when my big girls were super cute and sometimes 'bad' in church
Future deacon's wife-
Some Sundays go well. Other days feel disastrous, and I do feel embarrassed. The same will go for you because you are a mother to beautiful children with free wills. This means trouble! Here is a slightly tongue-in-cheek 5 stages of responding to naughty children & the spilled-sippy-cup-in-church.
DenialMy children are gems! They have grown up in the Church! They are baptized! What's concupiscence? I don't need to worry about them crashing for lack of protein! I can bring in his talking Lightning McQueen car; Johnny won't turn it on! Diaper bag? I don't need to bring in something so bulky; baby won't need a change!
AngerWhy did big girl forget the diaper cover for the baby when she was dressing her for church? Why can't the 5-year old listen in rapt attention at the getting-pretty-long homily? Is that sippy cup milk that is filling my purse? Did the baby go poo-poo five minutes into Mass? Grr. And does the five-year old really need to go pee-pee fifteen minutes later? Grr. Husband looks comfortable up there at the altar. Grr.
BargainingOkay- baby can have the lollipop that a random grandpa-type thrust in her hands during the homily. Okay- we can get ice cream if you just sit like a decent person. Okay- don't cross yourself; just be quiet! Okay- I'll look the other way while you play with a car during the consecration; just do it quietly! Okay person-I-don't-know-in-church, I'll ignore your tisk-tisk at my imperfect children and I won't throw a milk sippy cup in your purse. Okay husband- I'll watch your kids during Mass if you will watch them while I take a quick Sunday siesta.
DepressionMy children will never be perfect in church. I'll never have a 'spiritual experience' again. His children aren't perfect in church; this is a source of scandal to the believers in church. People will be turned away from the Church because the deacon/priest's wife isn't perfect.
AcceptanceMaybe things aren't so bad. The big girls (13 and 12) can cantor the Divine Liturgy themselves in two languages if need be. They woke up for the 6:30 AM Mass to sing for the Roman-rite 'mega'-parish. Even the five-year old gives awesome hugs to the old ladies in the coffee room. The littles are getting good at Amen, Alleluia, and Lord, have mercy.
Part of the stage of 'acceptance' is realizing that this is a long process and that is never a perfect time to start going to church- so we start at the beginning. Another portion of 'acceptance' for a clergy wife or other church worker (or someone in a mixed marriage) is that you will be doing this portion of the week alone. One may as well have a good attitude about that fact.
A final part of accepting children's childishness and dealing with them alone in church is that you will get embarrassed by mistakes your children make. Don't allow them to manipulate the situation so they can leave church. If you do need to step outside, make it very boring. Decide as a couple the behavior that each children should exhibit, keeping in mind their ages. You will need to balance being mindful of others in church but also the fact that your children are people, too! They will not be perfectly quiet.
A little baby noise in church is a beautiful thing. Do not worry that children will be a scandal to others. Some people are just grouchy and look for something to complain about. "To the impure, nothing is pure" (Titus 1:15) Your obligation is to your children's souls only. The fact that you are making a good example by being in church on Sundays and feast days with children who are improving with their church participation is enough.
Some Ideas:-small children should bring no more than 2 distraction items (anything more-they may as well bring the entire toy chest- and they will try)
-small children eat some protein (string cheese?) & go to the bathroom right before Divine Liturgy (Mass) -at whatever age that is appropriate- children will sing Liturgy parts, cross themselves, sit and stand when congregation does (start slowly & sweetly...but expect participation- not because they are clergy kids but because they are your kids)
-teach the kids to nod and smile at the lay people that try to make conversation during the communion distribution. They will talk to people in the coffee room.
-assume the best of other people- most people will love your kids and tolerate it when they are naughty.
-don't discuss church business in front of the children (this is what chamomile tea after the children are asleep is for).
Kids and Church
You know you're a priest's wife when...
Church Participation- Christian Lifestyle
Christian Family Education
Educating Byzantine Catholic Children
wiser, dear readers (clergy wives- choir husbands, etc), add your ideas for her in the comment box, please!