Monica Portogallo explains what moms who bring little kids to Mass need most from their fellow parishioners.
It’s me: the woman by herself with small children at Mass.
Maybe I’m here alone because my husband is at work saving lives as a firefighter or healthcare worker in the hospital.
Maybe my husband is sleeping off his hangover and couldn’t care less about going to Mass.
Maybe I had to leave my husband because he was abusing our family.
Maybe my husband lost his faith, but I didn’t.
Maybe I made some choices I’m not proud of and my kids never had a father in the picture.
Maybe these kids are not my children, but I am taking care of them because their parents couldn’t.
Maybe there are hundreds of reasons why I’m in a situation that is potentially distracting to you.
The thing is: it doesn’t really matter why I’m here alone with kids. I’m here.
I’m here, hoping the children will be still and quiet, even though children by nature are prone to neither.
I’m here, even though society at large and some of the people in my life tell me taking kids to Mass is, at best, a waste of time.
I’m here, despite having to wake up before dawn to make sure we were all dressed and ready in time for Mass.
I’m here, with an arsenal of supplies as I try (and sometimes fail) to anticipate the needs of my children.
I’m here, fearing my kids will disturb others, and I will have to endure dirty looks, exasperated sighs, and unsolicited advice and criticism.
It took a lot of effort and internal angst, but I’m here.
So, please, give us a little grace if we disturb you.
Smile at us.
Tell me my kids are cute.
Pray for me.
Tell me you wish your kids took your grandchildren to Mass, the way I do.
Say you love seeing and hearing little ones at Mass.
Let me know that you hope to see our family next Sunday.
Tell me I’m doing something important that’s good for my children.
Say I’m doing a good job.
Sometimes, for women like me, that gracious response from you can mean the difference between coming back every Sunday and falling away from the faith. So please, if we bother you, try to hold the sighs and negative comments inside, and let the love of Christ shine through you.
Your Sister in Christ,
The Woman in the Next Pew
Copyright 2023 Monica Portogallo
Images: copyright 2023 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Monica Portogallo is a wife, mother, and registered dietitian nutritionist who does her best not to miss the lessons God sends to her through the joys and struggles of daily life. She lives in California.