Church & The Working Mother


Most Christian women I know are stay-at-home mothers, or, at most, work-from-home mothers with lots of support from nearby family or in-home nanny/babysitters. I have seen them write posts on Facebook and talk about how lovely going to church is on Sunday as a family, and all the support they’ve felt from their congregation in being mothers. And, that’s where I get a little jealous, or at best, have mixed emotions.

Because that hasn’t been my experience, at all. Getting to church on Sunday is hard, and has happened a handful of times since Potamus was born almost 2 years ago. It was easy when he was a super-new infant, and I could nurse in the pew when he got fussy, or sway in the pews to the “contemporary” (aka 90’s maranatha songs) worship music. But since he’s been mobile, we haven’t been back more than 3 times.

I was talking to a friend about it this week, and she said “church is hard for working mothers. My kid is in daycare 5 days a week, I want to be with him, not pass him off to someone else.” And that, in a nutshell, summed up everything I had been saying in private to Boof, and feeling, since the beginning. Because it is hard for my kid to adjust to his daycare, which he now goes 4 days a week. For him to adjust to a new nursery provider, for 1.5 hours on Sunday seems a bit much. How many weeks would he cry in this new place before he got used to it? And would it be worth it?

And while I only work 4 days a week, those precious family moments in the morning, are some of my favorite. We’ve tried church recently and found that either one or both of us would have to leave with Potamus about half way through the service. Not only do I struggle with feeling whether or not church is relevant to my life anyway, I wonder, is it really relevant to my life as a mother? Because the church we attend doesn’t have many children, so to dump Potamus off with the 17 year old nursery assistant seems less-than-ideal. It makes me wonder, are churches using an outdated model of childcare as a relief for mothers who are with their children all week?

It feels like we’re doing it wrong. Like this division of children and adults is outdated and doesn’t serve parents who don’t see their children all week. I don’t have answers, but watching football, in our jammies, in the sunshine-filled comfort of our own home, with our child playing at our feet, feels much more ‘spiritual’ than singing songs and worrying if Potamus is doing okay in the church version of daycare. Ya know?

In Mathew 19:4, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  I just don’t feel like Jesus meant let children come to church and then hide away in a back room chewing on legos and doing flannel board. Maybe I’m wrong, but that doesn’t seem to be what this verse is saying…

Thoughts? Do you go to church or another religious service? Are children welcome in the service or in their own separate place?

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9 Comments

  1. Well, you know I’ll have a few thoughts here. 🙂 First, every congregation I’ve been to (although the mormon church is essentially the same everywhere) has been completely different in the amount of support that I’ve gotten from other members. So, I think it’s more about what kind of people you encounter than anything. Even some mormons aren’t as friendly as others. And for our church, the first hour there is no nursery, so families are together for the main services. I think when they are really young like your little guy’s age, it IS hard to send them to nursery, but I will say, that by the time they are the age of the older kids, they love it and learn SO much. So, I get what you are saying….believe me, there are times I wish we could just go on a hike or something as a family and have an extra day on the weekend together, but of course, I feel like it’s also a time to re-center ourselves for the week because it’s one day where we focus on church…plus, our church strongly encourages family home evening once a week where you take time to do something together as a family. Usually Monday nights.

  2. Your interpretation of Jesus’ words is spot on. There is another, and more Biblical, tradition.

    I cannot fully embrace all aspects of the Family Integrated Churches, as a movement. Yet, at my church, a Baptist church in SW Minnesota, USA, we enjoy family integrated worship and teaching. May God bless your search.

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