Yesterday at church I sat behind a mom and the most adorable baby that’s not mine. The baby was about 8 months old. She was right at the age where everything is fascinating-especially her own voice.
I enjoyed the baby so much but I had a visceral reaction watching the mom as she struggled to keep her cherub occupied with books, toys and chewy crackers. Then, with each new distraction I watched the mom struggle to shush the baby who was, of course, vocalizing her excitement over whatever mom just showed her.
Finally, about 30 minutes into the service, mom left, having-I’m sure-gotten nothing out of the Mass except a little more exhaustion and probably a little embarrassed.
The funny thing is, you could barely hear the baby and I am most certain that anyone who wasn’t sitting directly behind her did not even notice there was a baby in the building. I checked and as much as the mom fidgeted and the baby voiced her wonder, no one even looked at them.
Ugh, I remember those days. You are so preoccupied with making sure you don’t make a scene that you can’t focus on anything other than your kid’s actions. Of course, everything seems way louder and more disruptive than it ever is.
I fought the urge, the entire service, to take the baby and tell the mom to sit and relax and listen to the readings. Of course, she didn’t know me so I didn’t want to be crazy-church-baby-taking-lady and kept my mouth shut.
What I want that mom to know though is this: no one cares if your baby is active in church. And those who do-you will learn not to try to please them soon enough.
Soon enough, there will be screaming and kicking and real public embarrassment that makes you long for the squeals and cooing you were trying to shush today.
The real truth is, even the tantrums and kicking and public humiliation won’t kill you because when they come, you will be too preoccupied with what really matters-the person you are helping to shape-to even notice the people who are gawking in disbelief. You will grow into your own mom-skin. You will realize that pleasing other people with your parenting is not what is important, but parenting to raise good people is.
Soon enough mom, they grow up and so do you.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.