Family of Four

Family of Four

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Moment of Defeat

This morning was a bit trying for me as a mom. To fully grasp my feeling of defeat let me give you a bit of back story on my church going experience and decisions up to this point.

From the very first time I attended church with a little in tow, I have opted to keep McKenzie with me during the service rather than leave her in the nursery. The ultimate decision stemmed from no other reason than I did not know where the nursery was, nor how it worked to bring drop your little off. I came from a very large church as a kid where it didn't seem like a big deal to take littles into the age appropriate nursery, but smaller churches, like the one I attended at the time, and attend now, are a bit foreign to me and I, honestly, was just to shy to ask. Yes ... while it may come as a shock to some, on occasion I can be quite shy and it's rather crippling when it happens. 

The decision wasn't inconvenient at all as she was still small enough to sit quietly in her car seat or even sleep through the service. As she got older, more explorative and a little less content with sitting for that long, we had an infant cry room we could retreat to. It worked pretty well for us and I took pride that my daughter and I were attending church together and I could teach her to be reverent and become a "good church goer". 

It wasn't until we moved and started attending a new church that this all began to unravel. Out of habit, I just took her into the service with me. The first several times I could keep her occupied enough and have only had to step out of the service once or twice. It wasn't until the last few weeks (while she has become the source of constant chatter) that I have struggled to keep her quiet and content for the hour-long service. 

I started bringing treats, which helped and then last week I brought a few small, quiet toys to keep her occupied. But, the whole time I kept looking at her and thinking how pointless it was for her to be taking up a chair next to me to just live in her own world of toys and snacks. But, I figured she;s in that awkward phase of vocalization without any realization of the need to be quiet during certain times. Plus, it was just another step to teaching her to be reverent and respectful to those around her during service, right? And then there is the whole thought that she's still too young to understand the sermon and teachings just yet.

That brings us to today. I went to church armed with similar items to the week before - snacks, toys, her new book. We arrived just a few minutes before the service began, and because we are still so close to Christmas, seating was limited. we would up in the middle of a row, toward the middle of the room - I tend to sit on the outer edges and near the door, for a quick escape should I need it. Immediately she started interacting with her fellow church goers and turning around to see who was behind her. I was able to refocus her attention on her toys and some fruit snacks, but that was fleeting. She saw a little girl walking down the aisle with her mom and insisted she wanted to walk to. Luckily she quickly sat and I pointed it out and she was calm for another moment. Within a few minutes another outburst occurred. I took her out to the lobby and let her calm down. We returned to church and lasted another 10 minutes before she wanted to stand on the chair and her foot got stuck in the slot on the side of the chair meant for the bible. I gave in, gathered our stuff and retreated to the lobby. We sat for a moment to see if we could come back from the situation and once again return (perhaps to the back of the room this time). It was right then that the nursery door opened, saw a few kids playing and she screamed "PLAY WITH TOYS!" 

I was beyond mortified as everyone's attention was now on us. I gathered her up, was about to leave and then thought. Why not? Why do I force her to be with me just to play with her own toys next to me and keep me on high alert so as not to bother anyone around us, when I could let her play and enjoy the service? I popped in and, rather embarrassed, asked how it worked and he gave me the nod of approval to just leave her to play. 

As I quietly found my way back to my seat, I felt like crying. I couldn't believe that I had such little control over her in this moment that I had to ditch her to play while I worship. Not to mention this all unfolded among a room of strangers who saw me return sans child. I had to fight the feeling the rest of service and in the quiet of communion fought back a flood of emotion (I blame the pregnancy) for being a failure at keeping my kid quiet in church. I took a bit of solace in the fact that there was not another child her age in the service with their parents. Younger, yes, older, many, but no uncontrollable toddlers, like her. Maybe I was just finally catching on to something? Regardless, I felt defeated, and honestly, still do. 

After service I picked her up, head hanging a little low and received good news that she was very well behaved and played well with others (at least something I have tried to instill in her is sticking). She said thank you to the nursery/preschool teacher and we were on our way. I think part of my "shame" in putting her in nursery but simultaneously, having her cause any disturbances at all, is from being the new girl in church. but not only that, one of the youngest {adult} church goers in that service and sans my husband.

So now I must decide what to do next week. Do I just suck up my pride and let her play during service, or give it another try with me? We shall see. In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you do with your littles during church. Do they sit with you? If so, do they sit contently or is it a constant struggle? Do you bring a "bag of tricks" to keep them behaved? Or, do they go to nursery/Sunday school while you attend service? What age did they start? So many questions for just one hour of one day a week! 

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