My daughter’s face popped up on The Today Show’s fourth hour on July 22, 2014. Co-host Hoda Kotb said, “And Happy Birthday to little Lydia Davis.” Of course, I knew it was going to happen, but it was still shocking to see it when it did. A little prince was also celebrating his first birthday across the pond and because of that, there was a call to submit pictures of other “royal” babies born that same day in 2013.
As Lydia’s 15 seconds of fame played out on The Today Show while a birthday party for the prince was staged in the background, I started thinking about the fishbowl world that the royals live in day in and day out. And now that we know the Duchess is pregnant and living with hyperemesis gravidarum, we see the media scrutiny yet again.
The fishbowl for ministers does not often draw international attention as it does for the royals, but we all know what it looks like to be watched. I am learning what has been traditionally expected of a minister’s child. I happen to worship in a church where none of these traditional pressures are real, and I am incredibly grateful for that. My daughter’s first year of life has come with a supportive, warm and loving faith community that cares deeply about her all-around development. The fact that her mom is a minister doesn’t seem to faze anyone or put any type of pressure on her.
After my daughter was born I switched jobs, moving from a pastoral ministry to a denominational one, where I now work from a virtual office. I remember the feeling of my keychain as I made this transition. On that last day of pastoral work, I handed my colleague my office key, my church-wide key and the fob that let us in and out of the building. After a few tears (Saying goodbye from a beloved place is so hard!), I took the keychain back and I was struck by its lightness. My car key and my house key clinked together. I stood there for a second and realized this ending and new beginning was opening up space for me to carry less and be more present to my daughter while still doing the good work of ministry.
I now work part-time in the area of communications for my denomination. The work is life-giving and I love helping to tell the stories of God’s people. Now, when I visit congregations and preach, I do so, often without knowing the deep pain and great joys of their lives. I have the chance to engage, however on a broader vision of examining mission and the ways we connect all around the world.
The fishbowl looks different for us these days. On quiet days, I peer out of it wondering where everyone is. Working from home and in collaboration with fantastic colleagues around the country is a gift. My days, along with my keychain, feel a bit lighter.