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Forgive Me God, I Have a Kid

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Momlogic's Jenny: Having a baby is the best excuse to not attend synagogue this year.

Like most American Jews, my family really only rolls out the "Observant" red carpet during the High Holidays. The Jewish High Holidays, which are considered the most important holidays in Judaism, are observed during the first day (Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year) and the tenth day (Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement). And since God decides who will be inscribed in the "book of life" on the Yom Kippur, I always attend services at temple. Not this year.

young child praying

Why? I have a baby. And in my opinion, a place of worship is no place for a baby. Seriously, having a baby is the perfect excuse to get out of going to temple, church, weddings, funerals, work (okay, maybe I'm pushing it). First of all, my son is only 1 and he's on the verge of walking. He wouldn't last more than three minutes cooped up on my lap listening to an old Rabbi make Yiddish jokes (that my mom has already forwarded to me, "Hilarious"). Second of all, there's a lot of "silent prayer" and reflection during the High Holidays. Try telling a one-year-old not to make a peep. Third, I have nothing to wear. (And yes, that is directly related to the baby).

The point is, I'm staying home this year. I feel a little guilty about using my son as an excuse to not to go but at least I can add this to the list of things to atone for. Hopefully, God will understand and let me live anyway. Besides if God is omnipresent, He should be able to hear me from the comfort of my own home. I'll be sure to turn down the TV...

Rosh Hashanah begins sundown, Monday September 29th. Yom Kippur begins sundown Thursday October 9th.

Jenny HerschenkoJenny, author of Perfectly Disheveled, is a writer/producer, and first time mom to a 1 year-old boy.

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18 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anna September 28, 2008, 1:42 PM

umm… dont many places of worship have cry rooms? Also if you are using your child as an excuse to not keep your lords holy day; then perhaps you are not really a believer and shouldnt be going anyway. I am a Baptist, but the christian and jewish laws on holy day worshipping are about the same. I feel I am a sound believer but i wasent just two years ago. I know that if you need an excuse to attend sunday services that there is something wrong. You also need to teach your kid how to behave early on when in a place of worship and this is a good way to… when they misbehave just take them outside.

samantha September 28, 2008, 3:24 PM

Anna, I think you’re being a little judgemental. I know I can’t take my twins to services. I kiss my husband and older children goodbye and send them to church without me. On the few occasions I have taken the twins to church, it was a frustrating, miserable experience for me, the babies, and everyone else in earshot. Your suggestion of taking the children outside when they act up doesn’t hold water when you’re dealing with two babies. How is sitting outside on the stoop with two babies, crying in front of my church (me, not just them) a better plan than staying home until they’re a bit older? My faith is very strong and I don’t think that realizing my limitations, and making a choice that’s right for me, my family and my congregation is jepordizing my religious beliefs.

Anonymous September 28, 2008, 3:35 PM

I totally agree. I also have a 1 year old. I just wish there was some way to include toddlers in the tradition with songs or something of that sort.

Kristin September 28, 2008, 3:49 PM

We are Children’s Pastors in a mainline denomination that is pretty traditional. Too traditional, in my opinion. Because we are on staff at this church I have to be at EVERYTHING! I have a 3 year old and an almost 9 month old. I go but end up in the nursery. I usually leave my 9 month old in the nursery without me but the rule is that 3 year olds are no longer allowed in the toddler nursery. I understand that 3 year olds are a little bigger than a 2 year old, but have you ever seen a 3 year old sit STILL and be QUIET! Yeah, right! SO, I upload episodes of Dora on my iphone and sit in the back. My 3 year old keeps herself, somewhat, entertained with Dora and coloring. It truly is hard to get anything out of the services when you have kids. It doesn’t make me less spiritual. It just makes me REAL!

Robin  September 28, 2008, 6:26 PM

Anna’s comment is typical of people who like to criticize Jews. And no, we don’t have “crying rooms: (whatever the heck THAT is) at synagogues. Also, since most High Holy Day services are attended by far more people than normally attend services, many synagogues hold services at hotels or other large venues.
Finally, being a “good” Jew does not require you to attend formal services—it’s in your heart. We believe that G-d understands that sometimes circumstances prevent us from attending formal worship.
L’shana Tova, Jenny. And a sweet and healthy new year to you and your family!

Lana September 28, 2008, 6:34 PM

My son will be 16 months on Oct. 7th and is what they call ‘all boy’, hyper, not walking but running and hard to keep still but my family has not missed a day of church since we have faithfully been going and got saved in May. And he started walking on his birthday June 7th. I think if I can do it anyone can. Children are no excuse. My Pastor thinks it is wonderful that I have my son in church and tells me don’t worry about him. Of course I am considerate of others. He stays with us during Worship time. I’m Baptist by the way but we have a band and it is loud and fun. Usually keeps him pretty entertained. Then he goes to the nursery. Sometimes we have to get him if he doesn’t want to stay but we manage. It is worth it because we are all in church where we need to be.

Catherine September 28, 2008, 10:14 PM

It may not always be the case, but many churches have classrooms that span from newborns all the way to elementary school (or maybe middle school as well). If your church offers these services, you needn’t worry about your child during the service, as you can put them in the room with other peers. They can play and learn while you attend the service. This plan isn’t foolproof, such as when your child is sick or is just having a bad day, but really it’s a great way to be able to attend church. I don’t think it’s necessarily right to say that you use your baby as your excuse to stay home.

RIN September 29, 2008, 3:52 PM


Sarah Zeldman September 29, 2008, 3:57 PM

From A very traditional standpoint, you’re perfectly right to stay at home if you want to. Women are not obligated to perform time-bound mitzvot (commandments). Of course you can go to shul if you *want* to, you just don’t have to precisely for the reason you sited above. Babies need their mommies — espeically if the babies are nursing.

Keep in mind that there is no mitzvah of going to shul. There is mitzvah to pray, however, which you can do perfectly well at home. Men do have the mitzvah to go to shul because, to be frank they are not as spiritually connected to G-d, as women are ((REALLY! As any orthodox Rabbi and he’ll tell you that! It’s true!) and that why the need to gather in a quorum of 10 men to “make their voices heard.” Again, there’s no need to go to shul. Just be sure to say a prayer. You don’t need to even whip out the siddur. Just Praise G-d, Thank Him, Ask Him for Help and Bless him — in your own words if you want. That totally counts.

So I wish you a happy, healthy and deeply spiritual new year. Enjoy your time at home — GUILT FREE! You’re doing the most important job in the world and the Torah would never interfere with that process.

P.S. I sincerely hope that no one finds this offensive. I admit that it is a very traditional perspective. I live a very traditional life — but I’m still a very modern woman — modern enough to be on mom logic!

Now I MUST go finish preparing for Rosh Hashana

Amy September 29, 2008, 10:57 PM

Wow RIN, how does Jesus feel about your self righteousness? Your judging of others? Or your use of all caps? Check out John 7:24

Jenny, we just returned from Erev Rosh Hashana services and there were some kids there who were exhausted and overwhelmed. Their behavior was distracting to others and there’s no way they or their mom got anything out of that service. I missed several years of services with little babies and toddlers, staying home to prepare the Break Fast meal. God seemed to be cool with it.

L’Shana Tova!

Davie October 2, 2008, 11:14 PM

Ummm…Anna…what is she do to? Give the baby a time out for throwing the binky across the pews and throwing a cry fit while all are bowing their heads in silence? You are being a little harsh, I think….and judgemental. I for one, have a child that was small once apon a time, and knew when and where I could and could not take him out of courtesy for others. I repeat….COURTESY FOR OTHERS. Do you know how many times I have sat in a movie theater relishing in my big ‘night away from the kid’ when ironically two rows behind me some baby belts out a cry or a tantrum? To me it’s rude to bring your baby at that young age to a place such as a movie theater where it is expected of you to be courteously quiet. It is no different than temple, church, or mass. Don’t let people make you feel bad Jenny…I wouldn’t do it either…and I consider myself to be a good person. I have always known that God can hear our prayers to him just as loud from our bedroom as he can in a church.

Davie October 2, 2008, 11:24 PM

And let me also add….not everyone is comfortable leaving their baby with people they don’t know very well like the nursery. I wasn’t…plus, that is one of the most germ infested places there is in a church. A 50/50 chance for a baby and the rest of the family most likely in turn, to pick up some kind of cold or flu. Again, another reason to just keep the baby home until he or she is better able to control thierselves.

Beth October 13, 2008, 10:54 AM

I found this a little late, but had to say something after reading some of these comments. My son is 18 months old and we attend a weekly home church. It’s awful. I love those people and they are my closest friends, so that is why I go. However, I spend the entire time chasing, shushing, feeding, carrying, scolding, time-outing, etc. I hardly worship at all and hardly get a word of the lesson. Not to mention we are a huge distraction to them. We also meet once a month in a bigger gathering with other home churches. Even better! 18 months old and still screams when I take him to the nursery… Perhaps I’m a terrible mom and believer like some of the other commenters seem to think when I opt out of the services? I like to believe G-d wants to be loved and served and praised all the time, not just on a particular time on a particular day during a particular holiday. I also like to believe he cares even a little for my sanity. I feel like I am closer to G-d than I ever have been in my life and I have probably missed more religious services that ever in my whole religious experience since my son has been born. I say good for your decision.

Rita April 14, 2010, 6:28 AM

I work in my church nursery and I’d just like to say, we have to have a background check to work in the nursery. Plus, we have to sterilize everything after every session. Its only 3 times a week though. Its really not as dirty or repulsive as you make it sound.

I guess not all churches have crying rooms or nurseries?

I know during morning service, after about 15 minutes, children from 4-8 go to Kids for Christ. Any age under 4 can be dropped off at the nursery, and we always give the parents a pager in case we need them.

If you’re not comfortable leaving your kids in the nursery, please go and get to know the nursery staff. Maybe sit in on a couple of sessions so you can see what we do in the nursery. That way you can hopefully trust us with your child and go enjoy service w/out any stress!

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