Humble Pie in My Sunday Best

So, I celebrated getting my hearing back a little too soon! Overnight last night, the ear clogged again, and I am hearing in a vacuum today.

Being the mother of strong-willed children who enjoy speaking at the same volume as the priest, or playing peekaboo with people behind us, or protesting loudly when unable to receive Communion, I have spent the better time of my blogging days advocating mothers with small children continue to take their children to Mass.

Small children belong in Mass. They belong with Jesus!

I have had a pretty intolerant attitude toward those who do not embrace small children at Mass, or who frown at the wiggles one sees coming from a pew full of children. I was up front in understanding there may be reasons why they come across as unfriendly, intolerant, or upset at the constant commotion a family brings to Mass. Yet, I admit I have been unsympathetic to their possible plight.

I have been told in the past I have intimidated others because of my body language – I kind of have a “RBF” – Resting *itchy Face. I get so lost in my thoughts, I don’t pay attention to the facial expressions I use; and, since I’m an introvert, as much as I genuinely enjoy people, making friends wears. me. out.

So, what does that all have to do with today’s experience in Mass?

Today, I sat in Mass, barely hearing. It took every ounce of concentration to listen to what the priest was saying. And, although I’m not sure it was because of my hard-of-hearing nature, or just the day it was in church, it felt as though every small child was acting up – mine included.

They weren’t crying – but, they were being loud! And, my job was to make sure my daughter was being quiet – and, not trying to engage in loud conversation with the toddler in the pew behind us. Or, the baby in the back of the chapel. Given the clogged ear, I also am at a disadvantage because I can’t tell how loud I am truly whispering or speaking.

So, I didn’t know if I was coming or going today – or, if my corrections and attempts to redirect my daughter were loud enough for her, or worse yet, quiet enough for those around me.

I had to take a leap of faith that my corrections and redirections were keeping my daughter as quiet as possible, and not interfering with another person’s ability to worship.

Today, I wasn’t able to focus on Mass – simply because there were too many moving parts. There were too many kids chattering, too many cries, too many times I became distracted by the own exploration going on in my pew to sit and pay attention to what the priest was actually doing at the front of the chapel.

The music was muffled, and the chaplain was muffled. I noticed that, while I got the first paragraph of our chaplain’s homily today, the rest is history since I spent the rest of it distracted by my own Lil’ Miss and her shenanigans. While I went through the motions, I didn’t get to focus on the Consecration – only because I was distracted.

Yet, what today did was open my eyes to another set of parishioners.

I finally realize why some people, especially those hard of hearing, may be frowning at a family with small children. It isn’t because of the children; it’s because they are trying their hardest to concentrate! 

And, in an effort to concentrate and hear the words of Mass, and be prayerfully centered, they may occasionally glance in the direction of the extra noise; if they are like me with their naturally RBF, the parent may automatically assume they are being judged.

When they aren’t.

Perhaps that person who may be hard of hearing is sitting there scowling at the extraneous noise.

Or, perhaps they are sitting there, marveling and reveling at the fact that the parent is keeping as much under wraps as is possible. 

Perhaps that person is sitting there scowling at not being able to concentrate on the priest and the priest’s words.

Or, perhaps they are sitting there, trying to remember the last time they fought the hard battle of keeping little ones successfully redirected.

Perhaps the person is sitting there scowling because they can’t believe they came to a Mass with a ton of children and families.

Or, perhaps they are sitting there, praying for the family and children – especially that the children are able to maintain the Faith as they get older.

The point, dear reader, of my post today, is to possibly offer another point of view.

Today was hard for me. But, it was also humbling.

I walked away from Mass with a completely different perspective of the person who may have inadvertently made me feel unwelcome in my five years of taking a small one to church.

The point of today’s post is to serve as a reminder – that perhaps our sensitivity as mothers of small children make us predisposed to mind-read what another person in the pew is thinking. We automatically get defensive and also work our tails off trying to ensure we aren’t creating a larger scene than we think.

Yet, in reality, perhaps our “scene” isn’t so much as a scene, as it is a time to remember that every person is on a spiritual journey. 

The point of today’s post is a gentle reminder to not judge a book (or persona) by its (his/her) cover – to not judge the person we perceive is scowling at us.

Instead, let us maintain our focus as parents of small children – to pray for those in our pews – our family and friends seated with us.

Let us remember to pray for those in the pews around us – that they are able to maintain a sense of focus on the real reason we congregate together – to celebrate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and to worship our Lord in Heaven with all the angels and saints!

I spent a lot of time in prayer today that my family wasn’t a distraction. I offered prayers for the other families struggling with their children. I offered prayers for other parishioners. I offered prayers that my children always feel welcomed and wanted at Mass.

I could only do so much today, and while I admit I wasn’t focused on the Mass, I was focused on praying fervently!

And, I realized how grateful I was for this alternate view of a subset of parishioners in my life who have another side of the story to tell. I was grateful for another perspective – one which allowed me to have empathy for a group of people I admit were previously judged in my ignorance.

I’ll be linking up with Rosie over at A Blog for My Mom for her weekly My Sunday Best series. Today’s jeans and shirt are courtesy of Motherhood Maternity. The bright yellow sweater courtesy of being handmade about six years ago for a local Mom ‘n Pop shop in my in-laws’ hometown. The boots came from somewhere, maybe five years ago? Maybe three?

If you’d like to read more on my thoughts specifically about the Feast of Epiphany, head over to my Instagram account where I discuss My Mass Takeaway. Or, for more collection of writers discussing their Mass Takeaway, head on over to Sara’s blog, as she compiles reflections for her weekly My Mass Takeaway post.

8 thoughts on “Humble Pie in My Sunday Best

  1. I always say to those who “frown” at the kids, (little ones as I do think there is an age a kid should just know better) anyways when the frown comes or the comments are made, I always say, “We are Catholics and we do support life.” Kind of hushes all of those around you.

    Now I do believe when one is screaming to the top of their lungs the parent does need to take the child elsewhere until they calm down. I think the respect on this has to play out both ways.

    I do agree with you though, “Parents take your kids to Mass.” God Bless, SR

    1. Thank you!

      I agree – if the child is screaming, take them out until they calm down. But then, bring them back.

      I was hoping to convey – I’m sure I had a perpetual frown on my face all day today. And, I got flustered a few times. But, it wasn’t an annoyance at anyone else, and rather, an annoyance at myself. So, if that’s how I felt (and I am typically of sound hearing), then I can only imagine what another is feeling when they haven’t heard clearly in a long time.

    2. Anni I remember that sweater so well! I still have my pink one like it. That’s quite an epiphany you had—it’s so easy to assume people are judging us when they may be entirely preoccupied in another direction.

      1. It is! It’s quite the epiphany this Feast of Epiphany! 😂

        It made me recognize my own ignorance of the “other side”!

  2. Assuming the best intentions is so important! I see so many articles about snarky responses to comments and nasty looks that CLEARLY mean something horrible… We’d all be better off being as charitable as possible!

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