” He considers this. Very briefly. Cries again.
“Listen if we don’t go in there will be no animals to report back to about mass. Yeah? Yeah.”
But the reality is, I am just one. It’s me and Levi. We’re a team. Inside the mother of 3 is still scrambling. I wish rest for her, a moment of concentration, clarity, during mass. I feel pathetic about my own fatigue. My own crippling desire to not be so alone. To have a spouse to say to, “here, Levi needs to be held right now but my back is about to break because this child is a small giant.” If I can be this tired and this overwhelmed and I’m just one with one, I can’t imagine how all the women do it every day.
Then a woman in front with two girls loses it, and in haste grabs her daughters and announces to them that they are leaving (much to their delight). In her hurry she left behind their coats and a doll. The woman with the broken foot, her husband, he stands up to retrieve them. He is at least 6’5″, and commands the room instantly. But he’s docile and slow moving and unaware of the stares. He grabs the coats and doll and brings them out to the woman.
And then I realize I’m crying. What a silly thing to make me cry. Watching someone simply be cared for. Watching him care. Such a small act, but so profound. We all care for each other. That intense longing drums on my heart again, the desire to be cared for. Cared about. The ache of raising Levi alone, it appears totally unannounced.
I look back at Levi, he’s sitting on a window ledge with a statue of Mother Mary, and he’s cracking up. He’s got a book that he’s kissing, so I move the page to see what it is, and it’s a mirror. He’s kissing his reflection, precisely his father’s child. It makes me laugh, and when he sees my absurd tears he says, “mama don’t cry, Jesus is right there.”
Ok. Ok fine.
When I receive Jesus Levi begins to lose it again, insisting that he needs communion too, not understanding the process that he has to go through first. As my head is bowed and I’m trying so, so hard to send one honest prayer up to Christ, Levi leans into my ear and whispers, very seriously, “does Jesus taste minty?”
Then his tired, loud, very irritating cry returns, so I scoop him up and leave, because I’m tired.
Parenting is hard. Did I mention that?
But yet, it’s so good. And it’s hard for everyone. Single. Married. Separate. One child. 10 children. There are days where you need rest, and rest is not an option.
It’s those days where we can draw from His unending source of joy, of peace. He is always ready to abide in our hearts and give us the rest that we need.
If only I could remember to ask Him.