We got to the "early church" service with all of the old people. She loves the attention that all of her assumed grandparents dote on her, and they seem to really enjoy seeing her, too.
It seems like at every little developmental stage I've had to come up with a new trick to keep her happy during the service. Special teething rings that only go to church. Special books that only go to church. Special toys that only go to church. Special cereal bowl with silicone reach-through top that only goes to church. Special things to try to make the hour and a half we're there a little bit easier.
Easter morning I wore a cute little purple dress to church. I'd not worn a dress to church since before I was pregnant. Well, after about ten minutes I realized that was a terrible idea. It's just too hard to juggle baby and try to keep your knees together. Not to mention that she has a new fascination with pulling down my blouse and trying to get my bra.
To further complicate things the nursery isn't open during this service, so I can't just take her to the nursery to play. Furthermore, several of the little old ladies always brag on me for bringing her to big church and say things like: "This is how it was when I had children. They belong in church with their parents.", "I am so proud of you for bringing her with you to worship in the chapel. I was the head of christian education for years and I worked really hard to get parents to bring their children to church with them.", "It means so much to me to see her every Sunday in church. This is the highlight of my week."
If there are huffers, naysayers and eye rollers they have been a silent minority at this point. But I'm very sensitive to her commotion during church and often get up and walk her to the back of the sanctuary so that she can get out her wiggles without bothering others. Honestly, it would probably take one naysaying comment to keep her at home with me until she's five.
As she grows up and discovers her own ability to walk where she wants to go and pitch a fit when she doesn't get her way, juggling chaos on the front pew at church is getting to be quite the challenge for Mommy.
We had a substitute pianist at church today. He's very good, but tends to play everything with a slow tempo. (It made me want to snap my fingers and bob my head faster like my high school band director used to do.) Generally, baby likes the singing, but today what should have been an upbeat song was more of a slow, deliberate march. I had the wiggles, too, but she wasn't able to contain herself.
One of her new tricks is to try to swan dive out of your arms if she doesn't want to be held anymore. Usually the only time she does it to me at home is if I'm taking her away from something she'd rather be doing or if I'm leaving daycare and the other kids are about to go outside. This morning during the first hymn I spent the entire song swapping her from one hip to the other as she tried to swandive over and over out of my arms, only to stop occasionally to wave to the people behind us and say 'HI!'.
I've about got it timed so that when the scripture is read is when I get out her sippy cup. Usually we can make it through that without her accompaniment. Immediately after that is over we go between the cereal and books and toys and the Grace of God to get through the sermon without a meltdown. About the time they start the intercessory prayer I usually take her to the back of the sanctuary so that the little old people can hear each other talk. After that is communion, and after the responsive reading I usually take her back to where we sit up front.
(Up front?, you ask. Why juggle the baby up front? Because the pews are entirely too close together and I really can't imagine trying to juggle her where she can't sit down in the floor in front of me.)
It was especially trying today. Every time I take her I think this will be the last time until she's seven.
After church was over the usual doters came to brag on her squeaky shoes (that we took off during the service to keep my late grandfather, a Church of Christ preacher, from turning over in his grave) and her raincoat. She told them that a cow says, "Moo", and danced for them and went through her repertoire of other words and pointing of body parts on command.
It's raining today and The Hater went to get Geronimo so that baby and I didn't have to hike through the parking lot in the rain. As he was leaving another lady who doesn't usually come up and talk to us came up to say, "I just can't get over how well behaved she is in church."
I laughed at her, certain she was being sarcastic. It wasn't. She continued to talk about how well behaved and quiet she was.
In the car I asked The Hater if he'd heard her comment as he was leaving to get the car. He had. We both mused, "Are you sure you're talking about this baby?" (Did you forget your hearing aids this morning, honey?)
For now we persevere. Like everything else, sometimes it's the best we can do.