I like to think I’m a risk taker in many aspects of my life. I’ve whitewater rafted and gone snow skiing more times that I can count. I’ve flown in the sky by means of a parasail, although I never could muster up the strength to enjoy the wind in my hair in more adventurous ways like sky diving or bungee jumping. I’ve had three kids, so there in of itself is a life full of unexpected risks. Yet for some reason, I can’t seem to muster up the courage to attempt a full church mass without being in the confines of a cry room.
At this point of my life, I feel like it’s my second home on Sundays, and each weekend brings with it somewhat of a family reunion since everyone in there feels like extended family. At least the room is warm and cozy, and many times dimmed as if to help those of us who don’t have enough caffeine at 9 a.m. on a Sunday slowly ease into the day with a healthy dose of scripture and babbling toddlers. That is if the babbling doesn’t go up an octave or two and if we actually get there in time to hear the readings.
You would think we would learn by now how early we have to get up to corral three kids to eat breakfast and get dressed in time to make it to the church parking lot before mass has started, but after five years of this struggle, I guess it’s time to fully admit that the struggle is real and we can’t seem to fix it. But we do make it, and in my book, some things are better late than never. I feel like church is added to that list. And if the cry room is where we can confine the kids so we can take a moment to reflect, then cry room it is.
We’re not alone, and I definitely find some comfort in the other families in that room who are experiencing life in similar ways that we are. Some we have grown to know and others we can only speculate about as their life continues to be a mystery to us. Over the years, Cory and I have watched others who share our cry room space add more little ones to their families, celebrating the first time those families are brave enough to enter the germ-filled room with their newest addition. We’ve shared clothes and advice – and a few sneezes too – but my favorite are the puffs.
When you enter this room, it’s like you have to put aside any notion of mine vs. yours. It’s a room filled with lots of teachings, and learning to share is top on the list. Yes, there is a shelf where families have donated books for everyone to enjoy over the years. Those books have been loved on by all who visit that room, and I’m sure I could even recite pages from many for how many times we have looked at each. But let’s be real… nothing is more desirable to a little kid than whatever it is that another little kid is holding, or playing with, or eating.
Eating. Yup, we are those parents who ensures each Sunday that we have something stashed in our bags of tricks that our kids can stuff their faces with when a book isn’t enough to suffice for an hour. I mean, it’s 9 o’clock in the morning and if it’s not donut fellowship week, they’ve got to have something to get them through! And the typical snack of choice are puffs.
Those of you who have kids know exactly what I’m talking about. Those who don’t, well you’re missing out. You should go buy yourself a tube of these minimally flavored little air puffs and snack on them when you watch your next Red Box flick accompanied by silence, something that none of us who know puffs – and I mean really know puffs – get to experience regularly. When I say we know puffs… I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, sometimes we snack on them too. I guess there comes a point in our lives where we trade potato chips in for a lower calorie option, so puffs it is. And this way when our kids beg for our snacks, it’s really their snack so it’s all good, right?!
In all seriousness, I guess they put a kid version of catnip in puffs because once the container pops open, they flock to you like ducks by a pond when you are holding a stale loaf of bread. It’s like kids have special superhero skills that we adults lack – and theirs is their ability to hear the slight pop of plastic when the lid is removed or maybe they can sniff a puff from a mile away. Whatever it is, many a tube of puffs have fed the tummies of friends that have been made in this little room in a sweet church on a windy country road a mile from our house.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that while sharing is something we strive for, in God’s house just like in our’s my kids sometimes are open to the concept and other times very closed to it. Take this past weekend for example. A stacking toy that has made it through three kids turned into a prized possession when another little guy in the room was interested in it while my youngest was distracted by something else. When he got wind of the fact that his toy may have been confiscated for a moment, he was not having it and waddled over to his friend and pushed him. Ugh… thank heavens the other parent understood.
But for some reason, puffs are something that are easily shared… well at least until you aren’t looking and then one of the little ducklings will take your turn. No hard feelings; it’s just life, right?!
The first time that we had interest from other kids in the room, this momma got sweaty hands, nervous that we would run out of the puffs quicker than the final “Amen”, and that was bound to be a recipe for disaster. But it was a risk that we were going to take, because no one can turn down those pitiful eyes, yearning for their fix of the puff catnip. Of course we’d share. We were in God’s house and if my kids were supposed to share, I needed to model that behavior myself.
Funny thing happened; we never ran out of puffs. I mean, the tube did empty, but no matter how many kids on a given day are patiently waiting once the lid is popped, the anticipated puff meltdown never happens. Each kid is full enough. The puffs served their purpose.
It’s a miracle to me how that happens, but I guess miracles aren’t so far-fetched when you get the chance to actually listen to the scripture instead of appease of tantrumed kiddo. Jesus did it all of the time, and being hungry was something He was just not going to let ensue. My one little puff tube may feed four or five kids, but Jesus was able to feed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. No matter what He had, He gave. No one would be turned away or leave hungry whether that is body, mind, or soul. All were fed, Jesus made sure of it. And I think He continues to in more ways that we will ever know.
Puffs are by no means fish or bread, but I do think that something magical happens each Sunday in that cry room. Yes, my kids are learning about sharing, and I’ll take that. But we also learn about community and how when we give we get so much more in return. Our bellies are all satisfied, and we get to be among friends as we share puffs together. We are one – one crying hot mess sometimes, but none the less we came, we prayed, and we loved.
We leave full, even though there’s always room for a donut on fellowship Sunday, because one thing Jesus promises us is that when we believe in Him, we will never be hungry. We will always be satisfied. Yes, yes, we will.