I thought I could do anything.
I am Super Dad — fussy children crumble beneath my powers of persuasion. Diapers, low blood sugar, even nap times are powerless against me. I thought.
Also I love Ash Wednesday Mass. The Lenten season is one of my favorites, and I look forward to its start every year. The message of Ash Wednesday has always resonated with me.
Lesson One: You’re going to die. Not only are you going to die, but this world was spinning before you got here, and it will continue to spin after you leave.
Lesson two: You have made mistakes…bad ones even. You will make more mistakes in the future. You will even make them knowing they are bad mistakes. Try to do better.
Lesson Three: When you’re not making mistakes, keep your mouth shut. Stop talking about the awesomeness of you. No one cares that you give 10% of your income to your church. No one even cares what church you attend. Every time you talk about a good act, it devalues the act itself.
Regardless of what, if any, religious affiliation you have, these are good lessons. Lessons that even at my boys’ young ages of four and two, I want them to start hearing.
This Ash Wednesday, I had to work in the morning, so attending in the afternoon when it was convenient to the kids didn't work. Our best option was 6:15 p.m., otherwise known as 45 minutes before bedtime. This was not going to be easy.
I got home around 3:30 in the afternoon, giving me enough time to spend five precious minutes with my wife, before she left for work. I collected the boys and headed off to the grocery store for Valentine ’s Day. It was already a full day, but even that trip had its moments. We got home about twenty minutes to five and I shoved left over mac n cheese down their throats.
Jackson was already showing signs of this not ending well, and I had to use every trick in the book to get enough food, i.e. energy, into him to make this work.
I knew Mass would be crowded, so we left early. As I get the boys out of the car, I realized Jackson had a dirty diaper. I Thanked the deity we were about to go see, because I had run back inside for diapers and wipes just before leaving the house. We get inside Church just as they were asking everyone to scoot in closer. I was lucky enough to find a seat, and we had about ten minutes until Mass started. Jackson was good, but I could see that Jackson the Destroyer was not far off.
We all stood up for the opening hymn, and, although Jackson demanded I hold him, everything was off to a great start. I heard tunes of SUPER DAD in my head.
Then, came the first reading and followed quickly by the screaming. Jackson the Destroyer was only happy if I was holding him, err I mean put him down, no that wasn't right pick him up again, ya know what maybe I should just let him wander the church pew. Well, that wasn't going to work.
After an eternity, the first reading wrapped up and there was a short song. A few short moments of peace, where my blood pressure was not peaking to heights never before seen. I let Glenn know that we were going to move to the quiet room if Jackson did that again.
As soon as the song ended Jackson the Destroyer let me know of his presence again. I gave Glenn the head nod to know that we were moving. As I stood up, there was silence in the church, just enough silence for Action Jackson to make a cute appearance.
“Bye-Bye!” He shouted with a smile as he waived.
When we turn around I saw how crowded the mass had really become, and there was a throng of people standing in the back. We shuffle our way to the cry room only to discover it is not only out of seats but all available standing room as well. That’s when I see that Mass had passed the stage of over crowded about 50 people ago. A throng of people stretches into the hallway and through the next room.
This is ridiculous, “Boys we are going home.”
When we get in the car, I let Jackson know how upset I am with him. I am ranting, raving, and generally making an ass of myself in front of the boys. How do I know? Well, I hear Glenn talking to me softly in the backseat.
“Dad, its O.K. I am right here. Take a deep breath. Breathe in (provides an example) and then breathe out. (Providing another example) You see Dad, that’s how you do it. You need to relax, Jackson is little and he doesn't mean to. It’s O.K. I’m right here.”
I didn't want to calm down. I tried to stay mad, but, damn it, if that’s not the cutest thing I had heard all day. So after ten minutes of ‘soothing’ me, I let Glenn know that I’m better, and thanked him.
This is after all the Lenten season, self-improvement through suffering…Super Dad I am not.