Yesterday morning I woke up to perform my weekly duty as Ring Master of our Sunday Morning Circus. I'm sure we've all heard of accounts of the terrors of preparing the family for church, but I can assure you, everything I'm about to tell you is real.
It starts when the alarm goes off at 6 am. We have T-minus 90 minutes to prepare for take off. Because we are fighting the forces of evil on Sunday mornings, my Beloved wakes up and turns on some variety of uplifting Christian music...bluegrass gospel, hymns, or contemporary praise music in an attempt to wake everyone up in a worshipful mood. Instead of rising out of bed with a spring in their step, my children decide to put their grouchy face on. They wake up with their hair sticking up, covered in knots, with sleepy eyes and grumbly tummies.
This is the point where I was abandoned yesterday. My husband had to flee the house early to prepare to lead worship at church. I was left on a solo mission with a brood of three little vipers. I take a deep breath and enter the ring.
Crisis #1- My four year old doesn't want to wear the dress I laid out for her. She wants to wear a "twirly" summer dress. It's 39 degrees out. I bargain with her. "You can wear the sleeveless "twirly" summer dress if you wear a sweater over it." Done. Crisis averted.
Crisis#2- My 7 year old can only find one church shoe. We begin a tactical maneuver called,"Operation Sunday Search". No toy box is left untouched, every bed is searched under, and the dirty clothes hamper is dumped out "just in case". The shoe is found by mom in the shoe basket where it belonged. It only took 6 minutes of searching. Mission accomplished.
Crisis#3- I ask my 8 year old if he's ready for church. He comes into my room wearing a dress shirt with camo shorts. A protest ensues. "Go put on pants. You cannot wear shorts to church. You know better." He balks. Then he pulls the God card. "God doesn't care what we wear." "God may not care, but your mother DOES! Change now." 5 minutes of pouting occurs, then the outfit is changed. The crisis is mediated with only minor voice raising. I consider it a small victory.
I move into ring two of my three ring circus: hair dressing.
I quickly curl my own hair and then call the kids in one by one according to the complexity of the hair. My 7 year old is first up. I start to curl her hair. She whines. "Mom, I want it put in a sideways Princess Leia Bun with a flower." OK. That's a tall order, but I think I can manage. Then it's on to my four year old. She doesn't like the ribbon I put in her hair. She wants a flower. Tough Luck. She's getting a ribbon. Done. On to the last kid. He's tricky. He likes to comb his hair all by himself, and ordinarily I'm grateful for this type of independence, but today it looks as though he spit on his hand, rubbed his hair straight forward, and made a small ramp in the front. Trying not to be too critical, I ask him if I can tweak the doo"just a little". He rolls his eyes, and says it looks cool the way it is. I manage to wrangle two quick swipes with the brush and hope for the best.
We now move into ring 3 of the circus. Feeding time. I run out to feed the chickens in my dress. They proceed to peck at the nail polish on my freshly painted toes. Nice. I ask the kids to feed the cat, and the dogs. Done. Now I feed the kids. They want scrambled eggs, bacon, and cinnamon rolls. We're at T-minus 10 minutes 'til take-off. Not going to happen. One discovers a single cup of yogurt in the refrigerator. They all start to fight over it. I take the yogurt away and tell them their choices. They all choose cereal, but of course, 3 different types.
I run out to start up my big diesel truck, then come back inside to do the final inspection. No milk mustaches, no toys in the pockets, everyone has a Bible. Check. Out to the truck we march. Everyone gets in and I realize I forgot MY Bible. I run back to the house. When I return 30 seconds later, all three kids were crying and screaming, hair was misplaced, and three kids were all pointing fingers at each other. I can't believe it. I was sooooo close to leaving without any major disruptions. I pull out the big-guns punishment.
"You and your sister must hold hands for the 20 minute ride to church." I say eerily calm-like.
"If you let go once, you will have to continue to hold hands during the entire church service too."
Even the mere mention of holding hands with a sibling in front of church friends was enough to send shivers down their backs. They quietly held hands the whole way.
I walked through the double doors of our church and transformed my mind from ringmaster to worshipper as best as I could, trying not to let Satan get the best of my morning. There, my precious husband swooped up the girls, gave me a kiss, and all the horrors of the morning melted away. Another Sunday battle was over, and it made me appreciate all the help my husband provides when we all get to leave in the same vehicle. Jesus calms the sea, but I'm convinced He gave me my husband to tame the Sunday morning circus.