It has happened.
I have entered a world previously unknown to me.
The world where kid-friendliness matters. Suddenly, I am annoyed when public restrooms don't have baby changing stations, stores don't have enough room to maneuver strollers, and schedules do not allow for proper bed-times.
Today, I had a first in this world-
my first bad church nursery experience.
You see, with us planning on moving to Savannah, we had begun looking for a local church before Jon left. We found one we really love, but I'm not sure the schedule will work with the Post Chapel. There was one other we were quite interested in, so I gave it a chance.
I could go on and on about my experience. The music was great, the style I enjoyed. However, no one said hi to me. Not one person. And it was only about a church of 50 or so, so it's not like I blended in...
I had Sophie with me, as I usually do in church. If she gets fussy (that's a big IF- I have a very well-mannered little girl), I am prompt to take her out- either to the nursery or to the foyer.
I was told I HAD to leave her in the nursery. No option. A man came up to me after the music, and said (no "Hello! Glad you could join us!") - simply- "Ma'am, we have a nursery." Despite his stern tone, I smiled and said, "Oh, I know- she'll need to eat soon so I'll take her back then." The pastor was getting up to preach, so I turned back toward the front of the auditorium. "Ma'am, she needs to be in there before the teaching begins."
I was appalled.
She needed to eat, and I was in shock, so I didn't say anything (well, other than an "uuuuh....okkkkk..." muttered under my breath...) . I quickly grabbed our things and went back to the nursery. No. "Went" is the wrong word. Try more "was escorted by two men."
I felt like I was wearing a big scarlet "M" for "Mother" on my chest.
I was led into the nursery, where the two workers barely acknowledged my existence. Quite literally. They didn't even look at me until I had been in there probably 2 or 3 minutes, and even then, they said "hi" and went back to their conversation.
When Sophie was done eating, I had a quandary... I sat there contemplating it while they chatted. Finally, having convinced myself there is one renegade deacon whose life purpose it is to rid the auditorium of minors, I said, "Um... I prefer to keep her with me, but I was, uh, 'strongly encouraged' to bring her back here..."
They informed me in no uncertain terms that I was not to bring my child into the auditorium.
So, with 40 minutes left to the service, I left.
I understand nurseries- but I do not leave my daughter with people I just met. I don't know the church's child care policy, if they do background checks, what training the workers have- and I'm not about to leave my daughter with someone I'm not confident in (though I'm sure these women were great- it wasn't personal).
So, my options were to stay in the nursery and continue to be ignored, or leave.
When I got back out to the car, I cried.
I second-guessed my decision- maybe I should have just gone back into the service with her- they could deal with it. But honestly, at that point I had no desire to be in that building.
I still am in utter disbelief that that happened. Seriously? They told me, a first-time visitor, what I can and cannot do with my child? I mean, I have mixed feelings about kids in the church service- I believe strongly in both age-appropriate teaching AND in teaching kids how to sit quietly in church and the liturgy of my tradition. Either way, that is OUR decision as parents- not yours as someone I've never met. (I do wonder how the situation might have gone down differently had Jon been standing next to me...) Does this church really value family so little that they make visitors feel unwelcome to make sure kids don't disrupt their perfect little service?
I understand some kids are distracting in church. I really do. That's why I take mine out when she just starts getting fidgety and before she ever cries. But again, that decision is up to me.
Suffice it to say I'm not going back.