At one of the churches we go to (we hop around depending on Little Man’s schedule), they have this in the pews:
Can I tell you that I absolutely love this? It’s not just written for the parents of small children, but also to those in the parish who are there without children.
I’ll admit that there was a time when I was young (probably high school) where I was annoyed with parents and their little kids at church. The kids were distracting, the parents were distracting while trying to take care of the kids, and no one was quiet ever. I would sigh to myself and roll my eyes to myself and try to pay as much attention as I could to what was going on in the Mass and kind of sort of wishing that the people with kids would just sit in the back or something.
And then I grew up.
I started thinking about how I should pray for the mom trying to struggle to wrangle her overly active two-year-old daughter. I should pray for the father of the newborn who had colic and started crying right during the consecration (P.S. — Does every parent pray please-just-stay-quiet-please-just-stay-quiet during the consecration as much as I do?). I should pray for the parents trying to patiently explain to their kids all of the things going on during the Mass as they kneel in the front.
So, that’s what I started doing. Praying for all of the parents and grandparents around me at Mass. I love that this church is so accepting of children and their “wiggles”. By being welcoming to my baby, I feel like I belong there. If I went to a church where I got the stink-eye from most of the parishoners as I walked Little Man to the back of the church so he can practicing toddling back and forth between the windows, I wouldn’t feel like my family belonged.
Next time you see a mom or dad lugging a diaper bag full of teething toys or swaying back and forth with a baby while pleading for them to take the stupid pacifier, say a little prayer for them and make them feel welcome.