Prior to this morning, the Muffins have only been to church 3 1/2 times in their life: on my first Mother's Day, when they were 5 weeks old; in November of 2006 (when they were 7 months old), the kidlets were baptized in the church I grew up in and then we took them to church for their first Christmas. At each of those Masses, the kids were great. Perfect little angels, even. Last year, we attempted to bring them to Christmas Eve Mass at Mom's church, but had to leave early into the service because the kids were crazy nuts.
Cut to today...the kids woke up an hour early (courtesy of the end of daylight savings time) and I'd been floating the trial balloon of taking the kids to church with me for the past couple of months. J thinks I'm crazy. And I am, but that doesn't stop me from doing much. J decided to play along and we got ready and went to church, my anxiety about the kids' behavior quietly masked the entire way there.
A bit of backstory: I began feeling the pull to go back to church last year and decided to act on it. I was raised Catholic and J is an atheist (though he was raised marginally Protestant) which makes for interesting discussions around here...but, he supports my faith tendencies and was on board with having the kids baptized Catholic (after we sort of halfheartedly looked into alternative religions, none of which felt OK with me). There are four different Catholic churches in town, but there was one that I was particularly drawn to. The priest is wonderful and I really enjoyed the services. Except for the music. Being the daughter of a church organist, music is very important to me. The choir at the first church I attended...well, they flat out sucked. The music was never quite liturgically correct and they were always trying out different principal parts of the Mass, which drove me INSANE. Finally, I decided that I couldn't attend that church any longer because it was no longer a spiritually fulfilling experience for me.
I began attending another church, one a little closer to home. It's the largest Catholic church in Concord and is a very active parish community...and, most importantly, the priests are both great and the music is just beautiful. I've been attending Mass off and on for the past couple of months, but have been in a bit of a slump lately and feeling very lonely when it comes to going to church. I miss the sense of community that I grew up with and want very much for Liam and Ella to have that.
As much as I'm tired of going to Mass by myself, and trust me it was getting a little depressing, I was afraid of how the kids would behave if we attempted to take them. And J, I'm sure, was afraid of dual-toddler wrangling while I tried to pay attention to the service. So...in we walked, escape plan ready (J knew where the keys were, we both had our cell phones on us in case he had to pick me up after church), and apprehension firmly planted in my chest, and aside from some serious scowling on Ella's part for the first 1/3 of the service, the kids were pretty damn great. That isn't to say that it was easy - because it wasn't - and perhaps, just maybe, some chocolate bribery was involved, but their behavior far exceeded expecations!
Ella will now tell you, if asked, that she "went to church and heard music and behaved and read books." Liam was very soothed by the music and I think that maybe, just maybe, we may try again next week. (Unfortunately, I don't see this early rising streak coming to an end anytime soon!)