Sunday, January 22, 2012


I was reproached today for keeping Ella with me in church.  I believe that the woman genuinely thought that she was being helpful by offering her advice.  I admit--I was hurt by her words, so much that it made me feel sick to my stomcach until I had a chance to talk to another friend (and mom) about it.  But I wanted to get the feedback of others--moms, friends, anyone. 

The woman--who has two college-aged daughters--approached me after the service under the premise of concern for me that I wasn't able to focus during church because I was trying to keep Ella entertained.  She suggested that the church has a wonderful nursery--which they most definitely do...but Ella hates it.  We tried the nursery a couple of times, and Ella cried the whole time.  I shared this with the woman, and she argued that it's important for children to have some time apart from their parents, and we show them that we love them by always coming back for them.  I shared that Ella is in daycare during the week, so she understands that I come back for her everyday.  It probably didn't help the situation that one of her daughters works in the nursery every other week, and I admit that I actually used the word "hate" to describe Ella's feelings towards the place.  She carried on a bit about how faith is such an important thing, and how I need to role model this to Ella as she grows up.  And I do definitely agree that faith is important, so I thanked her for her feedback and tried to make a graceful getaway.

I will be the first to admit that Ella is a handful in church.  She definitely knows how to "make a joyful noise until the Lord".  I recognize that I do spend a good amount of time trying to keep her occupied.  But it boils down to this:  I want to worship with my child.  I want her to know the people who pray for us.  I want her to grow up knowing the praise songs.  I want her to recognize that church and Christ are a big part of our lives.

But I don't want to be selfish.  I don't want to simply keep her with me just so that I can hold my little miracle in my arms while praising and thanking God for her.  I don't want to distract from other worshipers.  I don't want to contain her, if she truly would be happier playing with other kids in the nursery. 

I'm not a perfect mom, but I want to be a good mom.  And I want to be a good wife and church member and citizen.  So what do I do?  The nasty part of me wants to refuse to bring Ella to the nursery just to spite the other woman, but I don't think that's the answer.  I don't know if she approached me out of genuine concern for my spiritual nourishment, or if it's that Ella is distracting her from learning in church, or if she just thinks that I should do it the way that she did it because her way worked for her.  If it is that Ella is just too distracting, then I wish that she would just come right out and say "your kid is too loud, please take them to the nursery".  That would have hurt, but I would have known that it was dead-honest (with that being said, if you attend our church and you think that this is the truth, you have my permission to tell me so).

Anyone?  Thoughts?  Opinions?  How do you balance keeping a joyful 16-month old joyful while still growing in your own faith and helping others to do the same?

Today's blessing was my very-dear friend who justified my feelings and assured me that she would have "unleashed wrath" if the woman had addressed her and her two-weeks-younger-than-Ella little boy.  It was just what I needed to hear to make that nasty feeling in my stomach go away.


  1. I agree with your friend. I think that woman should have minded her own business. Truly. Faith - and how we practice it - is a personal thing. And nobody else should dictate that - it isn't a one size fits all affair, after all. There may come a time when you're comfortable taking Ella to daycare, or when she'll even want to do it. But it doesn't happen to be now. And nobody else gets veto power over it.

    I'm finding it so very strange how strangers (complete or relative) feel confident dispensing advice when it comes to mothers and their babies. Sometimes it's well-intentioned and you can just nod and grin. But when there's the suggestion of a reproach... not a fan of that (and I've already experienced it a few times).

  2. I tried to comment on this post last week but my computer kept having issues. These situations are tough. My nature is to give people the benefit of the doubt, particularly fellow believers; I think this woman in your church probably did have the best of intentions, but that doesn't mean her comments don't sting. And if Ella hasn't handled the nursery well yet I can certainly understand why you would choose to keep her with you.

    When Kendry was born our children's ministry pastor was very sweet but insistent in recommending that we start getting him adapted to the nursery around 3-4 months. And I know if we had delayed it, even if Kendry was perfectly quiet during service, she would have kept on reminding us, and I would have respected her for it. I think that is a pastor's job. But I don't know if I would have received this reminder so graciously from another mom in the church, unless I knew her really well and knew her heart.

    Pray about it and see where God leads. We currently let Kendry stay in the song service with us, so long as he behaves and isn't distracting from the worship; but he always goes to nursery when the worship is over so we can listen to the message without him. And we tend to sit near the back so he isn't distracting the entire congregation if he does act up. Like you, I want him to see and understand the worship of our Savior, and he loves to sing. Plus, it has been a great way for him to gain an understanding of sitting still and being quiet, like during prayer. But like I said, he only gets one chance; if he doesn't obey we immediately slip him out the door to nursery.

    Good luck, mama! These are those fun parenting situations they never prepare you for. :)


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