There I was again, watching daily Mass through the sound proof window that separated the very audible babies from the rest of the quiet congregation. This particular Mass I had only my littlest 3 with me. My older three kids were quietly sitting with their friends in the front pews while my friend, Jean, graciously asked my middle child to sit with her. Slightly easier Mass, yes, but I was still spiraling down into a pity party as Henry was yanking my hair while I was nursing him, and Stella was crying because I wouldn’t let her sit in the window sill so she could realize her dreams of smudging tiny fingerprints all over the stained glass. Each time Fr. Hough started to speak, Max asked me a question such as, “How high can Charlotte Bronte jump?”
I was just at my “Ugh, will I ever get to listen to another Mass again?!” moment when one of the cry room citizens (not one of mine) started screaming. This kid was tired and done and letting everyone know about it. At first, I thought nothing of this. I didn’t dare turn my head to look at this poor child’s mother lest she think I was judging her by his behavior. I’ve been that mom. I knew what she was feeling. Or at least I thought. I finally did a sidelong glance, and what I saw filled me with such calm and just absolute love for my friend. She was holding her screaming baby, yet with closed eyes, she was saying the prayers of the faithful with such sincerity one would have thought she was sitting alone quietly with only Jesus in the room.
Any pity I had on myself disappeared that second. Of course she wasn’t just sitting alone with Jesus, she was holding Jesus, and he was screaming. I was holding Jesus. He was yanking my hair, crying about not touching stained glass, asking me about the Bronte sisters’ athletic skills. I began immediately to offer it up, offer it all up. I sat there and offered up the past 12 years of baby and toddler wrangling during Mass. I offered up all the pacing done in the narthex, all the missed Easter Vigils because the kids just can’t sit that long that late at night, and all the potty breaks just as communion is beginning.
I know that eventually the babies will grow. I’ll be able to sit through an entire Mass…and participate in all of it. I’ll have different pains and hardships to offer up. But for now I’ll be here, looking on through the cry room window. And that’s ok, because Jesus is in here with me too.
And the King will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Mt 25:40