May 2016 archive

An Open Letter to the Lady at Church

To the hate­ful wom­an at mass,

Today, I was a few min­utes late and snuck in to the sec­ond to last pew with my near­ly three-year-old son after stop­ping at the bath­room. He is very new­ly pot­ty trained and the thought of tin­kling in every toi­let in the city is appeal­ing. He was excit­ed that he had made it to mass and saw his favorite priest on the pul­pit. Nat­u­ral­ly, for a child his age, this caused chat­ter and wav­ing and even a bit of cry­ing and com­plain­ing when he couldn’t see.

He was loud, as most small chil­dren are, but that is why I chose to stay close to the back. I try not to use the cry room or stand in the vestibule because I feel that if my chil­dren are going to behave, they actu­al­ly have to be in the church to learn that lesson. Sad­ly, you dis­agreed and were incred­i­bly out­spo­ken and judge­men­tal. The moment he began to squawk, you imme­di­ate­ly start­ed with the huff­ing and puff­ing and dis­parag­ing glances. I tried to ignore you, but in time I had enough and explained that he is just a baby. This is when you took it upon your­self to advise me that I shouldn’t have my chil­dren in the church if they can­not behave and that I should take them else­where.

Here’s the thing, lady, you have absolute­ly no idea what we were deal­ing with this morn­ing. I was gone all day yes­ter­day and nev­er saw him. He was asleep when I left and in bed when I got home. He has had the rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to spend a lot of one on one time with me late­ly, that he has nev­er had before. He was the youngest of three boys for the last three years and his world was turned upside down eight weeks ago when his baby sis­ter was born. Luck­i­ly, I have been able to soft­en the blow dur­ing my mater­ni­ty leave, but he still wants all of my atten­tion all of the time. And that can be exhaust­ing. I am also a bit more lenient with him because he is adjust­ing to a tremen­dous amount of change that you know noth­ing about.

Per­haps you nev­er had a child, because I can­not imag­ine what they must think of your behav­ior if you did, and are tru­ly igno­rant to how this whole par­ent­ing thing works. Let me give you a bit of insight. Chil­dren are com­plete­ly and total­ly 100 per­cent unpre­dictable. If Jesus Christ him­self had a sched­uled appear­ance this morn­ing and I had pre­pared my chil­dren to meet him and how to act in the pres­ence of the Lord, at best we are work­ing with 50/50 odds in my favor. Kids are con­stant­ly talk­ing and ask­ing ques­tions, and you guessed it, mis­be­hav­ing. But they are also always learn­ing. And I want my chil­dren to learn to be kind and lov­ing and faith­ful and to live their lives as God wants them to. Fun­ny, when it was time for the sign of peace, you com­plete­ly ignored my moth­er when she tried to shake your hand, so incred­i­bly Christ-like.

What if my child had autism, or a brain tumor, or some oth­er kind of ill­ness that caused him to act out? Thank­ful­ly, he is healthy, but I am cer­tain that you would have still cast asper­sions on his behav­ior and my par­ent­ing because for some rea­son you feel enti­tled to judge oth­ers. Sad­ly for you, you missed the entire mes­sage of today’s homi­ly. Had you been pay­ing atten­tion to it, and not my child, you would have heard the priest preach about how impor­tant it is to treat oth­ers with kind­ness, love and respect. It’s about what hap­pens here on earth, not what will hap­pen after you die. But instead of soak­ing the mes­sage in and reflect­ing, you are like­ly sit­ting at home tonight with an ice pack on your neck from all of the head shak­ing.

Until next week­end my friend, when I will be back in that same church with my four chil­dren, I hope that you are able to feel good about what you did, how you act­ed and what mes­sage you walked away with. Remem­ber, if you want the church to con­tin­ue to grow, we must engage the youth and keep the pews filled. And I will always have my pew filled with chil­dren, fruit snacks, scream­ing and yelling and more love than you will ever know.

Sin­cere­ly,

Your worst night­mare that will come back over and over and over againimg_7572.jpg