Context: The annual meeting was today, and there wasn’t any childcare provided for the 2+ hour long meeting. From a kid’s perspective, adults droning on must be boring, so I tried to set up my son with crayons, etc., but he is super active, moving all the time. He wants to run and jump and be the center of attention, and it’s hard for him to understand he should sit still and be quiet. Sitting still and being quiet are two things he is just not capable of doing. He’s four years old. I also have a baby girl, seven months, who has huge blue eyes and a big smile. She is very social – she’s happy to be passed around and held. People say how beautiful she is. But when she cries during worship, I get dirty looks.
I didn’t get a chance to speak at the annual meeting today, so here’s the gist of what I might have said.
I have been on the receiving end of so many dirty looks from people, for letting my kid behave like a kid. Also, for having a crying baby in the middle of worship.
I have also received so many compliments about how beautiful my baby girl is, how cute my son is. I get a lot of support and help from people who have had young children, or who have children who are a little bit older than four years old.
All of these were true today: the vicious, dirty looks, the compliments about the baby, the help from friends.
It is exhausting, stressful, and crazymaking to have this experience every week.
There is a culture at this church which allows for children to be in the building, but shuffled off to the side, or to the RE wing. Or perhaps if they can be quiet, they are allowed to remain next to their parents.
It is frustrating to me that childcare is the last thing that is thought of when there is a meeting. If you want families with children to be a part of the congregation, there should be a plan to provide for the children. It is also something I might not have cared about before I had children – but now that I have children, I want them to feel welcome. I want to feel welcome, and sometimes I don’t. This is a problem. Structurally, monetarily, and even staffing-wise, children come last. The budget reflects this.
I received an apology from one of the board members and from the Children’s Minister for not providing childcare for the meeting. (I swore at both of them and later apologized, because I was chasing after my children at the time.)
Whenever I complain to my husband about my church experience, which is often lately, he tells me to go somewhere else. I really thought about it on the ride home from church today.
I want to be a part of this community, and being in community sometimes means being in conflict. I value the work that [redacted] does in Spokane, and I am proud to be a member.
I feel like I am causing strife for others, and for my part, I am sorry about that. I don’t want to be the center of attention, or the source of drama.
I would like to say thank you to all the people who helped with my baby and my son this morning. To the vicious ones: I sit in the back. I try to respond quickly when the baby is crying, or my son is running around, but I can’t always. I would be grateful if you would talk to me instead of giving me the stink eye.
I want to be a part of the solution, so if there’s anything I can do, please email me and we can set up a time to talk. My email is < xxx >.