Faith Journal Motherhood

To The Mama Who Keeps Her Sick Kids Home From Church: THANK YOU

To The Mama Who Keeps Her Sick Kids Home From Church: THANK YOU www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Amber Dorsett

A church friend who now lives a few states away posted a Facebook status that really struck me:

“…You know what no one tells you about motherhood…It’s lonely. They warn you about the messes, the sleepless nights, the crying. They don’t warn you about the loneliness. That you will only go to church about once a month because you’re throwing up/morning sickness or your baby is sick (again) and can’t go in the nursery…”

I sat there, skipping church and hacking up a lung since (ironically) my babies and I had just caught some kind of awful crud from a gathering where people attended while obviously sick. I wanted to cue up a slow clap for her.

THANK YOU, Mama!

Thank you for making the hard, selfless, and sacrificial decision to stay home when you know your family is sick. One of the most underrated actions of love in gospel community is considering the health/wellness of our fellow brothers and sisters, especially our children and babies.

First, let’s get this out of the way.  I know it’s cold and flu season, I understand and accept that the occasional sickness is totally normal and to be expected. And hey, all of us (myself included!) have been guilty of inadvertently being patient zero. Example: we had no idea that we were incubating croup – there were no symptoms until 1:00 a.m. after we had spent the day playing with other babies. We felt awful!

Mama, there is grace there! That’s life. That’s okay. That’s not what this is about.

What really hurts my mama heart is the intentional exposure of others to germs. When someone knows that their people are sick and they choose to attend anyway.

I want to thank you, mama, for empathizing with how badly it sucks to watch your kids be sick when you know it could have easily been avoided. If someone would have just opted to attend church remotely via podcast/live-stream, just in case. If they’d considered that the stomach bug is, in fact, contagious even after acute symptoms have subsided. If they’d waited more than just a handful of hours after their child was “fever free.” If they hadn’t given their feverish child Tylenol to lower their temperature enough to attend for an hour. It could have made all the difference.

Thank you, sweet mama, for recognizing that “just a cold” that “I’m pretty sure isn’t contagious” could mean so much more to someone else. It could be devastating to kids with weaker immune systems or chronic conditions, to tiny babies, or to families with multiple kids who would pass it around and strain households (and parents’ sanity!) for weeks. Someone else’s green snot one Sunday could mean another family is out of church for the next month.

Precious elderly congregants, pregnant women, and those with depressed immune systems simply don’t need another (unnecessary) germ to contend with. A gunky nose or cough in the baby nursery could turn into RSV (trust me, I’ve been there before), and any of this crud can turn into pneumonia, hospitalizing babies and in some cases jeopardizing their lives (I’ve had friends and family who have been there before.) It’s just not worth it. Thank you for your wisdom in realizing and respecting this.

Thank you for putting others ahead of yourself, as we are called to do. It’s not easy. I see you, girl. I’m in the trenches with you. I know that you’re tired. You’re disappointed that you have to miss church–again. You’re starved for social interaction and spiritual watering. I get that. You’d give anything to mingle and sip on coffee while you worship, hear a powerful sermon, and your kid has fun playing with his friends. The consistent community and fellowship you once took for granted feels like a distant dream now that your babies seem to have some form of illness every other week.

Like my friend said – it’s a lonely place. A hard place. Many times, no one prepares us for that. The fact that you put my family’s health and safety ahead of your personal desire to attend means the world to me. And it does reflect Christ’s love.

When we look to Scripture for instruction on how to love one another well, we see the greek word koinonia, meaning communion or joint participation. Philippians 1 depicts Paul’s koinonia relationship with his fellow co-laborers in Christ. This Biblical community is built through partnership in gospel advancement, and it is the context for our sanctification. It is a sweet gift from God, but OH, it can be hard.

It’s doing real life with real people (sinners). It means that we are responsible for one another, and that we count others more significantly than ourselves (Philippians 2:4). The Message translation of Scripture translates: “Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” As described in Romans 12:5, we are individually members of one another. Paul’s prayer in Philippians (and my prayer now) is that love would abound for each other more and more as we continue on the progression toward spiritual maturity. God uses people in our faith family to transform us through relationship, and to help us because we don’t grow well when isolated. And that is a beautiful thing. I thank you for truly joining me in that.

Thank you for considering the anxious mamas. Maybe you’re one of us, or maybe not. But I’m thankful you consider us and love us well. The ones of us who walk into the nursery area, only to feel on the fringe of a full on panic attack when we are greeted by toddlers with snot-matted noses. Who then proceed to taste toys and hand them off to their classmates. Those of us whose hearts stop when we hear a parents dropping a baby off with “she’s got a little cough, but don’t worry—it’s not contagious!” Or when we see the kid whose parent posted on Facebook yesterday that they were throwing up in the minivan. Anxiety is a very real part of motherhood for many of us, and we are thankful for being taken into consideration, ministered to, and extended grace as well.

Sweet mama, thanks for understanding how it feels like a knife to a mother’s heart to hear that baby cough, to feel their chest rattle as they breathe, to see those red rimmed eyes, to hold that sweaty feverish little body through the night, to bathe that vomit covered baby – for the fourth time in two hours.

I truly appreciate you knowing how it feels for someone else’s ripple to turn into your tidal wave. Many moms have arrived at the ER at midnight, trembling with adrenaline and cradling their child who is gasping and barking coughs as they cry (croup or RSV).  They’ve watched their baby receive an IV to provide necessary hydration since he or she simply cannot keep anything else down (norovirus or rotavirus). 

This is not just one mama’s painful rant or a tale of jaded experience–this is a heartfelt thank you from so many of us who are struggling in this place.

We are thankful beyond words that you are choosing to do your part to try and spare us when it can be avoided, and we value your commitment to true community.

Yes, it hurts to see my child suffering or in pain. But ultimately it hurts to not see community taking care of people. Our people and our people’s people. The church (in gospel community) is the place folks should know they can come for that. It’s difficult for families to feel loved by the body of Christ when as parents they strive to keep their family well/healthy, only to come into a place where they can’t rest, fellowship, and be fed if other families are bringing in illness and not thinking about how it might impact another person.

It’s not an ungracious attitude of not wanting you there, mama (we miss your fellowship, and we long for the day when sickness/hardship is no more). It’s about doing what’s respectful and loving. It’s about bearing each other’s burdens. About serving, caring and ministering to one another.

Church attendance at every single opportunity isn’t a legalistic obligation, like work days. There is grace in community for absence for important reasons, like sickness and consideration of others. No vacation time is in jeopardy. No deadline missed. Jesus will not love you any less for participating online this week. He just won’t. And neither will your brothers and sisters in Christ. And if they do, that’s another issue entirely.

Mama, I know how much you would have loved to be at church, at small group, at the potluck dinner. We would have loved to have you there. But thank you for staying home. For understanding. For prayerfully purposing to love others well.

{And to the mama who isn’t in this place and is having a hard time identifying with this viewpoint, won’t you join me in prayer about how we can understand each other better as the body of Christ; how we can serve each other and love one another and show grace to one another. Thank you, too.}

About the author

Amber Dorsett

Amber is a Southern girl born and raised in Alabama. She is a wife and a stay-at-home-mom of 2 boys (16 months apart!). After completing her Master’s degree in Communication Studies, teaching public speaking, and pursuing a career at a non-profit ministry, she traded in her high heels for a life of endless diapers, nursing covers, and lots of yoga pants. She recently launched her blog to share her passions and hopefully encourage other moms. She hopes you’ll come join the open conversations about Jesus, natural living, real food, budgeting, birth, breastfeeding, and being an intentional mama.

7 Comments

    • I hate that y’all have been sick a lot this winter! I feel like it’s been a rough season for so many mamas with so much going around. I agree that the first dose of antibiotics does not mean that children should be attending church; I am glad to relate with moms who are on that same page. About the buffet—I would turn around and walk right back out! eek!!

  • I love this, Amber! We’ve missed a lotta Sundays lately… I have a compromised immune system and toddler twins, so we’re one of these families you’re talking about who can pick up one tiny bug and be down for months! Thank you for understanding and sharing this!

    • Thank you, Katie! I am so sorry to hear that y’all have had to miss a bunch lately. We have too, so I know the feeling. 🙁 We are not immune compromised, but it gives me a new appreciation for/understanding of those who are. It is good to talk with other mamas who are on the same page!

  • Yessssss! All of this. I have six children. I’ve started avoiding church in the winter because of people bringing their sick kids to church. A sickness for my family means we’re out of commission for at least two weeks as it goes from person to person. I have 7 month old twins. I do not need rsv or pneumonia, which may present as a cold in my older kids. Thank you for this!!

    • Thank you, Em! I hate the thought that anyone has to avoid church attendance in winter because others do not think twice about bringing their children when they’re sick. 🙁 But I totally understand where you are coming from, as we did the same thing a lot this season.

  • Yes thank you- Being a working mom this is a huge issue with daycare- thank goodness we are in a place where a nanny is an option now. I understand that you can’t take off work easily when you have a sick kid- my daughter was catching something every other week while attending daycare and it always made me so mad because I would always take her to the doctor to make sure she was cleared to go to daycare if she had any symptoms There were plenty of times I had to take off work so that she could recover from something.