Why I Still Take My (loud) Kids to Church Every Week

I remember when I was a kid and my mom would take my two siblings and I to church every Sunday morning. She usually took us alone, as dad wasn't Catholic. Maybe it was just a skewed childhood perspective, possibly my believing I was a perfect little angel, but mom seemed to hold it together pretty unbelievably during Mass. Her kids were all closer together in age than mine too, so it couldn't have been easy, but she was a rock star. 

I, however, am not.

My kids are not perfect angels. And I have trouble holding it together.

My kids talk during Mass all the time. No matter what I threaten into their tiny ears, they still talk (loudly) throughout the entire thing. As in, regular-volume-I-forgot-what-the-word-whisper means kinda talk. And it's never a precious little insight like a, "I'm going to pray for world peace," statement where you imagine everyone around you looks at each other, smiles, and thinks, What an amazing child. What equally amazing parents he has! 

Nope.

It's always one of those awkward loud questions like, "Who is God?" or "What's the Our Father prayer?" It's always questions that they actually do know the answers to but for some reason they want everyone sitting nearby to think that you are posing, awful parents coming church for the very first time who teach their children nothing about God. It's just embarrassing. 

If you aren't a church goer I'd compare the embarrassment to when after a few days of your child being sick you decide to take him or her to the doctor's office. However by the time the appointment rolls around and you actually get in to see the doctor, your child has miraculously gotten better. Not only feeling better, but he or she is laughing, singing, running around the office, touching-everything-possible kind of feeling better. This of course making you feel like you have Munchausen Syndrome. 

And it isn't just obnoxious talking either. There are other ways that my kids are noisy in Mass. They sometimes, well, they pass gas (loudly). Not every week, but often enough that it merits a mention. Apparently they are all young enough to not be embarrassed but old enough to laugh hysterically when it happens. I blush doubly for them.

They play (loudly) too. Whether they play together or they play alone, they cannot do it quietly. They play at volumes that are a huge distraction to every person around us I'm sure. And yes, I try to stop them, threaten them, or take the toys away. But they still play.

And removing them from the situation really doesn't help. I've found that taking the kids out to the church hall or cry room to punish them actually rewards their behavior, because they get what they want: to leave. They obviously want to leave because another embarrassing question they ask a million times (loudly) during Mass is, "Is it almost over?"

You'd think Mass might go by quickly since I'm so busy picking up (loudly) dropped toys, constantly shushing giggles, carrying kids on my hip, or distributing snacks. But it actually feels like time literally slows down. You become so sensitive to every utterance or sound that your child makes and worry so much about them disrupting Mass for those around you that a one hour event feels more like three.

I have become skilled at bringing an arsenal of supplies with us. This usually helps to appease their needs somewhat. Although it seems that my three little monsters always want the exact the same toy at the exact same time, want to color with the exact color crayon at the exact same moment, or want the exact same book that their sibling is currently looking at. I have also learned the hard way not to bring tiny toys with us, as retrieving Squinkies that have been thrown across the church aisles during Mass is definitely undesirable.

Unfortunately, their awful behavior doesn't impact just us.

There are many types of people sitting around us reacting to my little family. There's the older couple with grown children that raised their kids in a different generation and probably only think about how their own kids would have been beat with a paddle had they acted the way that mine do. There's the cute young couple holding hands, yet be be parents, looking at us in horror, and then looking at each other, really questioning if having kids is what they want to do. There are the young families like us, struggling through the ceremony just as much as we are, who we emphatically make eye contact with periodically.

But, once in awhile, other types of people are there too.

These are the people that come up to us after Mass and provide support. They tell us that our kids remind them of their own when they were younger. They tell us that our kids are adorable. With nostalgic tears forming in the corners of their eyes, they remind us of just how quickly kids grow up and how in the blink of an eye, our kids won't be sitting beside us in the pew anymore.

These are the people that make church manageable for me. I spiritually don't get as much out of going to church as I did before I had kids, but that doesn't mean that going isn't worth it. Attending church is no longer for me. Attending church, right now in my life, is for my kids. I am modeling the behavior I hope for and want them to the continue for the rest of their lives.

If my mom hadn't taken me to church every Sunday, I doubt I'd still be going every Sunday as an adult.

My kids might not be listening to every word of the Gospel, they might not be reciting the words to every prayer, and they might not be learning very much yet. But, they are there. And they see my husband and I there. And they see a lot of other people there too.

So that is why I still go to church.

It might be hard. It might be difficult. It might even test my patience more than any other parenting adventure thus far.

But it might also be changing my kids lives forever in the most incredible way possible, too.


My excited, oldest son and I at his very first night of 
School of Religion (SOR) this year.




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