What were you doing in the narthex Stephanie? Oh come now, you aren't really going to ask me thhhhaaaattt....
During the summer of 2000, I was a scared freshman in an intense indoctrination into military life. Push ups, lectures, marching, ironing perfect creases in shirts and pants and whatever can hold a crease, memorizing, attention to detail...eyes in the boat.
Eyes in the what?
In the boat.
So if you are not familiar with military tradition eyes in the boat basically means...don't look around EVER or first class cadet so and so or drill sergeant what's his name will have some choice words for you. Freshman year at the Coast Guard Academy your eyes are in the boat...hmmm...50% of the time? While you eat, while you stand at attention, while you run briskly through the peeways (lots of running, a straight back arms pumped up dorky kind of run). You just kind of get used to it. It is more than a stare because it is a purposeful effort of keeping the eyes focused. It is amazing when your eyes are focused what you have the ability to tune in and out.
I remember thinking when I was going through that first year of college (it all makes sense now, I had to meet Justin, otherwise it would not make sense why I went there for college)...I was thinking "when in the world am I EVER going to use this stupid eyes in the boat nonsense?"
Well...my eyes were in the boat Sunday evening during Mass in the Narthex and Monday morning at the grocery store when I had all five of my children on my own. See, I gave up my husband for Lent...Coast Guard stuff...and well, I am finding myself forced to go...errr...almost everywhere...with ALL of my littles.
I'm not sure if I have ever shared on here that I don't exactly like bringing my littles with me everywhere when I run errands (hahahahaaaaa...I shouldn't need to explain myself right?) But really...I get so much more done when I bring just the baby or I hire a sitter (ahem...we call her Julia or Jana). Sometimes on Saturday morning when Justin is home for the weekend and the house is sleeping
I manage to slip out and do a quick morning shop, my seven year old might join me since she is my early riser.
There are a lot of reasons I don't lug them all with me. First off, just getting ourselves ready to even do said errands takes awhile. The older ones are good at helping the littles...but then... we are prone to leaving reading lights on so who knows if a vehicle will be dead or not in the driveway and then there is the dilemma of making sure we have cheese sticks and...did everyone use the potty? etc.
We move rather slowly as a herd once we are in the store to do our "quick stop" and it is MOST difficult to keep tabs on this ONE...
If only we could harness three year old BOY energy...now that would be THINKING green.
So, I have found that sometimes it can be stressful with the littles, not ALL the time mind you but at any moment a perfect storm of kidnado brews and you just don't want to be in the store...or in the narthex...or in the _________.
And THEN...as if the calamity that is your offspring isn't enough to manage...you look up and there is the audience. Could be an entire parish of people trying to listen to a homily...or an airplane chock full of people...or the people in line at the checkout....or in the waiting room...or in the bleachers at the icerink...there is an audience.
I feel pressure to perform with an audience. I grab for a quick sternness about my voice that may prompt an onlooker to think she's got her hands full but she sure is a disciplinarian. I might even interact with my audience when they throw me a line like, "You've got your hands full" (so unoriginal by the way) and as I'm buckling my wriggly three year old in the cart I can quip something like, "Oh yes! But we have so much fun, I'm never bored!"
However, I am finding...because I am out now so much with all of them...because we gave up daddy for Lent...that I don't have the time or energy to care about the audience. So...I simply put my eyes in the boat.
You are laughing...I hear you...Stephanie, you mean you outright don't acknowledge people exist outside of you?
It does sound kind of like the cold shoulder treatment doesn't it?
It is not that I don't want to acknowledge that people exist, it is more...I can't get distracted from my mission.
See, that's why the military trains their...pilots, rescue swimmers, infantry, SEALS, medics...to keep their eyes in the boat from the minute they step into uniforms because ultimately regardless of the chaos (of war, the hostile environment) around them....the mission has to be accomplished. We as a free country depend on brave men and women to keep their eyes in the boat.
It is your MISSION to bring your children to Mass, keep your eyes in the boat mama. Don't worry if the boy is screaming because he is thirsty and you have to duck out and totally disrupt the peace....because your MISSION is to bring your child to Mass and well, sometimes we need water. So get on it! Keep your eyes in the boat mama. No audience, just you and toddler, quench the thirst (make sure his lips don't touch the actual fountain...eww...just the water) and return back to your pew.
It is your MISSION to run in "real quick" to get the carton of eggs to finish the recipe you for sure thought you already had eggs for. Yes...you need to take the littles with you because you homeschool and well....they are all with you. Saddle up that grocery cart! Eyes in the boat mama! A child MAY have a meltdown in the check out lane while the cashier is watching...and you should nip that in the bud NOW...but keep your eyes in the boat...you are disciplining your child not so you can impress others but so that your child respects your authority. You owe it to yourself to make sure meltdowns are put in check but keep your eyes in the boat so that what might need to be a tiny reminder not to do that doesn't become the loud, look how I discipline mom show.
Jesus is the only onlooker you should be concerned with and I have found recently that if I can just keep my eyes fixed on my children and whatever needs to be done I get less flustered. If I don't have an audience, I am less stressed.
Maybe some of you don't struggle with this but this is a (using CGS atrium language) BIG WORK for me. My energy can get used up very quickly by unfriendly glances or unfiltered remarks. I don't want to have to try and defend myself and my family size, but sometimes I just FEEEEELLLLLLL like I'm on the spot and being judged even if I'm NOT...I just FEEELLLL that way, so my remedy is...I'm not on the spot. I'm just living the hours as they unfold.
I just want to keep reminding myself that these things unfold before Him. All the messy goodness of life with littles is before Him. I must accomplish the mission.
Love you xxoo