Church and the Sabbatical

My affirmations are more realistic like, “I will drink three beers at lunch today.”

Part of my new years resolution every year since having children was that John wasn’t getting to heaven without me. Come hell or Tsunami, I was going to Church on Sunday’s and John wasn’t going without me. Foolish girl. Just like Father Leo said that one “kick off” Sunday, half of us make resolutions, the other half just know that they will fail. I’d been on a religious sabbatical since Jack was born. I’d try to attend for Christmas Mass, but would resolve that it was another year away after I spent three quarters of the service trying to block Jack or Mignonne from a much desired exit. Each time I would attend, John would stand there, or even better kneel, in some sort of peaceful trance, like his life was just perfect, his relationship with God was solid, and he had his lo-carb eating wife by his side with his beautiful kids. Dandy.

Sometimes I would sit there trying to read his mind and be certain that he was doing some positive self affirmations recommended by his bosses wife one night over dinner, like “I can remain married to my wife”….”She WILL be skinny”…..”She WILL be a good cook”….”She WILL take care of me” Meanwhile, I would try to indiscreetly pop another valium to make me not care that I couldn’t hear what the priest was saying over the loud speaker because I was wrestling with an alligator on my hip. Frankly, I was rather annoyed at the entire picture of happiness that John was painting.

My affirmations were more realistic, like, “I WILL drink three beers at lunch today”…

“I will get to take a shit and read that article about Jennifer Anniston when I get home”….”

“I WILL not abandon this for a Caribbean island and a fancy umbrella drink”.

“I WILL not kill myself”.

Early in this leave of absence, I justified myself by saying that I could Tivo the Pope and get him in between diaper changes and sippy cups during the week. Then the guy finishes his term, so to speak, and we get another guy that I couldn’t pick out in a celebrity line-up. I was falling from the church and falling hard. I felt so alienated from my religion, but I wasn’t crazy about any of the other rules of the other sects, either women had to be submissive, alcohol was looked unfavorably upon, or the religion was on pay per view. I had pretty much decided I was an a la carte Catholic. I could sleep at night with that decision.

Anyway, we missed the first week of the year as John had a consummation contest of Cosmopolitans the night before with a neighbor during a friendly Poker game with the wives, so I was really geared up to attend that day. Usually mass is an exorcism affair with Ashton, so when Jack came to me that morning and announced that he wanted to call his Nana (Ashton in tow), I dialed my mother and put the four year old scam artist on the phone. A couple of grunts and yeah yeah’s later, Ashton handed me the phone. My mom asked when I wanted to bring them over, and I replied, “After Mass”. Puzzled, she asked me if I just wanted to save myself some grief and drop Thing 1 and Thing 2 off on the way, and I didn’t hesitate replying that we’d slow down on our way and that they should look out their door say 10:30 for their heirs.

So there I was, partially showered, and in my delirium I had put on a lavender sweater to match the one that Mignonne was wearing. I looked like one of those mothers that mean to dress alike with their eight month old to be cute. It wasn’t until we were pulling away from my parent’s house that my wonderful husband snickered, “Did you MEAN to dress like Mignonne?” It was at that point that I wanted to just have him drop me off at home, and he could take the princess to Church and I could go back to bed. But, I mustered up the courage and on we went to Mass. I looked ridiculous, in a breast feeding nothing fits, but I might have to whip it out in an instant sort of way.

As we were exiting the mini-van that I drive like a medal of honor, I noticed that Mignonne was without her right patent leather shoe. WE FORGOT TO TAKE THE OTHER ONE OUT OF THE SHOE BASKET…Curses flew, but I gracefully took the shoe we HAD managed to put on her off, and on we went into the church.

As soon as we sat down, John announced that he had to go to the bathroom. I should have seen it as a premonition.

It was blissful, going to Mass without Jack and Ashton to contend with. I was feeding Mignonne Cheerios, she was happy, and then Mass began….Stand, sing a song, sit, stand, sing, sit. Little lamb of God in a lavender dress.

Each time the priest talked about Jesus and the Lamb of God (a lot during the homily) Little Miss Mignonne started GRUNTING. LOUDLY. So loudly that people were snickering. I would have thought they were snickering about my lavender “matching” outfit. But no, Miss Mignonne was GRUNTING like she was “Working some stuff out” and having a hard time doing it.

Grunt Lamb of God, Grunt Lamb of God, Grunt Sheppard, Grunt Grunt Grunt…Lamb of God.

Then, the scent of God, and it wasn’t incense.

R took the opportunity to change his daughter’s daughter outside of the church. He knew I needed some time with God. His comment when she returned clean and happy was, “I know why she was making so much noise…It was a ball of poo.”

Then my little lamb decided that she was ready to take a nap and she wanted the congregation to know about it as she cried herself to sleep.

We accepted communion with my baby passed out on my chest, I had to squat down to receive communion from the five foot lady handing it out…Instead of going back to the pew, I skirted over to the confession area to wait for mass to end so that I wouldn’t have to disturb the sleeping princess. I thought I just wanted to take about 30 milligrams of valium and call it a life. Why did it have to be so hard? Why was I struggling with it, when all of the other mothers in the church seemed so happy with their lives. I felt so lost, so helpless, so fucking tired.

John grabbed the stroller and then joined me. Then I saw him “slip” some money into the candle box. I said, “What are you doing?” To which he replied, “I always light a candle for those not attending mass”. Great. Why the hell did I even come?

I popped a valium and headed out the door, Mignonne in transit.

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