Dear Everyone At Church Yesterday

Yes, this Sunday I brought all four kids to Mass without my Patient Husband there.

Dear Sir who sat right in front of me: There were a hundred empty seats in the church. So why did you feel the pressing need to sit right in front of the active two year old AND where we’d put the diaper bag under the seat, so that when you decided to kneel, you put your feet into the bag? And where when you sat, you got his elbows in your shoulder? You could have slid two feet to the left and been in front of ME, and I don’t elbow people. You could have slid two feet to the right and been in front of my daughter, the quietest child in the church. I’d like to say I’m sorry you got elbowed a couple of times, but you pretty much invited it. I can only keep a two year old so quiet.

Dear women who sat behind us: I’m sorry my active child bumped your hymnal with his head. I’m not sure why it was over his head in the first place, but I’m sure you had a good reason.

Dear Six Year Old Son: When I told you not to put your mouth on the seat in front of you, I meant not to put your mouth on the seat in front of you, not to hide your mouth with your gloves so I couldn’t directly see you doing it. And thumping your feet on the floor was annoying. When I stopped you, that wasn’t a signal to move your feet to find another place to do it.

Dear Teenage Son: I know your spine straightens. I also know you’re not a hundred fifty years old. There’s no reason you should be leaning your forearms on the back of the seat in front of you while listening to the Gospel reading.

Dear Two Year Old: If you kick your boots off before we go up for Communion because you’re annoyed, guess what? You won’t be wearing your boots when we go up for Communion. And you hate not wearing boots.

Dear Eucharistic Minister: Thank you for stifling your hysterical laughter long enough to give me the Eucharist by mouth while I held aforementioned kicking child.

Dear Nice Old Gentleman: You are a sweetheart for holding the door for that enfeebled old lady who wanted to leave immediately after Communion, probably so she wouldn’t be jostled by others when she’s so unsteady on her feet. You are such a sweetheart that I know you’ll forgive me for loathing you because you let the sound of my son’s screaming back into the church after I took him outside so no one had to hear him.

Dear Everyone Under Age 25: I heard you all vowing in your thoughts never to have children. They ‘re not always this bad.

Dear Daughter: Thank you for behaving.


  1. Christopher

    Dear Philangelus: Thank you for sharing what so many of us go through (or soon will) ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Normandie

    Hilarious, Jane. I’ve SO been there! Cheerios are what saved me. A little plastic container of Cheerios, enough to last the whole sermon. The singing part of the service wasn’t so hard, nor were the up and down times. But sitting still? It wasn’t happening, not for either child.

    When my daughter was little, we only had one car, which was not made available to me on Sundays. For a year or two, we became Methodists, walking to the only church within ten miles of the village. There did not seem to be a lot of Methodists in that rural area, we attended with five little old ladies who just adored the lone child, then a toddler who would not, could not, sit still. The preacher, who, I’m convinced, will one day have a VERY close seat to the Powers That Be, told me to let Ariana roam. She did. He wouldn’t miss a beat when she waddled in his direction: he just leaned down, picked her up, and continued his prayer or his sermon or his Bible reading. I might have become a life-long Methodist if that dear man had stayed in the ministry.

    1. philangelus

      We used cheerios with the other kids. This one, not so much. He’s been okay so far.

      Your Methodist church sounds a lot like what happens when I go to Mass on a weekday. Only a few people, and the kid can wander around if he wants. The problem is, there’s also another kid, and they’ve learned that TOGETHER they can thunder up and down the stairs into the choir loft. Dangerous and noisy. So I don’t let him wander, and sadly, the other mom and I no longer sit near one another.

  3. Daniel

    I LOVE this post. It’s so funny, and so true.

  4. Diana

    My heart goes out to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Nina

    Interestingly enough, yeterdays reading was the Beatitudes. One that got left off the list, but I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t mind that I added it in….

    “Blessed are the parents who bring their children to Mass solo, for they shall receive more grace than they can handle. Eventually.”

    “Blessed are those who don’t give dirty looks to parents of small children in Mass, for they have been there, done that.”

    1. philangelus

      Jesus: Blessed are the parents, for they will eventually raise their kids.
      Me {over fussing child}: What?
      Me: OH! Okay, thanks!

  6. cricketB

    I think that’s why so many Protestant denominations send the kids to the Sunday School downstairs during the long, boring, busy parts.

    You can hear them clearly, and the prayers of the Sunday School teachers waiting for the month to end so they can have a shift with the adults.

    1. philangelus

      We had a church that did that. The kids got nothing out of the sunday school and there was just as much disruption with the kids going in and coming out.

      1. cricketB

        It worked well for one of mine. Kids were with the congregation at the beginning and went to the front for a story, then out to Sunday School rather than stay for the sermon. Families were reunited in the Fellowship Hall for cookies, juice and coffee with everyone — Pastors, assistants, teachers, kids.

        The other one was awful, though I was too young to know it. The Sunday School was across the street. Drop kids off, go be with adults for an hour, pick them up and go home. No time for families to mingle. I went to the main service on the most-crowded days of the year — those were the only times I saw the Priest.

        Both had good teachers and good activities, but one made me feel part of the congregation, the other didn’t.

  7. capt_cardor

    We attend the Children’s Mass and there is a lottttt of noise and some disruption.When I was younger it bothered me, but then someone told me they were making “a joyful noise unto the Lord” and I reconciled myself to it. Now I even smile when a little one makes a dash for the altar flowers.

  8. monica

    All grist for the writing mill… ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Valerie

    Jane, this is awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ I totally needed a good laugh today. Thank you so much!

    Oh, and Dear Disgruntled Looking People — I once heard a priest say that he loved to hear children make noise during Mass because it meant that the church was alive and thriving and NOT dying. Have I mentioned that he is my favourite priest ever??

    1. philangelus

      There’s noise and then there’s noise. Up until the screaming part, I was okay with the little noises. Screams are in the No Good category. Happy kid noises, like the cars rolling on the benches, that I can deal with.

  10. JesseMelon

    I know very well what you are going through. I am the mother of 5 children and 4 grandchildren. Sometimes going to church hardly seemed worth it. And forget about the church dinners! But I did it all anyway, and I know my children benefited greatly.

    1. philangelus

      I hope they benefit. Someone ought to. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Micki

    Jane, you made my the start of my day. I did have to chuckle. The gentleman in front should have been reminded: he was a child once! Many years ago a staunch Catholic friend of mine couldn’t fathom how her daughter always came back from church with more money than she went with. After questioning her, she thought if you put in a shilling, you could take two out – because God shares with everyone!!!!

    1. philangelus

      I would have guessed she was at that age where any child can go up to any grown-up and ask for a coin, and she’d get it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Mary333

    I don’t think I heard a full Mass until my daughter was five! I lived in the back. I never quite understood how other parents kept their kids quiet at church until I saw them all lined up at Dunkin’ Donuts a few times after Mass ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. philangelus

      That is *exactly* what we do. If they behave, they get a donut. That’s what my mom did too.

      Kiddo3 lost his donut for the mouth-on-the-bench trick, and the foot-stomping trick.