Exiled to the Mothers’ Room

As is apt to happen over the holidays, a spat erupted at the dining table, a table full of my husband’s extended family, and me, the woman who can’t keep her mouth shut.

The discussion centered on the weekend’s church service. It began with comments about how beautiful the service was, how funny the children’s choir was, etc. But then it turned to complaints about noisy children in the sanctuary. 

I just couldn’t sit there and take it. 

Children make noise. Yes, sometimes it’s disruptive and sometimes parents need to remove their children from the sanctuary. But not all the time. Not most of the time! Mothers should not be exiled to the mothers’ room. While it is convenient, I firmly believe that mothers should not be required to camp out in a sound-proof room while nursing or because their child is making infant coos or toddler sounds.

My opinion was not universally appreciated at this particular dining table. Some argued that the point of a mother’s room is so that the mother can still enjoy the service while her children make noise. Why isn’t there a father’s room? Why is it assumed the mother will be the one to remove her child from the sanctuary, leaving the father to enjoy the community of the sanctuary? The only way children will learn to sit still during an entire service is if they are permitted to be an active part of the community, even if it includes making some noise. 

I’ve been embarrassed by my child plenty of times during church. I’ve had to take him out of the sanctuary, as has my husband. When I was still nursing, I chose to nurse him in the mothers’ room but I do not feel this should be a requirement. Now, when he starts squirming, we offer cars, coloring books, the puzzle app on my iPhone, before throwing in the towel. And let’s be honest, we usually leave half way through the sermon because we’re hungry or tired or need coffee, not because of our kid. 

Please don’t glare at the parent in the pew, who is trying their best to entertain their kid during church. For a lot of us, our kid is the only reason we continue to go to church. Don’t make me leave again. 

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