Monday, August 29, 2005

Not Welcome

I sit here crying my eyes out, because of some petty little thing some ignorant child-less young woman said to me in mass this evening.

I am so tired of everyone being against me, even those who should be encouraging me. I have no support. Had I any less faith than I have, I would have completely stopped going to mass a long time ago.

I am not welcome in mass. My family is not welcome. Usually I arrive and I take the most isolated bench I can find, minimum one empty bench between the people in front of us and I and the people in back of us and I. Two empty benches is even better. But I don't always get that luxury. And even so, sometimes people still up and leave within the two minutes following my arrival at mass. If they tough it out, they sometimes have comments to make or else they shush my children, as if I weren't already doing it.

I arrive stressed out in mass and I leave stressed out. I cannot relax because I have to try to make my children as quiet as possible. I cannot listen to the homily because I am too busy shushing my children, especially Gabriel who STILL has not understood the concept of whispering and who no matter what I do or say, will NOT shut up. My kids do not run all over the place, they sit still most of the time, the three oldest whisper most of the time, only the two middle ones forget once in awhile to whisper. Even Gabriel does not run all over the place. He doesn't scream and yell either, or cry. He just talks, a little too loudly. But he is just over two and a half years old. He is still a BABY.

But people here in this crappy province of Quebec are just not used to having children around. No matter how good they are being, it's never good enough.

I went to mass at 8:00 pm today at the Oratory because I couldn't go earlier. As usual it was jam packed, there are no other evening masses anywhere else, the parishes don't have enough priests or even enough parishioners to keep them up anymore. There was an usher ready to find a place for me, although I almost said I would just stand in the back (that way my kids and I can't bother anyone right?) As usual, at least two of the people I sat beside got up within a minute and didn't come back. My kids decided they all had to go to the bathroom, and kept passing in front of the lady who was next to the aisle, so I was afraid she would up and leave too. I went to change Gabriel's diaper because he was smelling, and when I came back there were a couple of black people sitting where the two previous people had been sitting before. I was kind of relieved, I figured they're black, they're used to kids. (Must specify that here in Québec, most blacks are fairly recent immigrants from countries in Africa and not descendants of slaves like in the States, so they not only have a different culture from most black Americans, they don't even have the same style - clothing, hair, etc... And in Africa, in general, children are considered a wealth, and people have a lot of them.)

I was uselessly spending most of my breath trying to get Gabriel to lower his tone of voice, when suddenly I hear "Excuse me, excuse me!" So I turn towards my black neighbours and the young lady (who has obviously been in Québec too long and needs to go and visit Africa and get used to kids again) says rather irritably "Could we have bit more concentration here please?"

Lady, what on earth do you suggest I do to shut the kid up short of taping his mouth with duct tape or knocking him unconscious?

I do NOT need this kind of discouragement. I try to understand that this lady doesn't have kids, and probably doesn't understand what it is like to deal with them, but I have a whole province of churches full of people who either do not have kids or have forgotten what it was like to have them. I so understand those parents of young children who no longer go to mass anymore. Young children are NOT welcome in mass. We are constantly discouraged from bringing them. I am an exception to those who have given up. I wonder why I even bother being an exception. Why should I keep going to some place where I am not even welcome? Only because I have the RIGHT to be there and so do my children. Only because I know that God is better than that.

I have enough of hearing comments at home like I should just tape record the mass and re-watch it at home, it'll be the same thing, or that I don't have to go everyday, it won't change anything, I won't be missing anything, it's always the same thing anyway, or even when mass doesn't fit into certain plans, a rolling of the eyes and a "Do you HAVE to go?" I go anyway, only to be reminded that I am not welcome there. Why do I fight so to go to a place I am not welcome? It is so stupid and illogical.

Are people not capable of ignoring or tolerating children anymore? Even when I was single, if I ended up near children who were making noise, I usually just smiled at them and went on listening to mass. They weren't my children, I could easily ignore them and concentrate on what the priest was saying instead. It isn't so hard to ignore children as long as they are not being extremely disruptive, and most aren't. Besides, even if you do have problems concentrating, it's only ONE mass out of how many in the year? When was the last time I had the leisure of actually listening uninterrupted to mass? I don't even remember. I sit with my kids EVERY Sunday. I have to deal with them EVERY Sunday. The rest of you don't have to sit with or near my kids again, and you NEVER have to deal with them. So the next time you find yourself next to young children, please do not expect them to be as quiet as adults, because if you do, they will get on your nerves. Instead, smile indulgently at them, and offer up the distraction for their souls. The beauty of it is that next Sunday you can make sure you are sitting as far away as possible from them if you so desire.