I was working on a post this week about why Chalupa and I choose to have our children “dedicated” at church. For the unfamiliar, a baby dedication is kind of like a baptism for denominations that don’t believe in infant/child baptism. I have some thoughts on why we had Ruthie dedicated and why we’ll do the same for Neville next week, but I thought a more urgent blog post was this: what is it like for new parents to go to church.

This is a step-by-step manual explaining how to go to church if you are me and you have a four-year-old, a baby, and a chronically ill husband.

1) Get up “early” on Sunday morning to nurse the baby and ask your husband if he feels well enough to go to church this morning. Decide that his “hmmmph” means “maybe.”

2) Get your 4-year-old up early, too. Make her go to the bathroom even though she would insist, given the chance, that her body doesn’t make waste, and trips to the bathroom are totally unnecessary.

3) Get the 4-year-old dressed in a sundress covered in unicorns, but because it’s still forty-five FREAKING DEGREES even though it’s the middle of May, make her wear pants and a long-sleeved shirt underneath.

4) Explain to your 4-year-old that her light-up princess shoes are still two sizes too small, and while she can wear princess underpants and princess socks, she can’t wear the princess shoes. Yes, next time you go shoe shopping, you’ll look for light-up princess shoes that are the right size. No, that’s not today.

5) Wake up your husband again to see if he feels well enough to go to church this morning. Tell him to watch the baby while you go for a walk.

6) Take your 4-year-old on a walk to the creek and back.

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7) Let the 4-year-old turn on her own show. Give her a breakfast of dry Lucky Charms in a plastic bag, because you value a nutritious breakfast. Pretend not to notice when she only eats the marshmallows.

8) Check on the baby, who is still asleep, and your husband, who is also still asleep.

9) Shower.

10) Your husband has decided he wants to go to church. Great! Tell him you have fifteen minutes before it’s time to leave. While he is the shower, realize that your daughter has spread approximately 400 stirring straws throughout the house. (Not an exaggeration. It’s a box of 1000 stirring straws. Nearly half is gone.)

11) Nurse the baby again. Notice he sounds a little congested.

12) Try to get dressed. Hear the baby choke on some snot, then start vomiting all over the bed.

13) Put the sheets in the washer.

14) Get out the door.

15) Notice that your 4-year-old is not wearing shoes. Go back into the house and get the shoes.

16) Drive to church. Get stopped at every red light.

17) Get to church, just ten minutes late. Haul out the double stroller from the trunk. Make the long walk from the parking lot. Notice people staring at your husband’s cool new anti-allergy mask. He does look kind of like a bank robber, now that you think about it.

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18) Listen to the 4-year-old insist that going on a morning walk has given her a tummyache, and she simply can’t go to Sunday School this morning, and besides you said there was no school during the summer, and, “I just want to stay with youuuuu!” Tell her she can stay in the big church but it’s going to be really boring.

19) Watch her dance all through the music. Gosh, she’s cute.

20) Go make yourself a cup of coffee in the foyer.

21) Notice they’re out of lids.

22) Think that’s not such a big deal.

23) Spill your coffee all over the place.

24) Make another cup of coffee.

25) Go to sit down at the end of the music. “My tummy feels better. Can I go upstairs to Sunday School?”

26) Take your 4-year-old to Sunday School.

27) Miss the beginning of the sermon. Let your husband hold the baby. Gosh, they’re cute.

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28) The baby gets fussy, so take him. Realize he has pooped all over your husband.

29) Take the baby to the bathroom. Spend ten minutes getting him changed. Realize his change of clothes is too small for him, but I guess that’s just the way it is.

30) Listen to another ten minutes of the sermon while making the baby laugh.

31) Realize the baby is hungry. Try to convince the baby that he’s not hungry.

32) Fail.

33) Try to feed the baby discreetly.

34) Fail.

35) Take the crying baby into the foyer and feed him there.

36) Succeed!

37) Return to hear the last ten minutes of the sermon. It’s something about money? Being generous?

38) Go get the 4-year-old from Sunday School. Let her run laps around the church sanctuary because why not?

39) Socialize.

40) Decide it’s time to go home. Wonder what to make for lunch.

41) Go out to eat.