From some quality tested practice and peer reviewed knowledge, I can say that having all seven of these items happen at my parish would make Mass attendance less stressful. So, here’s my thoughts on what needs to change.
1. No fire marshals
Matthew Kelly, founder of Dynamic Catholic, has found that Catholics value fire safety more than any other Christian denomination. This is due to the fact that every Catholic church has at least two fire marshals per pew.
You know, those people who sit on the end of every pew, causing me and the baby I’m wearing, my 18 month old, and my husband/pack mule, to climb over them in an effort to sit down. And then, during the consecration, when my child is crying and needs to be taken out, I have to disrupt them, help them pick the kneeler up, trip over them some more, and scramble out.
This is my number one for a reason. Let families sit on the end! It won’t kill you to slide down a few feet and sit in the middle so I can, as indiscreetly as possible with a crying eight week old, slip out of the pew. Leading me to my next point…
2. Don’t look at the crying baby
Yes, my baby is fussy. We all hear her, we all know it’s her, so what do you expect will happen by turning your head around to stare? When necessary, I will take her out, but I don’t need to see three or four or ten heads turned around, staring me down as I run out. Not only do I find it rude, but now you’re making more of a scene because it’s not just me that sees your glare.
Ever heard the saying “if the Church isn’t crying, it’s dying”? I’m just helping you remember how alive the Church is and how on fire for Christ the future generation will be.
3. The cry room is for crying, not parking
With some exceptions, I do not believe that the cry room is where parents and baby are called to participate in Mass. Kids make noise, so does Bette over there, who can’t stop sniffling her nose, but we aren’t asking her to sit in the cry room during Mass. It seems to be a place where people congregate to talk rather than a place where a mom can take her crying baby and nurse in peace.
4. Men, stand your butt up
I can’t tell you the number of times that I have had to stand or use a plastic chair in the cry room because a man with no baby is rocking away in the rocking chair. Yes, I could ask them to move but also I shouldn’t have to even ask. They should be sitting in a plastic chair if they need to be in there.
5. “Treat others . . .”
The path of least resistance for people with kids is to not go to Mass. It’s a huge temptation to not have to pack up the whole house, plus some just to get through a Mass. Please be accommodating and welcoming when families are there. A smile and kind word goes a long way with a stressed out mom.
6. Don’t need to sing all the verses
We’ve all been as Masses where the priest has been standing on the altar for three verses and yet the cantor starts another one. I love beautiful singing as much as anyone, but also, if we’re going to be adding on time to the Mass, I’d prefer it be at the Homily or Consecration.
7. Don’t be weird
Not only do I already feel vulnerable but your side eye isn’t making the situation any less awkward. However, if you are super uncomfortable with it, then you can move or donate enough money to the Church so there is a dedicated, comfortable, private space for mothers to go, though we shouldn’t have too.
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