Since I have been thrust into parenting, there are all these new terms I’ve been discovering. A huge one is that parents have “triggers.” I didn’t know what a trigger was, but then my friend Millie told me it’s those things that make me completely lose it. And I said, “Yep. Got those.”
I’ve been learning that a huge trigger for me is the embarrassment. I became responsible for a tiny human, and now I am embarrassed all the time.
It comes from two false assumptions. The first is that everyone is watching me, and the second is that everyone cares. Anytime the child doesn’t say please or thank-you in front of a stranger. Anytime she doesn’t say “hello” back immediately to someone. Talking loudly to her friend Genevieve in church and when she gives one of us the stink eye after she gets in trouble for talking loudly in church.
I can feel it. My cheeks are burning, teeth are gritted. I can feel the anxiety wash over me. Everyone is watching me, and they know I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. EVERYONE KNOWS! It’s classic imposter syndrome. I am just waiting to be found out that I am 100% making up everything as I go.
One of the most recent things I have felt embarrassed about is that Nyra doesn’t take communion. In the Anglican tradition, it isn’t very strange, but lots of our friends who have littles around her age do take communion. I get embarrassed and insecure. I see my friends’ daughter, Jubilee, toddle up to the front and dip her bread in the wine and think “OH MY GOSH NYRA’S BEHIND.” Not only that, but she is SPIRITUALLY BEHIND. THAT IS NOW A THING AT FIVE YEARS OLD. I think Jubilee knows the Apostles Creed and Nyra forgot who Moses was last week. She thought he was Noah. I AM FAILING. And naturally, communion is in front of everyone, so once again, it feels like my embarrassment is on display.
I wanted to force it so badly. JUST TAKE THE BREAD, CHILD! PRETEND YOU’RE INTO IT. But every week, like clockwork, when it comes time to walk down the aisle she lifts up her little arms to be carried. My husband carries her, and she receives her blessing. One of our priests, Ben, just whispers, “Jesus loves you.” Other priests say beautiful blessings, but I love that Ben whispers, “Jesus loves you.” I hope she hears it, tucks it away in her heart, remembers it.
I told my husband during church one Sunday I was embarrassed that she doesn’t take communion. Except it came out snarky like, “She is too OLD to be carried for heaven’s sake. Ugh, we need to get on this communion thing. Didn’t I explain it to her last week? After the Moses incident?!” I apparently get snarky when embarrassed. He said quietly back to me, “I like to carry her.”
I was taken aback. He continued, “When she was around two and things were much harder and felt uncertain, she never wanted to go up. But I was determined to get her up there so she could still receive a blessing – It was so important to me. I didn’t care how she got up there, and ever since then I’ve carried her.”
I stop. Realize I am married to such an astounding man. We have all been carried. None of us have entered into faith on our own. We have all been carried, at times unwillingly, to the feet of Jesus. We have all been helpless. And when we get there, we aren’t chastised for not wanting to come. We are reminded we are Beloved. He doesn’t care how we got there; He doesn’t care if we had the right motives.
I love the Eucharist, and I love the Table. I love that week-after-week, Jesus meets us in a dingy high school auditorium. I love that the Body, the Blood and Blessings are enough even when our hearts are not in it. It still sustains. It does not change; it is unwavering, infallible.
We get to carry her, and I am so grateful.
“For as long as we take this bread, and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”