Sundays are exhausting. I love them, but I hate them. There I said it. As a mother who strongly believes that we should be in church fellowshipping and learning every week, it is hard to admit that Sundays are sometimes, OK often, the hardest, most exhausting day of the week.

My alarm rings at 6:30. Quickly I grab my phone to silence the chirping so it doesn’t wake the baby who is finally soundly asleep or the toddler who crawled into our bed at three o’clock whimpering about horses and giants. I stealthily slip from beneath the covers. Carefully I turn the knob and pull the squeaky door open while thinking for the eighth Sunday in a row that I need to put some WD-40 on the hinges. I tiptoe to the other end of the house in the dark because the sleeping five year old somehow senses when someone turns a light on. I flip a switch, and the coffee starts brewing.

I quietly close the bathroom door and hop in the shower. Halfway through slathering the conditioner on my hair the Sunday morning circus begins with the toddler pounding on the door while yelling, “Mommy, I poopy.” So much for shaving my legs today, I quickly soap and rinse before hopping out of the shower and into my role as ringmaster of the circus.

The next two hours fly by in a whirlwind. Clean up the toddler. Slap a banana and oatmeal on the table for the older two kiddos. Nurse the baby. Wrestle all of them into their Sunday best. Wait, the toddler’s left boot is missing, and the five-year-old wants to wear her other pink dress, not the one we had agreed on at bedtime. Baby spits up; both he and I need an outfit change. Look longingly at my now cold cup of coffee. Nurse the baby, again. Change another diaper. 

With the children finally ready, I glance in the mirror. There’s no hope for that mop of hair. I throw it into a messy bun just like pretty much every other Sunday. I grab my makeup, the diaper bag, and my breakfast—a cheese stick with a side of cold coffee—and rush to the vehicle where hubby has the littles strapped in their seats. The circus hits the road.

I use the forty minute drive to catch my breath, drink the cold coffee, and put on my makeup. Then it is a race to unbuckle everyone and deposit the children in their Sunday School classes. Except this week the toddler has decided “I don’t like people, Mommy” and refuses to go to class. Hubby graciously handles that crisis.

I shuffle into the adult class twelve minutes late with the baby on one arm and a diaper bag on the other. I try to focus and engage in the discussion on prayer while changing a diaper on my lap and wiping spit up off my shirt.

Sunday School draws to a close, and I take a deep breath to prepare for the upcoming service as we file into our usual row which immediately looks like a small tornado went through. Shortly after the opening prayer, the toddler shares his need to go potty in a voice loud enough to raise chuckles throughout the church. We traipse out and back in. Baby is overly tired and starting to fuss. The offering plate is stalled while the littles try to find the quarters that they dropped. Between the reminders to “Shhh” and “Don’t poke your sister,” I catch bits and pieces of the sermon.

The final prayer is said, and I breathe a prayer of relief that we survived another Sunday morning— not the peaceful, restful Sabbath that I long for, but we made it none-the-less.

If it’s so exhausting, why do I bother?

In the aftermath of one Sunday’s circus, I realized that during this season of life going to church is a discipline to be honed not a reward to be received. By taking our circus to church each week, I am cultivating habits of discipline in myself and my children. So I cling to Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (NIV)

Someday I’ll reap the benefit of all the exhausting Sunday mornings, and they really will get easier as the older mothers keep reassuring me. Someday the circus will direct itself, and I’ll be able to drink my coffee while it is hot. But each Sunday until that someday, I’ll be drinking cold coffee and sporting a messy bun while directing our circus and whispering those heartfelt prayers of relief at the end of the service.

Amy Juett

Amy is a child of God and a native of the Nebraska Sandhills. She married her sweetheart while still in college. After moving seven times in their first eight years of marriage, they have (God-willing) moved for the last time and are putting down roots in her grandparents’ home only two miles from where she grew up. Her days are filled with all the joys and challenges that come with a house full of young children. When she isn’t immersed in piles of laundry and other messes young children make, Amy enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, doing crafty projects, reading, writing, dabbling in photography, participating in the family adventures her husband dreams up, and sitting in silence.