Is There A Penance For That?

What’s that old saying- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished? Well, it oughta be amended to include the words And It’s Probably Gonna Be Public, Too.

The other night as we were tucking in Nora, she looked up from her laundry list of prayers (people she loves/cupcakes/apples) and asked if we could go to church soon.

P.J. and I exchanged a look. Oh yes, that. Ha HA! Now, my girls are no strangers to church, but our recent weekends have included odd deviations like the norovirus and 36-hour bachelor parties and debilitating morning sickness. And our usual parish has the unfortunate designation of being roughly an eight minute drive away, so sometimes it’s easier to tell ourselves that no one would really expect us to travel so far a distance- we’d have to, like, get a room for the night.

The sinner and her accomplice during happier times.

But there’s no guilt like a 3 year-old’s guilt, so I decided that yesterday we would Make The Effort. There’s a perfectly sweet Catholic church less than a block from our house- and sure, only a couple of masses each weekend are spoken in English, but we would Make The Effort to attend one of the English-speaking ones. What good Christians we were gonna be!

As we walked into the 11:15am mass, we were struck by two facts; one, that we were among a handful of non-Hispanic and non-Filipino families. Two, that Susannah- she of the 3am wakin’ faction- was looking really tired. But we were there to pray, and we were all looking decently nice. This was an especially big deal for me, since the combo of oppressive humidity and a growing figure comfy in neither maternity nor non-maternity exclusively was making it difficult to wear things out n’ about. But the outfit I had chosen- a long maternity tank and favorite lightweight (and elastic) summer skirt was making me feel rather pretty.

Sister Mary Pious, that’s me.

We made it halfway through the mass without incident. (Unless, of course, you count Zuzu’s exhausted flailing on P.J.’s shoulder/attempts to bodily leave the church/low keening sounds as “incident.”) Nora had been standing on the pew next to me, holding my hand, and occasionally repeating words from the readings, the sermons, and the Alleluia, beaming up at me. I felt like an Awesome Churchgoer.

Suddenly, as we stood in prayer- and timed with one of Zu’s flailtastic outbursts- I realized that Nora had scooted behind me on the pew. And I felt a breeze in a place I oughtn’t have felt a breeze.

“Mom,” yelled Nora in her best whisper, “Why can’t I see your undies?”

It wasn’t for lack of trying. She had lifted my lightweight skirt clear up to my shoulder and exposed me to the twenty-five pews directly behind us. And as for my “nonexistent” undies, let’s just say that my normal underwear has started to feel odd and I’m not quite at the stage for granny panties and what with the line of the skirt and all- oh my God, I was wearing a thong, okay? Okay?

I flashed an extremely conservative congregation my thong during mass.

Amid Nora’s concerned questions, I quietly explained to P.J. what had just happened- and Susannah really began to lose it. P.J. suggested that I take this opportunity to walk Zu to the back of the church and, you know, take a break.

So I walked back past twenty-five pews and saw everyone’s eyes. I could feel them praying at me.

But I stayed the course, did not leave with the crazy toddler, and even walked up for communion at the appropriate time- clutching my apparently featherweight skirt around my legs like a security blanket. And after we left, I still felt decently good. Like sure, I had been the equivalent of the village harlot, but I prayed and took communion and hadn’t burst into flames and who among us has not been pantsed by their toddler, answer me that.

And then, on the half block walk home, I read the church bulletin and their updated summer dress code:

Absolutamente ningun…

It took me a minute to translate.

…Absolutely no…tank tops.

I may just have to move.



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