Porter and I went to church today, and I dropped Porter off in the nursery before finding a seat in Fusion (thats what our "services" are called). It was pretty crowded so I grabbed a chair in the 'Parents sitting with Children' section. I figured that way if Porter ends up crying and they flash my number on the screen, I'd already be in a child/parent area.
Around me were three separate families with kids.
Family 1: Had a 1 year old. Kiddo was pretty quiet, but halfway through, the mom ended up walking to the back of the room to pace with him.
Family 2: Had an infant and 2-3 year old. Infant was ok, Toddler was all over. Passed between grandma and aunt (I'm assuming) and mom. Dad just kind of sat there like a lump. I later saw him alone outside lighting a cigarette, while the mom, grandma and aunt had the 2 kids. I wondered what a well manicured, sophisticated mom was doing with a guy who obviously wasn't helpful with his kids.
Family 3: Had a 9-1o month old little girl. She was ok through the fusion, but ended up playing on the floor while the parents both stared down at her entertaining her.
So... now that I explained these families... I just wonder... what exactly did they get out of Fusion? Were they even able to concentrate on what the pastor was saying inbetween passing the children from parent to parent and entertaining them with snacks and toys? Did they even get the message? I was merely a spectator in their events, sitting in between Families 2 and 3, and behind Family 1, but even I know I didn't get the full message from Fusion as the sweet little girl next to me was tapping me and smiling and cooing at me. And how can you ignore that sweetness? I also was busy taking mental notes (for this blog post! HAHA) on how much they actually paid attention to what was being said by the pastor. Very little. Most of the time they were passing the child from one parent to the other, getting out snacks, toys and sippys, and entertaining the kids. Why even be there?
When Porter was an infant, I'd say up to 12 weeks old, we'd bring him into Fusion with us as he'd sleep- even through the loud rock music. Once he began being more awake, and fussed easier, we'd leave him in the nursery. We/I went through a few dry spells of not attending church for awhile, and then there were a few months when Porter was severely ailed with separation anxiety. He wouldn't stay in the nursery. I tried to bring him into Fusion with me but I ended up feeling like it was a waste of time to even go to church as I didn't get anything out of being there... other than wrangling and entertaining Porter. So, I just stayed home rather than endure an hour of trying to keep him quiet and half ass listening to the pastor. And even now, if he ends up crying in the nursery and they flash my number, I try to let him sit with me but if he is too antsy we just leave as it makes no sense to me to be there and not be listening fully and being able to fully internalize the message.
I also know that some churches don't even have nurseries, which I think is crazy, but I know they're out there. And some parents just choose to not put their kids in the nursery for convenience or other reasons. It doesn't matter to me, as I normally sit away from the kid areas, or just ignore the kids. But I just wonder if the people who do bring their toddlers/infants into the church service feel like they are fully able to devote their attention to the message and get all that they could out of the morning service.
So... I'm curious...
How many of you put your kids in the nursery? How many take their kids into the service?
If you have or do take your kids into the service, do you feel like your attention on the message is limited? Do you walk away feeling like you got something out of being in church, or are you like me... you feel like "Holy hell, I made it through the service without my kid being too noisy!" and feel a little bewildered at what exactly you listened to the pastor saying?