A few years ago I read a book called You Lost Me and it was all about why 18-30 years aren’t in church. I could understand and relate to the reasons listed, but now I have a new perspective. Maybe 18-30 year olds aren’t coming to church because these are they years that they have infants in their life. As a new mom, I have had my eyes opened to just how tricky it can be to get your family to church. My situation is different than the average attending family, but if they go through even a little bit of what I go through then I get it.
Let’s dissect my morning. On Sundays I am up at 6:00am so I can get showered and ready before Owen wakes up and while Jeremy is still home. Service starts at 9:00am, so that is a good three hours before I have to be anywhere. Jeremy, who is a pastor, has to be to church by 7:30am, so I have his help until 7:15am. Some mornings Owen is up at 6:45am and others he sleeps until I have to wake him up. This morning was one where I had to wake up him up at 8:15am in order to get him fed and dressed and out the door by 8:45am. I usually get to church right on time and have just a minute or two to say hellos before the service starts. If Owen stays asleep, I can make it through service. This isn’t usually the case. Today Owen was awake during service and wanted to shriek during worship. This wasn’t an unhappy noise, but it was noisy. I took him out into the foyer until he started to get fussy there. Then it was back to Jeremy’s office for a diaper change. That didn’t help his mood. So I fed him. That didn’t help his mood either. I knew he was probably tired and fighting sleep. After a couple of attempts to try to get him to sleep, I left (with him screaming by the way, apparently he didn’t want to be strapped down in his car seat). Of course, he was sleep in just a matter of minutes once the car was on. I got home and I am proud to say that I was able to transfer him from the car seat to his bed. Now he is settled in for the nap he wouldn’t take at church.
A lot of my time is spent at church. I grew up regularly attending church as a kid. In high school, I got involved in serving and I’ve been active ever since. However, Owen has certainly thrown a loop into this. I no longer feel dependable because I never know what mood my kid will be in. Some days are good. Some days we just head home. I have a hard time leaving because I am used to serving alongside my husband and I’m committed to the kids that I serve. I guess the average family has both mom and dad working together to make a Sunday morning happen. At church I am a single mom. This isn’t a poor reflection on my husband at all. I take care of Owen so he can do his job. I understand that Jeremy can’t drop everything for a poopy diaper. While breastfeeding has it’s advantages, the one disadvantage is it makes me the sole provider of Owen’s meals. When he is hungry, I have to stop and feed him. There is no passing him off. Owen does get a pumped bottle daily, but yet again, Jeremy can’t drop his job to feed the baby. It’s on me. I think that is what is so tiring. It’s all on me. The weight of it all. If Owen is a nut it is up to me to fix the problem. If the problem can’t be fixed then it’s me who has to leave with the crazy baby.
I just dedicated my son last week in front of our church congregation and this week like many other weeks, I wonder if church is worth the hassle. Why get up at 6:00am on Sunday when I might only make it an hour at church before needing to head home. Not every week is this way, but the effort is enough to make me wonder if it’s worth it. If I’m doubting my church attendance and I’m a pastor’s wife, I wonder what the average family with young children thinks. It’s not about how wonderful the people are or the classes that are offered. It’s not about great the mother’s room is. It’s about the effort. Are you even getting anything out of the experience? I haven’t been able to sit through service in a couple of weeks. I talk with a few people in the hallways as I’m rushing my unhappy baby to a quiet place for diaper changes and feedings. I am dedicated to raising Owen to know the Lord and I do believe in the local church. My attendance just might be spotty for a few years and I’m a paid staff member. Insert guilt here. But… There is not much I can do about this fact. Now that I’m a parent, church is a totally different.