Well, I made the bulletin yesterday, and not in a good way.
Let’s back up a week, shall we.
We overslept last Sunday, and ended up at the 11:30 am Mass instead of attending the 7:30 am Mass as usual. This was a recipe for disaster.
There’s a reason, an excellent reason, for why we make a huge effort to go to Mass so early. It’s because it’s the only Mass where we can get GeekBaby to behave tolerably. At all. The 9:30 am is filled with kids he wants to play with and the 11:30 am falls on the early edge of his naptime. But I figured, since we all slept so late, maybe he could cope with the 11:30. And I was wrong. Terribly, awfully, horrifically wrong.
He was so bad last Sunday (we’ll get to how bad in a little bit) that after Communion, I marched him outside and collapsed into sobs. I was too tired even to spank him for his naughtiness. I was exhausted, bruised, and humiliated, and just wanted to go home.
And of course a crying young woman outside of the church draws attention. One of the ushers came and asked if I was alright, so I rallied and said I was fine, just that he’d been so naughty in Mass that I was tired and frustrated. No, I didn’t need anything. No, I was not going to bring him back inside the air conditioning. No, we didn’t need any bottled water. Just leave me alone! I didn’t say that last one, but boy, did I ever want to.
That usher, while I recognize that he meant well, was rude and condescending to me. He told me GeekBaby was probably just full of energy, and that he couldn’t have been that bad. All I wanted was for him to go away and leave me in peace to try and collect myself and wait for the Mass to end so we could all go home.
This week, there was a letter praising that usher in the bulletin. I excerpt here the part that has me steamed under the collar today.
“I noticed a young woman sitting on the ground outside the front entrance of the church when I was leaving Sunday. She was…sobbing, with her head down. There was also a small child who appeared to be well mannered standing beside her as she wept.
I stood just in earshot and listened to his kind conversation with her. Turned out that she was upset because her son…was ‘just not behaving himself’.
Hearing that, and as a father of 5 sons, I decided it was probably ok to leave, thinking to myself that if she’s this upset now, wait till he turns 13!”
Dear reader, that day during Mass, my son called me an idiot and a jerk. He spat on me repeatedly, slapped me twice, kicked me in the shins, and severely pinched me on a delicate portion of my anatomy. I had to wrestle him all through Mass, not because I was trying to enforce some ridiculous idea of him sitting perfectly still (an impossible task!), but because wherever I was, my position somehow offended him and needed to be shoved or yanked into a different one… I could go on, but I won’t. There’s no point dwelling on all the minutia.
But while violent and rude to me, he hadn’t actually gotten loud enough yet for me to struggle out from the middle of the pew with him thrashing. Better just to tough it out… Until he tried to escape from me in the Communion line. When I picked him up and carried him, he screamed “I’m TRAPPED! Help me!” And that was the last straw, we went outside instead of back into the pew.
Believe me, if my son is half this bad when he’s 13, I’m calling an exorcist. This, while humiliating and demoralizing, I can chalk up to him being three, can forgive, and had actually completely forgotten until I read the letter in the bulletin.
I just don’t understand the attitude of condescension I received. The letter is all about praising the small act of kindness of the usher, yet both the letter and the usher’s words sat themselves cavalierly in judgement of me as a mother and found me wanting. They couldn’t have known the amount of physical abuse I’d experienced in the last hour, or how my body ached from struggling with him, and my heart hurt from his attitude. Instead both the letter writer and the usher refused to understand. They implied that his misbehavior was imagined on my part. They didn’t offer me comfort. They didn’t remind me that this too shall pass. They didn’t offer friendly commiseration over their own children’s past bad behavior in church, which would have at least helped me feel less lonely.
All they gave me was judgement last Sunday… and yesterday a prolonging of the humiliation that I’d already forgotten.