Monday, July 26, 2010

"Learn to Be Quiet..."

Not too long ago I wrote a post about how grateful I feel when I go to Mass…

… And then I went from being a mom with a toddler to being a mom with a toddler and an infant…

I was still fairly confident when I went to Mass two Sunday’s ago. Maggie was a week old and had already proved to be a quiet baby that sleeps constantly and watches the world in near silence when she is awake. And while I was a little nervous about how Sadie would act, since she usually watched Mass perched a top my baby bump, I never expected the all out tantrums that suddenly started as we sat in our regular, front row spot.

The funny thing is, Sadie is thrilled to have a new little sister the rest of the time (in other words, when we’re not at Mass). She brings Maggie toys and kisses her and even “reads” to her while holding her hand and pressing it against the pages of the book. And while she’s a little impatient with how long it can take Mommy to do things these days (and with the fact that I can’t scoop her up in my arms at the moment) she’s really done very well with her new role as big sister (and helper… she even decided on her own that it was time to change Maggie’s diaper and brought over a bag of wipes for me.).

Now our experience at Mass goes something like this: We walk in and sit down and everything is fine. Sadie sits through the readings in complete silence, although she does fidget more than she used to (I’d say that’s pretty age appropriate though). Then it’s time for the homily… which was a problem part of the Mass even before Maggie arrived. You see, for some reason, Sadie has decided that she is terrified of clapping and laughing (on a large/loud scale) and our pastor begins every homily with a joke that usually garners both. I still hold out hope that he’s not going to tell a joke, or that she’s not going to notice the sudden loud, booming laughter, but neither of my hopes has been answered so far and Sadie is usually crying huge, hysterical tears by the time the laughter has died down. Paul whisks her out the back… and after about ten minutes later she’s ready to come back in…

Back in the days when I could hold Sadie, she would usually fall silent for the rest of Mass. Lately we have come to expect an additional two tantrums in the half hour that follows. Paul whisks her out of the pew and down the side aisle to the back each time. Sometimes they stay at the back. Sometimes, like today, she calms down and they come back, only to have another fuss just before the consecration. Paul then whisks her out again, to stay at the back this time.

At this point I have the easy job. Maggie spends almost all of Mass curled up against my chest. I’m hoping that once I’m able to lift Sadie again everything will calm down…

But in the meantime… I feel like bursting into tears… or changing parishes. I shouldn’t feel this upset, but today we had another person come up to Sadie and Paul (while they were standing outside during Mass so she could calm down). When the woman opened the door to go in it creaked and she looked at Sadie and said “that doors almost as noisy as you are. You need to learn to be quiet.” in a less than friendly tone.

How lovely to say something in a mean tone to a two year old at Mass, particularly when her parents are obviously working to correct the behavior and are removing her so that she doesn’t disturb others (although apparently she was disturbed by Sadie being outside as she was walking back from the bathroom in the parish hall).

I walked out at the end of this, so that I could switch with Paul, because I had a feeling Sadie wasn’t going to be walking up with him to the front when he received. We switched and Sadie sat and stared at the wall, pointing at a cobweb (even a time out looking at the wall can be interesting when you’re two…).

I had quite a few people come up to me after Mass and relate their own experiences when they had little ones and tell me we’re doing a great job and that this too shall pass. Yet I had to keep myself from stewing when I went home about the less friendly comment (particularly since it was said to Sadie instead of to me this time) and had to keep myself from thinking up snarky responses.

On the upside, Sadie’s tantrums were quieter and less frequent today. I’d say she actually sat quietly, in the pew, during 75% of the Mass (45 minutes isn’t bad for a 2 year old). She was outside with Paul during the other 25%. We’re heading in the right direction… and hopefully in the next few weeks Sadie will be back to normal and will sit reading her little Bible and mass books and holding her Holy Baby doll.


  1. I wouldn't let the one mean comment get to you. Maybe that woman was just having a bad day or maybe the comment came across the wrong way. It sounds like you and your husband are doing a great job with her. She's two, and two year olds have tantrums and places like church are where they really like to show off those behaviors.

  2. Don't worry about the church behavior. Instead, be proud you have a husband who can "man-up" and take his child out.

  3. I agree with Karen. You never know what's going on in someone's mind when they decide it's appropriate to make comments like that.

    When I receive comments like that from people--family and strangers alike--I set aside a moment to say a prayer specifically for that person, and ask the Lord to bring peace and love to their hearts.

  4. Ugh! Why do people always have to express their own opinion? You and Paul are doing exactly the right thing. Like my husband always says, he knows of no dispensation for children not to attend mass, so either get over it or go to a quieter mass! We have always taken our children to mass and have had varying degrees of success with each one. Some were very compliant and easy and others just seemed to push every boundary. Hang in there. If at 2 she is staying calm for 75% of mass, she is doing pretty darn good!

  5. I agree you shouldn't let it get to you, but I have trouble with that myself. We sit in the cry room due to stuff like that (our old priest used to call out people if their child made a peep during Mass and while I haven't heard our new one do it he seems to have the same idea) and its impossible to keep her calm in there w/ the other kids. I end up frustrated and tense the whole time and is causing some issues.

  6. I don't know you, but I enjoy reading your blog, so I hope you don't mind when I comment! I can't believe someone would say that to you!!! Not very Christian-like. We are fortunate in my Parish, that Father always says to the parisoners, that when you hear a child cry during Mass, you should be happy that the parents chose life. He also makes comments like at Mass yesterday that "that child is yelling out Jesus!!" He's even chastised those who are quick to judge and be cranky about a child's crying/noises. I would try (although I understand how hard it is) to ignore what the lady said. Don't assume everyone else feels the same way. Most in there have been/are parents and have been exactly where you are at. You can only do the best you can. It's not like you're letting her stay in there and cry w/o taking her out!!

  7. Don't let that woman worry you! It could be she didn't have any children of her own and doesn't know anything about it. I always take people like her and know that God is sending them to me to test my patience and to practice my charity! Don't worry! You and your husband seem to be doing great with Sadie! I know 9 and 10 year-olds that can't behave in church! For 2 she's doing great! Keep up your courage!!

  8. One of the things that I loved about Mass, when I decided to convert, was that there are crying babies and toddlers there - believe it or not! It just seems like the whole human family is there, and that's so precious. I was proud of those parents for bringing their children - everyone should be.

    A related story: One time, at an RCIA prayer meeting, a mother had to bring her toddler. The toddler started a tantrum and the mother apologized profusely. Our wonderful priest smiled and said, "Don't apologize. She's acting the same way Jesus acted at that age." Those words have always stuck with me; I hope maybe they can bring a smile (or at least a bit of peace!) to you.


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!