“I just don’t know how you do it all…”

“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” – Romans 12:4-5

The author with her sons before worship

“I just don’t know how you do it all…” It’s a refrain I hear so often from the members of the congregation I serve that I thought I ought to share my great wisdom with a broader audience: I don’t.

Most mornings are a rush to get my two young boys ready to go for the day. The youngest eats breakfast once he gets to daycare, thanks to the kitchen staff and daycare providers who prepare, serve, and clean up for breakfast and lunch each day. Great thanks be to God for them. The oldest gets a choice of breakfast foods that can be taken in the car, and he’s usually still finishing it when we get to his preschool down the road. The other day his primary teacher and I watched him stuff 3/4 of a mini bagel in his mouth after I kissed him goodbye. Mom of the year.

Some days are harder than others, and sometimes there are tears at drop-off. I rely on the loving care of Ms. Jackie and Ms. Ginny who are ready to help improve his morning transition. I repeat my goodbye and head out of the door, knowing that all will be well. Sometimes I find myself in tears, and post in a facebook group of pastor mamas, “This pastor mama stuff is hard.” They quickly respond with love and affirmation, and I keep moving through my day.

I come to work in the context of a wonderful, active, and supportive congregation. I marvel at the volunteer leaders who give so freely of their time and talents in order to do the work of ministry together. Things get done, and often not by me, and yet I still hear, “I just don’t know how you do it all.” Read more

Oh Mother, Where Art Thou?

Did Mary ever worry about “having it all?”

This conversation about the mother/pastor takes place in locales as diverse as the cool confines of a National Cathedral chapel to cinderblock classrooms in the desert southwest, in seminary dining halls and the parlors of women’s restrooms in the Deep South. It is a badge of honor, it seems, to tell war stories that involve the intertwining of children’s bodily functions and committee meetings. It is necessary exegesis to mention how women’s bodies more closely mirror than do men’s the nurturing, originating image of our Creator God. A photo of a smiling toddler in the arms of pastor Mommy is mandatory for the websites and brochures of churches who want to project a progressive, family-centered atmosphere.

And many men of the church stand on the sidelines of all this mother-womb-love and nod sagely, pleased to be so open-minded and willing to allow their female colleagues the chance to participate in the ecclesial version of The Second Shift (as identified by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild). It is no big news that women work more hours in the day, when you combine their work both in and out of the home, than do their male colleagues and spouses. But I am sorry to see that the church is so eager to encourage women clergy to embrace this exhausting routine as some sort of positive paradigm for ministry. Read more