First week of Lent, man.
We went to all the services except for Friday morning’s (since I managed to finish off the week by sprouting a lovely little cold) and each night of the week unveiled a new unexpected reason my husband couldn’t come to church. Work projects, meetings, sickness. Nothing that was his fault, just life.
So it was me, handling a surprisingly moody nine-year-old, an autistic seven-year-old, and a two-year-old that sounds more like a competitive cheerleader than a teeny person the size of a small dog.
And it’s not like I never remove my kids from the nave for being disruptive, but I try not to. Thing is, there’s fun stuff to do outside. There’s snacks. There’s toys. And I don’t want to teach them that if they yell loud enough, they’ll get Legos and pretzels while everyone else has to stand still and be quiet because they’re unlucky enough to be older.
So we stayed inside, mostly. Nora pouted and jerked away from me every time I touched her. William shrieked and kicked things. Sammy yelled constantly and tried to charge the priest. And they continually moved in three opposite directions. Constant motion, constant noise.
I wouldn’t say I ever got terribly discouraged (because I’ve been down this road before), but I was tired. And I wondered if anyone in my parish thought badly of me, and I wondered if they had a point. I don’t know. I could barely think about it, though–I was too tired.
I finally succumbed Thursday night, fifteen minutes before the end of the Canon. William obviously just couldn’t take the sensory input anymore, and Sammy was losing whatever patience he had. Nora had thankfully found a niche in a pew by herself and was happy to stay there, so I took the boys out to the fellowship area where we watched the remainder of the service, cuddled up on a pew that overlooked the back of the nave through a window.
William wriggled free after a few minutes and ran off with his sensory headphones and a piece of cardstock. I could hear him pacing and flapping, wearing all that overload off. He needed that, I thought. I should’ve let him do this long ago. As I snuggled Sammy and prayed for forgiveness for my oversight and obsession with the letter of the law, my ears tuned in to the background noise again.
William was now running back and forth, along the whole length of the room. Running and flapping. Flapping, running. Running…singing.
His enunciation has always been a struggle, so there were only a few recognizeable words, but his pitch was perfect. And then I recognized it.
Remain with us, O Lord of Hosts
In affliction we have no other helper but you
O Lord of Hosts
Have mercy on us
You know how sometimes, you think you know what the story’s about? This was one of those times.
I thought this was a story about pushing through your struggles, and trying not to be concerned with whether or not others are making judgments, and being thankful for those blessed friends who invite your child to sit with them. I thought it was a story about trying to figure out where that line of decency is, when you’re supposed to take your child outside and do you take the other ones with you, too, or do you thrust that responsibility on someone else without asking?
But really, really, this was just a story about what song is in my boy’s head. I’m not going to take credit for it being there–God is the one who speaks to his heart, after all–but it made *the tired* worth it. Because if we take them to church, they walk out with holy things in their minds and hearts.
So you know what, Mamas? I see you there. I see that tired. It’s been a tough week.
But, this small event and our celebration this weekend of the Sunday of Orthodoxy reminded me of something important: victories. All of ’em. From the littlest ones to the great, big ones (like, The Feast of We Get to Keep Our Icons), and all the way to the largest one of all–the Pascha we await with joy.
Some days we just see the little ones, and some days we don’t see any at all. But they’re there. Hiding.
And one of these days, they’re gonna come rolling out.