We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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After the apologies, with their sorry faces on.

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How they really felt about their own behavior.

Grace, Max and I went to church today.  My hope was to participate in some pre Martin Luther King and Inauguration Day rejoicing.  Dan is into another stint of working really hard (writing four grants this time) so the plan was for him to work while I took the kids the church.  When we got there, I was glad to see our neighbor who invited us to sit with her and her husband. I went to drop Max off in the nursery to find out that it wasn’t open today, so I sang a little song of hope that we could get through mass  (I’m looking for a miracle, I expect the impossible) and the three of us cozied in next to our sweet neighbors.

Grace and Max behaved really well for six minutes.  And then their behavior was atrocious.  There was sitting on top of the pews, screaming over who got to play with the calculator, taking shoes off, grabbing crayons and non stop chattering in the soft whisper shouts of a 4 and 2 year old.  I was working so hard on my mean, you better watch it, stink eye.  My patience lasted fifteen more minutes and then I dragged both kids, my purse, two bags of kid gadgets, two snack packs, and three coats through the aisle and out into the church foyer.  I was fuming mad.  I felt defeated and mostly disappointed  (they defeated me in a total shutout, the score was at least 3 to the kids and 0 to Mom).  I was disappointed in their behavior, in myself for whimping out as a parent so many times in one day, that my neighbors witnessed the whole thing and for missing a service that felt very important to me.

I had originally planned to drop Max at Aunt Missy’s on the way to church, because as much as I believe in miracles, he is not even two and can not sit through mass.  When Grace found out that he was going to Missy’s, she found a whiney voice deep in herself to tell me that that wasn’t fair and that she never got to do anything special and why couldn’t they both go to the nursery.  Since this explanation was going on while I was hurrying to dry my hair, it came through the noise of the dryer as a half way rational request, and I acquiesced.  Sure, who really cares, they could both go to the nursery.  One Grace, Nothing Mom.

As we were parking the car outside of the church, Grace mustered up that same old whiney voice and added some tears to it and even a spark of fear in her eyes in order to explain how she didn’t really want to go to the nursery at all.  I was starting to feel overwhelmed and asked her to stop talking about it so I could think and get both kids across the busy street, planning to hold my own and get them to the nursery.  When we got inside, we ran into my favorite neighbor who was excited to see the kids and asked us all to sit with her.   It was in the moment of it that I thought, oh how nice, I’ll just take Max to the nursery and we will have a nice time in church.  Two Grace, Nothing Mom.  And then that whole thing ended in a total mom shutout.

Outside the church I told the kids in my sternest voice combined with the newly honed stink eye how disappointed I was in their behavior and how they disrupted church for me and our neighbors and others.  We drove home in complete silence.  I peeked in the rear view mirror at them and they were both slumped over in their seats and looking pitiful.  If I wasn’t so mad, I would have thought – score!

When wphotos_millstadt1e got home I did something for the first (and I’m sure not last) time – put them both in their rooms straight away.  Max cried and cried and Grace made a tent village for her animals.  They lost their privilege to go swimming with Dan (unfortunately, this was a punishment for Dan too, but he had to take one for the team).  After their time was up, I explained how they were so bad that we were going to build our own jack-o-lobber in the backyard to fire them out of and then I went shopping.

Later in the day, we made some of our sand art brownies to take over to the neighbors’ house and apologize.  We practiced what they would say over and over.  I thought Grace would get very quiet and shy when we got to their house, especially if Mr. Neighbor answered the door.  He answered, I told him that we wanted to apologize for how noisy we were in church and Grace looked him right in the eye and said “I’m sorry we were so disruptive in church today” and handed him the brownies.

I was so disappointed that we didn’t get to share in the service today but that is done.  I do have infinite hope in the rich spirits of our kids.  I’m thankful for the chance to work every day at staying on top of my game so they have a possibility of being reasonable citizens and maybe, by some miracle, sing in church with me some day!

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