Sunday, June 17, 2007

The "Pastor" Part

I noticed several months ago that, although my tag line states that I'm "trying to honor it all" I haven't posted much about the pastoring part of my life. I suppose that makes sense since I'm doing a heckuva lot more mothering than pastoring, but I still feel the need to try and honor the pastor part.

So several months ago, as I eagerly anticipated the end of Jay's school year, I contacted my District Superintendent to offer myself up for pulpit supply during the summer. I guess there were a lot of reasons why I did it. I really wanted to be back in the pulpit and work on my preaching chops. I wanted to connect with other pastors and congregations in the district. And most of all, I think, I wanted to contribute something to the household coffers. One of the hardest things about staying home for me has been trying to accept the transition from "moneymaker" to "completely dependent on husband's income." Jay had pretty sweet fellowships when he was at Northwestern, but my income made it possible for us to live in a totally fabulous condo in Chicago. And my appointment at the church where I pastored provided free housing, insurance, utilities, etc. Going from all that to no income at all hasn't been the easiest transition psychologically.

The DS sent an e-mail to all the churches on my district and one of the neighboring districts. Strangely enough, the first offer I got was from my own church, which I gladly accepted. The second offer was from a local pastor who has a two-point charge (she pastors two churches) several miles west of here. There have been no more offers and for that I am eternally grateful.

I have discovered that pastoring and momming in combination is not my forte.

As tough as it sometimes is (and I hesitate to say that since a blogger that I read regularly and enjoy has just vented about SAHMs who "bellyache" about how difficult the job is) I feel like the during-the-day care of Joshua is my responsibility. Everytime I packed up my books and went over to church to study or write, I felt unbelievably guilty about asking Jay to do my job. He doesn't ask me to grade problem sets or prepare his lectures, right? So why should I ask him to do my job. And yes, the logical part of me knows that Jay is a parent, too, and that Jay doesn't think twice about hanging out with Joshua when I need some time to myself. But the totally irrational part of me says that I'm not being fair leaving Jay with my responsibilities when he has things that he'd like to do, too. (Yes, I know how unbelievably stupid that sounds. No need to point it out).

So it wasn't the greatest experience ever. I was really glad for the opportunity to study and write and preach and feel like I was, in part, doing what I've been called to do. But I'm not sure the trade-off in guilt was totally worth it. I guess it doesn't help that I'm merely weeks from giving birth and exhaustion and hormones are at an all-time high.

Maybe I'll try again next summer. Maybe not. We'll see.

There's the "pastor" part.


Orangeblossoms said...

Mary Beth, I love you for your honesty and for the truth of the ever splitting identity. I only have our kids part time AND we don't even all live together AND I'm not really an official parent yet, and I totally, completely feel torn between my work and my family. (run-on much?) ALREADY. Gargh!

Hey, thanks for the link!

hp said...

DISCLAIMER: I am not a mom.


I'm not sure that I would say that you are solely responsible for the childcare even if you are a SAHM. Both you and Jay are parents to Joshua and BGB and both are responsible for their care and upbringing.

You "help" him everyday with his share of the work and family responsibilities by caring for Joshua and the household.

Mary Beth said...

HP--I totally agree that both Jay and I are responsible for the care and upbringing of our children. And Jay agrees, too. But I didn't claim (I don't think) that I am "solely responsible." I did claim that I feel that I'm responsible for "during-the-day care." And since I am, in fact, responsible for the during-the-day care for nine months of the year, it's hard to make the transition from being a SAHM to being a SAHP (sharing that SAH responsibility with Jay).

Like I said, I know how irrational it sounds.

Aunt Lee said...

I would think that leading a life balanced by all of your interests and responsibilities would make you a better parent. I'd also like to point out that an unbalanced parent makes for a problem child. So, don't feel guilty for trying to do it all, be proud that you have the guts to get out there and try! Joshua and BGB will benefit from having both of you around and having breaks from you at times. At least you're not shipping them off to day care every day in pursuit of the "american dream" like so many other parents. Do your thing and, if you feel really guilty about trying to do more than just be a parent, think of all the kids who don't have the benefit of any parent to stress about how much time they spend with their kids. It's all about perspective...

Sarah said...

Relationships and sharing work and getting a good balance between two people's needs and desires is hard enough without kids - I imagine it gets much harder when you throw in a baby and a pregnancy!

Sounds like you are doing your best - and doing it well - which is all you can do.

HP said...

Didn't mean to sound critical...just trying to say I don't think you need to feel guilty. I frankly don't know how you do it all! Dogs are quite enough for me to manage!

erica said...

Mary Beth--

Again, like HP, not trying to be critical, but...

Remember that it's a privilege for Jay to get in on that child care time, and can also be a part of modeling an alternative for the people around you who DO still view you as pastor, i.e. someone whose lifestyle choices they might want to emulate. (We just got back from a youth group trip with Erik and baby attending, and the kids in my group were blown away by seeing a dad who was so involved with his kid. Many of their dads are great dads, but nervous about handling a baby...)

I'm sure you and Jay already exist as amazing co-parents. Finding that perfect balance where you're comfortable juggling back and forth during the day is tricky.

OK, if I haven't now said something offensive, I've tagged you. See my blog.

Mary Beth said...

Thanks, Erica. I realize every day how lucky I am that Jay was the SAHD for the first seven months of Joshua's life. They are so close now, and I wonder if it would be that way if Jay hadn't been the primary caretaker for such a long time.

It was pretty strange, I think, for my parishioners at my last church to see Jay as the SAHD. For some of them it made sense and for others it was never anything but an anomaly. Although I think they were all impressed that Jay was so completely involved in Joshua's life, that he sang in the choir with Joshua strapped to him in a sling, that he took Joshua on outings and put him to bed on the nights that I had meetings. I certainly hope that it provided a different (and healthy) perspective

Does Zora still go to work with you? I always wished that was possible for us but Joshua just isn't that baby.