You skate into Mass about two seconds before the processional with the servers and the priest and the kind usher (if you’re so lucky as to have one to help you) finds you a nearly empty pew.
At the end of that nearly empty pew (with all! that! space!) is…the Sigh-er.
S/he can’t help but let you know that Yes, They Are Moving. They aren’t exactly a joyful martyr about it, either. Through Mass, you may try to make eye contact to smile a thank you, and you may even try to pass some peace their way. You may even succeed.
And you will hear, oh yes, the sigh. For some, the sighing punctuates every little noise your cherub makes. For others, it’s just a way of breathing. (I hope.)
Maybe you forgot tissues. Or a pen. Or something for the baby to throw at innocent people in front of him.
The Grandma is here to help you. She will not only pray for your eternal soul during those moments when the screeches make the bells in the belfry crack, she’ll also wipe the snot off the back of your blouse and give your teen a tissue despite the frowny look.
Having the Grandma nearby is probably proof that God sees how much a sacrifice Mass often is for parents of children in certain age ranges.
Ah, what a blessing this individual is, and I suspect I know them as a child (my oldest went through about three years of being a Statue with our family at Mass). Instead of scooting in, this fine person gets out of the pew and makes room for you and your brood to scoot in. Sometimes, they even take up as much room as you, your toddler, and your two oldest kids.
There are moments when this person’s piety will inspire you to a new level of prayer, such as when the toddler melts down during the Consecration and the kneeling Statue will. not. move. so that your husband, who’s stuck holding the writhing body of said baby bombshell, has to just…offer it up. And so do the rest of the members of the congregation.
The Favorite Uncle.
I pretend to be annoyed with the Favorite Uncle, and, honestly, he often pretends to ignore me. But giving the toddler hard candy or a sucker isn’t such a bad thing when it’s right at that point when I think death might be the only escape. He’s also good at making smiley faces in a way that only a man can: I know I’m not being very clear, but if you’re a mom with young children, you’ve observed the magic that some men of Grandpa age can wield over kids.
The Favorite Uncle harnesses his powers for good, and he may put his hand on your shoulder. He doesn’t necessarily need to say anything: you know he’s there and that if you strangle the little gift from God, the Favorite Uncle will help clean up the mess.
The Daycare Provider in the Cry Room.
Many people love cry rooms. I do not.
None of the parishes I’ve regularly attended have had them, and when I visit others, I see the wisdom in NOT having one.
For instance: who thinks that a buffet is a good idea? And bringing an entire farm set…really? Talking and coloring and…wait! We are AT MASS!
At the risk of being a judgmental jerk: I love a quieting room and hate a cry room. There’s a time and place for daycare and fun and games, and your entire farm set and snack buffet may even be appropriate for Mass. It’s when you spread them out and kick back that I object…
The Lady Who’s Praying for Me.
I remember so clearly one of the times my oldest, a wiggly 9- or 10-month-old at the time, nearly killed me with how LOUD and SCREAMY she was during Mass. Especially at the Consecration and, well, every quiet part during Mass.
A nice older lady came up to me after Mass. “I was praying for you…and for her,” she told me. Then she recounted, with a big smile, “It always seems like they fuss more during the Consecration…they know it’s special!”
That nice woman changed my life in a major way. Now, when my kids are turds during Mass, or when someone else’s kids are giving them grief, I make sure I offer some prayers…for the mom and for the kid(s). And, if I can, I try to smile at the parent/adult with that child, or to offer some encouragement.
Who else is at Mass?
Go ahead…pipe up with who YOU have met at Mass!