I can remember back to a time when I was the blessed mother of five kids, all under the age of seven. The looks and remarks I would get were priceless. Of course, there were always the comments from kindhearted souls who would often say, “Don’t you know what causes that?” Or, the always popular, “Them all yours?” I would always smile benignly and offer some witty remark about how fun that many kids really were. All the while, I looked like a crazed lulu bird with iridescent questionable matter on my shoulders, bright yellow you know what from a diaper oozing down my skirt, and as I ran after the one that got away, they could catch a glimpse of the fresh dribble rolling down my back.
I mean really, who would voluntarily take other people’s kids to the grocery store for an hour of public humiliation?
When asked how many kids I have, my response often elicits this reaction, “Wow, you don’t look like a mother of five!” I have always pondered that statement. What does a mother of five look like in their world? Maybe the mommy gets larger with every child? Maybe she becomes totally unable to articulate in full sentences and only babbles?
While having five is a larger than average number, I have several friends with twice that amount. I have found them to be women who are patient, flexible, loving, and very organized. They are incredible witnesses of the power of womanhood to others and most especially to myself.
A friend of mine who has six children shared with me something her oldest son, an eighth grader, told her one evening. It seemed Ryan loved to sit near our family in church. Apparently, we were so entertaining for him that mass just seemed to whiz right by.
Each week I would try to secure the area where there was an aisle break between the pews. I found it would leave plenty of room for the girls to make carpet angels, the boys could be somewhat separated, and we would be far enough back to not make this Sunday’s edition of the Most Embarrassed List.
In my day, if I got pinched at church, the message was painfully clear…shut up, sit still, and pay attention. I tried the pinch trick on my own kids one Sunday. What was heard loud and clear, was their loud pleas to stop hurting me mommy.
If we tried to take one of them out for a little come to Jesus chat, they would scream all the way down the aisle, “NO! No! Please don’t spank me!” We had parishioners who either wanted seats for the 10 am Lishko Show or those that wanted to sit as far away from us as possible. On many weekends when my husband was away on business, the cast and I wouldn’t even make it past the homily.
We actually tried the Cry Room …once. It was a circus in there. Yes, it was far worse than the act we had going on inside church. Kids were juggling cheerios and juice boxes; toys were flying, and the parents just sat there smiling blithely. Perhaps they were already in heaven. Either they had found a way to have an out of body experience and were actually present at the mass or they had found their happy place deep inside their minds and didn’t resurface until the recessional song.
I pray that I shall still have the honor to observe them as parents. My husband and I can sit in the choir loft and watch from above as their own little angel’s wiggle and squirm. From what I have observed thus far, they are way tougher than we were, but they are raising their own future saints.