Monday, July 22, 2013

Kindness from the Community

About a month ago, Will had Reserve duties over the weekend and it was up to me to manage my brood at Mass. Not exactly easy with an active toddler and an infant who absolutely flips out if I dare to sit down in a pew. So. I brought Tony to the nursery that day, and decided I would be fine with just Alessandra. We girls could make it through, right? Yeah....not so much. No sooner did I step in the church when she let out an ear-piercing, brain-splitting shriek. (Mind you, we were standing in the narthex and the big wooden doors to the church were closed). Everyone in the church turned around and stared at us. Fortunately, we attend one of the oldest and most conservative Catholic churches in Shreveport, and it's not uncommon to see large families with young and occasionally loud children. I didn't see anyone giving me the stink eye; rather, the glances were more along the lines of "who in the world is torturing a cat with a red hot poker?" I knew Alessandra wanted to nurse, so I was struggling to get my nursing cover out of the diaper bag, find a comfortable position for her in the Ergo, all the while trying to keep the hysterical shrieking to a minimum. I was visibly stressed, and honestly I was at my breaking point.

A few seconds later, one of the ushers, a grandfatherly-type man in his late sixties, early seventies, came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. "Young lady, that's the most beautiful sound in the world. You don't have to worry; no one minds the noise one bit." I had every intention in the world of making a joke ("as beautiful as her screaming may be, I much prefer the sound of a garbage truck outside my window at 5am!"). However, to my embarrassment my eyes filled up with tears, and all I could manage was "thank you. Your kindness today means more to me than I can ever express." It was true. I was ashamed of myself, because my first reaction when this man came up was to go on the defensive. I was convinced he was going to scold me for bringing a hysterical baby in a quiet, peaceful church where everyone was praying before Mass, or at the very least I would hear a snide remark muttered under his breath. Instead, this man smiled, told me about the times his babies and grandbabies were loud in church, and I was to be commended for raising her in the faith and bringing her to Mass, even when it was a struggle to get out the door in the morning and small children aren't exactly known for their silence.

I'm always humbled and grateful when someone in our Catholic community extends themselves to us; as a military family, we move frequently and it can be difficult at times to find our niche, so to speak. We don't really have roots, as we move on average every two years, and if I thought this was a challenge as a young couple, I've found that it's ten times more difficult with small children. I love going to our church and knowing that our family, loud as we may be, is welcomed with open arms. I love the charity and the kindness of the ushers, who absolutely can't do enough for me when I'm trying to calm Alessandra down during Mass. I appreciate the smiles and sympathetic glances from other parents I come across in the narthex, who are attempting to calm their own children.

We won't be in Shreveport much longer; we will be leaving anywhere from six months to a year from now. I'm excited for our next adventure, but I will be sad to leave this wonderful parish where we have found kindness and acceptance at every turn.

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