A little background: We knew we wanted to put Mallie in the nursery during church services since before she was born but it was a matter of timing (as to when she would start going). She sat through church with us the past few services without any crying or other issues but Mr. Whimsy and I felt it was only a matter of time before our good luck ran out. I will also be going back to work soon, and at least a day or two out of the week Mallie will need to be watched by someone else... so it seemed like this would be good practice for me in letting her go (and I would only have to "let go" for an hour as opposed to a full day).
I have mentioned before that we go to The Ark Church in Conroe and LOVE it. It has an inspiring man of God leading the church and Mr. Whimsy and I always feel fulfilled when leaving services. It also has, what appears to be, a great kids church and youth program. Seriously I have never seen kids so excited about going to church as I do when we go to The Ark. Mallie has several years until she is old enough for the fun activities the church puts on, but when choosing a church home the youth program was more reassurance that The Ark was a perfect fit for our family. It is a large church but everyone is so nice and accommodating it really does not feel that way (and this is coming from a girl that grew up in a church that had maybe 35ish people go to each church service on Sunday).
In the Sunday School area we filled out the form and were told Mallie would be in Nursery 1, the youngest of all the nursery classes. Volunteers (rockers) literally stay in the room and rock and love on the little babies until their parents are done with the church service. We were given a sticker with a unique number and that number would pop onto the screen during church if Mallie would need us before church let out (if she was crying, needed to be fed, there was an emergency, etc.).
As soon as we walked up to the class window a super sweet girl about my age came and laid claim to Mallie. She pretty much said she would hold her the whole service and did not want to share with any of the other "rockers". She took Mallie and her diaper bag and reassured us everything would be okay and she would take great care of our baby. About that time, Mr. Whimsy said "well this is the first time we have left her with anyone..." and with those words tears IMMEDIATELY filled my eyes. And I started crying. It was pretty embarrassing but the sweet girl again told us it would be okay, they would page us if Mallie needed us at all and I was not the first mom to cry when leaving her baby behind. I took a deep breath and told myself to walk away - if I was going to cry, I would rather it be in the dark sanctuary where people would not notice as opposed to the bright Sunday School area.
A few songs into worship my tears dried and I focused on the screen, waiting to see if Mallie's number popped on screen paging us for some emergency. It never came up and when we went to pick her up the girl said she had been holding Mallie since we left and Mallie did not cry (or even know we were missing). She told us her volunteer schedule and I asked her if she kept babies during the week because we felt so comfortable with her (she said she would but she is a teacher... bummer).
So essentially Sunday was a big day for Momma and Daddy Whimsy... not so much for Mallie. But that one hour showed me 2 big things. 1. Mallie is okay in the care of others and 2. I've got some toughening up to do before I go back to work and leave her for an entire day.
To sum things up, I am so thankful we have such an amazing church home that puts such a strong focus on kids... and puts their parents as ease with leaving their babies for the first time. My prayers are that Mallie grows up learning about and loving the Lord and that her church provides a spiritual foundation that will last her throughout her adulthood. I am also praying we find someone as fantastic as the nursery volunteer to keep our sweet Mallie for a couple days out of the week when I go back to work... If you have any suggestions in that arena, please send them my way!
If you are looking for a church in the Conroe area I highly recommend checking out The Ark. Its pretty fantastic. If you don't want to go by yourself let me know and we can meet up with you there!