Even though we have been going to mass almost every Sunday for the last decade, I have gotten very little out of it. I try to pray, but it seems as if I am always dealing with something else. Someone else, I should say.
I've talked before about how the one hour of mass is just about the most stressful hour of my week. We used to sit in the front row in the hopes that the boys would actually pay attention. That lasted until Edgie started to walk, and he made a beeline for the altar. Literally all I could do was watch in horror as he ran laughing across the altar space while the servers tried to chase him down. And everyone was staring at us. And commented about it later.
Now we sit in the back row in case I need a quick getaway with Edgie. This makes the other boys think they can talk loudly, move about the pew at free will, and - horror of all old school Catholic horrors - rest their bottoms on the pew when they are supposed to be kneeling.
Always a battle.
So yesterday, as soon as we walked into the worship space, the usher asked if we'd like to carry up the gifts (For you non-Catholics, this occurs in the middle of the mass, right before the most important moment of mass. Oh, and they're not really presents, per se, but the bread and wine that become the body and blood of Christ.)
Anyway, I said I'd have to ask my husband, who is always ten steps behind me since I haul ass into the church so we can get our back pew (geez, I am SO my grandma!). I was certain he would say no because he is way smarter than me when it comes to sensing impending disaster.
BUT HE SAID YES! Now, on one hand, I prayed a lot more yesterday than I have prayed in the last ten years' worth of masses. On the flip side, my prayers sounded something like this:
God, please don't let Edgie scream or run up on the altar behind the priests.
God, please don't let Slim say something embarrassing and very loudly.
God, please don't let Lil' C make those noises he usually makes when he is walking and not paying attention to where he's going.
God, please don't let Knox have a temper tantrum because he doesn't want to walk up with us.
God, please don't let anyone do anything that is going to embarrass us.
Right away, Edgie whined for me to carry him, so I scooped him up, prepared to carry whatever else I had to carry with my other hand. But there were only two things to carry, the bread and the wine. I thought there were at least two more things to carry, but the usher explained that they don't bring those up anymore (see, this is how much I have not been paying attention at mass lately).
So up we went, Lil' C carrying the bread (God, please don't let him sneeze on it), and Slim carrying the wine (God, please don't let him trip and drop the bottle). Slim handed Father the bottle of wine and said, "Presenting the wine." (Oh God, no . . .) Then Lil' C handed him the bread, and Slim said, "And presenting the bread." (There's no stopping him, is there, God?) Then there was some confusion about the way we should all return to our back row pew - some started to go this way, and some that way - but then it was over. Our job in the limelight was done.
So, I went back to my usual telling little boys to sit up straight and get their bottoms off the pew and stop pushing their brother and for goodness sake, please be quiet!!
And I realized that if I was doing that, so was pretty much everyone else I knew, so why was I so worried about everyone looking at us in the first place?