From Clara, a friend of mine, and blessed mother of two blessed little children.
Typically, my kids are totally fine in church. But my in-law’s church in Western NY is a “mission” church and is probably the size of a living room.
The Sunday after Christmas, we went to church with my in-law’s. My father-in-law is in training to be a deacon and he officiates with the priest, so he was up front. We sat in a pew with my mother-in-law, and between my husband, me, Vincent on my lap and Gianna plus her coloring stuff and the diaper backpack on the floor, we were kind of smushed in there.
The priest is going to be 99 years old this year. He is an amazing guy, and has lived a heck of a life – he’s even published a book. He has complimented me for babywearing and breastfeeding in the past. He is, as of recently, getting a little confused and loops his sermons sometimes, and sometimes loses himself in a tangent, but for now, it’s church as usual.
Due to all of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day crazy, plus the ~400 mile car trip, Gianna was full of all of the lovely 3.5 year old behaviors, and Vincent was clingy and nursing like a newborn each time a new situation presented itself. No sooner had we arrived, than I had to change his diaper. The back area (containing the bathroom) is just beyond the lectern, where the priest stands. So up I went, swished past the priest, avoided the candles, and entered the back. The priest interrupted his sermon to fondly look at my retreating back and remarked, “Oh, she must be going into the back for instruction with Dorothy (his wife, who does Sunday School with the small kids); that’s wonderful. You are never too old for instruction.” His gaze then fell on Gianna, who was talking to herself in Veggie Tales voices while drawing Veggie characters. He asked what her name was, and somehow between my husband and mother-in-law, they relayed that it was Gianna. He wanted to call her Giovanna, and was confused when they told him it was not that. He sighed and then remarked that it was strange that “they had changed the spelling of Giovanna…”
My father-in-law got the priest back on track with the sermon, I returned and Vincent immediately wanted to nurse again. While he was nursing, Gianna started getting very involved in her Veggies, making them shriek at each other. I reminded her to be quiet. She told me to “Shush,” and then gave me the 3.5 sassy look. I asked if she needed a break in the back, she said no. Vincent, meanwhile, ripped at my shirt and yanked on my hair and kicked really hard, kicking into Gianna. After many redirections of Gianna and wrangling Vincent’s kicky legs, as well as me trying to delatch him, I finally convinced him to sit up. Around that time, the priest began to wax poetic about *something* having to do with babies, and Vincent LOUDLY filled his pants. My mother-in-law started to snicker. The priest inserted something in his sermon, and the only part I heard was, “… if John and Clara are fruitful in bringing more beautiful children into the world…” as at that moment, Gianna chose to dramatically turn around and shush the priest loudly.
I grabbed her hand, hiked the poopiest baby on planet Earth onto my hip, grabbed the diaper bag, and propelled all of us past the candles, past the priest, and into the back area. I changed the baby, and decided that a little breastmilk poop in his pants was just going to have to be there until we got home, then made Gianna go potty (her sassiness quotient increases with the amount of pee in her bladder) and finally got us all back into our pew. I fill her in on the necessity of NOT telling the priest to “Shush,” got her jazzed about using her BRAND NEW MARKERS!!! YAYY!!! and we get back into the seats.
My father-in-law said some prayers, and Vincent screeched in chorus. Gianna decided to rest her head on Vincent’s legs, and Vincent happily yanked on her hair. Gianna screeched, I disentangled her and redirected her to her markers. Times two. The third time she smilingly aimed her head into Vincent’s hands, I lost it and whispered that if she put her head into his hands ONEMORETIME, I’m going to pull her hair myself. It was that moment in parenting where sanity finally disappears, and leaves irrational crazy in its wake.
My husband stared forward for about five seconds, and then dissolved. He cannot stop laughing at the absurdity of it all, and every time he tries, it’s worse when he starts back up again. I also burst out laughing, and it was an agonizing last five or ten minutes trying to get through the end of church. Which, naturally included Vincent filling his pants one last time.