To the woman who rolls her eyes at me during Mass.


Dear Woman,

I don’t know your name I’m afraid, and I’m pretty sure you don’t know mine.
My name is Clare, and those 3 noisy, annoying, badly behaved kids behind you belong to me.

I’m terribly sorry if we disturbed you when we turned up 3 minuets late today at Mass. We obviously did because you couldn’t stop rolling your eyes and tutting under your breath at us.

I know the baby is a nightmare at Mass. That’s because she is 2 years old. That’s why she isn’t wearing any shoes today and will only ever wear her Elsa dress. It is also the reason she can’t sit still for more than a second and she has no self conciseness about shouting at the top of her voice if something annoys her. It’s because she’s 2.

I’m not sure if you ever had children or grandchildren of your own? I’m not sure if you remember what a 2 year old is like to deal with at Mass – and at all other times of the day and night? That’s right – she behaves like that ALL the time, not just at Mass. It’s because she’s 2.
I suppose it would be easier for me to control her if I didn’t have the other two hanging off of my back and whining at me as well.

Tbh with you I don’t enjoy it either. It would be fairly safe to say that it is one of the most stressful parts of my week. I much prefer taking the older two to the evening mass on my own where it is quieter and they don’t get distracted by their sister and all the other badly behaved toddlers. But my husband likes us to go to Mass as a family, and he hasn’t come to Mass that much recently, so if he shows interest then I am not going to argue with him and put him off coming.

It does strike me as being a little bit strange that if little kids annoy you so much, that you would choose to come to the family mass – but I guess that’s your choice. There are other evening masses with much fewer kids that you might prefer.

I’m sorry if I ruined your mass. But it’s not really your’s is it? And I’d just like to clarify, if there was any doubt in your mind, that every roll of your eyes, every tut under your breath, and every glance sideways at your husband totally and utterly destroyed me. I’m trying my best here, I really am. And I would really have appreciated some help, or at least a friendly smile.

And btw I did notice you looking at my belly and no, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat – just incase you were wondering.

Yours sincerely,

Clare Short.

16 thoughts on “To the woman who rolls her eyes at me during Mass.

  1. Clare. Stick to your guns. It does not last forever. Many years ago an elderly priest reassured the mothers in his congregation who were worried about their children at Mass by telling them that whenever possible they should not to take their children out of the church, saying “….the only noise that God does not like is the sound of copper on the plate.”

  2. I’m tempted to say ‘poor Clare’, but that would make it sound like a religious order. I think that mothers with 2 year olds, plus others, deserve some kind of Papal honour for getting to Mass only three minutes late, and deserve better from their brothers and sisters in Christ. But that’s the thing about congregations: the curmudgeonly and the beleaguered both go to Mass, and both need God’s mercy and forgiveness. I hope she reflects on how she behaved towards you!

  3. I understand the difficulties of children at church; at ours they are welcome, and their noise is also welcome, but this does not happen everywhere. I have also been in churches where anything other than complete silence from a child is frowned upon, and no child can maintain that for an hour.

    But … Perhaps that old lady lost a child, long ago. Perhaps she has grandchildren, but never gets to see them because her children live too far away, and never visit. Perhaps her cat is ill, or she is lonely, or perhaps she just wanted a bit of peace for a few moments from a very difficult life as a carer for her husband or elderly relative. Perhaps she lives in hell, and was looking for a tiny glimpse of heaven, just for a few moments.

    Yes, she got it wrong; certainly she caused you distress and that was wrong. She rolled her eyes and tutted; so easy to do both. But in writing about her, are you not also rolling your eyes, and tutting, at her? Even further; you suggest she is in the wrong place by being at Mass when you and your family are. Is that really what you wanted to say?

    • No, I just suggested that if she wants a quieter mass with less kids then she might prefer to go to the evening mass instead.

      • Is that not what others are saying of you and your family? By all means attend, but not when it bothers me?

    • Exactly what Iwas thinking.We’re all complainerseven when we moan about complainersWe can al be the solutiona s well. We can be the first to say “sorry” We used to have a saying “whoever says sorry first- wins!

  4. Hi Clare. A very well written post. One, may I say, that thousands of parents around the world can empathise with. My feeling is that Family Mass is just that – FAMILY Mass, where one can expect all members of the Family to be present, the youngest through to the eldest. That is surely the beauty of Family Mass. On this side of the pond, attitudes seem to be changing and God’s children of all ages are welcome. The problem is that there are always going to be people who, for their own reasons are a little lees than tolerant of the noise and demands of little ones.
    Btw, I love Robin Haig’s response 🙂

  5. I sympathise greatly, but I have to say that Cathy’s response resonates very much with me too. Some time ago, I saw an article somewhere on the internet which began very much like yours, Clare, but continued very much on Cathy’s line above. I wish I could recall where I’d seen it, because it was brilliant, and said what I’d want to say far more eloquently: maybe someone else here will remember it? Of course no one should be contemptuous towards mothers struggling with young children (I love the comment above about how you all deserve papal honours, too!) but equally, we never know what complex emotions may be behind other people’s harshness, and how much pain. Incidentally, for what it’s worth,, although I’m not a (biological) mother, this isn’t abstract as far as I’m concerned: I’m a religious, but before I found my vocation, my childlessness was a profound source of sorrow to me, and yes, I’m sure this did play a part in my sometimes less than ideally tolerant reactions towards noisy little ones n church. Perhaps, if I’m truly honest, it occasionally still does. I’m not defending such reactions, but maybe remembering that they may be coming from a place where the other person too feels “destroyed” at a very deep and intimate level might help women who have been given the great gift of children to be a little more forgiving when others are obnoxious. I hope this doesn’t sound overbearingly preachy – and God bless you for the vital witness you provide to the culture of life.

  6. Sorry to rain on your parade of maternal martyrdom, but in choosing to bring those kids to mass you are making it near impossible for others to give what they feel is proper reverence and attention to the mass. Distractions of this nature are insufferable, and for every one lady that actually rolls her eyes at you, there are 50 more that are exercising every restraint they have in the last fiber of their being to refrain from doing so. Most churches have a “cry room” or special area where parents with children that are too young to behave respectfully can attend mass. It exists for a reason. If your church has one, maybe you should consider how inconsiderate YOU are being by not using it.

    • That’s a bit harsh, if I may say so. ‘Cry room’..??!! What the heck is that? Ultimately – as someone who in a similar position feels for Clare very much but also sees it from the other angle too – it always requires a balance. Parents with noisy children need to do their absolute best to keep things as quiet as possible and those around them need to be as tolerant and (really important) supportive as possible. All this talk of the new evangelisation and buckets of mercy flying everywhere at the moment – whatever they actually mean, I would have thought that’s about the best opportunity to put both ideas into practice. Clare, I don’t know what sort of Mass you go to but I say get ye to the Traditional Mass where there’s no such concept of family mass vs older people’s masses, vs youth masses vs gay masses etc – and no ‘cry rooms’ as far as I’m aware – just good old Mass. Simple. You’ll find that your children will develop a completely different sense of where they are and this will affect the way they behave more generally (i.e. I’m not suggesting they are behaving badly at all – just a more general longer term point). After all, when you’re at a Mass where there’s a constant barrage of sound, activity and distraction, it understandably makes little sense to children why they should have to be focused and prayerful. Finally, offer it up, despite the pain and hurt (that I know very well). We’ve just entered Passiontide and it’s a real suffering to offer. God bless you!

    • Wow! Just wow! You would think a girl could just let out her sorrow and embarrassment over a difficult Mass without this sort of selfish response. I cannot believe that you can not see how you are coming across here. The Mass is for everyone, not just those without kids or those with perfect kids. good grief have you forgotten that Christ Himself said “let the little children come to me”. Crying rooms are an abomination, children never learn how to behave if they spend their masses in one.

    • You should be thanking this woman and her “loud” kids for giving you an opportunity to practice virtue and help these kids to grow up at Mass. I have been in both places, the mom with the noisy kids and, now, the older lady sitting at the end of the row trying to pray with loud kids behind me. I am not certain that Jesus doesn’t take more joy in those kids than you! Just another perspective…

  7. God bless you, Clare, for fighting those odds to get to Mass at all, and for showing your children how the Mass is worth fighting and suffering for. It’s no wonder that such lack of charity cuts to the bone, particularly when it comes on top of the sacrifices needed to get to Mass in the first place. Thank you for your courageous post. I shall remember you in my prayers, and I’ll be sure to remember this post the next time I see a tired, struggling parent in church.

  8. Clare, you are loved! I am a long time Catholic Montessori teacher & I feel your pain! So sad that some adults lack appreciation of God’s greatest gift, little children. I truly believe that those poor souls are in the minority. Can you imagine how thrilled our dear Lord must be to see you making the sacrifice to be at Mass with your darling children? When you add all the Pro- little people adults to all those in the Church triumphant we are a Mighy throng and we love you and your dear family☺️. Keep the faith dear Clare, you are doing such a fabulous job. If this sad situation happens again; just block the face of that poor soul from your mind and imagine a kindly old Gramma like me is smiling at you instead!!

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