I observed today a young mother at church. She was a managing solo an infant and two other small children. (I don’t know if the father was sick, working, on the stand, or otherwise absent). She juggled the three children and their needs masterfully. At one point the infant was fussy, and she stood to quiet the child, quietly moving behind the bench and monitoring the other two children, guiding them as they took the sacrament. I was impressed and humbled.
Many of us are lucky enough just to be responsible for our own attendance and worship at church. We have only to get ourselves up, ready, and there on time. We get to decide our own purposes for worship and our own behaviors to do so. We decide if we will listen during the meetings.
No such luxuries for a young mother bringing alone several small children. She must plan her time and prepare herself and several other small bodies – who, by the way, also have their own thoughts and attitudes about the matter. Wake, feed, dress, console, herd, load, placate, unload, manage, corral, coax, hug, nuture, and lead. Her experience at the meeting is at best fragmented from the constant needs and interruptions.
What fortitude and perseverance. It would be too easy to make excuses and stay home, rationalizing by saying, “It’s too much trouble”, “I don’t get much from it”, “Why bother”, or “I can’t deal with it.”
Yet, what infinite value to the children that loving mother provides when she sacrifices to bring them to church. They learn from an early age how to prepare, attend and worship. They receive personal coaching from a caring mother. I believe children see and understand a mother’s faith through such actions, even though they may not be able to verbalize it. I believe they somehow understand such devotion, even when they don’t know what it is or how it is blessing them.
How grateful I am for my good wife who corralled, brought our five children to church and sat with them alone during nine years of the years I served in leadership. How grateful I am for my mother who sat with us during the many years dad served in leadership. (I was certainly a most vexing child who teased and poked my younger siblings to tears on many occasions.) These two women and all those who sit alone with children at church have my deepest respect.