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I Used to Judge

...and I still do, to a certain extent. Probably more than is good for me. But the judging I'm referring to is parents with little kids. My particular pet peeve used to be little kids in church. I used to give the kids quelling looks, and my posture would get straighter and tighter and straighter and tighter until I was practically bent backwards. I would be so angry--nay, incensed--that these children and the parents who refused to discipline them had ruined my spiritual experience! Quickly! Someone get me some pearls to clutch!

Wow, if I could beat my past self about the head and neck region with a large and heavy two-by-four, I wouldn't have the motor functionality to write this post. (Which is rather existential, when you think about it, but that'll have to wait for another day.)

I was selling the toughness of parenthood and the requirements for a spiritual experience so very short. Also, I was apparently meant to be a karmic object lesson: I now have a little kid who, if there is no Children's Liturgy of the Word, goes, shall we say, batshit insane. She's a high energy, strong willed kid, and she just doesn't understand enough of what's going on at Mass to be engaged in any way, which is normal for her age. And she does not sit still well. At all. Ever. Infinity. You get the picture. But she won't get any better if we leave her at home. So we sit there, hissing at our daughter like one of the residents in the Reptile House at the Zoo.

Bea! Stop climbing on the pews! Bea! Leave that woman's coat alone! Jesus, crap, she fell off the pew again...
Photo courtesy of The Maryland Zoo
And it's hard not to be harsh on her and myself. What I've learned to do is just the best I can. Try to listen to the readings and prayers while I wrangle the child. Taking off my glasses helps, because it cuts down on the input to my already-overloaded brain. (Among all my other issues, I also have an ADD diagnosis.)

Now, generally, by the time the Eucharistic Prayer rolls around, Bea has stopped running, jumping, climbing, etc. and has settled on freaking out about something. We have no clue what will specifically set her off, week to week, but there's always generally something, the root cause of which is generally the fact that the kid needs a snack. But that's not a bad thing. By then, she just wants to sit on my lap, and I can do that. I sit, more or less blind, with my snuffling five-year-old on my lap, and actually manage to hear the prayers. Sometimes I even whisper along with the priest, although I don't have the hang of the new translations. And it's kind of nice. Really.

As I fell into the rhythm of this grappling match with sanity over the weeks, I could kind of hear G-d. He said, Yes. That's it. Don't put me in a cold marble box. I AM both/and. Let me share your messy, high energy, strong willed life in all its chaotic glory.

But if you could get the kid to stop climbing the statue of St. Joseph, that would be great.


  1. St. Joseph WANTS the kids to climb! Speaking as a mom of 5 boys, I know well how hard it is to sit through mass with them. Plenty of times I left in tears because they had behaved so badly--or so I thought. Thank you to the many, many people of our parish who praised them, and me, and pointed out that as often as not, I was far more upset by their, shall we say, "antics" than the people around us. And so I try to remember to give a smile or say a kind word to the mom wrangling the high-energy kid who NEEDS to be in church, learning about love while learning about sitting still. Kudos, Lyn--keep bringing her, and know that you certainly have my support on your journey, and probably that of more people than you realize!


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