Why my kid isn’t in the cry room

We’re a Catholic family, and we go to mass on Sundays. I love our church. It’s a good size, focused on social justice, has friendly people and loving priests, and good music. It also doesn’t really have a cry room.

That’s right. I go to mass with a toddler in a church without a glass box for him to be a baby in. You know what that means? He acts like a baby in the church.

We go to an early mass, and my child has made friends with the kids, dads, mothers, grandmothers and grandpas who sit behind us. He smiles at them and distracts them and makes them happy. He also wiggles, fills in the silences with babbles and gets cranky towards the end. He is a reminder that our church is alive and growing.

Holy Spirit has cards in each pew for kids to draw on (as opposed to doodling on the offertory envelopes). On the back of these cards are messages of welcome to parents that encourage us to let our kids learn about the mass and our faith by participating with us. There are also some nicely worded messages to everyone else to remember that children are squirmy gifts who need to learn about our church and feel welcome here.

So when my kid decides to keep singing while everyone else is reflecting, he gets to stay in the church. On the occasions that he has fallen apart and started sobbing, one of us takes him out to the meeting room that has a comfortable couch and a TV to watch the mass. Although honestly I usually don’t make it that far. Often in that situation we’ll stand in the narthex and participate from behind the glass doors.

I am so used to feeling welcomed that it takes me aback the few times that I have been glared at when my little one makes a peep. We stay anyway. My kid isn’t in the cry room because he is a welcome member of our Church. It’s his home, and no one makes you leave your home for being yourself.

Looking East and Waiting

I have always loved advent; it is my favorite liturgical season. I like that it builds gradually but steadily, leading me on an outward journey while simultaneously causing me to reflect on what exactly it is that I am waiting for. Focusing on advent helps me remember that Christmas itself doesn’t start until the sun sets on Christmas Eve and that when it finally arrives, when the wait is over, we get the chance to celebrate for a week and a half.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m no Scrooge. I buy presents and decorate the house and mail out cards during these weeks of waiting. I go to parties and bake cookies and try to spread joy. But these four weeks help me focus on the bigger reason why I am doing those things.

In addition to the Christmas songs we listen to, I sing my favorite advent hymns. They are filled with a longing that I understand more each year that I sing them. We also have a homemade advent wreath that we pray over every evening before dinner, using the same prayers that I remember from my childhood. They are simple, short and beautiful. In fact, this week’s prayer is perfect for how I am feeling this moment:

Father in heaven, the day draws near when the birth of your son will make radiant the night of the waiting world. May his quiet coming fill us with true inner peace.

Waiting and quiet. Night and inner peace. These are the words that I associate with advent. May your own season of waiting bring you joy!