Last Sunday, I spent a great deal of the Mass at the back with a noisy toddler. I was with the group of usual suspects in the foyer, trying to magic some reason into my almost-two-year-old. She looks at me with eyes that say, Mama, two year olds have no ability to reason. Ah, yes, there is that.

Once, a sweet lady once came up to us after Mass and enthusiastically told us that our children were so well behaved that day. My husband and I exchanged smiles. We didn’t tell her that we had basically spent almost the entire Mass in the foyer – which might be why she didn’t hear us that day.

I’m not exactly sure why the baby gets hungry at the same time that the toddler melts down, at the same time that the pre-schooler needs to go to the washroom. It’s uncanny. At the end of each humiliating episode, we just try to pack everyone up, genuflect and run to hide in the minivan.

Each time we have a particularly exhausting Sunday, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Yes, it’s good to help the children learn how to behave during Mass. But hopefully, the weekly family effort teaches a simpler and more important lesson: to be at Mass. It’s an exercise in faithfulness, a lesson in love.

We’re lucky that, at St. Clement’s, there are so many families each week who, not only help drown us out, but encourage us week after week. We’re also blessed with supportive parishoners who help us feel welcome, despite the din.

The struggle continues (for the sake of the sanity of those in the pews behind us). We dust ourselves off and try again next Sunday, armed with new hope, new strategies, and books from the foyer.