Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sunday morning pastor-momma

One of my greatest hesitations about pursing my desire to pastor in a congregation was the fear that doing that work well would preclude having children. When I was first discerning this call, I didn’t know any pastor-mommas who I could watch in action, and never having done either, it was hard for me to imagine how I might do both. It was the stories of other pastor-mommas on the Fidelio’s Sisters blog that first gave me courage to hope that I could do both. 

And now, nearly a decade later, I am so grateful for a life full to the brim with both vocations, often mixed and intermingled in ways I never would have foreseen. But the honest truth is that, like most things worth doing, it isn’t easy. And sometimes it’s really, really hard.

I wrote this reflection when my son was five. He’s six and a half now, and although Sunday mornings are still our most challenging time of the week, they have gotten much easier. So for all you pastor parents who are weary, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed – take hope. It does get easier.

On Sunday morning, I wake before dawn, check email for last minute announcements and prayer requests to be shared during the worship service, finish up a lesson plan for an adult Sunday school class on some thorny topic like sex or death, pick out clothes – suitably modest, not too uncomfortable, nothing too flashy or trendy. I double-check in the full-length mirror that I have the right underwear to avoid slipping straps, underwear lines, or the too-visible outline of my curves.

I wake up my sweet sleeping boy. He smells like a little animal in the morning – familiar, warm, slightly sour, sometimes with a sharp edge of urine. He’s sleepy and doesn’t want to wake up, so it takes several tries. I attempt to induce him by mentioning Sunday school, which he loves, and his best buddy from church, with whom he often shares a pew and loudly whispered conversations about superheroes and dinosaurs and the secrets of Disneyland. In the end, I set a timer and threaten to take away his video time if he’s not dressed when it rings. That works. He picks his own clothes – Angry Birds underpants, his favorite Batman T-shirt in honor of Sunday, a pair of too-short jeans that he’s pulled on backwards. I let it be.

After three tries, he decides on breakfast. I take a fast shower, dry my hair, put on make-up – enough to look fresher and more alert, but nothing too bright, not my favorite berry lipstick. No perfume in deference to the people who are allergic to scents. Shoes that are dressy enough for preaching, but comfortable enough for the church playground. Feminine, but not sexy.

I pack his bag to the brim – plastic dinosaurs, a Tupperware box of snacks, coloring books and markers, a soft animal to ward off meltdowns, a water bottle, DVD player and his latest video picks from the kids’ section of the library.

I load all the bags – his and mine – heavy with my laptop, planner, folders, books. Chase him into his shoes and out the door. I “race” him to the gravel driveway, being careful to let his foot touch the gravel before mine, lest I trigger tears of frustration. Buckle him in.

We listen to a Hank the Cow Dog audio book on the car CD player while we drive the mile to church. 

He races me to the door, races shouting to my office, is ready with his shoes off and his stuffed animal in hand before I even get all the bags through the door. I set up his video player and push play – the sounds of Care Bears talking and laughing and fussing fill the room. I get a bulletin, gather my supplies for teaching Sunday school, write down the list of announcements that I will need to make during worship.

Church hasn’t begun yet, but I already desperately need a nap.


Post a Comment

<< Home