Monday, December 6, 2010


With six little children in tow, I usually arrived at Hickory Grove Presbyterian Church on Sunday mornings looking not so much like a saintly wife and mother as like a weary, frazzled, bear wrangler. If the kids were fed, decently dressed, and nobody had a dirty diaper, we were doing great. Me, I always looked frumpled and smelled of either spit up or diaper ointment. On good days, I concentrated on breathing and managed a dazed smile. On bad mornings, I herded kids irritably and tried not to growl.

One Sunday morning, having deposited all my charges in their appropriate classrooms, I stood in the "fellowship hall" (we met in a vacant restaurant) and watched in jealous amazement as Teresa breezed in with her three curly-haired cherubs. A pilot, Teresa's husband was frequently out of town, and it wasn't unusual for Teresa to have sole responsibility for getting her brood to church Sunday mornings. Teresa, hugely pregnant, swept in the door with a cloud of toddlers at her feet. Attractively dressed and wearing makeup, she smiled as she entered. "Good morning!" Her three beautiful children, bright-eyed and neatly attired, bounced off to their classes.

"How do you do it?" I asked. "Here you are - on time, calm, pretty, smiling. And you got here all by yourself. You are so together. How do you do it?!" Me, I was on the verge of tears, wishing I could sneak home alone for an hour and take a nap.

Teresa looked me straight in the eye and smiled. "It's a facade!"

Oh. So she felt no more "together" than I did. She was a frazzled bundle of nerves, too, under that beautiful veneer. We laughed as we headed for the coffee pot and some hot, black comfort.

Why...WHY is it SO HARD to get out of the house on Sunday morning?!!!

I thought this would get easier, less frustrating as my children got older. In some ways, it has. We don't often have frantic, last-minute searches for missing shoes (the shoes that were so carefully set out the night before). Nobody throws up on me just as I'm heading out the front door to church, or has a blow-out diaper in the car seat en route. Yes, in some ways, the Sunday morning process is much easier. But nowadays, it seems the problem is me - not messy babies or potty-training toddlers.

As I stepped into the entrance foyer at Grace yesterday, a group of smiling faces greeted me. "Good morning!"

My reply? "WHY IS IT SO HARD TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE ON SUNDAY MORNING?!!" They responded in sympathetic laughter.

After an exhausting, late-night Saturday, I lingered in the bed 15 minutes past my absolute-latest-allowable getting up time. I was still so tired! Then, shower, dress, and rush to start the morning. Wash the dishes left from last night. (How is it that all the dishes can be clean when you go to bed, yet there are almost always dirty dishes waiting in the sink when you get up in the morning? Somebody explain that for me.) Get dinner started so that it would be ready when we returned home. Make pimiento cheese for sandwiches for the Sunday evening fellowship. Toast bagels for breakfast. Ten minutes for make-up. Take a few minutes to review the Sunday school lesson. Wash up any breakfast dishes. Make sure the oven is set to bake the pork chops. Coat, purse, Bible, and whoosh! out the door.

My neck felt like a bundle of steel cords and I was having to practice my Lamaze breathing as I walked up the steps to the church building.

I think Satan's minions work overtime Sunday mornings. And, in an odd way, that should be encouragement to persevere, to push through the stress and the chaos. What is he working so hard to keep us away from? Our adversary knows that something rich and good and precious awaits God's children when they limp to His house, week after week. Something worth the effort. But I'll save that for my next post!


The Westmorelands said...

it's good to know that someone understands my sunday mornings! yesterday, as my husband was out of town and the kids and i were 35 (YES, 35!!) minutes late for the 45 minute-long sunday school class that I AM TEACHING, i thought to myself, "i should have skipped church today." i'm still not totally convinced that i shouldn't have stayed home, given that most of my time was spent managing my children, which is the exact same thing i would have been doing in the comfort of my own home (and in my pajamas, no less!) but, i feel like there was at least a small amount of benefit for my soul in that i was surrounded by the body of believers for a couple of hours. even if i couldn't have a meaningful conversation with a single person, it was refreshing to be outside the four walls of my tiny house and surrounded by like-minded brothers and sisters. oh, how i long for sunday mornings to be enjoyable again! thanks for the post, camille! :)

Suzanne said...

Wow! So I am not the only one that finds Sunday mornings ooooooberrrrr challenging. While tot 3 was still in diapers and infant 4 was still tiny, I had a Sunday morning crisis. I resented that I got up 90 minutes before my spouse to ready myself and 4 young children for our most important event of the week only to be treated as a lolly-gagging nincompoop by the man that rolled out of the sack, shaved, showered, dressed, and sat in the driver's seat 15 minutes after waking looking at me dashing around the car buckling carseats. That morning I got up only 60 minutes before time to leave, fixed breakfast for one, showered, did my hair and makeup to perfection, got in the driver's seat, and made it to church alone and on time. The stunned spouse that woke up too late to get to the early Mass in a house full of whiny, hungry, bedheads in pajamas dared to question my solo flight. I explained as calmly as I could that I had begun to hate Sunday mornings and that I was fairly certain my children hated me on Sunday mornings. Since then he has been the commander of Sunday mornings. When he is up on time and gets the children ready to go expeditiously (almost every week now), we all go to Mass together early and have time to make coffee for everyone else. When he sleeps in, things get pretty hectic, but I always get to Mass on time now that I realize I am not the head of this household. Thank God for men that are willing to lead their children to God.