Trying to keep a toddler relatively chill during an hour-long liturgy can be a uniquely punishing experience.
The little human often grasps neither the rhythm of the mass nor the utility of whispering when communicating. He is quite heavy, a thirty pound bag of rice that wants to move, point, be held a little higher, and be balanced in odd ways on my body. The setting is quiet and public, and so visibility (and potential for embarrassment) is high.
All of these details sum to a basic and physical reminder, during the mass, that I am in need and not in control.
For a long time, I regarded this strain with varied levels of resentment. Now, I try to see it as an asset to prayer.
I try to recall, during this strain, that the worst disposition I can carry into the liturgy is one of self sufficiency… that I am basically okay on my own and do not depend, each day, on the grace of God.
The presence of a toddler, then, is a very physical antidote to this lie of self-sufficiency. The strain can actually crack me open to experience the grace of the mass and of my life.
If we let them, toddlers can act as an antidote to our self-sufficiency before God.