Earning My Stripes

This past weekend I met a woman who goes to our church.  We’re fairly new there, and she was asking me about my kids’ ages.  When I told her that my youngest son was 8 years old and goes to Sunday school, she immediately asked me if he sits in church with us too.  

I wavered.  This woman obviously was a “children should be in church” mom and I’m not.  When I think of Youngest Son lying on the pew, coloring and asking me 100 times when the service was going to be over, I silently thank the sunday school teachers for their time and kindness.   Things are definitely better now that he is no longer “worshipping” with us. 

I was then on the receiving end of a litany about how it’s important for families to be together and then go to Bible study, etc, etc when something in the very back of my brain snapped and I shut down.  If Bossy Mom had been paying attention and not lecturing me, she may have heard the hum of my mind come to a complete stop and seen my eyes glaze over.  However, she wasn’t done proselytizing despite the fact that I was done listening.

It then occurred to me that I was DONE listening to other Bossy Moms give me advice, period.  I’m not talking girlfriend advice or a friendly pep talk.  I’m done with people who want to give me unsolicited advice regarding how to live my life, raise my kids and conduct my church activities.  Done. Done. Done.

Today is Eldest Son’s 17th birthday and, quite frankly, I’ve been doing this mommy thing for a long time now.  In fact, I think that mothers should be allowed stripes for every year of parenting, just like the military.  We could work our way up in the ranks and special medals could be awarded for injury during combat, bravery and volunteering. 

If Bossy Mom had seen my stripes she would have said, “You don’t take your son to… oh, I’m sorry, Second Lieutenant Lee.  I see that you are a decorated war hero, rewarded with the ‘Lack of Sleep for 24 Months’ award and ‘I’ve Raised Willful Children’ medal too.  Forgive me – good job.  As you were, soldier.”  We would have saluted each other and moved on.  No lectures, no judgement.  Just two moms, both doing the best we can. 

However, I had no such stripes so all I could do was say, “Nice meeting you,” and go back to the trenches.  From now on, however, this Semper Fi mom is on a mission to be kind and supportive to other parents I meet.  Come to think of it, Bossy Mom would have made a great drill sargent.


8 thoughts on “Earning My Stripes

  1. Since all childrearing is constantly a situation of–as the Marines say SNAFU, mommys and daddys of perfect little families should keep very quiet–their day is coming. But the “kids in church” thing is something I will never understand. Part of the reason we left our first church was the insistence of the priest to move kids out of Sunday School and into church at an early age. We jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, though. The younger Sunday School is set in our new church, but from 7th grade on they are supposed to go to church and then COME BACK in the afternoon for a fun youth class. This sounds simple enough, but, sadly, it just doesn’t work…your church lady would have pushed all my buttons. Actually, now that I look at the length of this comment, I guess she already did.

  2. The reverse of this situation happened to me during our brief stint at the Unitarian church a few years back. Being new and very young at the time, my kids wanted no part of the Religious Education program and wanted to sit with me. Another member of the Bossy Mom camp tried to lecture me as well. I think that was when I stopped going. I cannot stand bossy types, and churches just happen to be chock full of them.

  3. OK – I’m NOT a mom, but I’ve been around a lot of them and seen them bombarded/wounded by other (I guess) well-meaning bossy women…I’m all for your “stripes” idea going into effect – it would generate a lot more respect all around. You said you’d already told this lady your kids’ ages, though, so she should have been able to imagine the stripes…maybe she doesn’t know anything about military respect! Speaking from the child’s perspective – I was raised Catholic and we didn’t have Sunday school – we attended Mass every week, and I think I would’ve learned a lot more away from the service!

  4. OK – being a pain and making another comment because when I made the first one I forgot to click the box that allows me to get follow-up comments via email – and I love to read other’s comments!

  5. I’ll never forget the woman at my church pushing having children at the service with suggestions like the child can count how many times Jesus is said in the sermon. I was really happy when her worshiping was interrupted by the son of the minister misbehaving in her pew.

  6. Ah! the self-righteous, blessed are they who think they know the one true way to live your life and are so eager to share their opinions. Love the idea of earning stripes. Just think, for her inconsiderate and unsolicited advice you could have stripped her of a stripe!

  7. I think I know of the woman you are speaking about! AHHHH!!!
    Can some just leave their pious shoes at the door…especially before entering the Narthex..let alone the Sanctuary???
    Please! You know where I stand on that one..and come on..same said woman would frown if said children made noise during services. And isn’t Sunday school supposed to be conducted for childrens benefit to learn more easily at their age level? If you want to spend 2 hours at said church…or spend your hour at service with said children then send them to Sunday school so you can go to a nice quiet breakfast while they then attend an additional hour of instruction..whose to blame you…but won’t at some point said children tire of the length and possibly turn up their noses at additional time spent when parents are not…oh…excuse me..I forgot..you should then be in adult Sunday school while they are in their class…oh, my!!!! Amy…this could go on forever..every family and their views on what is right for their family is different and has to be decided as such…someone needs to stop judging others…isn’t that what she should be learning in her additional hour of Sunday school??? lol!

  8. Geez, sorry that happened to you. Now the next step would be to not even glaze over but to excuse yourself and walk away. Wouldn’t you love to just say, “I’m sorry, I’m at work right now and not at liberty to discuss my personal life on the clock.” Exit scene.
    Don’t you just wish people would learn that they aren’t the ultimate authority on life?
    And I love the stripes idea. Let’s implement it immediately!!!

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