The Half-Naked Preacher (and other stuff from a routine Sunday)

So this past Sunday was just a routine Sunday. After a night of not sleeping due to a long, wiggly toddler in my bed (He had a nightmare) and a teething 8-month old who never misses a feeding, I got up early. I placed my coffee cup under the Keurig and our lunch in the crockpot. I turned it on high so it would be ready in 5 hours, and fixed breakfast for my son who has decided he doesn’t like his every morning breakfast (scrambled eggs) anymore. I got both kids in their seats with food in front of them and as it turns out, waffles aren’t Ezra’s thing either. I forced him to eat a few bites and put both kids in the bathtub. Fast-forward forty-five minutes and we were all in the car but both kids were crying and my make-up was only half-done.

We got to church and realized we were getting there later than we usually do, so I told Husband (the minister) to go ahead inside and I’d get both kids to their classes. I threw my diaper backpack on my back, got the baby out of her seat after fixing her headband she’d pulled down to her neck while pitching a fit, got the toddler out of his seat after running my fingers through his unruly hair and tying his shoes again, grabbed my Bible from the front seat, and we were off like a herd of turtles. “Did I put on deodorant this morning?,” I wondered as we scrambled toward the door. I think I did…? Doesn’t matter now.

After getting all of us to our respective classes in time, and picking up both kids from their classes afterward, we got to our pew in plenty of time to get situated before church began, which is fortunate since someone came in and told us we were sitting in their seat. The herd of turtles moved. After moving to a different seat, I realized I left the kids’ blankets in the car. The blankets are very important, as Sundays are very long days, with a two-hour service in the morning, then a quick lunch, then another afternoon service. If the kids fall asleep during the morning service, it makes for a much easier day for all of us. The blankets help them fall asleep. Thus, the blankets are necessary. I got both kids up to come with me to the car to get the blankets, but halfway up the aisle I realized I left my wallet, thus my keys, at home. I rushed back up to the front of the auditorium, where my husband was conversing with our elders, and interrupted to ask for the keys. He handed them over, and my crew went back up the aisle again to the car to retrieve blankets.

We got back and it was time for the service to begin. By the time the opening songs were sung, it was clear the baby was ready to be fed. I did my best to pacify her through communion so that I could participate, then left the toddler with a helpful Christian sister to go nurse the fussy baby. When I got back, the preacher (my husband) was halfway through his sermon and the toddler still wasn’t asleep. Instead, he’d decided today he was going to act like he’s never been taught how to behave, and that included kicking the pew loudly, spilling his snack, throwing a finger puppet across the room, and screaming when he got a spanking.

When services were over, I was visiting with members and visitors alike while trying to round up my crew to get us home to that crockpot soup before rushing back for the second service, when we realized we had some friends from out of state visiting our services, and they wanted to do lunch, about which we were delighted. Husband said, “They don’t know how to get there, so I’m gonna ride with them. See you there?” I told him we have to turn the crockpot off or the soup will burn, so he asked if I could run home to do that (we live 2 minutes away from the church building). So I picked up our pew mess, threw the backpack on my back, rounded up both kids, got us all the way to the car and realized, once again, I had no keys. So I called Husband, who sent someone to me from the other parking lot to bring me his keys. I then rushed home, turned off the crockpot, refilled the toddler’s juice cup so we wouldn’t have to buy a drink for him at the restaurant, grabbed two bibs, and jumped back in the car. At least, then, I had my wallet.

We had a great lunch with great friends, albeit rushed, since we had to get back by 1:30. We made it through the second service. My kids still weren’t asleep, but I told myself that’s okay because maybe we would all get a nap when we got home. The service came to a close and I took my kids upstairs to the nursery to play for a few minutes while my husband was in a meeting. And then I smelled it. I checked the baby’s diaper—she was wet so I went ahead and changed her. Then I checked the toddler. I put my finger in his diaper to open it and check it, but I didn’t even make it to the diaper before I realized something was wrong. Really, REALLY wrong. There was poop on his thigh. There was poop on his leg. There was poop on his Strasburg hand-embroidered outfit. There was poop on his white dress socks. There was poop on his dress shoes. It was everywhere. Everywhere, I tell you.

So I set the baby down and surrounded her with toys while desperately pleading with the toddler, “Don’t. Move.” I walked behind him and marched him carefully to the changing table, pulled him up on it while trying to get as little poop on me as possible, and realized I had nothing to put all the ruined clothes in, nor an outfit change. I grabbed my phone, still begging the toddler not to move, and called my husband, who I knew was in a meeting.

“Please come up here. I just need help.”

Husband valiantly rushed upstairs, found me a bag to put everything in, and rushed back to his meeting I had interrupted. I finished damage control of The Great Poopnado of 2017, stripped the toddler down to his shirt and new diaper. I was now carrying several bags, the fussy baby, and also helping the half-naked toddler down the steps. I found a member and asked her to keep an eye on the toddler for a second while I get the baby in the car. I ran outside and got her buckled in, ran back in to find the toddler, and by now he was not only my half-naked toddler, but my half-naked toddler on the stage of the auditorium, pretending to preach to half the congregation, still in the auditorium laughing. I told him it was time to go, he pitched a sleepy fit in front of everyone (“But I wanna pweach!”), I popped him one for pitching a fit, got him in the car with his sister, and finally, FINALLY got home and got the door unlocked with MY KEY and got us all in the house where we could finally commence poop laundry and naptime rituals.

Just a routine Sunday. That’s the part that makes life hard right now. The marathon kind of Sunday obstacle course is kind of routine. That kind of worship day isn’t abnormal…at all! My husband and I laugh about how Sundays are a marriage test for us. If we can survive Sundays, we can survive anything.

Sometimes I long for days when the only person I had to worry about getting ready was myself. Sometimes I just wish I could sit through a sermon, listen and take notes. Sometimes I wish I could sit through a meal, enjoy the way my food tastes, and participate in adult conversation without having to think about the MULTIPLE needs, messes, and noise levels of two tiny people. Sometimes I wish I could go to the bathroom or take a shower by myself, in peace.

We try to walk a few miles as a family two or three times a week. It’s kind of a hassle taking both kids, spraying everyone with bug spray, getting them buckled in the double stroller with juice and snacks, etc., etc.. But it’s quality family time, and it’s helping me finally lose the baby weight.

When we walk, we always pass a lot of other walkers, joggers, runners, and bikers, as it’s a public nature trail.

Something occurred to me as I smiled at the passersby on our walk that concluded that long Sunday.

You know the way someone looks when they’ve hiked several miles up the side of a mountain, finally get to the top and get their first look at that incredible view? Or the look two people who are in love get when they look out over the ocean during a sunset while holding hands? Or the look someone gets when they smell something wonderful that reminds them of home?

That’s how a lot of older people look when they look at my little family.

It’s not because there’s anything special or aesthetically appealing about us.

I think it’s because they remember. They remember the long days. They remember the stickiness, the noisiness, the endless chatter, the questions times infinity, the teething, the whining, the diapers, the messes, the stroller, the feedings, the exhaustion, the check-ups, the mountains of laundry—all of it. And for many of them, if they could go back and do it all again, they would.

Someday, if the Lord allows us to keep on living, my husband and I will be empty-nesters. Someday it will be us looking over at the other table in the restaurant—the one with the young family. Someday we’ll be the ones walking by the double stroller and remembering a different chapter.

Will we look back and wish we had spent less time looking at our iphones and more time looking into the eyes of our kids?

Will we wish we had done fewer quick answers and more patient listening?

Will we wish we had talked more about God and the Bible?

Will we wish we cared less about clean hair and clean teeth and more about clean hearts?

Will we wish we had laughed more and stressed less?

Will we wish we had stopped pining for the next thing (potty training completed, bigger house, sleeping through the night, etc) instead of just enjoying where we are in the journey?

Will we wish we had been a little less OCD about the EPA kind of “safety” and a little more about the ultimate salvation?

Will we wish we’d let de-cluttering the living room take a back seat to de-cluttering the life?

Will we wish we’d taught our kids to be less about acquiring and more about inquiring?

Will we wish we’d been less about sports and more about souls?

Will we wish we’d made more time for dinner table conversation, long walks and Saturday morning snuggles?

Will we look back and wish we could have known how fast the years between the delivery room and the dorm room really do escape us?

Will we just look back and wish?…Or will we look back and praise?

It was a long Sunday. But we only get a few Sundays with our children—roughly 936 each. About 150 of those have already elapsed with my toddler. I want to make the most of them. So if you noticed I’m not blogging as much these days, that’s why. My goal is to start blogging more, but if it doesn’t happen, it’s because I don’t want to miss a thing. 🙂

One day I’m going to be looking back on this frenzied, hectic, stressful, wonderful time. I know one day I’ll kick myself for getting worked up over the million little unknowns when the most important question is this—Was my family truly successful?

It was that question that ended Sunday’s chaos:

“Ezra, what is true success?”

“Living your life and going to heaven.”

If I can put them on that path, and teach them to love it enough to stay on it even when it leads them away from my home one day, all the stress, worry, sleeplessness, messiness, stickiness and noise will be 100% worth it…and more.

So soldier on, young mothers. Enjoy this particular page of this particular chapter. Because one day you will have turned the page.

Let this be your reminder every morning, as it is mine:

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

And please don’t forget…

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time…” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

16 thoughts on “The Half-Naked Preacher (and other stuff from a routine Sunday)

  1. Absolutely beautiful! I still have a couple of kids at home but I totally miss the whole noise and chaos of my big family! So true that I would do it all over again if I could!

  2. Oh Hannah…that was a BIG dose of motherhood!!!! I know you were exhausted at the end of that day. You are doing a great job…just keep on keeping on!!! Enjoy your children…they grow up fast….

  3. So true! My beloved grandmother used to remind me to enjoy my children while they were young as they walk all over your toes, but when they get older, they walk all over your heart! I always told her that I did enjoy my children, and I loved being their mother (I had FOUR SONS) and I felt that I would love them at every age in life.
    They weren’t perfect, but they were very well behaved, and even though we have had some “ups” and “downs” we love them every step of the way, and our ultimate goal is to see them and their families have a home in Heaven. I’d do it over again in a heartbeat, but I’d try to teach them even more about God along the way.

    • Hannah, SO enjoyed your sharing that. You have so much insite for a young Mom. Brenda, My Mom use to say the same thing. I did, even though I have some regrets.

  4. Well said. I remember one of those epiphany moments. I was driving and flustered on one of those marathon days in a mad rush. I looked back in my rearview mirror at all of them laughing together with me just 3 feet away, and it came to me. I asked myself why I was wishing for a vacation, a day away, a bigger house, etc. I was living in some of the best days of my life. Enjoy and redeem the time.

  5. That bold line about two-thirds of the way down got me. I cried because it is so true! People look at my little family the same way all the time. The days are so, so hard, but I want to look back with praise knowing I did my very best. Thanks for a wonderful post, Hannah.

  6. Enjoyed reading your blog. Its true my husband and I are empty nest and there are days I wish our sons were still young. Now they are grown up and gospel preacher today. I am a proud mom and when they visit we make memories for now I have a illness with my brain. Cognitive issues MCI. Please keep me in your prayers for I am also fighting depression over this. I have dementia at age 55 years old. I have a 50 chance leading into alztimers.

  7. I love you. Your sweet perspective is what I needed to hear when mine were little. I cried. A.lot. Thanks for encouraging all those young mamas, who need to know they are where they need to be- even when carting two under age 3 is exhausting. ♡

  8. SO glad to see you blogging again!! such an encouragement you are, to young mothers everywhere who think they are surely the only ones who deal with these struggles!! and bringing back memories of my own young motherhood days.

  9. I have only one of seven left at home. I miss the full pew and the wiggles and giggles. God is good. I do miss those days but enjoy the pictures of my own children with their children in worship together. It’s what I hoped and prayed for all those years.

  10. I enjoyed reading this, Hannah! Although some of it seemed to close to home. I have chosen to Home Educate, and so I feel very spent at the end of most days. But I, too, am trying to keep it all in perspective. “Time is filled with swift transition…” and I want to enJOY these days as much as I can! 936 Sundays… WOW. I think I will write that down and remember it on Sunday!!! You are so wise to budget your time and energy, even with the blogging. I envisioned Motherhood differently, never dreaming how messy it can sometimes get. My blog suffers, but one day soon, it will just be me and my laptop when my son goes off to college. Right now I am investing in him. That is the important thing.
    ~ “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14


  11. We had 5 ( 6 now) kids under age 5. My husband is also a preacher and would leave for the church building about 5 am. Sundays have always been a single parent day. For years I almost hated Sundays! I never heard a word my kids behaved as kids do and I was exhausted! They are now 1,8,9,10,11,12 and sometimes Sundays are still rough, but I have learned to let it go a lot more. You want to wear your shorts and cow boy boots? Well fine, no holes no stains, and a “worship” shirt and we are good. Pop tarts for breakfast? Yep go for it. Hair not fixed but worn ” down mama down” ? whatever as long as its semi brushed and no food in it the it’s fine. And you know what? It’s been fine, people relate to us more. There are no pretense, this is what you get. And that is ok, because it will be over far too soon!

  12. Ok, now I’m crying! I miss these days…although I would have NEVER guessed I would miss them when I was going through them. Our kids are now grown. Even though they still live in my house, I am no longer responsible for all the small stuff. I miss being needed (have to admit less chaos is nice though). Enjoy your little ones and savor each stage…every stage is precious from infancy to young adult.

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