1. Take toddler to nursery every Sunday so you can enjoy time alone in mass: listening to the homily, peacefully taking communion, contemplating God and life. Since daughter loves the nursery, and you love to sit peacefully in mass, it’s a win-win!
2. Try taking your child to mass when she’s about 3. Doesn’t go well. She climbs under the pew and becomes defiant. You try to pull her out from under the pew but she has the strength of Hercules. Your choices are to leave her under the pew and run the risk of having her touch the feet of the people in the pew in front of you, or to pull her out screaming and kicking. You leave her under the pew. Assure your single friend sitting next to you that “really she’s not always this squirmy in mass!” Vow to never take her to mass again.
3. When child turns 5, sadly tell the nursery coordinator that daughter has “aged out” of the nursery and will now be attending mass. Then, leap for joy when the nursery coordinator tells you “there’s no age limit!” You secretly wonder if it’s okay to put her in the nursery until she’s 18.
4. Feel guilty for not training your child to sit through mass. Think that the Christmas Eve service, which starts at 5:00 on Christmas Eve and lasts for 2 hours, is the perfect time to start the training. Imagine a peaceful, meaningful Christmas with daughter and husband. Spend 1 hour in mass trying to get your daughter to “sit down!” Then give up and let her sprawl her entire body across the aisle while she plays with her sticker book and congregants have to step over her. Sense that she’s growing bored with sticker book, and hungry, which is the Perfect Storm for a meltdown. Decide to leave early. Have husband grab coats and purse while dragging her out of church screaming bloody murder. Husband picks her up and throws her over his shoulder as she continues to scream and pounds on his back. Vow to never take her to mass again.
5. Recovered from the Christmas Eve, try once more to take her to mass. A special “adoption” mass at 5:00 p.m. You think ahead and pack many treats, books, puzzles, and sunflower seeds to help her keep occupied throughout mass. It doesn’t go too badly. She’s wiggly, but stays in the pew. You think maybe there’s hope. Then she spills all of her puzzle pieces on the floor and you watch as they tumble on the marble hitting the ankles of people all around you.
6. You go to mass alone and notice all of the 5-year-old kids who are sitting perfectly still and saintly. You decide these are probably the same children who’s parents you gave the stink-eye to a few years ago when you were judgmental toward any parent who didn’t put their kid in the nursery. Realize you made a huge mistake by waiting so long to train your daughter to sit still. You should have given up your nursery addiction long ago. Now you’re reaping what you have sown.
7. Adoption is finalized (after 2 1/2 years), and you would like to get daughter baptized. A special baptism service takes place after mass. You dress your daughter in white. She looks very pure and innocent. You invite family and friends, and realize too late that you forgot to bring anything to occupy her during the service/ homily. Daughter defiantly crawls under pew and talks loudly, and insists she has to go potty half-way through the service. You rush to the bathroom hoping you and your daughter don’t miss her own baptism. Get back to the pew just in time for the priest to invite you, your husband, daughter and the godparents up to the baptismal font. As you’re standing in front of the whole crowd, you look in horror as your daughter starts licking your hand and then reaches her foot out to drag the step-stool away from the baptismal font so she can stand on it. Silently beg the priest to hurry it up before daughter has complete defiant melt-down.
8. Priest baptizes daughter. She stays calm enough to have him pour water over her head. You remember him saying something during his homily about how baptism is God saying to us, “You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” Tear up at irony and beauty of it all.