Yeah, that’s my kid by Sarah Reinhard

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reinhard_sarahDid you look around at me when you heard the shrill scream after my daughter bit her finger this morning?  Yeah, that’s right, it’s my kid who interrupted the homily, and it was my kid who was chowing on Cheerios right out of the gate.  I don’t mean to be defensive; I just want you to know.  I get defensive when I’m at another parish, but not at home.  At home, I get comments afterward about how her happy noises are inspiring, how the moms never even heard her, how her laughs are well-timed for the consecration.  At home, I find myself distracted when she’s not with me and feeling like I’ve lost a limb or some other vital part of my body.  At home, I feel as safe and as comfortable as I do with family, and isn’t that just what it is?

But…to travel is to take this warm fuzzy feeling and to test it for all it’s worth.  One weekend, we got glaring looks at a parish with a cry room because we weren’t in it with our happy infant.  The guy in front of us could have had a checkerboard on his back, it was so stiff.  Now, in charity, I prayed for him and asked God to help him with his back problem.  It wasn’t until passing the peace that I got the hint about my daughter being the cause for his back problems.  And the older couple across the aisle…I had to practically go to confession after I allowed the look they shot us to distract me from Heaven on Earth and think about how lonely it must be to not like children in Mass.

Not that I’m a fan of misbehaved children, and not that I’m trying to raise one (and hopefully more) that are like that.  Not that I don’t hear what people are saying when they try to tactfully talk about food during Mass.  Not that I don’t roll my eyes myself and struggle with my own tongue’s scathing comments (because there’s a plywood board in my eye, you see, and before I can remove it, I have to remove that foot from my mouth).

I tell the young mothers in our parish that they have an important role in bringing their infants, toddlers, and difficult children to Mass week after week.  (And daily Mass at our parish is blissful – the crew often tells me “ah, she’s a CHILD; we love to have her here!”)  On the one hand, they are setting an important example for other people, including those who don’t yet have children and those who do already.  It takes courage to take on that hour, and it exhibits nothing less than trust in God some weeks!  But it also reminds those around us just how children are.  They aren’t quiet all the time, and they don’t sit still all the time.  My daughter often waves at the people kneeling innocently unawares behind us, and we can’t correct it out of her (and in some ways, isn’t that the sort of friendliness and family-ness that we’re looking for?).  It gets those other people in Mass used to kids, and it puts the words “we are family-friendly” into practice.  It sends all the kids in Mass an important message too, and it puts more of “their own kind” there with them.  It also sets them on that path to Heaven, and isn’t that our ultimate goal for them?

So stay strong!  Yeah, that’s your kid making all the noise.  As Father Pat says, they’re talking to the angels.  And who knows what the angels are saying back?

Copyright 2009 Sarah Reinhard

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5 Comments

  1. Jesus said, “Bring the children to Me…” I often speak on this subject, Sarah. I have a few posts about it and articles and mention it in my books. Thanks for talking about it because it’s so important. Young families shouldn’t have to feel that they are unwelcome to participate at the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Of course, we need to be mindful and if things are getting out of control, we quietly walk to the back or outside with our noisy child for a time. Then, we tiptoe back in and pick up where we left off. Our Lord knows…He’s the One who made us the Moms. 🙂 I agree with you, Sarah, parents should “Stay strong!” and know that they are in the right place. Our Lord calls us all to worship and participate. Let’s pray for the ones who are not particularly appreciating our presence at Mass.

    God bless!

    Donna-Marie

  2. Loved the article! I remember bringing my kids(who are now older) to Mass each Sunday, and boy was it a struggle and the dirty looks I would receive did not help much. I completely agree with the mindset of being open that it was you child. Hopefully people become more tolerant of children at Mass because it is a great thing to bring your children from an early age.

    God Bless,

    Thomas

  3. Sarah, great article. My children are grown now but I remember those days well. I tried the crying room at our old church once and it was a circus in there!! There was no feeling of having had attended Mass at all. And our children were not learning how to behave in church. They were not learning anything about Jesus either. So we went into the main church with our two little boys and we sat in the front row, figuring they could see better what was going on. That helps a lot! Children need to be at Mass. And we all know Jesus wants them there. God bless.

  4. I totally agree and love seeing kids in Mass. I grew up in very mainstream Protestant denomination and this wasn’t generally encouraged. When I became Catholic two of some of my favorite things about the Mass were being able to take the kids in and kneelers. Kneeling in church– what a cool concept! Keep up the good work!

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