My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations; Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing. But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Bearing in mind that "divers temptations" refers to trials and tribulations, it is clear that James is talking all about parenthood. Yes, children are a blessing, and a joy, and a gift. That doesn't change the fact that a toddler doesn't particularly see the value in quietly sitting still for an hour, even if it is for the liturgy which gives us life.
Picture it. It's halfway through the homily. You still have the Creed, the Eucharistic Prayer, Eucharist, announcements, and the closing hymn. The toddler is fussy, fidgety, noisy. You haven't really been able to pay attention to the readings, let alone the homily, because the toddler is now attempting to distribute her snacks all over the floor for no apparent reason.
You're stressed, you're sure that everyone is looking at you, annoyed with you. (Side note, Spanish Mass is the opposite, every time we try to hush the small thing, all the abuelitas around us tell us not to worry, she's not bothering anyone. Reason #629 to stop being dumb about immigration: abuelitas!)
Then it happens. Everyone is kneeling for the consecration, and your baby girl kneels down too, folding her little hands. Or she turns to you and your spouse, telling you that it is time to pray, and making sure your hands are folded in the right way. Or she will be pointing excitedly at the altar calling, "Jesus! Jesus! Amen! Amen!" (Side note, our little on calls all priests "Amen," starting with pictures of our former pastor from when she was baptized).
Two things that help are words Our Lord said in the Gospel of Mark. Mark 2:27:
And he said to them: The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.Mark 10:14b:
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.
If I may be so bold, the sabbath was made for the toddler, and not the toddler for the sabbath.
It is hard sometimes, feeling like every eye is upon you, judging you. Feeling like you're not being fully present because you have to split your attention between the homily and the toddler, trying to absorb the lesson while trying to make sure the seats don't absorb all of her juice. But then He answers, "Suffer the little children to come unto me..."
The kingdom of God is of such as these, and who am I to be ashamed for bringing my child before the King? Would it be better for me to stay at home, and deprive her of the graces of Mass? Would it be better for us to sit as far back as possible so as to "not cause a scene," and yet thereby hinder her ability to become engaged in the liturgy?
It is not easy - as anyone who has ever at with us at Mass can attest to - but it is our responsibility, and with a little grace even our perfection.
And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.