A quick story to illustrate my point:
My husband and I were at mass this morning with our 2 toddlers, ages 3.5 and 1.5. We've been attending mass with them pretty regularly since they were newborns, and while we've gotten more comfortable bringing them, it definitely has a lot of challenges. As anyone who has ever been to a Catholic mass will tell you, it's a rather somber, serious worship service. Lots of quiet time as well.
We sat down in the same pew we usually do, in the back, by the cry room. We got there a few minutes early and a lovely older woman who was in the pew right in front of us turned around, smiled at us, and said "It's so great to see little ones like them at church! God Bless you all." We thanked her and mass started.
Our kids were awesome until about 40 minutes in, when they both started getting extra squirmy and my toddler started asking for water and M&Ms lol... and then the woman in front of us got up promptly and looked like she was making a beeline for another pew to sit in. Oh no!!!! Our unruly kid disturbed her and she's moving far, far away. Ugh. We felt like such jerks.
Wait, wait wait.. no. That didn't happen. She actually made a bee line to this little table near one of the doors where they have these cute little booklets to take for kiss to look at during mass. She didn't say a word but just smiled at all of us and gave each of my kids a book, which delighted them and got their full attention for a full 5+ minutes (which is basically an hour in toddler time)
At the end of the service, we thanked her profusely for her small act of kindness. She told us she's a mom of 3 and while her kids are all grown now, she still remembers how hard it was bringing them to mass on a regular basis. She complimented our kids' behavior and said "just keep coming back every week, I promise it gets easier! The church needs and loves kids! I love hearing babies and kids in church because it means we have a presence of youth."
Y'ALL! This wonderful, eloquent, kind lady.. I still can't believe we were lucky enough to cross paths with her. She made our whole entire day better with her smile, that small random act of kindness, and her words. We've been parishioners at our church for 6 years and while we love it, we have gotten so so sooooo many annoyed, dirty looks from people of all ages when we attend mass with our kids - and we do NOT allow them to get rowdy or scream or anything like that, we immediately high tail it to the cry room if we sense impending doom. I guess they forget what it's like to have a toddler, or their toddler is an amazing robotic creature who goes on autopilot during church, or they're just perfect parents who are far superior to us... idk. But this beautiful soul we met today made my husband and I feel so comfortable and at ease with our situation.
There's still lots of incredible people out there in this scary world we live in. Never, ever underestimate the power of a few kind words and doing something nice for a stranger. It can totally change the trajectory of their day. I can't wait to pay it forward and do something nice for a stranger in need as soon as I can. ❤️