Sunday, August 30, 2020

Picking Up the Pieces, Picking Up my Cross

Dearest Philip,

How are you in heaven? Have you been busy testing your wings in your free time or have you been swamped with prayer requests during your "working hours"?
It's been almost a year since we last met. Despite the reasons to smile and be grateful for, there hasn't been a day when mummy stopped thinking or missing you. 

Since your passing, (other than having another baby 😅) I did many things to deal with your absence. I stayed away from big gatherings so that I didn't need to deal with pitiful or sympathetic conversations, I stayed away from babies who are similar to your age so as not to be reminded of my loss, I even locked myself in my own cocoon so that I didn't need to wear any mask to cover the rawness of the pain.

I have heard many people commenting that time will heal the pain. To that, I have learnt to just smile and keep quiet. Maybe they are right.. maybe they have experienced something in life that I have yet to learn, or maybe it's just that they are really blessed to not have lost something that mattered more than life to them. 

But the biggest struggle I had after you died ironically wasn't dealing with your absence but with my own guilt. 
I had always wondered if I had done enough for you, if I had really shown you in my capacity how much I love you. The night before your death, daddy and I even dressed ourselves up to attend a function because we didn't want to dampen the spirits of the people who were there. And even though we left 5 minutes into the start of the event, I'd always wondered if you had blamed me for not being around you more. Not many people knew this, but the reason why I never opened the casket during your wake was because the c-pap mask that you wore during the last days of your life had caused an abrasion and a dent at your nose area which I only noticed it after they removed the mask when they died. You must have been really uncomfortable during that time but I wasn't able to offer any consolation. You were left on the hospital ward for quite some time because daddy and I couldn't find your original birth certificate and because of that you couldn't be transferred to the mortuary. 
At times I read about stories of children going through the same cancer as you. Most of them don't make it but because they underwent chemotherapy and radiation, they did live longer. And I wondered too if our lives would be different if I had chosen the chemo route for you. 
I replayed your last few months in my head throughout the year and always wondered did we do enough  for you and more importantly did we tell you enough that we love you. 

The gospel today reminded me a very harsh truth what being a disciple meant - to carry my cross daily. Darling, unfortunately you will always be my cross I would need to bear till I die. When you died last year, a part of me died together with you. 
And even though you were with us for only 6 months, you truly taught me so much more than what I have learnt in my whole life. When the doctors told me about your diagnosis, it was not only the first time I actually felt any concrete pain in life, but the first time I had experienced the cross. My faith was crumbling and there were moments when I doubted the goodness of God. 

Because of you, I have learnt to understand the phrase "not my will but yours be done". On the day of your funeral, not only did I bury you, I also needed to bury my disappointments and my dreams I had for you. But I came to learn that while there was nothing wrong with my hopes and dreams, God just had a very different plan and vocation for you. And it was through you, mummy learnt to ask for strength to surrender. 

It didn't take me long to realise that nothing will ever be possible to fill the void you left behind. It's ironic, but human logic of finding something else to fill the void doesn't help in the healing. Healing ironically came when mummy decided to give away more of her heart to those around her.
Because of this pain I experienced, I have learnt to reach out to more people who are struggling with a little more humility and compassion. And each time when they opened their lives and hearts to me, that small part of my heart starts to become alive again.

I have learnt to be okay with God's choice of not healing you, because even though I am your mummy, I know that He loves you more than I do. Thank you baby, for jumpstarting my relationship with God, for teaching me in a very concrete manner how to submit to my daily cross. 
It's been one year since I last saw you... but it's also one year closer to meeting you again. So until I get my chance to hold you again, I promise you that mummy is going to live her life and laugh again. And know that every breath I take, I'll be taking one for you. 💕

Always missing you,

P a few weeks before he died
P a few weeks before he died

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Growing with Grief

It has been four months since I have made a new friend - Grief. Not that I ever welcomed her into my life, or that I asked to hang around, but she decided to make herself comfortable and stay on.
I soon got comfortable with her and somehow I realised that till the day that I die, she will be my constant companion.

Many don't realise it and tell me that with time, she will become a stranger and slowly fade away. However, those who told me so, probably have never lost a piece of their hearts before. There are both good and bad things about grief. The good, I always tell others, is that life will never get worse. The bad and saddest thing is, unfortunately, life will just go on. 

Since my last blog entry, I said that I was staying in my tomb for quite a bit.  Being in my tomb was probably like being at the bottom of the mountain, seeing and learning different views which being on the mountain top will never be able to help me see. 

1) We often credit God way tooooo much for our own good.
In the past four months, I kept hearing people commenting about how God has a better or greater plan for me. Like how He will never give me a cross way too big for me to bear. *Rolls eyes* (apparently my sarcasm did not die with Philip
That initially made me wonder what did I do so wrong or so right that God decided to give me such a big cross. (I mean it would be wayyyyyyyyy easier to love God if He could just reward me with a big lottery win) But it seemed that because humans need to have an explanation for everything, we console ourselves by telling us that God can't be that cruel to us. 
Or how maybe God was just doing me a favour by saving me a greater heartache and taking Philip to a better place now. (Of which I smiled and decide to walk away)

Unfortunately, I didn't do anything right (or wrong) to have what I got. It was all the while going to be my life. God didn't give me the cross. He did however allow it to happen and with it He gave me the right people to journey with and watch out for me. The right enough raw ingredients of hope, faith and grace to recognise that there is something to look forward to even if I were to die tomorrow. (Which obviously I hope I don't) And from those raw ingredients, hopefully it will grow and become a testimony that He had never abandoned me. 

2) Grief was never meant to imprison a soul
I shared with some friends whom I still meet up with that "Call me if you need me" is probably one of the worst lines I would want to hear in times of grief from a friend. Not many realise that the person whom they say it to hardly use that "call me" card. 

Many friends thought I needed time and left me alone. I don't blame them for personally death isn't something many are comfortable to deal with. The unfortunate thing was, not many realised that I didn't need time alone or to be left alone... I needed them. Unfortunately, being in your own tomb, causes one to look inward, at one's pain, one's misery and just at oneself.
I became selfish and excused myself from many of the gatherings they have organised. Afterall, I thought whether I appeared or not, the gathering would still happen, so why should I go? The gathering seemed to fulfill their need of void of boredom rather than comforting me in my loss. 

Yet, I learnt that the purpose of grief wasn't to highlight the unfairness of life, but to emphasize the importance of joy. It does seem ironic, but people seem to appreciate the gift of joy more when it comes from someone who would be filled with pain. It was as if many aspired to want to be joyful than be cynical. 
Just like because of Easter and Good Friday, we can appreciate the gift of Christmas (cuz if not, it's just another baby's birthday?) And so with pain, one learns the magic of joy. 

3) Life is better when you don't need answers
After Philip died, I wondered if I had done enough. The memories of having him in my arms broke my heart, but the "what ifs" I had killed me. "What if we decided to do chemotherapy?", "What if we started treatment earlier" or "What if he was around still?". These questions get worse when you grief somehow. 

Till now, I can't tell you why Philip was given to me only for 6 months. I can't tell you also why God decided to allow one to go through disasters or any calamity. And for the rest of my life, I would probably be pondering on that just like how Mary did till the day she died. She who survived through the death of her spouse and son would probably wonder what did she say yes to. She was afterall (just) doing God's work and she got everything seemingly against her. 

But her doubts, questions and heartaches never made her think twice in who she believed in. And the sooner one realises that one can never answer (and not need to answer) all the questions in life, the sooner you will be able to appreciate life and its surprises better. 

Letting God be God was one of the hardest thing I learnt in 2019. It probably gets harder as we age because we start to attach job scopes and images to what God has to be in order to be "God". But we forget that we are not God and everything is a gift. All my life I have been taught to pray and get what I want, but now a wise priest has told me to start wanting what I got.
I learnt though that what He has taken will never be greater than what He will give. So be comforted that He is a wayyyyyy better God than the one we have in mind.

Image from

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The promise for Lazarus

It has been three weeks since Philip passed away. One of the hardest challenges now is finding the answer to the question "How are you?". Honestly, if I said I'm fine, it would be a lie really. And if I said I'm not, it will leave both of us (you more so) in a very awkward position. So I'm often quiet when I get that question, to which they will ask the poor mister how I am. 

But in case you still wonder if I am fine, I am fine enough to run the household, to still look pretty (ownself say ownself), to eat my meals and even laugh too. But no, I am not okay yet, which I had learnt just within weeks of P's death, that this grieving may continue till the day I die. Meeting up with more than 2 people (me included) may make me feel anxious. Even doing routine things I did before P's birth, feels different and empty. Almost everyday, there will be moments where I sit down and wallow in the void and just cry.
In short, my days are basically grouped into two - a bad day with some good moments or a good day with many bad moments.

It didn't help that it was my birthday a few days back (which left most of my friends in an awkward position whether to wish me a happy birthday or not). So just within weeks of sharing Philip's passing, my Facebook wall came to live once again with friends wishing me a Happy Birthday. My phone would buzz every few minutes with greetings from friends far and near. I would usually have acknowledged the greeting and just indulge in the attention given for that day. This year though, I just kept quiet.

The greetings I received from my Facebook were left unread, the messages I got from my phone were left unanswered. I was not interested in any of the messages related to my birthday. So yes, I had chosen misery over joy on my birthday. Or rather I didn't allow myself to find joy. After all, since Philip (whom I named after the patron saints of joy and hope) is gone, where is my joy and hope now?

I remembered when Philip was dying, I had asked a wise priest before if God had thought if I was going to screw up and that's why He took Philip away. But that priest reminded me that it will be an insult to God for He who is generous in His love, doesn't give only to see us fail. 

On the night after Philip's first surgery, I was somehow prompted to read the passage on the raising of Lazarus. And because I hardly have any inspirations to read the Bible, I thought it was God telling me that Philip would be okay, even if the odds seemed bad. But Philip died and there's no way now that P will come back to life (especially when his remains are really in an urn). Then why give such hope, I asked. 

Unfortunately or otherwise, hope is often used as synonyms as desire or wish. My wish was that Philip would be here with me but that isn't the hope that God had promised me from the beginning. God just told me to hold on to the truth that He won't fail. 
For He who knows the agony of hoping against all odds that things could change, will understand the depth of grief when they didn't.
And for He who chose the most painful human experience to sacrifice His Son for my salvation, will also weep when mine died. 
And for He who knows how much I can and will love my son, knows that that is only a fraction of how much He already loves me.
That has been the Hope that was promised to me since Day 1.

We managed to do a small
celebration for IZ
It is unfortunate that henceforth my birthday month will always remind me of P's passing (which means I won't know if I would acknowledge next year's greetings. Actually, anything in any day will do so too). Whilst birthdays focuses on the person, I chose then to focus on the pain since it was very much of me now. The "Happy" in Happy Birthday (and no.. the word "Blessed" also won't make a difference) seems to be ironic since I am far from that.
But birthdays, as the very wise priest pointed out, serve as a reminder that God hasn't forgotten about me and has spent is still spending time on me to work on me. (Such wisdom... What am I to do when this priest passes on?!?!) And a birthday should not be the only day we celebrate and remember that fact, but the evil one is always trying to tell me otherwise.  

In all tombs, including the one which Lazarus laid, life stopped. Truth be told, though not physically, a part of my heart had died and I had retreated to a tomb when P left me. While it may not be today or tomorrow, the Hope I have been assured of, promised me that it will resurrect one day. Many have told me before that with time, things will get better. I may be wrong, but time doesn't make the hurt go away. It will however, teach me lessons to put my hope and joy on the giver rather than on His gifts and patience to continue to wait in awe for that something great that is waiting to happen.

As for now, allow Jesus to sit with this "Lazarus" in the tomb to weep and to pray together with. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Dear Philip... With Love - Dad

How does one even begin to fathom what we have been through? Any parent who has lost a child will tell you their heart breaks 100%, even if they have other children.

How can we even begin to understand what suffering is? I am sure by now you would have known all the technical details about what Philip had to go through.

In suffering, there are two ways we can respond. We can always be inward looking and wallow in self-pity and despair; or we can choose to be life-giving, be outward looking and offer up our sufferings in exchange for graces for others who are hurting.

A wise priest once told Michelle and I that the strongest and most powerful prayers come from those who are hurting. Contrary to popular belief, we are not strong, like many of you claim us to be. We are just as weak, we cry uncontrollably and we often feel like we cannot carry on.
But it is when we are weakest and most helpless that we offer ourselves up to God to let him take over and direct our lives.

Instead of wallowing in self pity, we channel our energy to pray for that couple we know who are undergoing chemotherapy, that couple who have marital problems and are always quarrelling, that dear friend of ours who just had a bypass or a heart stent, that dear friend who is angry with God and doesn’t want anything to do with God anymore, our friends and family who are having some trouble with their work, their family problems or are in depression. It is not easy, but somehow it gets better when you pray for them and you know that God will make a difference in their lives.

We want to thank some people who have been on this difficult journey with us. Our dearest parents, who have been our pillars of strength to help us hold the fort at home and take care of our four kids.
Our helpers who also without complaining help to take care of the home and our children when we are away.

Philip’s godparents, Nick and Noeline and their beautiful family. We know you love him as much as we do, and pain must be like a sword that cuts through your hearts. My godson Daryl for helping me with all the behind the scene work.

Leo and Olivia who have been our pillars of emotional strength. Khay Guan, thank you for arranging all the medical stuff for me at NUH, going out of your way to connect us so that we could give Philip the best fighting chance he had. Dr Miriam, the only oncologist who believed in us. Brian and Coni, Fr JP, Fr Jude, Shawn and Petrina, Andrew and Pam and Mrs Tan, Elaine and Eugene, Le Peng and Barrie, who journeyed with us and made it a little more bearable along the way. Felicia and Terry, Daniel Ong, Kelvin and Yvonne, Mark and Noelle, our pillars of strength and dependability. Lilly and Steven and Fr Aloy for always keeping us in prayer.

Bernard and Ying, thank you for that initial conversation we had which totally changed our perspective of suffering from an inward looking one to a life-giving mentality. Your unshakable faith is the only reason we are here surviving today!

Last but not least, the very wise priest Msgr Ambrose Vaz. Thank you for listening to me and journeying with us. I reckon I still believe in God only because of what you said. It is always easy to get what you want, it takes great faith to want what you get, because God is the author of life and he has a greater plan for us all, even though we do not understand it at this moment in time.

Philip was named after the patron saint of joy, St Philip Neri. He was meant for great things, to bring joy to the people he met. I believe he had that charming effect on people and brought joy to all who interacted with him.

Philip is by far the bravest boy I’ve ever met! I have never met such a small boy who had to undergo two 5 hour surgeries, come out of it and still try his best to smile for you because he is genuinely happy to see you. His smile would melt a thousand hearts.

Today and henceforth I want you all to remember him as the happy baby whom you have met. It may be our physical loss that we can no longer hold and cuddle him, but it is for the greater good of all of you that we now have an angel in heaven who can help to convey your hurts and joys, your desires and your prayers to the Almighty one who is with Philip in heaven now.

My dearest darling boy, you did it. You beat us all to heaven. You are the best athlete I know. Now that you are with God, remember to intercede for us in our prayers. Remember to pray for your mummy and me and your siblings. Keep us on the straight and narrow path so that we will be able to be reunited again with you one day in heaven.

Meanwhile have fun exploring heaven with so many of your friends who are already there, while we on earth who have lost a child seek comfort in each other and hold on to the promise of a reunion in heaven when we eventually finish our race on earth.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Till we meet again, Philip

Two months ago, we discovered a lump in Philip's abdomen. Initially the doctors thought that it was the typical Wilm's tumor and assured us that his chance for recovery would be 98%.
Unfortunately, when they removed it, they found it to be a rare and malignant tumor called Rabdhoid Tumor. They had measured it to be 10cm long and told us then that we were looking at a 20-40% chance of success with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The next day they did a full body scan and found another 1cm tumor next to his brain stem. He needed to undergo another surgery two weeks later to remove that tumor but now his chance of success with chemotherapy would drop to 8% or less.
Just after 3 weeks from the second surgery, we felt another lump at his back. We went back to the Doctors and the ultrasound scan showed that the 10cm tumor which we had removed had returned and grown to 5cm. The scan also showed that the cancer has now spread to his liver. A week ago, Philip woke up coughing and wheezing in the middle of the night and we rushed him down to the hospital. They did a chest x-ray and found a 2.5cm tumor in his left lung.

I have thus far mentioned only all the bad news. Where is the Good news in all this then? For one, from now on, no one will dare to ask us if we are going to have another baby. (And yes after 5 kids, they still ask us to try for more kids.... I also don't know why)
But more importantly, the good news which I had learnt were all inspired by Philip.

After his first surgery, Philip needed to take medications orally. Not all of them tasted nice, but Philip would obediently take them whenever it is time. The teenager boy opposite him on the other hand would refuse his medication and just take them when he decides them to. Growing up makes us more independent but with that we choose to be our own God. We decide it's our time, our way and our life, we tell others that we don't need their help and with the little that we know, we put others down and refuse to listen to them.
Philip didn't. He didn't understand what was going on, but he just did what he was asked to do whether he liked it or not.

Philip did suffer the last two months. With each major surgery that he went through, he came out from the operating theatre with many tubes, needed to be suctioned at times and at many times, he needed to be poked. But when he had recovered and had felt better, he was ever ready to offer a smile even to the same nurse who had poked him not long ago.
Philip had put us adults to shame. When we had to go through something bad, we always choose to hang on to the pain. It was as if that pain was our justification to remain angry, to get another person's pity and attention and to make their lives miserable. Philip moved on, he cried when he was in pain, but he smiled too when things have improved. We, on the other hand, choose stay upset and cling on to our pains even when there was a reason to smile.

Make no mistake, Philip had really wanted to hang around and stay with us. Even at his deathbed, when his pulse slipped to 20, he had tried to climb it back to 120 twice before he gave up. Growing up screws us up real bad. We see the world with negativity and lose the meaning in life. We choose to give up and think that life can only be better if and when we go to the next world. While there was nothing wrong with heaven, Philip didn't see anything wrong being on earth. And honestly, what is so wrong and bad being here?

Philip had some difficulties peeing and pooping the last few days before his death. We were praying very hard and even encouraged him to pee at least, so that his abdomen wouldn't be so tight. Just half an hour before he died, he did it. It was as if he told God he needed to do this before he died because he needed us to know that he had heard our encouragement and more importantly God had heard our prayers.

A friend asked me recently at the wake what did I learn from the whole episode. I told her I learnt that in the past two months, faith aside, what carried me through was someone had offered us hope, like the doctor who respected and agreeable to our choice treatment. The result might have been the same but at least she helped us hope for a miracle.

Thank you sweetheart for choosing me to be your mummy. You were the gift in my life to teach me my life's mission - to give hope to someone else. Hope, faith, love and joy are very simple gifts that all of us have in us, yet because we "grew" up, we choose to downplay and devalue them.
We still feel the pain of the physical loss of Philip, but the hope that there's something to look forward to tomorrow, helps us through.

May all of you, choose to find the gifts in you and be the gift to those around you. I assure you, that's when you will find Good News.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

What my baby taught me about faith

Death can hit anyone and everyone regardless of their wealth, background or believes. Yet when it hits, the ones left behind are hit by the same wave of pain, grief and loss.

Though only six months, Philip has taught me more than I had taught him.

1. Have courage to live

Philip had to undergo two major surgeries in July. One was to remove a 10cm tumour with his left kidney and another was to remove a 1cm tumour beside his brain stem.
Yet despite the ardent recovery process of suctioning, poking and having tubes in him, he continued to remain positive and smile at those around him. 
image taken from
While most around us continue each day just to survive, he fought on to live. Perhaps that’s the beauty of being a baby. He did not know what the medical statistics against him were or what is going to happen and he found the courage to do what he needed to do and to do it with faith that it will be okay.
Since the beginning of time, God’s message to Adam and Eve was to not worry because there will be a future. But knowing that there is a future was not enough for them, they needed to know what is going to happen in the future.
As we grew, we became more worried about the next day rather than the day itself. Our fear of tomorrow’s unknown crippled our desire and excitement that awaits us today. 
Have more faith in God. He’s settled tomorrow so just enjoy and be present today.

2. Comfort - The true gift of prayer

image taken from
We had many questions during the past few months. “Why give Philip a cancer with so dismal prognosis?”, “Why was the cancer spreading so fast?” or “Why can’t Philip be cured?”. We prayed very hard each day, hoping to find answers to our questions. 
We prayed to God, Mother Mary, St. Jude, St. Charpel, St. Raphael and many others. But no answers were given. Up till now, we still do not understand why it had happened. 
But we had learnt throughout the past few months, that whilst sometimes prayers offer solutions and even answers, prayers were meant to offer comfort.
We did pray very hard daily hoping for a chance of miracle. But if you had ever wondered how we managed to go around being normal, it was not because we were great actors, it was because with prayers comes a little strength to continue to chart on for the day. 
If our God is a God of the living and the dead then the privilege of being a Catholic is we don’t just need to ask those on earth to pray for us, but those who have made it to heaven. Praying with them and along them gave us comfort that we are not abandoned by God in this difficult time and He still loves us very much.

3. Death does not need to have the last say

image taken from
Where is hope in times like these then? It remains a fact that Philip is no longer physically with us. Our hearts still ache and we are still learning to cope with this. But we still take comfort from our faith that we will meet each other again in heaven. I won’t be able to imagine how much worse I would feel, if we were taught that after he died he had reincarnated to be a cockroach or a mosquito. 
Thinking that he is now in heaven praying and watching over us with the other angels gives us consolation that one day when our time on earth is done, he will personally escort us to meet the Heavenly Father. 

We definitely would have wanted and hoped for more time with him. But 6 months of him is a bonus as well. Like many parents who have buried their children, the pain is indescribable. But we will live, because the God who was here today is already there tomorrow. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Small Triumph on Good Friday

It's been a longgg time since I had gone for a Good Friday's service (because it's not a day of obligation and it's really quite a longgggg service... don't judge) Especially when the kids came along, the thought of going for the service was even more unattractive.

Us at church to give thanks for
Baby Philip's first month
But ever since attending the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) last year, both D and I thought that we really should spend some time and effort on the kids' spirituality. Since then, we would go mass during birthdays and public holidays, bring the kids to adoration room for quiet time and even go for confessions with them regularly. This year, we went one step further and brought all five kids with us for the Good Friday's service.

I was personally apprehensive because even for a normal mass they can get distracted and restless, what more a 2.5 hr service. D and I agreed that if it gets too disruptive, we would leave halfway through. We left home at 8.45am for the 9am service and even though the church was just 3 minutes car ride away, we were still late. We ended up standing at the back of the church for the whole service. Julian and Kyra did test us once a while during the service, but by and large, they were still manageable and we actually survived the whole service! *Hurrah*

Now, before you think our kids are angels and we have no problem with them during mass, they are not. Our kids still think mass is boring (we need to work harder for their salvation now), struggle to sit still through mass (to be fair it isn't all of them... I mean Philip is just sleeping) and even argue and fight with each other DURING mass (so much for world peace).
We have been given the death stares by fellow parishioners (because the kids were not quiet... I mean... why would they when they are not sleeping?), miss parts if not a huge chunk of mass before (because during that one hour, someone either "needs" to go to the toilet or someone would be crying) and even been seen dragging our kids out of mass to talk about their behavior (so much for being a cool mum).

Yes, we had good days in church, unfortunately from our track record, we have far more bad days.
As much as it would be great if the fellow parishioners were kind to us, we learn that we need to be kind to ourselves too and accept the fact that while God would be pleased if our kids were good, it would also please Him as much when we are trying to help them to behave.

One of my Sunday reflections

Through the years, D and I prepared for mass by looking through the readings before it starts as it helps us to focus and tune in to what the priest would share. In fact, we both will try to find something that speaks to us through the readings or homilies and share with each other during lunch. (Something which I find help us to grow as a couple)

But looking back, I realised that going to mass is not the same as taking a plane. Don't be too preoccupied and worried if your child will be bored or restless in church. (They will be regardless with the toys or not)
Our responsibility isn't to entertain them in mass (they won't be even if you did) neither is it to make sure they understood what the priest is saying (they don't because chances are you won't too). In fact, despite going to mass regularly, our kids would rather stay home and rot than go to church.
Going mass as a family is really more for D and I than for them, for us to sustain through the week (and really not to kill our kids with every test they put us through) and be reminded time and again that God loves us.

Truth be told, we can't be sure if our kids love God. We aren't even sure if they know who is God. So with each mass we attend as a family, we really are like match making them with a Being based on our experience we have with Him. But the greatest comfort of this blind dating is that because our kids love us, they are always willing to give this Being a chance every time we go to Church.

Some of my friends have commented before that they can imagine how tough it would be going to mass with 5 kids, because they are dying with their 2 kids. But they don't realise that it is equally tough for that family bringing an elderly in wheelchair for mass, or that parent dealing with his only child who has ADHD, or even that lost soul who is trying to soften his heart to come back to church.
They don't realize that it is because we see these faces in church, we are in turn encouraged and
inspired to not give up trying. And while it seems that our fellow parishioners may be frowning on our kids' behavior, we forget that we also may be a source of encouragement and inspiration for someone else.

The evil one is always hard at work especially when we try to please God. So if it's not easy for you to do the right thing, be consoled that you are doing things right.
Just take one mass at a time. If this mass was trying, the next one will be better. :)

Image from