Attending Mass with small children is usually more an effort in crowd control rather than a purely spiritual exercise. I have read magazine articles, books, and Catholic mom web-boards for suggestions in how to keep the children quiet, and involved in church. We sit in the front row, I bring religious coloring books and books, allow a few matchbox cars for Charlie, and retreat to the cry-room with its closed-circuit TV if necessary. The older children can pay attention and read their own missals and Will is usually an altar server so that leaves only 4 children in our pew most Sundays.
This past Sunday's adventures even garnered comments from one of the other moms after Mass. "You certainly had your fill of it today." My fill was right: 3 nappie changes, 1 entire outfit change, 1 squirmy toddler who wouldn't sit still to save his life and had to be taken out, 1 infant who demanded a nursing session, and 1 preschooler who needed to be hunted down after a solo trip to the potty. All was made worse in that an old friend from our days in Italy was sitting with us and the children climbed all over him as well as Tim and I. (sorry again, Tom) It was like a parade in and out of our pew and I cringe when I think of the interruption we must have caused in other people's prayers.
Some Sundays they are so good I barely recognize my own children. "We must have sprinkled them with magic dust this morning," I whisper to Tim over their heads. But there are the Sundays like the one where Charlie threw his empty milk bottle and almost nailed Father Damian in the middle of his homily. Amazingly enough, he only paused a moment and resumed his lovely explanation of the Trinity. Yesterday was one of those Masses I will always remember in vivid color and hopefully one day it will evolve into a family story worthy of many giggles.
That is, after the embarrassment subsides.