If you’re a regular church attender, you know that there are a few people you see at church often.
These are the “regulars.” We all know what it means to be the chronically late person to church–it’s happened to each of us once in a while. But have you ever met been in the seat of the young married couple? Have you ever watched the new mom almost fall asleep in her chair?
Here are the seven kinds of people you’re likely to meet in the pews this Sunday.
1) The Chronically Late Person
This person tries to creak open the large doors about 10 minutes after the service has started. Usually during prayer. Just as the pastor says that there is someone in the hospital awaiting surgery, you’ll hear the “creek, creek” of the door. Watching them maneuver the door open is entertaining—which is why yours isn’t the only head crooked toward the back.
Sometimes these negligent church-goers have a baby crooked in one arm. Alternatively, they are families of five with a crew of duckling children looking penitent for their refusal to get ready on time. Every once in a while, it’s a college student that can’t get out of bed until ten minutes before service. What? It’s 9:50 already? Church starts at 10!
2) The Family People Who Look Dazed
These are the people with 2-6 children. The mother sits in the middle while one child attempts to thwack the other over their mother’s lap. You’ll hear the sound “Shhhh” at least five times before children are let out for children’s church. Sometimes these parents are literally covered, like a pretzel covered in chocolate and sprinkles. You can’t even see their bodies. They have one arm linked a child’s arm like a sausage chain, another crawling on their back, and a third pulling on their legs. It’s hard to tell where one person begins and ends.
This family is also likely to fall under #1. They are also likely to be the Pastor’s Family.
3) The Cool Singles and Young Marrieds
These are the people in appropriate seasonal attire: chic flats if it is summer, a chambray shirt and sleek boots for fall, along with a draped scarf that signifies an accessible, thrown-together cool. They look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Especially next to the exhausted new mothers who flank their sides.
The married couples sit close enough to touch and hold hands during the service. Sometimes you catch them gazing into each other’s eyes as if they are sitting on a carpet in Aladdin. Families that fall under #2 watch the cool singles and young marrieds with disbelief.
4) The Bored Teenagers
If they have to sit next to mom and dad, they do it begrudgingly. If it is a big church, they are most likely in the back pew. This means lounging next to other teenagers and ignoring every word of the sermon in lieu of scribbling notes to one another and doodling tic-tac-toe games.
If they do sit next to mom, they’re most likely fiddling in her pocket-book for gum, or dozing off until their mother elbows them in the gut. Generally, they’re well-behaved unless allowed to congregate in groups.
5) The Nursery Workers
The nursery workers come in with a cup of coffee lining their stomachs because they know their batteries had better be fully charged. They lounge in the corner of the nursery until a child sits in their lap and points to the Clifford Book that has a sticky sauce on the cover. They read books, wipe snot off of six different noses, and marvel at the ability of little people to crumble snack into sprinkled debris so that it looks like it rained graham crackers.
Nursery workers love the little children, but they’re also thrilled when the clock strikes the end of the sermon. It’s time to let go of grimy hands and glob on some hand sanitizer. It might even be time to take another shower.
6) The Older Woman
This wonderful, sweet woman loves to exclaim about how “big” your child has grown each week, and every week after that. She’ll watch your child for a brief moment if you have to snag a bathroom trip after the service, and she’ll remind you why you love your child and how precious childhood is. “It doesn’t last long,” is the repeating refrain that echoes incessantly in your mind. “The days are long but the years are short.”
She is a veritable fountain of one-liners that remind you that your little baby boy is going to be a hulking man in the blink of an eye. Her words inspire secret pride as well as a sense of hyperventilating perfectionism.
7) The New Mother
Half the service is spent listening to the sermon. The other half is spent staring at the new mother.
Her newborn is the size of a large gourd and sleeps the entire service. You can see the tiny toes peeking out of the blanket. If you look closer the new mom’s eyelids start dragging. Her hair is swept up in a messy ponytail. She leaves the service with her entourage of baby equipment half-way through and stays out in the hallway. After the service, she is thronged by The Older Woman #6 and by The Family Who Looks Dazed #2. Both demand to know exactly how she is faring. Is she sleeping? Is she tired? She looks tired. Everyone also wants a peek at the adorable blanketed car seat from which two tiny eyes peer out.
The New Mother stands proudly next to her baby equipment, like a Queen.