Last summer Chad was given the assignment (or "calling") of "ward clerk" at church. This job requires him to be at church 2 1/2 hrs early on most Sundays for meetings, which is pretty crazy considering that church also lasts 3 hrs. The Sunday that he was called, my friend Stacie, whose husband also has to be at same same meetings each week, was commiserating with me about the joys of getting all the kids to church by yourself. I joked with her that Chad and I were probably going to get in a lot fewer fights now because we always seemed to argue during the rush to get to church on time. Then I laughed and speculated that I would probably just fight with my kids now instead.
I am a very imperfect person, and I have to admit to you that those first few months were hard. As Mormons, we try to dedicate our Sundays to our Heavenly Father. Since we want other people to be able to keep the Sabbath Day holy, we don't shop or go to restaurants and we try to avoid anything that would require other people to work. The boys have skipped soccer games and while a lot of people are on the lake with their boats during the summer, we are in church. Saturdays are our work and play days, and Sundays are the day we try to recommit ourselves to doing God's work. My point being - we sacrifice our Sundays. I am used to it. I grew up that way. However, Sundays are also a family day and I was also used to having my husband by my side throughout it. Having him gone meant yet another day of getting the kids ready and keeping them happy (alone).
I would often arrive at church just done. Fed up with the kids, exhausted, not wanting to be there and resentful towards Chad because of his absence (and he felt it). I couldn't really admit that, but it's true. I wanted him to do his part in church and do his best at it, but I resented it. And if you have ever gone to church with a baby, you know that your work has just begun once you get there. Even getting all the kids out of the car and into the building is a chore.
My resentment towards Chad faded as I got used to just counting on myself, and then my prediction to Stacie came true: I was fighting with my kids. A lot. Getting them dressed, they would fling their pajamas across my face and their eyes would roll back in their heads with the deliberate avoidance of eye contact: if we don't look her in the eyes, we can feign shock and disbelief when she breaks down and screams. The ride to church was often silent after I dared any of them to utter one more word of complaint.
Thankfully, I always left church feeling edified and relaxed -even when I spent a good deal of time nursing, changing diapers, and walking the halls.
I wish I could say I prayed and fasted one week and learned overnight how to be nice to kids while still getting to church on time, but change has come very gradually.
This morning, when I sat in the chapel singing the opening hymn, I realized I was actually smiling. I felt kindly toward my husband and kids and was so happy to be there. There had been no tears or yelling to get there. A small accomplishment, but no....not actually an accomplishment. A blessing - that even though I was impatient at times, I was trying really hard to do something good for whole family and my Heavenly Father had seen it and helped me. I am sure I will have many more frustrating and spiritually strained Sunday mornings, but I love that He didn't just take my "trial" from me. He trusted me to use it and grow because of it. Hopefully I have.