Friday, June 22, 2012

Success, What Is It?

In response to this, a "friend of a friend" stated on facebook that the balance of family and work isn't "easy for men either" and I agree...however, I do think that cultural expectations and norms have long placed men into a position of not feeling as if there is a choice between work and time spent with family.  

I don't think it is "easy" for either gender--but the cultural expectation has long been that a male parent works outside of the home, and has a fairly marginal/outsider role in the raising of his children. This has historically meant that men worked while women raised the children (providing "free" childcare. housekeeping, and preparation of food). Society encouraged and expected this division of labor. As women entered the workforce these roles have had to be filled by paid employees (childcare providers/housekeepers/fast food/quick prep meals). 

Many families have found that the difficulty of providing consist, safe, quality child care is prohibitively expensive--and, when you align this with the desires of parents to actually spend time with their children, parents on either side of the gender divide may find themselves wishing to seek a lifestyle that allows for more balance (eg living more simply, taking less "ambitious" jobs that allow for more time at home). Spending less than an hour of waking time a day with your child is acceptable for fewer and fewer folk--and we know folks for whom this is very much the case (altho' we do understand that for some families there is no other viable economically responsible choice).   

Further, with the usage of birth control and family planning--the children of "professionals" are often had later in life, have been planned, and are the focus of the family dynamic in a way that is relatively, culturally, new. I do think that in many ways our culture(s) are grappling with a new idea of success. 

So, what do you think this "new" idea of success looks like?  Have you ever stepped away from the expected path to reclaim another way of being in the world?

(I did blog about this yesterday as check it out)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Living Life a Moment at a Time

It's interesting, as I've wrestled with the implications of stepping back from part or even full time parish work in order to focus on the needs of our family and our little guy, I've often said that "the church has been around for over 2,000 years...he's only been here 2".  By this, I mean that the time I spend as a stay at home parent (with supply gigs to keep my toes in the water) will be relatively short and that there will be a call following the one I answered by becoming a parent.  

Then, I read this "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" and found myself enthralled by the author's clarity and honesty...and comforted.  Because, I have found that the notion of "having it all" set me up to feel like a failure.  A failure as a parent and as a priest.  Yet, I am neither a failure as a parent or as a priest--I am a human being who, when faced with a difficult decision, opted to approach life a bit differently.  

Because the truth may be closer to this...none of us can have it the same time. Perhaps it's worth thinking of life lived like the many courses of an amazing meal...they aren't served all at once, but one at a time so that we can fully savor what has been offered.

I hope I can savor this one...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When Breast is Best in a Collar

My friend Rosalind wrote a blog post entitled "Babies, breasts and baptism" and is taking a poll on the question

"How would you feel about your priest breastfeeding at work (not during the service!)?"

Head on over to her site and plug in your answer.  I'm curious to see what the results will be!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Morning Prayer

For the first time in a long time I began my day with morning prayer.  Prayers at meals and at bedtime come easier for me--largely because in our house those are more public.  The God bless and thank you God and help us God litany that ends our day are partially dictated by our two year old (and yes, we have given thanks for trains and dinosaurs).  The meal prayers are sung--also, the preference of our two year old.  And, given my extroversion and my own degree of showmanship, it is far easier for me to participate in these sorts of prayers.  They are expected, they are demanded (the most rigid folk when it comes to ritual are toddlers!) and they are important to me and to my family.

But, I know these prayers do not demand enough from me.  Discipline and contemplation are not things that come easily to me and I find that I need to find ways of working more of these qualities into my life of prayer.  And, this morning I remembered that morning prayer, for me, holds these qualities for me.  It is a private time accompanied only by my cup of coffee and the chattering of our most vocal cat (we have two).

Morning prayer, for me, feels incredibly personal.  Yet, this is the prayer I find most communal in many ways.  In my mind's eye, morning prayer evokes every sunrise Easter service I have ever attended.  It reminds me of the dawning nips of mosquitos, endured for a moment of privacy, the summer I lived in an intentional community.  It calls to mind the chant of monks and the smoke of incense.  The memory of my travel mug, forgotten and found once again by friends, tucked into a corner on the way into chapel in seminary.  Morning prayer opens wide the world.

And, it is beginning to be clear to me that the discipline of prayer (and as an Episcopalian, the discipline of using that found in the Book of Common Prayer) is MORE important now that I am primarily a stay at home mom.  I need that connection to the wider community--the opening into something bigger and beyond the walls of my house and the streets of my neighborhood.

There are days, hours, weeks even, in which I chafe at the confines of the choices I've made.  I yearn for the altar and the community building I love, and wait for the time when I will be called once again to parish work.  Each service I attend as a parishioner finds me longing to genuflect behind the altar, rewriting sermons in my mind and swirling the chasuble about my head (altho' it is the rare parish that owns chasuble cut appropriately for those less height endowed).  I miss hospitals and sick rooms, I miss meetings and committees, I miss leading prayer and preaching--and if I'm going to be completely honest, I miss feeling important.

But, in the economy of need (and the realities of geography and daycare costs), my son needs me more than I need to be serving a parish right now.  And, I do hold that while the church has been around for 2,000 son has only been around 2.  In the grand scheme of things, this time will be a very short time--and all too fleeting.

So, the quandary is not the choice between being a stay at home mom (for now) and taking a call.  Rather, the question is how to stay connected to the church (Episcopal) while taking the call that is my family and child.  This morning, morning prayer was part of that answer.