Tag Archives: Children

Hard Ass Mama

A few years ago, one of my higher-ups insinuated that I would be less qualified for my job once I gave birth.  This person seemed to believe that being a mother would make me less fit to do the work I enjoyed so much.  It broke my heart and made me question my identity.  I spoke with one of my sister clergy, a mother too, and I remember her telling me that I would be a better priest for being a mom.  And not because I’d become more nurturing or motherly–not because I’d offer better pastoral care–but because I’d be a better administrator, better leader, and stronger voice.

I thought back to that conversation last night as I held my inconsolable 7-week old daughter.  She is not a colicky baby.  But she does have the occasional night when she will do nothing but cry for an hour or two.  She won’t take a pacifier or bottle, she won’t nurse, she won’t be rocked or bounced–she’ll just scream in my ear.  All I can do is walk back and forth in her darkened room, sush-ing and patting, walking and walking until there’s a worn path on the rug.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Knowing that she will at some point tire of crying and fall asleep, but I can never tire of loving her.  I may not like it.  I may feel like she’s yelling at me and wearing me down.  But I can wait her out.  I can be stubborn and unrelenting.  I find new strength I didn’t know I had.

And then I remember my colleague’s encouragement, and realize I am indeed becoming a better priest by being a mother.  That these few hours of pacing are teaching me the persistence I need in my profession.  That being a mom has taught me I can carry more than I thought I could.  That I can put up with more than I ever imagined–and what I won’t put up with.  That intuition is a leadership skill that can only be realized or discovered–not taught.

I know a lot of moms who feel like their career–one aspect of their vocation–has to take a back seat while their children are young.  I feel that sometimes too.  And it’s hard because I’ve always been driven and I love my work.  But every once in a while I can see the “professional development” that my children bring me.  It may not be notable on a resume, but it’s meaningful and true.

If in the years to come I am a more persistent prophet, a more valiant lover, a more courageous and thoughtful leader, a wiser authority and a more savvy administrator–you can thank my children.  Because moms aren’t all softness and kisses.  We are hard asses.  And we will do the work.

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Teach us to Pray

This morning as I was helping Charlie get dressed for school, the brightly colored rosary hanging on his closet door caught my eye.  It was a gift at his baptism from my professor and friend, who is now in hospital.  Mo. Mitties had a knack for showing up at Holy Spirit events–so many ordinations (often as a presenter or preacher), installations and baptisms.  She showed up at Ground Zero as a chaplain to first responders when she was supposed to be on sabbatical.  The woman shows up.

And she showed up this morning in Charlie’s room, even from ICU.

Jay and I pray with Charlie every night before bed, and have since he was born.  As soon as we start praying, he crawls off our lap and puts his head down to sleep.  It has become his signal that peace has come and it’s time to rest.  Because Jay usually does bedtime, I don’t get to pray with Charlie as often.

I realized the other day that we had not been praying at meals–ever.  The start of supper is such a fluid thing now, with no real pause to signal prayer.  Sometimes Charlie starts eating before us, sometimes one of us is calming the Lucy while the others eat, and in the midst of the chaos we don’t even notice that we’ve forgotten to ask God’s blessing.

So we’ve started this week, remembering only ever-other-day, trying to re-create a meaningful and formational habit.  Jay prays the Catholic prayer he was taught as a child, I’ve introduced “Johnny Appleseed” (which has to be sung several times at Charlie’s request), and I imagine Charlie will come up with his own brand of blessing as his vocabulary increases.

Sitting there with the rosary this morning, I tried to *explain* prayer for the first time.  We talked about how the different colored and shaped beads can remind us of things to talk to God about.  We talked about how the cross reminds us of Jesus’ love for us.  We prayed for our friend Mitties, that she would know comfort and that God would make her whole.  And then we walked to school thinking of more people to pray for and pointing at things we thank God for.

The glory in all this is how God is teaching me to pray in new ways.  There’s a different kind of sacredness I am discovering in praying with my child who is beginning to understand conversation more and more, because of course prayer is conversation.  I feel as if I’m entering a new season of spiritual formation as I grow alongside Charlie.

Lord, teach us to pray.

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