Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pleasantly Surprised

Today, I tried something new. I was a little nervous. I prepared for a few days ahead of time, making sure I had enough activities and provisions with me. I prayed. And then I jumped in and did it.

And everything worked out just fine.

Two weeks ago, a Deacon at my parish asked me to be one of four facilitators for the "Great Adventure: Quick Journey Through the Bible" study that our parish is sponsoring in February and March. I agreed to facilitate one of the daytime sessions, on one condition: the Deacon needed to secure babysitting, not just for me, but for anyone in the parish who would like to attend but had small children at home. One of the more frustrating parts of parish life for me is the frequency with which children are not accommodated: the number of meetings, activities, and discussion sessions where childcare is not offered. I maintain that if we are a Catholic, pro-life, pro-family parish, we need to recognize and accommodate the reality of children in everyday life.

The Deacon agreed, and is in the process of procuring childcare for the Monday afternoon sessions I will be running. Two days ago, he emailed the four facilitators, requesting a preparatory meeting with us this morning in the parish center. The timing was do-able for our schedule, but not conducive to finding childcare help. In talking with DH, I offered several options. Not at all serious, I finally said, "I could just bring them along." DH thought that sounded like a great idea, and the more I thought about it, so did I.

I talked to the kids about it in advance, and planned out some quiet activities for each of them during the one hour meeting slot. This morning, after mass, I asked the Deacon if we could meet in the main room, which would give me space to accommodate the children. I watched his face carefully, and he didn't blanch. "Whatever you need is fine with me." Good.

We got there 15 minutes early, so that all of the children were set up with activities and snack before the meeting started. And it went great. BigBro helped LilBro go to the bathroom. Princess and BigBro made pictures for the Deacon. One of the other facilitators entertained the kids with a Donald Duck voice after the meeting had ended. And we had a solid, productive meeting with three children under 7 in the same room.

When we set the date and time for the next meeting, I mentioned that I would have the children with me. Everyone smiled. Someone said, "of course."

And I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was, really, with the right attitude and expectations on my part.


  1. Good for you! Our parish has improved on this score too -- they have to, as young families are what's growing our parish as they join.
    It has been a hard adjustment in terms of planning, but it has resulted in more active participation in running the parish. A few years ago I was co-chair of the parish council with another mother, and we brought our kids to all the daytime stuff -- you want our work, we bring our kids!

  2. Hi Jen, great to see your blog. I know what you mean in your past posts about feeling like you are not doing enough. To me it is more important that they are still being children and enjoying things children do. Nico comments how Luca doesn't have to do lessons,,,but he doesn't always realize that they are all learning everyday. Luca had to learn a whole new language, just like he did when he came home. Nico sees it now. He makes comments like, "Wow, he is learning more everyday."

  3. And as you take your children more places, you will spread that Catholic pro-life message. Though it is RARELY easy to have my two in the parish office with me, it amazes me how it
    1. changes people's perspectives
    2. encourages other moms to be involved
    3. keeps me grounded

    Oh, and it seems to encourage everyone to think of childcare for other parish events too! :)