When I was on staff at my church, I would lead a worship set and then run off stage to see my babies who were hanging out in my office with a dear friend. I would feed them, snuggle them, change them, and then jump back on stage to close out the set. For three services. Lots of times, I would put them in their stroller and stroll around the hallways to get them to nap. If there was a worship night, because both J and I were on staff, he’d stroll the boys around so they could sleep. After worship was done, I’d hop off the stage and take over.
Jared is a super helpful dad. Truly goes above and beyond. But he doesn’t feel the same onus of responsibility of direct care that I do. Meaning, if I’m available, I do the things involved in directly caring for the kids. He helps, of course! But when I’m free, the burden is off his shoulders. He doesn’t have to think about it. I’m not complaining. Actually, I think I’m better at it than he is. It would feel like a heavier burden for him if he was responsible for the things they need and all the times they need it. I think I’m wired in a way that allows me to multitask and to handle the constant and ever and all-encompassing attention that children need. You need lunch? Cheese or no cheese? *Go shopping on Thursday for the slow cooker dinner on Tuesday. You need me to kiss that booboo? Paw Patrol or Minions Bandaid? Muah. All better. *Oh right, I have to sign up for basketball and get that gift for Johnny’s birthday. The last time they got their DTAP? August 2016. *Don’t forget to call the nurse. You lost your Lego man? He’s on the second shelf upstairs in your room between the Dr. Seuss book and the Q-tips. *Don’t forget the snacks for after class. They might need two. You’re not in the same ice skating class as Titus anymore? Come here. Let me wipe your tears. It’s ok to be scared. Mommy is scared of lots of things. Would you like me to walk you back in there or do you want to go all by yourself? (Because, child, we spent a lot of money on these classes…) And that’s all in one morning…Could J have done this? Sure! But I don’t think he would’ve done it with as much finesse. 😉
Motherhood is so important. It used to be something that most women wanted or, at least, were told they wanted it. These days, less and less women seem to want it or want it right now. “Maybe later after I’ve achieved a particular career goal.” Why is that? It has been my observation that, for many women, they know that motherhood is HUGE. It consumes so much time and brain space. Also, they know that some aspirations will have to be put on hold because the system by which employers employ is not one that encourages moms to continue populating the earth and their businesses with bright, talented human beings/future employees, while still pursuing their own career dreams.
A rather famous businessman and, now, politician was quoted as saying that moms are an “inconvenience” to business owners, and he was bold (dumb) enough to say it on TV. So many people were enraged and appalled, but why? Perhaps they were enraged because of the injustice. Perhaps it was because someone spoke out thoughts that they had hidden deep within. I think it can be safe to assume that there are others, men AND women, who agree with his statement, even though most people wouldn’t want to be the ones to say it. And even though some might feel that they don’t think this way, they actually do, and it comes out in subtle, insidious ways. Someone once said to me, as I was making plans to step down from ministry, “It’s interesting that you’re stepping down at sort of the height of your career as a worship leader.” Ouch. Punch to the gut. I assumed he was referring to my being invited to lead at larger venues and being on an album. I have to admit that I bought into that for a while. Oh. Maybe I shouldn’t quit. I’m finally getting somewhere. What?!? Getting where exactly? Should every worship leader make it their goal to lead at larger venues? Does someone have more value because they’ve done that? Are those acceptable goals for people in ministry? It’s funny how ministry could be appraised using the same economic system of capitalistic America. Well, I guess it’s not really funny at all. We’re all trying to get somewhere. Be someone. Make it big. Even when it comes to the things of the Kingdom. Yikes.
If you want women to be in leadership (church or anywhere else), don’t make them feel like they’re missing out by having a baby. #opportunitycosts. Make it as easy for them as you do for fathers. Seeing as how women are growing people, our inability to come to work immediately after birth, shouldn’t be seen as an inconvenience. It should be seen as a favor. We have just birthed and have been/are growing a valuable human being who may one day be operating on you, serving you, caring for you, teaching you. YOU’RE WELCOME. What would you do without us mothers? And if you want us to continue to grow lovely, bright, extraordinary people, don’t make us always choose between that 8pm meeting and putting that precious human to bed. Also, stop stealing the dads away. They’re needed for the raising of these humans too. We’re doing something HUGE. Stay connected to us. Do you know how lonely it is? How alienating it is? Do you know how competitive it gets in mom-world? Make sure we’re flexing our spiritual gifting muscles. Call us. Email us. Offer to watch our babies. Check in and ask if we’re getting sleep/rest/food/recharging time/a shower/talking with grown-ups time/Jesus time. Ask us to use our brains. Creating a policy or statement about how leadership is available for both men and women is just one small step. Actually making it available to women looks different than it does for men. Do your homework.
I’ll leave this topic with these questions. How many women who were in ministry before having babies came back into the same role? Should they come back to the same role? Moms, how many of us were actively checked on during those super hard first years of motherhood by the leadership of our churches?
Mothers are the hidden and oftentimes lost gems of the church.