Whole Parenting Family

Easy like Sunday Morning

Last Sunday was a real doozy. I awoke to my little nursling snarfling her way across our king-sized bed to find her liquid gold, checked the clock, and listened for the daily howling of my wolf pack. Happily surprised to find out it was already 6:50 and the howling had subsided, I nursed and started my mental check list.

Mass. What time should we go today?

How messy is the kitchen? Did I sweep the floor to combat the ant invasion we’ve been experiencing?

Is that pee on my shirt or spit up? Is her diaper leaking? Am I leaking?

After a happy milk-guzzling sesh, we both made our way out into the hallway, pausing to hear the howling and wrestling in the kitchen. Kids + Dad = happiness. Why don’t we just get dressed real quick like and go to the 7:30 mass? It’s the Old Rite, low mass, and fairly quick. We usually go to the 10am orchestral Latin New Rite. Can’t be that rough and we’re all awake and seemingly stable mental places. **seemingly**

So off we went. The kids dove into semi-church clothes and given the early hour, I didn’t enforce our usual “dressiness on Sunday” standards. We were going to cruise in & out so Jesus would forgive me if my daughter wasn’t wearing a dress nor my sons their bowties.

You can see where all my optimism is headed. Right off that cliff.

We arrived at our century+ old church, the most gorgeous in all the land in my very humble opinion. We were even almost early, meaning nearly on time, meaning miraculous. Skipping up the steps, my children’s scamper seemed to show their zeal for the Lord and time in His church. **seemed**

AA felt ambitious. We didn’t sit in the very back, or even on an outside pew where the wall could act as a guardian from a toddler who sometimes runs away. We sat in the back-ish, middle-ish, and rapidly removed our many layers (it is early spring in Minnesota, meaning you still need gloves, hat, scarf, boots, and heavy coat). The baby settled in to nurse in the sling and the children leaned and preened to observe the beautiful prayers at the foot of the altar.

Until the baby wasn’t happy, and needed jostling, not a semi-kneeling mama. Then we migrated to the baptistry in the back of the church–where she had been baptised mere weeks before. And bounce out the burps we did. And nursing while standing and swinging we did. And sit on the usher’s seat before getting a side-eye we did. I felt confident. I watched our older three kids piously paying attention with my handsome husband in the pew, straight out of a rich painting. Or a tapestry! Maybe we were a tapestry. God’s love, the columns, their happy quiet hands. Oh yes, there are so many layers there. Let’s go with tapestry.

The unraveling began with the toddler tripping and racing down the aisle toward me. I raised to hands to shush him and ush him BACK to the pew with the non-nursing, non-jostling, non-dancing adult. GO BACK TO DADDA, I stage-whispered. It fell on deaf ears. Deaf because he was so busy talking loudly aloud. ALOUD talking. Loud talking. His older sister dashed out of the pew to administer justice and possibly even a punishment (she’s all law & order, that one) and I stage whispered to both, GO BACK TO DADDA!!!! while the baby awoke and wailed for the other side to nurse on which requires far more jostling in the sling and my fellow mamas-in-the-back tossed sympathetic AND empathetic tired eyes my way.

They settled in and made their hands comfortable, yanking and petting the baby’s protruding feet, practicing their climbing and dismounting skills on the USHER ONLY cushy chair. My furious mouth kept mouthing G O B A C K and after several scuffles over who the baby loved more, they obliged. My sweaty pits emanating that nursing odor (you know what I’m talking about–raw chicken & hot dogs) kindly obliged by slowing down production lines and I could kinda relax back into my jostle-dance moves against that stubborn burp.

Until they decided part 2 would be an even greater reenactment of “Kids Gone Wrong, Mass Version.” This round included silent sobbing on the part of my daughter who couldn’t hold the baby’s hand while she nursed in the sling and a shin kicker of a tantrum by my toddler (let’s just call him “the toddler” as I really wanted no ownership part in that action) against the recently refurbished great wooden doors. My husband, profound in prayer and seemingly blind and deaf to the 10 rows away from him hullabaloo, slid an arm around our oldest, similarly positioned in prayer, and the two of them shared a moment.

Meanwhile, the tired empathic eyes had graduated to nodding heads and even a open-mouthed smile from a few of the mamas who get it. Looking at  you, Susanna, and you, Jacqui, with a nod to Elizabeth and Kate and Maria, too!

Communion couldn’t come soon enough. Not only because partaking in the sacrifice of the Mass with receipt of the Blessed Sacrament is obviously da best, but because it meant I could busy our monsters with walking in a straight line and catching up with their father.

After Mass, no donuts for this crew. We hurried home so I could lock myself in a quiet bathroom and just breathe and wipe my pits.

But these cute pics are from after everyone had eaten and calmed the sundaymorning down.



  1. Terry Hesse on March 10, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    This is brilliant! And the photos are beautiful!!!

  2. Hannah Hilgendorf on March 10, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Oh, Nell, I had to chuckle. Isn’t Mass so sanctifying with a toddler and a baby and a holy wholly focused husband (and I can just imagine in the Queen of Justice – I was her as a child, ha!)? We’ve been attending the 5pm Mass with St Bede’s (hosted by Holy Family), and last time, I had taken Bubba back for some special care, and was calmly meditating, and the thought popped into my head that there weren’t as many kids as usual, but was quickly silenced as I heard the beginning of a wail. “Huh,” I thought innocently; “I guess there are kids besides ours and I just didn’t see them.” Then the cry rose into a full-blown siren of “I NEED MOMMA!!!” And I realized that no, there were not other children after all. Wouldn’t it be amazing if pews had doors on either end that could only be opened by special parental codes and a barrier underneath in front of the kneeler, as well? Although I am sure I would be grumbling at them every time I needed to make a hasty exit. So we learn to laugh at these situations when there’s absolutely nothing else we can do (except maybe cry, and then we’re going to have crazy kids pawing at the baby AND snot dripping from our noses). Thank you for sharing this raucous bit of your Sunday!

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 28, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Oh yes to so so many of these!!

  3. Sani Gilja on March 11, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    At least your toddler didn’t scream in a prophetic manner next to the altar “I don’t like God! I.don’t want to be here!” And then frenetically:”I want to get baptized! ”
    We couldn’t remove him from the altar fast enough.
    Our priest telephoned us that evening to check is everything is ok. And that is not his custome.

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 28, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      Oh poor little guy!!

  4. Reader on March 13, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    With you on all the fronts, Nell. Even the ants.

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 28, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      the ants. THE ANTS!!!