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
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.
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).
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
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.