Kelly Dolin has written an article, To Have a Voice, in appreciation of verbal children. An interesting topic for another time.
It was the story in the middle of Kelly’s article about the Church Lady and the Mom that caught my attention. Not too many years ago, I was, like Kelly, that Church Lady, critical of anyone who did not live up to my expectations of a good, faithful Catholic. I am no longer a Church Lady; I can’t be. I am now that Mom with the special needs children.
During Mass a couple weeks ago, John and Gianna, both of whom have some sensory processing problems, were upset by the activity and noise in the Sanctuary. So Matthew and I retreated with the two little ones to the vestibule (the cry room was just as busy and noisy). We pulled out two chairs and each held a child so they could relax. And without the activity and noise, both did relax.
But as I sat there, I began to wonder what the Church Ladies thought. Was I too lenient with my children? Was I unfaithful to the Church?
There were others in the vestibule that day, a young couple with a toddler and a baby, and two dads each with an infant. What did the Church Ladies think of them? Did these moms and dads feel criticized for their decisions?
And what about the moms and dads and children in the cry room?
Do the Church Ladies know the trials and challenges that I live daily? Do they know what struggles those parents face?
Having been on both sides, I know how easy it is to be critical of others, but also how discouraging that criticism can be. I can only imagine how many struggling parents have simply given up trying to be perfect, and have stopped participating in Mass. It takes a strong person to withstand the negative looks, words, and actions of others.
Let us pray that our Church will be a welcome sanctuary for all.