This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!
I’m a worship leader at my church. I really, really love it. It’s a job that’s fulfilling for me, and I feel like it isn’t really “work” to do it. The only exception is when I’ve got both my tiny ones with me. A couple of weeks ago, Hubby played in the band with me at church, so we were there before 9:00am, with both kids in tow. That’s before the nursery starts, but both of us were setting up and starting rehearsal with the rest of the band. Naturally, I let them eat breakfast at church because that occupies a lot of their attention while I’m trying to get things rolling. But this particular morning, they just seemed to be finished too quickly, and needed to be under my feet. As in literally under my feet, playing with the keyboard pedal and my water bottle. It was not as bad as like Easter Sunday, where practice was a little more important than usual, my kids were a little more needy than usual, and they managed to spill 95% of my $5 latte all over the stage rug. Sorry about that, Pastor. Anyway….
EK managed to get a mic that wasn’t plugged in, and commenced an adorable dance party while she sang into the mic. It was pretty adorable to have that going on while we rehearsed. J, however, needed to be playing the keys from in between me and the keyboard – and at 33 weeks pregnant, ain’t nobody got room for that. So by the time we had set up, tried to play the first song, mostly failed, and I was starting to get frustrated, it was time enough to take the kids downstairs to their nursery rooms.
EK loves it. She’s got friends in both services (she literally asks to “go play with her friends now”), knows all the teachers on the rotation, and doesn’t even look back when we get to the door. It took us a long while to get there, though, and the start of preschool last year was really her landmark for getting over her nursery dislike.
J, however, is still in the throes of screaming right when we get onto the hallway. He knows I’m leaving him there, and he’s not happy about it. Typically, he ends up crying for a while and being okay for the rest of the time, but sometimes he’s angry the whole time I’m gone. I hate it for him. I hate it for me. I hate it for whoever’s in there with him. Everybody down there has done everything they can for him. He even stays in the room he was in last year because he’s slightly more comfortable in there than in the bigger kid room that he’s technically old enough for. He wants to be snuggled and coddled, I guess, and that happens more in the baby room. My 30lb, 18 month old baby. Poor guy, right?
I just keep leaving him thinking, “He’ll get over it.” but it’s been months and he’s not over it. He does start preschool for two mornings a week this fall, so maybe that will do for him what it did for EK, and push him over the hump of hating nursery. But I worry about it every Sunday, apologize when I drop him off, and feel even worse because I’m not like every other mom. I’m not available to run downstairs and snuggle him for a few minutes, or check on him during the service. I have to be upstairs, either leading worship, ready to hop up on stage at a moment’s notice, or available to troubleshoot technical difficulties they might have. I can’t go help him or make him feel better. I leave him in totally capable hands, I just feel terrible about having “that kid” that won’t stop crying, or “that kid” who has to be wheeled around for two hours in a stroller up and down the halls instead of playing nicely with the other kids.
As a mom, it’s like a trifecta of “Am I a bad mama?” It’s hard. It’s embarrassing. It’s sad to leave your kid screaming, week after week. Should I be leaving him like this, week after week? Are the other moms judging me because of how sad he is every time? Are the workers dreading when I walk in with my kid? Am I a bad mom? Could I be doing something different to make him happier? I don’t know. I just know that my kid can’t be the only one. Other kids cry when they’re in the nursery. I’ve seen it. Other moms have to pry their kids off when they leave, right? It’s all worth it for a few minutes of worship time and community with other people who love Jesus. I need that time. I need to make time for Him to be my focus every week. I have to let go of the guilt I feel leaving him unhappy, and hang on to the Father who can make us both feel safe and secure.