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.