Do you ever have one of those Sundays where you go to church (the actual, physical building) but you don't go to church (that higher state of feel good, do better-ness)?
With four kids, I'm pretty sure that every week I enter, endure three rounds (which, I think, should qualify as aerobic activity) and exit the "ring" exhausted, beat up and scrounging through the church bag for leftovers.
And it's no wonder.
My four happen to be girls, and when the day starts, it's a miracle I don't crawl back into bed (with the church-bag treats, of course). The morning is a flurry of bows and blow dryers, tights and patent leather.
And none of that is for me. I'm lucky if I get my hair all the way dry and wear matching shoes.
You'd think that once we were in kids deposited in their respective classes all would calm down. Not so. Five minutes of peace and the baby needs to be fed, and it's off to the mother's "lounge," which is also happily combined with the diaper changing location. Nice.
Done feeding, and it's back to class. Sunbeam teacher comes in with my ray of light. Seems she's been throwing chairs and banging her head on the wall. I explain that WWF is not an appropriate Sunday activity, especially during the lesson. So I sit in class with my little wrestler and sing "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" and sneak a few Goldfish. After a few minutes of calm, I can leave.
Now it's time for Sunday School. Since my husband, Brandon, joins me, it makes sense that it would be easier. Not so. Rough-housing the baby results in excessive spit-up. Then clean up. Then I chase the crawling baby up and down aisles not because anyone cares, but because she puts any small piece of anything in her mouth. So while I'm on vacuum duty, I check out a few shoes and class is over.
On to sacrament meeting, where our strategy is contain and feed. Brandon and I bookend the kids and throw fruit snacks, granola bars, Goldfish, etc., at them. And you know what? It works. So when I don't have to take one to the potty, or play word search, or entertain the baby, or get the one that escapes because Brandon dozed off, I can listen.
To be fair, now that they're getting older, I sometimes have a three- to four-minute stretch of quiet. The problem is, I don't remember what to do with it. I find myself with eyes open during a prayer or looking for something to color.
Well, closing prayer. Shoes back on, wake up the one who fell asleep during the closing song, pick up crumbs and herd out. Church accomplished.
Sometimes I wonder when I'll get to listen; when I'll get to smile sympathetically at the sister with the trampoline chair. My mom says it's the girls' time now and mine will come again.I believe her. But I have to admit, I will miss the Goldfish.
Michelle Marshall is a mother of four living in West Jordan