All I’d wanted was just a quiet Sunday at church — to sing a hymn or two, say a prayer, and hear something from the sermon. Apparently, it was too much to ask for.
It began when the children decided they’d had enough of church, just mere minutes after we arrived.
“I’m hungry. Can we go now?” my son begged.
“We can go after church”.
“After they finish preaching and praying”, I handed him a programme and pen, “Shh, write letters A to Z and numbers 1 to 10”, I told him.
Then his sister realised her bow had come undone — and she doesn’t like undone bows — they almost give her a panic attack, I think, because she begged for the bow to be fixed like her life depended on it. And she didn’t bother to do so quietly because… well, her life depended on it.
After my son stopped writing at letter C, wanting to go and pee, I turned to their father for help.
He was lifting up holy hands and worshipping the one true God.
Maybe I was exhausted. Maybe I just needed a little help….
Because usually, I don’t really mind tending the children, but on this particular day I didn’t think it was fair that he could worship in peace while the children were getting biscuit in my hair, and crying when I said they couldn’t be dogs when they grow up. And then there was the frosty looks I was getting from fellow worshippers.
Plus, it absolutely didn’t help that he still looked spruce and tidy when all he had to do this morning was pick a suit and a pair of shoes, and brush his teeth, while I spent all that time in front of the mirror and now look like I’ve just finished mowing the lawn. Or maybe like I’ve just emerged from the kitchen after another cooking fail.
I didn’t think it was fair, and I told him so.
“Are you pregnant?”
“You’re acting weird”.
We were in church so I tried to behave.
When I told him his son needed to pee, he looked relieved to go with him.
As another congregational hymn began, I tried to sing with them but they were back after only three lines, and now my daughter wanted her hand cut off.
Again, she believed her life depended on it, so she wasn’t asking quietly.
“Cut it off! Cut it off!” she wailed “He sneezed on it”.
“Shh”, there were those frosty looks again, as I tried to placate her (and I did my best to deflect the looks). “Cut what off?”
Dear Lord. She held out her right hand like it really needed to be cut off.
She elbowed her brother and regarded him like he was the bane of her existence “Because he sneezed on it”.
Makes perfect sense.
“Ok, we’ll cut it off when we get home”.
“After they finish preaching and praying”.
I must have looked pitiable (I still had the lawnmower and ambitious cook look thing going for me). Or maybe she was an angel sent from heaven just for me. Or maybe she just understood….
But as I lifted my head after having this perfectly logical conversation with my daughter, my eyes fell on an older woman. She nodded and smiled, and suddenly it wasn’t all that bad that I couldn’t have a quiet Sunday at church. Or sing a hymn or two, say a prayer, and hear something from the sermon. It wasn’t all that bad that after all that time spent in front of the mirror, I now look like I’ve just finished mowing the lawn. Or like I’ve just emerged from the kitchen after another cooking fail (plus, I no longer held it all that much against Spruce and Tidy that all he had to do this morning was pick a suit and a pair of shoes, and brush his teeth).
I smiled back and mouthed my thanks.
And then I held the smile for the rest of the service, thoroughly getting under the skin of prim and proper fellow worshippers, and terrifying Spruce and Tidy, so much so that I had to explain about off mum days, wanting to run away. And, well…
Now he was convinced we were expecting.