The latest edition of the MLCI series seeks to incorporate the voices of those who are both “Reverend” and “Mommy.” There’s many of us out there, in a wide variety of contexts and each with our own celebrations and challenges. We are grateful to the three Disciples pastors who have volunteered to share their reflections with us for this particular discussion, and seek to honor each one’s story as that — HER story, and not necessarily a definitive statement on what it means to balance and live both ministry and motherhood.
by Rev. Erin Wathen, Senior Minister, St. Andrew Christian Church, Olathe, KS
Let me tell you about my weekend. It was full of cupcakes. And bread.
Saturday was my son’s 4th birthday. I woke up and made cinnamon rolls, of course. The kind from the can. I may have accidentally eaten one with him, in solidarity.
With my daughter’s birthday just two days hence, and mine the following week, we decided to make Saturday the official ‘Everyone’s Birthday Day.” So we went to the big city. We went to the aquarium, then out for lunch. The boy child had pancakes. The girl one had a fried pb&j. Then we went home for a low-key afternoon and the making of cupcakes. And the eating of cupcakes.
The ‘off-day,’ as we call that day between birthdays, was a Sunday: preach; new member class; a quick bite of coffee hour banana bread; preach again; break some more bread; ten-minute-conversation- turned-hour-long-meeting; dash home for the quick lunch of whatever; then back to church for an ordination.
And as ordinations go, was this ever a good one. It was the ordination of our longtime children’s minister. Packed house. Tears of joy. And in the laying on of hands, the children came first. Before the clergy, before the parents, before the elders, the children placed hands on their minister and called down the Holy Spirit.
Then of course, the newly-Reverend-ed broke some bread. And blessed it, and called it good.
And then there was cake. Barbecue and fruit and wine and more bread. And four kinds of cake.
I dragged home, happy but exhausted. Poured out in the way that you are after any day—or week, or year— full of ministry and motherhood.
I woke up Monday morning and made homemade strawberry muffins for my daughter’s kindergarten class, on the occasion of her 6th birthday. And then I stopped at the store—because I’d promised to take a green bean casserole to my other kid’s preschool for teacher appreciation lunch.
And then people, I went back to church. Back to the office where I think the thoughts, say the things, comfort the people and hope that I’ve got enough stamina to keep doing this, again and again and again.
And at the office I thought how, when I stopped at the store just then, I’d forgotten to pick up supplies to go home and make MORE birthday cupcakes…because it was still a birthday, after all. And I started to feel very tired.
And then I remembered: Leftovers! From that joyous ordination occasion the night before, there were two boxes, filled with cake, upon cake, upon cake. And all I had to do was wrap up a few pieces to take home. I had only to stick a candle in it, and call it good.
I could reflect back upon that weekend and say, how sad… I have a busy weekend of ministry, and my children get the leftovers. The crumbs. Or—in the blessed or–I can look back over that weekend and say this: My ministry to others also feeds my children. It’s not just that it puts bread on their table—although it does— but that it provides them a blessed community. The sweetness of shared work and word, and a place in a bigger story.
I am not taking home “leftovers.” I am remembering that I don’t have to bake every cake. I don’t have to break every loaf of bread, or say all the words, or care for the people all on my own. I am part of the body of Christ—and, because I nurture that body, so are my children. They are loved and cared for by many. They are welcomed and wanted. They are healthy, and well-fed and whole.
Taste and see that God is good. In broken bread, in homemade muffins, in leftovers shared and passed around the table, we have enough. We ARE enough. Thanks be to God.