I had a horrible morning this morning. Not horrible in the sense of anything truly bad happening to me, but just one of those days where a lot of little things went wrong and I was too tired to deal with it. The main thing was that I Didn’t Get Enough Sleep™ last night for the, uhh, 597th night in a row, and it was made particularly bad by this new third trimester insomnia thing I’ve been experiencing where I wake up at 5:30am exhausted but unable to go back to sleep. It’s a bad combination with the fact that I’m not usually able to fall asleep at night until around 11:30pm and have to get up three or four times per night to use the bathroom and/or deal with my son’s night wakings.
Around 11:00am I was mentally spiraling out of control. I violated my big rule about not thinking about life problems when I’m over-tired and decided that my life is a shambles, everything is impossible and, P.S., I don’t think I even believe in God again today. My 20-month-old was also a bit grouchy and after the second time he threw a tantrum and tried to slap me in the face I decided that for the safety of all involved we’d better go take a drive. Anywhere. Just around the city or whatever. At least that way my son would be happy and I could sit in air conditioning.
I ended up on the road that goes past our parish. When I realized I was going to drive right by it I thought about stopping in to try for the sixth time to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of signing up for RCIA (I’ve been trying since January) but decided not to. Then as I drove by I saw our priest standing in the parking lot and changed my mind. I absolutely adore him and have never had a chance to introduce myself so I did an Evel Knievel, wheels-screeching 180-degree turnaround to try to catch him.
I ended up missing him but decided to go talk to someone about getting into RCIA while I was there. A friendly deacon was able to help me (though I’m still not signed up — arrrrgh!) and I got back in the car to head home, my mood signficiantly improved.
Then, as I was pulling out of the parking lot, a mom with a minivan full of kids drove in past me. Then another one. I looked in my rear-view mirror to see yet another mom with a bunch of kids walking into the church. I looked at the clock and realized that mass was starting right now. I’ve never been to mass during the week since I didn’t think there was a point since I can’t take communion, but I decided that today was the day to check it out. Some more creative driving later, I was back in the parking lot and getting my confused son out of his carseat again.
I went directly to the “cry room” and, to my surprise and delight, it was half full! (For those of you reading this later, I’m writing this on a Tuesday). I counted the total people in attendannce at around 60 or 70, about 20% of that being babies and kids. After the mass I walked outside to see all the kids running around the grounds while the mothers stood around chatting and introducing themselves to one another. “Those six over there are mine, ” said one. “I have five myself — so far!” said another.
I struck up a conversation with one incredibly friendly, sharp lady who was there with her five kids and we had a long talk about the Schoenstatt Collegium, which sounds like a very interesting educational model, and she also mentioned that she happens to be a doula (one of the things I haven’t yet mentioned here is my apprehension about doing natural birth again and my difficulty finding a doula around here who’s on the same page theologically as I am). Meeting her was, well, God-sent.
Feeling like a fish out of water wasn’t making my journey into faith any easier and, as I’ve mentioned, is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. So seeing all these mothers and their children going to daily mass was a much-needed breath of fresh air for me — not to mention just being in church, praying and getting a blessing from the priest. I felt like a new person as I strapped my son into the car seat to head home again.
Earlier today when things were at a low point I had started to say a prayer to ask God for help getting through the day but stopped in mid-sentence, deciding that there was nothing that could possibly turn it around. Looks like he stepped in anyway. A skeptic would write off the events that led me to mass and to this newfound community of women who I had desperately been wanting to meet as mere coincidence, but it wasn’t. I can’t explain it, but I know it wasn’t. It was God reminding me of his presence and his grace and his generosity just when I needed it most.
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