July 23, 2013

I love & hate the cry room

Kendra at Catholic All Year has asked bloggers to share their opinion on cry rooms. She noted on her own blog that she'd like fill all cry rooms with cement and wondered how the rest of us felt. Here's my two cents on it all.

There is nothing that makes me more angry than someone telling me I should take my kids and sit in the cry room at Mass.

My not so charitable or mature self thinks things like,

"Oh, my adorable toddler's babbling / teething baby's fussing /curious child's questioning is distracting? Well so is that lady's cleavage, that man's cough, that person's oxygen tank, that teen's chewing gum, that woman's playing peek-a-boo with my kid, that dude's bad singing, and the way the priest says "L-oo-rDuh.". Are you gonna kick them outta church too? No? Then please leave me alone, get in your car with its pro-life bumper sticker, and remember that babies who aren't aborted babble, fuss, and question."

Usually though I just look offended and hurt, say "uh, okay," and go to my car and cry.

Often cry rooms are places where teens hide, toddlers run wild, uninterested adults chat, and people just don't give a damn. They also tend to be stuffy, uncomfortable rooms where parents are exiled to solely because they have kids who are not mute.

I strongly dislike cry rooms like that, and parishes like that. A parish - the priest and the people - that uses the cry room as mentioned above is not a parish I want to belong to.

At my parish, though, the cry room is a good place to go when the kids are getting a little too rowdy, the homily a little too long, or my nerves a little too frayed. About 1/3 of the time it's empty, 2/3 of the time it's got one or two families with a small, energetic child or two. It seems that the cry room, at least at my parish, is exactly what it's supposed to be.

With its large glass window I can still see the altar and better participate in the Mass than if I were in the lobby area, where the sound is piped in but I can barely see anything through the small, thin windows. There are still pews and kneelers and hymnals so it feels like we're still in the congregation and we should act like it.

This past Sunday was the first Mass Travis and I went to with all five of our kids, the 5, 3, 2, and 1 year olds and the newborn baby. As we pulled into the parking lot I said to Travis, "Let's keep expectations low and sit in the cry room." There I didn't have to worry as much about being 100% modest as I nursed my newborn (we're still figuring things out). There we could practice juggling the kids, passing them back and forth, keeping them quiet, changing poopy diapers, and so on. There we sat all by ourselves in a quiet room, doing our best to pray the Mass and keep our kids focused. There we didn't bother the rest of the congregation or have to fret about our fumbles.

So, Kendra, while there are many cry rooms I would like to brick up and close off, there are many that I'd like to keep open, like the one at St. Luke's.


  1. Hmmm, yours does sound lovely, but I can't make any promises. How about I just put it way down on the bottom of the list? It's probably going to take me a long time to do them all.

    Thanks for linking up!

  2. I feel exactly the same! Hypothetically I totally *get* the fill-them-with-cement-we-are-all-one-body-pro-life campaign, but as a still "new" (ha! 5 years next month, light in the motherhood tunnel is approaching!) mom, or at least still a learning and often stressed mom, a beautiful cry-room like you describe that is used well is SUCH a welcome sight when the toddler/baby really is disrupting everyone else's Mass participation, nerves are shot, and fear for the holy items in the side chapels and pews ensues. I have not yet been a member of a parish with a cry room (poorly or well constructed) since becoming a mom, so I have only the experience of a visitor. My goddaughter's parish is exactly as you describe yours to be, and on the day of her baptism Mass was SO crowded, and baptism was scheduled for immediately afterward, so we were slated to be in church for, oh, 3 hours right in the middle of the day which completely covered my then-18-month-old's nap time. Not pretty. That was a very blessed cry room to my soul indeed. :)

  3. Ours is the type where nobody seems to be paying attention to mass. If I take the baby into the cry room, I usually go past the cry room into the open area near the restrooms. That way, I can walk with her without having her be distracted. I think the distraction encourages bad behavior at mass. There are several families, who you know, and we all have kids about the same age. We sit near the front of church, and I feel like it's a safety in numbers situation. Nobody has ever told me to take the baby to the cry room while sitting there.

  4. Our parish didn't have a cry room and I always wished for one! When we visited my parents in another state a couple times a year, although their church had a cry room, the priest always made an announcement that babies were part of the congregation and were welcome with the community in the main church, which I thought was great. We used the room once or twice.

  5. Lol! Oh, Bonnie, I loved what you said about *all* the distractions at church. Amen.

    "... let the children come to me and do not hinder them..." Luke 18:16

  6. Our cry room is currently filled with construction materials because our church is doing some renovations. However, our cry room was a nice room with wide open windows and kneelers. Charlie and I used the cry room when each of our girls was between 2-4 months because they were at the age where they were too old to sleep during mass so they would have that loud sad baby cry. We found the cry room pleasant when we went to our usual Mass time. However, when we attended Mass at a different time, we found exactly what you described, Bonnie. We found kids running around screaming and parents gossiping. So I completely understand your love/hate relationship with cry rooms.

  7. There are very few cry rooms I have seen that appear like the one you describe. Our parish does not have a cry room and I am glad. We do have windows/glass doors through the back of the church so people in the hallway between the Church and the Parish Hall can still participate fully in the Mass by sight and sound if they are back there with their energetic kids.

  8. I agree Bonnie! It'd be a godsend if more cry rooms like yours existed where you could go when the only Mass you could make was exactly at naptime for at least three toddlers! Or everyone was sick and completely miserable! I love hearing good stories about these kinds of parishes-they give me some hope!

  9. I feel exactly as you do, Bonnie. The cry room should be available for parents' use and at their discretion, but no one should EVER tell someone else to go there. Shame on them. I know someone who stopped going to Mass after an old man at our parish rudely suggested it to her a couple of times. No, she shouldn't have let that bother her so much, but that old man is going to have to answer for that before God. :(

    Oh, and I do think it's important that he cry room be kept distraction-free and with a clear view of the altar. I've been in some awful ones where you have to watch on a teeny TV and that's just ridiculous.

  10. I have been in some terrible cry rooms that were the size of a small parish, but ours is like yours--small and really, really helpful if you are struggling to nurse a newborn modestly (kind of impossible!!!).

  11. I Love it when pro-life peeps try to shoo us away. Makes me laugh, and take them to task; after a very flushed face followed by anger and tears. I literally yelled at a woman in front of the blessed sacrament one day at our old parish for telling me to move my stroller with baby out of the chapel. Not my most shining moment. I guess I was loud, and clear that she should be welcoming children into the parish.
    The chapel was rearranged for strollers and wheelchairs because I wasn't the first she'd done this to. Thank you Jesus.
    I can't believe I haven't read your blog until today. Your posts indeed made me feel welcome. I want to say Congratulations on your newborn! And, Husband And I lived near Peoria during our stint as missionaries at ISU. Went to the cathedral for a praise and worship one night. So beautiful.
    I'm so elated too about James Fulton. Wow. God is so good.thank you for sharing his story, I'm just in awe. Have a blessed day.

  12. I was told once in a cry room to keep my kids quiet. This by a sour faced old woman who had her head on a swivel neck. Our usual parish does not have a cry room and that is fine with me. I figure that the older people in my parish are used to it by now since the church was built in 1895. Fussy kids, this too will pass.