X, recharging after church.
I wrote this last week, February 24th, after an especially frustrating day of church. After talking with another mom in the foyer today I decided to post it.
I find myself in the church foyer once again where an impromptu first-hour nursery is being held without walls or doors to contain the unruly toddlers. Other mothers and even fathers stand there with me, creating imaginary walls with their bodies in a pointless attempt to keep the little monkeys where we want them. There is a speaker overhead, piping out the words that are being spoken from the pulpit. I want to listen but I never hear more than half a sentence at a time because my two littlest boys are demanding my attention as they maneuver through the obstacle course of strollers, sippy cups, smashed goldfish crackers and discarded toys.
X escapes from the crowd and bolts down the hallway maze which leads to the stage at the back of the gym, his favorite place to play on Sunday afternoons. Why? Because the acoustics there are awesome. He can run, stomp, laugh and yell and it sounds five times as loud as anywhere else. I make the decision to leave Little O and make a run for X.
This is what he wants. It is all part of the game. If I don't come after him he knows he has that whole stage to himself to perform the perfect disturb-all-classes-currently-in-progress show. If I do come after him, we run. In his 2-year-old mind his escape creates a win-win situation.
I finally catch up to him as he is halfway across the stage, screaming with delight at the chase gets closer. I scoop him up into my arms and plead with a silent no-no as I make my way back to the foyer circus. Little O is sitting happily in someone's stroller, munching on stray cheerios he has found in its hidden folds. I remove him from the stroller, remind him that he's too big for such things, and set X down again because he is intentionally twisting his body into positions that make him difficult to hold.
They both make their way to the drinking fountain and fight over who gets to stand on the step stool there. X wins and pushes his tummy out as far as he can then bounces himself against the bar that activates the water. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. Little jets of water shoot out of the faucet and he is delighted by the water show he has created. Little O distracts me with the news that he needs to go to the bathroom (again) and X remembers that the faucet on this fountain is broken and can be turned around to attempt to squirt the water into the trash can on the floor. Bounce, bounce. Off. On. Off. On.
I lift X up and attempt to wipe some of the wetness from the front of his sweater. I look around to see if anyone has noticed that most of the water from the skewed fountain landed in a puddle just shy of the trash can but I'm pretty sure we're in the clear. I can blot it up after the (fourth) trip to the bathroom. I grab Little O's hand and as we walk in he reminds me, as he always does, that he is a boy and this is a girl's bathroom. We make our way into the stall and X immediately shimmies under the door to play on the chairs in the adjacent mothers room as I'm helping Little O get situated on the elevated toilet seat. I tell him to hurry, worried that there are actual mothers in the mothers room trying to get their infant children to sleep.
Little O makes his usual loud request of MOMWIPEMYPOOPI'MDONEGOINGPOOOOOOOP! and I quickly get him all buttoned and zipped then rush into the mothers room to find X banging one of the rocking chairs against the wall as he laughs maniacally. I apologize to the unfamiliar nursing mother and make my way back to the foyer where the second speaker is just beginning to share some thoughts.
I have some thoughts of my own. The ones I try to suppress, but they always seem to return every week. Why do I even come to church? I could tend these two at home and it would be so much easier! And then I remind myself that I come to church because it's where I'm supposed to be and that my boys are learning that it is where they are supposed to be, too. I repeat it over and over in my mind but the other thoughts always threaten to come out victorious.
For some reason I am having an especially difficult time today. I can feel the tears making their way through me from my heart to my throat and I try to keep them there so they don't work their way to my eyes. And this is when it happens.
My 2-year-old stops wiggling. He grabs my face with his little pudgy hands and stares me down, his forehead resting against mine. Then somehow as I'm looking into those beautiful brownish-hazel eyes our souls are communicating. I am not sure how else to describe it. In that moment his eyes reminded me of a thousand different moments with each of my other kids, moments of frustration and struggle that eventually became contentment and relief and joy. I remembered that he is my last baby and that I want to enjoy every moment. I remembered my desire to smile, to laugh. To find the good in the bad.
Just as these feelings of peace are washing over me X leans back and contorts his body so I'll put him down. I oblige, as I always do, but not before he slams the back of his head into my chest. Little O has acquired some cars from another child and is making zooming sounds as he races them across the backs of the furniture in the foyer. X rips a car out of Little O's hand and amid screams of HEY GIVE IT BACK HE STOLE MY CAR X chucks it at the door to a Bishop's office down a tiny hallway while somehow running to retrieve it at the same time. I sigh.
I'm here because I'm supposed to be, I remind myself. But somehow, this time I believe it.