I landed, after two attempts, in a pew across the aisle from my wiggly gals and their keeper and a few pews behind a small group of mammas who were actively juggling their young children. These young moms probably didn't realize that they were seated in such close proximity to one another because each one was seated among her own family members tending to them as moms are want to do.
At different moments during the service one young lady or other would capture my attention as she participated in worship. I wondered, as I observed from my perch behind them, if each knew what a fine job she was doing. I wondered if each of them knew that she was, at that very moment, fulfilling her calling, the one only she can fulfill...mamma to those precious, wiggly, beautiful, potential-filled gifts from God.
I remember in the early days as a parent, when it was me sitting there in that pew worried that my children would disrupt or call attention to themselves, or cry causing everyone to look my way...then it dawned on me that I was operating under that exact worry even now as I sat in my different pew shooting furtive glances across the aisle at my own farmed-out children.
I also remember that in those early days the mere act of getting to church fully dressed with the children also fully dressed, was huge! It took two fairly sleep-deprived, college-educated adults over two solid hours to get two small children ready and into the car on any given Sunday morning. One would think that after such an achievement I'd arrive in my pew triumphant.
Not so...at ALL.
When I finally collapsed into my pew in those days, I'd begin to beat myself up a bit, the internal dialogue louder in my ears than the praise music, "You are a young healthy woman, what is so wrong with you that it was so difficult to get to church this morning?"
Then, I'd look around at my friends, also young mothers, who were sitting peacefully, or so it would appear, in the choir and in the pews around me. Their hair looked clean, their teeth looked brushed, they were all dressed so stylishly and their clothes fit their trimmer-than-mine bodies beautifully. Not one of them smelled of the spit up that was beginning to warm and ferment on my shoulder.
After all of the effort it took to reach my place in the pew, I was less than thrilled to be there for a while during those early years. Eventually, it got easier. Eventually I learned...eventually. I learned that this being a mamma job was NOT an easy job. It was the absolute most difficult task I'd ever been given and it was NOT easy day in and day out. I'm not sure why I'd expected it to be but those expectations were as unrealistic as my perception of my peers.
So today, as I sat in the pew watching the young mammas at work, I just wondered if they knew that their job is hard ESPECIALLY when they are doing it well. I wonder if they feel alone in their tasks sometimes, like I did. I wonder if they think that everyone ELSE has it all together and that they are the only ones who don't.
As a young mom, I knew when I got to my pew on Sunday that I had worked hard, very hard, but now, as an old mom I know WHY it was such a chore...SUNDAY MORNINGS ARE HARD WORK not because I am messed up or incapable or because I have something wrong with me but because SUNDAY MORNINGS ARE HARD WORK (just like Monday mornings and Tuesday mornings...). They are hard work for everyone and whether they look all fluffed and lovely or not, 98% of my peers have worked like crazy people to get to church just like I have.
Frankly, it's only out of sheer effort of restraint that when I arrive at church these days that I don't take a running, hooting, hollering victory lap of celebration around the sanctuary. Such accomplishments really should be celebrated. Next Sunday, do you think it would be appropriate for me to take a lap round the room to give all of the young mammas a high five during the greeting time?
They deserve at least that!
"He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in His bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young."