By Heather O.
Today was one of those Sundays.
It started at 5am, when J woke up and wondered where his bed was. We are out of our house, and staying with family while we await the movers tomorrow. All of our stuff has been packed since Friday, and J is sort of freaked out. Hence, I think, the 5am wake-up call.
Anyway, he was cranky the entire morning, and the prospect of church did not cheer him up any. He cried almost the whole way to church, a trip that took us 20 minutes longer than usual, coming from my family’s house instead of ours. We slipped into the 2nd to back row in the overflow just as the Sacrament hymn was ending. J whimpered during the entire Sacrament, and intermittently moaned that he was hungry and loudly whispered, “I don’t want to go to Primary!”
After the Sacrament, we finally got him calmed down enough to play with some toys, and he sat down on the floor to entertain himself. I usually do not allow him to sit anywhere but the chair or bench, but as we were in the overflow, and as we were all very near the edge, I let it slide. He seemed content, for the first time in literally 4 hours.
The meeting progressed, as did J’s play. He started crashing his Spiderman into his space ship, with the appropriate sound effects. DH and I shushed him, pulled him away from other chairs, told him he was not allowed to slam Spiderman into the chair, etc. He responded pretty well, I thought, to our instructions, and I actually heard most of the speakers, and felt myself starting to relax just a little bit.
Then a member of the ward I did not know come up to us during the meeting and harshly whispered, “I have an investigator here, and your son is depriving us of the Spirit!”
Have you ever heard of the straw that broke the camel’s back? This was the whisper that broke the Mamma’s very thin veil of sanity.
We blew out of that Sacrament meeting so fast that J was too stunned at Mama’s behavior to even cry. We spent the rest of Sacrament meeting taking a “family walk” around the idyllic neighborhood while I worked extremely hard to pull it all back together. If DH wasn’t scheduled to teach Elder’s Quorom, I think we would have left altogether.
I was shocked, hurt, angry, appalled, and embarassed, all at the same time. Shocked that somebody would have the guts to say that to my face. Hurt and angry because it had been such a struggle to even get there, the entire weekend has been draining and exhausting, and I just needed the peace of the fellowship of the Saints. Appalled because that man did not know our situation, he didn’t know us at all, and still felt like he could say something like that. What if we had been investigators too? What if we had been inactive and were just coming back to church for the first time in years? What if we our testimonies were hanging by a thread, and this would have been the cut that lost us forever? These are the kinds of things that make people leave and never come back.
And, finally, embarrassed that J’s behavior was clearly disturbing others, and I truly did not notice. What kind of mother doesn’t realize her son is running amok and depriving others of the Spirit? One who is totally fried, is the real answer, but that’s not really an appropriate excuse for not controlling my son’s behavior at a time when others are trying to worship, too.
Our church prides itself on focusing on the family, and yet our 3 hour block sometimes makes it tough on families to stay focused on the Spirit. I think sometimes as mothers we have a certain threshold for noise (ie, I apologized to the woman in front of us at the end of church for J’s behavior, thinking that if J disturbed that guy, he certainly disturbed her, and she looked at me blankly. She honestly hadn’t heard a word from him or the whisper from the man because she was completely wrapped up in keeping her own 3 year old from losing it.), but we can forget that other’s don’t have that same threshold.
I don’t know, I’m just completely at a loss, here. Has this kind of thing ever happened to anyone else? How are you supposed to handle something like that?
I saw the Bishop later, and he said he wanted to talk to me in his office. It was mostly about releasing me from my calling, but he said, “You look like you could use a treat”, and he pulled out his candy jar. I told him what happened, and he said, “Yeah, I saw you guys leave. I wondered what he had said to you to make you depart so abruptly. Not super tactful, that guy.” And he gave me a miniature York Peppermint Patty and told me it was going to be ok.
I guess my point in all of this, besides just getting it off my chest, is that there should be some middle ground. Mothers, we should do what we can to make sure our children aren’t disturbing other people’s worship. And other people–when you see a mother dealing with a cranky, rambunctios 4 year old whose sound effects aren’t exactly spiritual, remember that she might be a stressed out nutcase who is functioning on 4 hours of sleep and is living out of a suitcase at her mother’s house and is three seconds away from a major meltdown before you suggest her family is less than righteous.
And remember this: Good bishops should always have a candy jar in their office.
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