Anyone who says, “Easy like Sunday morning” has never tried to get a family with children to church on time. Either that or they have purged their memories of the trauma so thoroughly that they can look at a woman covered in 3 bodily fluids with a peanut-butter-handprint on her rump and say, “Treasure this! You’ll miss these precious years!” No, Sundays are the most stressful day of the week for many, particularly mothers of young children.
If you live near towns full of military families, you may have seen the endangered breed of military wife and mother called the Woman Warrior pulling up to church. Her husband is absent, and without the man driving she has had no time to apply lipstick or style her hair. Instead, she may have applied some Lightning McQueen Chapstick at a red light. Those aren’t bits of glitter in there– they are dust from Cheerios. (They’ve never looked better!) She then unloads kids and puts multiple bags over her arms like bangle bracelets, grabbing children, sippy cups, and pacifiers as they fall. Pulling on arms and sticky hands, leading a parade of crying children with tears streaming down their faces, she locks her jaw resiliently in response to the cries, “I WANT DAD!” She too, wants to flip the good behavior button to OFF and cry, “I want Daddy to be here too”. These wearied women often slide in during a worship song after putting each child into the appropriate place and are some of the honest few who are truly thankful to sit in the house of God. Heaven help the girl who comes in during the offering collection; the last thing she needs is one more person shoving a plate at her and asking for more. Then she is able to sit for nearly an hour, perhaps enjoying a time of worship, teaching, but most certainly praying- most likely that the pager to return to the nursery not go off before the service ends. Afterward she reloads with the gear and additional coloring pages, and exuding phrases like, “Where’s your Bible?”, “He had two socks when we came in, right?” and “We do not act out Baptisms in puddles!”
These women are often asked, “How do you do it?” Well, today I have the answer. Here’s how we did it in my house today.
How To Get A Two Year Old and New-Year-Old Ready For Church By Yourself:
The day began with the sun streaming into the boy’s room, signaling that it was time to wake each other up. Harmonious yelling and chattering over the monitor woke me up. As I reached for my glasses, the boys’ good-morning song reached the 3rd verse, which sounds like “There’s an axe-murderer in the room!” (This is why Baptists don’t sing the third verse.) This can also be confused with the “There’s a spider in the shower with me” scream.
Ever the good mother, I entered the room singing, “This is the day that the Lord has made!” and gathered both kids. I continued this worshipful mood by not turning on the television, but a CD of Kid Worship songs, hoping this would set a positive tone. I had no idea how right I would be.
I told the 2 year old that it is time to go potty. Miraculously, he followed and sat down promptly. However, he did this with his clothes and diaper still on. After some praise, I helped him disrobe and asked him to sit again. His look said, “Um, I have no clothes on. Pee could go into an area you want, as opposed to everywhere else. I don’t think so, Babe.” He then decided it was the appropriate time to reenact the dance sequence from Flashdance. He is a maniac on the floor… well, bath mat really.
Apparently the bathmat is the most comfortable thing in the house and must be sprawled upon. I could have a whole album of pictures of him cheeks- up. I’ll call it the al-BUM…because I’m 12.
With the cunning use of wrestling moves, I got a diaper back onto Firstborn, prepared his breakfast and began to change and feed the baby. Halfway through that enterprise I came to give Firstborn a cereal refill when I saw a cereal box boasting a high fiber content next to his bowl. SURELY I didn’t….Thankfully, no. I didn’t. Just then the hymn came on in the background. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” You’re welcome, nursery volunteers.
Back to the fray. I dashed into the bathroom and was able to ascend my throne just as I heard, “I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me!” Wow. God has a sense of humor and part of it is potty humor. I want you to know I did all things as unto Christ this morning. After 25 seconds of solitude in, Firstborn busted into the bathroom, where he discovered his favorite toy- my contact case. He picked it up and my contact flew out, triggering a round of echo-game “Oh no!”s. I spent 10 minutes locating the contact and trying to get the contact to fit comfortably in me eye. I finally gave up and got out a new pair. The reserve is dangerously low.
Next step- deodorant. Now, I spent last week out of state to see my beloved and forgot my deodorant when I returned home. Naturally, I bought some Friday, for the good of all involved. As I slathered it on today I realized that the scent is not my usual and is somewhat strong. Unfortunately, one of my dearest friends is very sensitive to smells. I could just picture her sniffing me and sliding down the pew. She is so sweet that she would probably say, “I love you, but the smell coming from your pits is going to give me a rash.” Good friends help you work on your faults, you know.
I dashed out to pour myself a bowl of cereal when the house became very, very quiet. It was just what I’d want…which meant something was wrong. I went to the stairs and called Firstborn. “Where are you?!” “Uh-dare!” he answered. Now, we have a baby monitor with a camera set up in his room to keep an eye on him. It’s not to see him sleeping peacefully; it’s to know when he tries to climb over something and break his neck. The camera is on a bookshelf that also holds books and toys. I flipped the on switch and saw something like this:
TERRIFYING. It’s like a scary movie. Content that he was playing, I gobbled a few bites of cereal and realized that we have only 13 minutes left to get to church and still be on time.
I dashed back into my room, threw on a dress and did the one-shoe- flamingo-hop toward the bathroom.When I arrived I brushed my teeth and reached for my make-up only to discover the Shellac I call under-eye concealer was missing. Then I found my makeup.
By now Firstborn had joined me and informed me he needed my immediate help. He often gets his toy balls stuck under furniture and needs help retrieving them, which was the case today.
After that rescue operation was mounted, I told him it was time to get dressed. He immediately took off like a shot and ran to my bed, where I chased him down with his clothes and shoes. For some reason,he felt today was a day to make getting dressed an exercise in calf-roping.
His screams could only be translated as, “Jesus didn’t wear pants to church! Why must I?”
By now we should have been in the car. I did a mad-dash for my keys, phone, diaper bags, and put the baby into his carrier. After running out with the first load I grabbed Firstborn and then did another lap in search of his shoes. Just out the door, I remembered my Bible. You can’t forget that. After locking the door I bolted to the car to see that my car wasn’t the only thing about to start. The service was too.
Thankfully, we live less than 5 minutes away in our new home and Firstborn was downright excited to go to church. For the first time in weeks he didn’t protest to walking when he saw me carrying the baby. He went right in- a major battle won. I dropped off Secondborn, nearly left with the diaper bag still on my arm and then managed to get into service by the second song. I slipped into a side pew alone. We made it all the way through service and halfway through Sunday School before the buzzer went off in my bag. Firstborn didn’t make it through today. He is in his “I’ll hit you if you get in my bubble” stage and doesn’t play well with others. After an encouraging talk with a few people, we came home resolved to put new plans in action. I drove home, made a few sandwiches, went for a stroller walk and put the boys down for a nap . Now I sit here, telling you how it’s done. Now I get to wash a peanut butter smear off my clothes and have a little lunch before we do it all over again.
One thing is certain, my friends. If you want to strengthen your prayer life, take the kids to church on Sunday. The name “Prayer Warrior” is not a coincidence. May your day of rest actually have 10 minutes of rest.