To the parents who take their kids to church, I see you.
I see the way you stroll in late with all the kids in tow. You make a scene looking for an empty seat in the pew. Usually, it’s the one way on the opposite end of where you are. You take a deep breath and begin your trek to your spot, dragging your kids along.
I see you, parents, who take up an entire pew with your belongings all sprawled out. You’ve brought enough supplies to feed and stock an entire army. You have your books, coloring pages, sippy cups, Cheerios containers, action figures, and toy cars. One kid is on one end and the other is wandering out the opposite end.
I see you, dad, who gets up in the middle of mass to walk your kid back and forth. You pace aimlessly allowing your little one to explore.
I see you, mom, who remains in the pew and breastfeeds. You get awkward stares from the older men who go to shake your hand during the sign of peace. You politely wave them off.
I see you, parents, who have to rush out in a flurry.
In one fell swoop, you manage to gather the diaper bag and all its contents in one hand and your kicking, flailing, crying child in the other. You escape out the exit doors and collapse to the floor.
I see you, dad, who takes off in a sprint to catch your runaway toddler making his way to the altar. Your face is red with embarrassment, and you whisper apologizes on the way back to your seats.
I see you, mom, who sits your child in your lap and points out the readings and the songs in the missal and hymnal. I hear you whispering about Jesus and saying the prayers to your child.
I see you, parents, who under your breath hiss at your kids to stop fighting.
Through gritted teeth, you try your best to be discreet. You don’t miss a beat through the “Our Father” as you yank your child’s hand off his sibling’s toys.
I see you, dad, who has to ask the person in front of you a million times to pick up the toy your child keeps dropping for fun. I see you, mom, who reached down to retrieve the sippy cup that was dropped to the floor over and over again.
I see you, parents, who sneak out after communion in order to avoid an all-out meltdown from a tired kid. With a bowed head, you speed through a quick prayer, do a hasty genuflect, and scamper down the aisles to your car.
I see you, parents, and all the noise and commotion you make. I see your unruly kids and hear their cries and whines. I see your exhausted faces and your Sunday outfits coming unraveled.
I see you because I am one of you.
I know what it’s like to manage to get everyone all dressed up in time only for it to be ruined by an explosive poopy diaper just as you were about to head out the door.
I know what it’s like to wrangle and unload a kid and all his belongings into and out of the car only for your nice outfit and styled hair to come undone because you’re sweating so badly.
I know what it’s like when your husband can’t go with you, and you have to hold your hungry son in one hand and then fumble around for the breastfeeding cover-up with the other one while simultaneously trying to covertly unbutton your top.
I know what it’s like to run out of entertainment for your child right after the homily, and there is that brief silent part that is interrupted by a wail.
I know what it’s like to walk up and down the aisles and everywhere in between.
I know what it’s like that moment you realize there’s no way you can make it all the way to the end. Your son is just way too tired and needs to get home for a nap.
I know what it’s like to come home from church and be so exhausted from the whole excursion that you collapse on the couch.
So to the parents who take their kids to church, thank you! Thank you for passing the faith down to your children. Thank you for realizing the importance of gathering together to worship the Lord. Thank you for letting me be one of you. Thank you for not letting me be alone.