Thoughts from the Hallway
And some Sundays, going to church is hard. When the children refuse to get dressed, when tantrums abound, when I wake up too late for the shower I know I should take. All the reasons, all the excuses you can think of. I've experienced them. I've felt them deep to my soul.
Yet most Sundays, despite the excuses, I go anyway. I force a smile on my face, I herd my children to the car, and I make the thirty minute drive to the church building desperately trying not to lose my temper with the screaming children behind me. Most often, within a few moments of pulling into the parking lot, I feel my mood improve. My troublesome children joyfully enter the building, the tantrums and arguments of earlier forgotten. No one comments on my lackluster hair, or the fact that my daughter is dancing through the halls having forgotten to brush her hair. Again. I feel the peace of the gospel crowd out my doubts, worries, and fears, and I know I'm where I need to be.
Then there are Sundays like today. I seriously considered not going this morning. I've had a sick baby most of the week, which means my sleep schedule has been his sleep schedule, and that hasn't been much. I told myself I was too tired. But, I didn't want to take away the chance to go to church from my children. And with Jonathan being in the bishopric, he had to leave earlier than the rest of us. And the older children weren't ready to go.
So, I forced that smile on my face. I helped my children get dressed. I ignored the fact that the time for a shower had passed. And I loaded everyone in the car. The drive passed quietly, and I spent the time having a mental conversation with my Heavenly Father. We arrived and just as I put the car in park, my son yelled, "Mommy, Sam is throwing up!"
I wanted to cry. Had he thrown up before we left, it wouldn't have been a big deal. I would have simply stayed home with the children, read scriptures with them, and had a relaxing morning. One I felt I desperately needed. Instead, I was half-an-hour from home with a sick baby, and I loathed the idea of just turning around and going back. Having recently emptied out my backpack, I knew there were no spare clothes for him. I sent the older children inside, telling the oldest to send his father out with paper towels. I grabbed the baby wipes from the backpack and did my best to clean up the mess. My husband came with the requested paper towels and together we got things cleaned up as best we could. I wrapped Sam in a blanket and carried him inside, soothing him as he cried miserably. Once inside, I stripped him out of the soiled clothes, and wrapped him again in the blanket, hoping no one would notice that my baby was practically naked.
A dear friend noticed me wrapping him and asked how he was doing. I explained that he'd been sick, and when Sacrament meeting started she volunteered to conduct the music for me while I snuggled my baby. I appreciated so much her willingness to stand in for me. I told the children we would just stay for Sacrament and then leave. Sam fussed enough that I spent the majority of the meeting in the hall, walking with him in hopes he would calm down. Just before Sacrament meeting ended, he fell asleep. I debated my chances. I could take the children home, and risk a long drive with a crying child. Or we could stay, the children could go to their Primary classes, and perhaps Sam would be able to rest. I decided to stay. I might have missed Sacrament meeting, but maybe I could get something out of Sunday School.
That turned out to be wishful thinking. He soon woke up as I tried to help get his siblings to their classes. And he fussed through most of class. While my husband tried to take a turn with him, he would not be placated.
As I drove home, I questioned my decision. While what little I'd heard in class and Sacrament meeting had been uplifting, I couldn't help feeling I'd wasted my time. What good had come from going? I could just as easily have cuddled and soothed my baby at home. And perhaps he wouldn't have been sick at all without the jostling of the drive.
But where I hadn't had the opportunity to learn much, my older children did. All three of them told me things they'd learned. Ben, who has fought going to Primary since last January, went without complaint. And I'd been able to renew my covenants with the Lord through partaking the Sacrament.
To you mothers who like me have spent entire Sundays in the hall, to those who have questioned if it was even worthwhile, I tell you yes.
Yes, it's worthwhile to show your children an example of faithful attendance, especially when it's hard.
Yes, it's worthwhile to give them opportunities to attend class and learn the gospel, even if you won't be able to attend your own classes.
Yes, it's worthwhile just to have that chance to renew your commitment to the Lord in partaking of the Sacrament.
Yes, it's worthwhile to walk your baby in the hallway. In these quiet moments, you might be missing classes or . But God is with you in the hallway. He's with you in the mothers' room. He's with you in whatever part of the building you find yourself.
If there is nothing contagious keeping you home (because if you know you are ill and contagious, that is a time it's best to stay home), then go. Even if you think you'll miss everything walking a child in the hallway, go. Allow God to nourish your soul, and renew your covenants. It may be hard now, but it will all be worthwhile.