Wednesday, November 23, 2011

People Pleasing Penance

I have joined the ranks of those who bring little children to Mass.  From outside the club, it was easy to judge and cherry-pick what I would and wouldn't do with my children.  But to be fair, I could still acknowledge that it was a tough assignment.  Now that I'm in the club, I could sum it up by saying that suddenly, going to Mass has become a whole lot more adventurous.  Big surprise.

Taking an infant to Mass is a total penance for a people-pleaser (read: most Asian people).  The debilitating fear is being any kind of a distraction to other people.  And I mean, any kind.  I guess I never realized it, but it's easy to expect to fade into the crowd at Mass and not want to draw attention to myself.  Atheistically, it is group think and blindly following rituals, but hope-fully, it's because the attention should be on Jesus at the altar.  Regardless, bringing an infant to Mass now means having to guard against the doubly-whammy of worrying about what other people are thinking of us as parents as well as disturbing others' worship experience.  Even if my daughter isn't crying or making her baby velociraptor noises, it's easy to live in constant fear that she is about to.  It makes a lot of sense then, to see why many families with young children sit in the back of the church. 

The first time we brought our daughter to Mass, during communion, these thoughts went into overdrive.  Our baby is still small enough that we leave her in her carrier as long as we can.  However, as the usher came closer and closer to our pew, my mind began to be like: Should we take her up?  The carrier is unwieldy and not that easy to carry despite the name.  It also takes up a lot more space than people usually take in a two-person wide communion line.  People might stare!  And God knows that we're not rolling up to the front in the snap 'n go.  So should we leave her at our seats?  Darn you, making-the-decision-to-sit-in-the-back-so-as-to-not-disturb-other-people!  Because if we leave her here, it's a long way to the front of the communion line and then all the way back.  People are gonna judge the heck out of us while they should be hanging with Jesus because we left our baby alone for 45 seconds.  Either that or an overzealous auntie is gonna swoop in there and steal a cuddle.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and soon after I thought, "F that!"

The last thought reminded me that communion really was about spending time with Jesus and of course I would want my baby girl to go up and to receive a blessing.  If Blind Bartimaeus can be socially awkward to meet Jesus then I could too!  I decided that I wanted my daughter to have an experience of Mass that is "in your face" and not tucked away to the back of the church only to realize that at some certain age when they're older I have to play catch up with teaching her what Mass is really all about.  After all, at the end of my life, I'd rather have tried to unapologetically bring her to the feet of Jesus than circling around worrying more about what people thought of me.  Like I said, penance?

So there I was, walking down the center aisle like this:

Just kidding.

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