I needed something and so the email that made it into my inbox that day, seemed to speak to me in a way that it might not have at another time. It was an invitation to go away on retreat with other women in ministry. It was an invitation to get away form the demands of ministry and of motherhood to rediscover that connection with the spirit that had given me so much life at one time.
I arrived at the conference after two services, a council meeting, and a 4 1/2 hour trip, exhausted and a little nervous; only to find myself welcomed by a colleague who I knew only from synod wide gatherings. She showed me the ropes and it soon dawned on me that I was the one newcomer, that most if not all of the others in attendance had been meeting regularly.
There was some discomfort but that slowly dissipated as I felt welcomed. I was one of them because we shared a bound in Christ and a call to ministry. I was one of them because I was there, longing for the spirit to move in and among us.
That evening, as we all shared our stories, I found myself caught by what another mother of young children said to us. I do not remember her exact words but the following captures the sense of what she said. She reflected that being a parent wasn’t only about raising kids but about becoming an adult yourself.
I’ve thought about these words a lot as I’ve walked through the journey of leaving my call and entering the world of a stay at home mother. As I contemplate that young women’s words, I find them a comfort and a challenge in the middle of real life, struggling to find the joys of motherhood.
I have always been aware that what might be easier to do as a parent in the short term, may never be in the best interests of my child and have put a lot of pressure on myself to ‘raise them right’. I’ve always considered parenting to be a sacred trust in that I believe that some day these precious little humans will be adults who will go on to make their way in the world. But I’m beginning to think that perhaps I haven’t been looking at the whole picture.
Each of my girls have to find their own way through life. Although I would like to control how it all turns out, I am not the one who can chose their ways through life. Just as my parents couldn’t and probably wouldn’t have made many of the decisions that I have made for myself.
Ultimately the only control I have is over the ways in which I respond to them and my response to them can at times be quite childish which scares me a lot. But still I live in the hope of my faith, that we will journey through this life learning together, growing together, giving love to one another and forgiving each other.
In the midst of journeying alongside these tiny humans that have their hands clenched tightly around my heart, I’m learning more about myself than I’m teaching them anything. They are mirror to show me all the ways that I need to learn and grow in order to become an adult. They are an injection of play in the middle of a serious life. They teach me more than I could ever imagine in this journey of life long learning.
Thank God in Christ for mercy, love and forgiveness to ease our way together through this life.