Holier Than Thou // An Open Apology

Before I had Marcus I thought I had parenting figured out. If I was annoyed by an unruly child in a store, or heaven forbid on an airplane, I would be one of the first to roll my eyes and grumble something along the lines of "Get your kid under control."

Then I became a parent.

That little life sucking being, whom I love and adore, and would gladly chop off my right arm for, can sometimes be a real pill. Sometimes that pill can spill beyond the comforts of my home. Sometimes my bag of tricks just doesn't quite cut it when it comes to places like the grocery store, on an airplane, and my latest most dreaded place to go - church.

You see, in the last year Scott and I have transitioned from going straight to the cry room (in my world it's also known as 'the penalty box') before church even begins, to immediately joining the rest of the congregation. We believe we are at the point where Marcus needs to learn that there is a time and place where he must act like a civilized human being. The penalty box is kind of a free for all, and that's not teaching Marcus why we are at church.

We attend the 'children's mass,' which would lead one to believe it would be a welcoming environment for families with kids. It is. If your children sit stone still and don't utter a peep. Asking me for a peep-less-hour filled with sitting still is basically like asking me to tame a stampeding heard of hungry elephants.

The bag of stuff I bring to church is ridiculous. The number of "quiet" games and toys I'm able to pack, along side the cornucopia of snacks in my purse is comical. My purse is the tiny clown car where clown after clown pile out; I just keep pulling stuff from the purse with no end in sight.

I'm not alone in the struggle. Two of my good friends attend the same Mass, and each of my friends has two kiddos to keep entertained (God bless those parents with multiple kids - for real). We band together, the group of moms (plus Scott), trying to do our best to keep the kids happy and quiet. But, we have our days. Believe me when I say we know when people in the congregation are less than thrilled with our presence. On multiple occasions we've been on the receiving end of nasty looks, heads shaking, and scoffs, most obviously intended for us. Either these people have never had children, forgot what it's like to have children, or are simply holier than thou.

There was even a Mass where one of the priests spoke during the homily about how children should act in church…

The one place where we should feel the most welcomed is often one of the least welcoming places I visit.

I've begged Scott to skip just. one. Sunday. I've made my case that the only thing I get from Mass is sweaty arm pits (because I'm so freaking stressed out) and communion right before we make a mad dash for the exit.

If we skip church what are we teaching Marcus? That poor behavior gets a 'free pass' from places we might not want to go? That sitting still and remaining quiet aren't sometimes social necessities? That when people make us feel uncomfortable we should run and hide?

We will keep going. And someday (God help me) Mass we will enjoyable again.

Lastly, to any parent to whom I at one time rolled my eyes, or grumbled words that didn't raise you up or encourage you as you drudged through the trenches of your most difficult parenting days, I truly am sorry. Please forgive me.
Now I get it.

If I see you weary eyed and stumbling along in the store, on a plane, or even in church, I'll likely be one of the first to offer a toy car, a bag of goldfish, or maybe even the coveted Dum Dum sucker (I'm not above pulling one of those out for five minutes of sanity, don't judge).  I can only hope that others, parents or not, will take note and follow suite.

Bringing our little terrors joys out into public might become an easier task if we all simply lent a helping hand instead of scoffing and throwing spiteful glances.
We'll get there, little man. It may take several years of uncomfortable Sundays, but we'll get there.


  1. This post really touched me, Desiree. As parents now and as people in a former life {AKA before kids} we've been on both sides of the fence - it's easy to see both sides. I often think that when people have a problem with our kids, they forget that they used to be a child once themselves but if I'm offering grace, that's easy to forget too. In a perfect world, we would all just simply love and help one another and I think that's what makes me feel the saddest because it used to be that way. Communities and families helped raise our children - it was literally the mentality "It takes a village." I know for us we've often times felt that Maddy's behavior was so bad that we shouldn't go out in public but then, like you said, what does that really teach? So off we go and Chickie will learn how to act in public. You are a fabulous mother and Marcus is SO LUCKY to have you and Scott. You are doing good work, the hardest work you will ever do in your life and that beautiful boy is a testament to your commitment to his well-being. Great post, friend. XO

  2. This post makes me happy that you see the importance and have the desire to be consistent even when it's hard. But it also makes me sad that people would eye roll a 2 year old in church. WHAT?! That is just crazy talk. To bad y'all aren't closer you could come to church with us where we are affectionately known as the beards and babies church we have tons of both and nobody minds when a kid acts like a kid one bit :).

    Crazy when you look back and realize that you were once naively a total jerk. I have done that SO MANY times.

  3. Yes! So hard to keep the littles contained, especially at church. When we first went to our church, it had no nursery, but now they do, so the boys are shipped off there. I usually bring them back up for communion and the last song. Before we took them to the nursery, I had a bag of stuff packed just for church. Henry didn't get to play with it any other time of the week...and it somewhat helped, but was still a struggle. The nursery is supposed to be for kids 4 & under, and Henry turns 5 in January, so we'll be transitioning him back to sitting in church. Lord help me.... My mom would say you're doing great for taking him there...even if it is a struggle each week. I agree. Chin up, mama!

  4. Beautiful photo!
    Goodness, church is SO hard with little ones! I went through a period where I wondered why we even bothered going considering we spent our time in the halls so that Mia wouldn't disturb everyone else around us! But we kept going (knowing that it was important to us) and like you, I pack the bag full of more crap than I thought possible (ha!) hoping to keep her quiet and entertained. We still get the stink eye every once in awhile, but thankfully we are encouraged to welcome the crazy kids instead of stare down the parents until they take their little ones out of the service. But it's hard. It's SO hard! You're doing an AMAZING job, momma!!

  5. Everyone else might not have the right attitude but YOU do... you're doing the right thing and it will get better! Your post reminded me of an old post from Momastery (not sure if you read her blog) and while the theme is different, I thought you'd appreciate reading it to see you're (obviously!) not the only one who goes through these moments! http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

  6. Oy. If I haven't said I feel your pain enough, I'm going to say it again. I feel your pain. I'm out of ideas to keep Em entertained and our church doesn't even have a penalty box (it's like 10,000 years old). I honestly get a pit in my stomach every time we pull into the parking lot because I know the next hour will be filled with wrangling Emma and unsuccessfully keeping her quiet. Two weeks ago, she walked right out of our pew and when we asked where she was going she told us "Going to look for some french fries". Of course she has no concept of whispering either...so that was fun. I just keep holding onto the hope that someday, she will understand why we go to church and actually participate. Someday.

    And to those eye rolling, nasty look throwing people... one day they'll get it too. Karma really is a bitch. :)

  7. Yep, yep, and yep. Good post, spot on. And those eye rollers can kiss my butt - obviously they have forgotten what it's like to have kids, and have forgotten how kids cannot be expected to be perfect little angels 100% of the time, and how looooong and booorrring a homily can be, even for us adults. I'm going to link your post to mine today, if you don't mind, and add to this.

  8. Keep your head up! If DOES get easier, especially if you are committed to going regularly. We still sit in the very back pew since there is no "penalty box". However, with the exception of a quiet squabble here and there they now do AMAZiNG!!! For real, our oldest two (5&7) actually participate and know 90% of the prayers! I never thought we'd get to this point, halleluiah!!!!!! (Confession time: still not brave enough to take them by myself though)

  9. Hindsight can be such a beast sometimes. Like, man I was so judgy and unhelpful ALL those times. Sometimes it is just hard to get it when you haven't experienced sadly. But, now we know! Even thinking about taking Aria to church makes me nervous, sounds impossible and unpleasant. Good for you for sticking with it! He will learn! All will be fun again, someday!

  10. YES YES YES! We haven't been to church since Mac was born because we know it's not going to be pleasant and impossible to make him sit still for an hour. I know he has to learn eventually, but how do I do that when I'm terrified of going. I don't want to be "those" parents for exactly the same reasons you state here. I wish people were a bit more accepting and understanding. Hang in there, you're doing great! The fact that you're going at all is amazing.

  11. I hear ya! Drew is just now getting more comfortable with being super quiet in church, but he only sits with us for a bit and then he's off to Sunday School.

  12. I can't imagine trying to do this every week. I mean we don't even take callie out to eat because she won't sit still (she's ok at quiet just not still). Kudos to you momma for doing it! And you're right you would think a "children's mass" would be welcoming. I don't know what the solution is but so many people are judgy mc judgy for not reason. I mean kids are going to be kids that's just how it is. Thanks for sharing on this and I hope soon it gets easier for you!

  13. I think if they don't want to be bothered by children then they shouldn't attend the children's mass. It is hard to ask a child to sit still for an hour especially in a place that they can't quite comprehend. I can still remember my mom bringing paper and crayons for mass. I would use the pew as my desk and color a picture for the priest.

  14. The only way we've been able to attend church is if Connor goes to the nursery and plays but like you said, he isn't learning much "chuch"like topics there. He is simply playing. I think the boys being 2 is going to test us in ways we never imagined. However, I agree with you when it comes to making Marcus do things he doesn't want: church, grocery.. life, because if not, you are showing him he gets his way and being a little snot will get him what he wants: out of church or candy or toys are whatever. I try to hold out on C the best I can but sometimes, damn!!! Have whatever you want, just let me checkout in peace.

  15. Yes Yes Yes. I so agree. While we don't go to church, I find it hard to take Mason some places by myself. I usually find it easier to take Seth too because I feel like it Mason gets unruly then we can tag team while I finish the shopping. Luckily those places don't require Mason to be quiet per se, but you do get some lovely looks at the grocery store when you are practically throwing snacks at your kid and then saying "fine, here's my phone. just sit down in the cart for 5 more minutes!!!" and then he throws all the magazines off the check out stand line. Yeah...
    But I so agree with you. Children's mass should be WELCOMING. If you want a completely silent, adult only mass, simply please go to a different time. Children's mass should be a place that you feel completely welcome and able to bring your family. I think you are doing all the right things. Keep doing what you're doing. I can bet you anything that in a few short months, when Marcus is able to sit still for all of mass, those people will be the first to give you compliments on how well behaved your kid is.

  16. Have you tried quiet books? They are all the rage with Mormon families, but I've seen just Bible ones, too. http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=church%20quiet%20books&term_meta%5B%5D=church%7Ctyped&term_meta%5B%5D=quiet%7Ctyped&term_meta%5B%5D=books%7Ctyped