Late that Saturday afternoon, my daughter’s well-being was the farthest thing from my mind. I had 30 teenagers spread across the front of the church, and we were frantically pulling together the details for a youth-led worship service. The musicians needed a piece of music transposed for a saxophone, the projected technology group was having trouble with the laptop remote, the drama team was having trouble with blocking, and a bunch in the front pew was simply bored silly.
Where my 2 year old had wandered off to was the least of my worries. In fact, it wasn’t even a worry until one of the youth group moms lip-whispered to me, “Where’s Zora?”
It is a testament to my church’s tolerance of my parenting style that no one called DCFS when I answered, “I’m sure she’s around somewhere…as long as she’s not in the parking lot.”
If I practice any particular style or method of parenting, it would be called, “Slacker Parenting.” I’m a full time pastor for children and youth with a two year old. My husband, who has the best of intentions and abilities to co-parent, commutes 50 miles into the nearest city to allow me to work where I am called. And so for most of the week, it’s me and the girl. In other words, my time and energy to be the model parent is limited.
Certain things fall by the wayside: I didn’t have time to teach baby-sign language or keep track of how much tummy time she got as an infant. When we introduced solid foods, we just did it ll at once. I never fully baby-proofed my house or my office. Nap time doesn’t always follow the same pattern, and I know we need to do a better job of consistent meal-time routines, Sometimes, when I need to finish a church project, I let her wander around the building, likely getting into things she shouldn’t get into.
On Sunday mornings, she regularly manages to eat five or more cookies from the refreshments table because she’s learned that she can get as many as she wants by hanging out there and making cutesy-pie eyes at subsequent shifts of old ladies leaving church. If someone asks me if I know how many cookies she’s had, or if it’s OK for a 2 year old to eat peanuts, I say, “Is she happy?”
She’s gone to three youth group trips, two session meetings, eight Presbytery meetings, more potlucks than I can count, and two worship conferences, not so much because I want her with me, but because I am too lazy to figure out the tricky logistics of patching together volunteer childcare
I’m pretty certain that I’ve completely messed up some of her early training in good manners, appropriate displays of affection with strangers, and living a scheduled and disciplined life.
I’m also certain we’ve missed some early-childhood educational opportunities, thereby ruining her chances at getting into an Ivy League college.
But that’s OK with me. She’s basically a happy, healthy, social little kid. She adapts and explores, and is crazy in love with the world and all its people.
And I’m pretty sure we’ll never be able to afford the big-name colleges anyway.