As the Dos Equis man might say, “We don’t go to church every Sunday, but when we do, it is an Un-Holy Experience getting there.” I grew up going to a Baptist church. We went most Sundays, and we went to Wednesday night church as well. I can remember some occasions when my sister and I had “spend-the-night-parties” with each other on Saturday nights. She’d always tell me to sleep with my bum facing the outside of the bed in case I tooted. The next morning we of course were awake and already talking, but when we heard our parents coming, we’d pretend we were still asleep so that maybe we wouldn’t have to go to church this time – and it worked more than once!
Now I have two girls of my own and it is a very different perspective. I know that if we need to leave the house at 9:15 a.m., there’s a lot to do on the front end to make sitting in the car, clothed, fed, and ready for departure a possibility.
Sunday is Saturday’s evil cousin. I’m a sucker for Saturday morning cartoons. Even though it’s not the same lineup – no PacMan, Smurfs, Muppet Babies – I still love the idea of snuggling on the sofa to start the day. And so do my kids. And if you haven’t seen it yet, the new Alviiiiiiiin! And the Chimpmunks is close to the same as our old Alvin and the Chipmunks. But on Sunday, there is less time to lull around enjoying sofa time.
By 8:30 it’s time to press pause (somehow this is less painful than telling them to turn off the TV) on their show and go get dressed. I myself am only half-dressed and still have not had breakfast. So with my own empty stomach already irritating my brain, I brace myself for the moaning as I repeat myself, “press pause on your show and go get dressed. You can watch your show when you are dressed and have eaten breakfast.” My husband and I are the only ones wise enough to know that they will not get back to their beloved TV/sofa time this morning.
We also are the only ones that know how a clock works. Or what a clock is for. At the beginning of the school year, I set four separate alarms for our children: 1) wake up 2) be dressed and go downstairs by now 3) be done eating breakfast by now 4) be putting on shoes by now. My husband started making fun of me for all of the incessant alarm ringing, so eventually I turned them off. Now the problem is that Mom is telling people what to do instead of the iPhone dictating what needs to be done. It was much easier with the alarms. If I say, “we have to leave in five minutes, so put your shoes on” to my kids it must sound like, “I like making up things to tell you because I am the mom and I am the one who bosses you around all the time. So I’m going to say some random time and call out some amount of minutes and tell you seventeen things to do which you have no interest in doing. Get, ready; get set: ignore!”
As much as men are known for needing very little prep time, I look around during this “get dressed” time period and can’t seem to find Chris anywhere. After negotiating three outfit possibilities with my seven year old, I walk into Ellie’s room and see her in a new outfit – new pajamas. (?!?) Luckily it only takes one negotiation with her to get her into an appropriate church dress. Then I head downstairs for backup because my stomach is still hungry, my brain is out of ideas with Sammy, and my patience is thinning. Chris passes me on the stairs, with a take-charge pep in his step, while I mutter under my breath, “I’m quitting church. I’m quitting everything,” thinking of herding the kids out the door for the next dance class/playdate/trip to playground/piano lesson, or anything at all that involves Mom knowing what time it is while kids ignore the scientific fact that time is linear. It’s 9:03 a.m. and I’m already exasperated and beat down.
The twenty minute car ride to church was no picnic either. One kid wants to sing, the other kid wants her sister to “shut up.” We remind our kids that we don’t use that phrase. Somehow they forget all about the singing and start coloring. Coloring butts. And poop. Lots of laughter from the backseats. My husband and I cringe at the obnoxious giggling over potty humor, but we manage to hold a loose conversation for a few miles. Until someone gets marker on her hand.
Fast-forward about twenty more minutes and we are all pretty happy to be in our destination. Donut holes upon arrival, friends to see, teachers to hug, a favorite “church grandma” that Ellie has claimed as her BFF, and now I can finally exhale. It wasn’t pretty getting here. But we made it. Now just wish me luck with book character costumes before school tomorrow at 7:00 a.m.!