“Did you read that somewhere? “My husband asked.
“Read what?” I sniffled.
“The part about being a minister. I think being a minister sorta gives respect to the whole motherhood thing.” It was then he stood up and excused himself. He had to pee. (I know, I know, TMI! But my husband pees and so does yours and it’s important to the story—really, it is.)
This gave me time to think, no reflect. (With seven kids, this kind of think-time is limited.) So I reflected about all the times, through the years, when I’ve struggled with my identity. Yep, the big I word which is really the big ME word. Are you tracking with me, Sister? Hang in there!
The truth is, I never dreamed of being a momma. Yeah, you heard me. You probably thought a woman with seven kids grew up dreaming of being a momma. But it wasn’t what I replied when someone asked me, “So little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
You see, I was going to be a veterinarian, a psychiatric nurse, a truck driver (I still love wide open spaces and having control of the wheel. That would be another blog post. But I digress.), a counselor, a teacher, and the list was longer, but you get the idea—momma wasn’t on it. Sure I played with baby dolls, but enter Career Barbie and I was hooked. Compare changing diapers to changing into stylish clothes, cute shoes, and driving a convertible and well, there was no comparison.
Then I met Ken. No, really, I met Ken. A real Ken. And Ken and Barbie, okay, okay, Ken and Carolyn got married. And then other things happened. (I’ll keep my TMI, my TMI here.) And before the ink on my teaching certificate was barely dry, I was going to be a Momma.
I still remember the day, standing by the copy machine in the elementary school office, my tummy the size of a watermelon, cranking out reading papers for my class, when the principal cleared his throat and said, “I hear you’re not coming back next year.”
Yep, Barbie had decided to trade in her convertible for a station wagon. (That’s a half-lie, I’ve never owned a convertible. It was actually an Oldsmobile Forenza. But it had pin stripes! But again, I digress.)
And just when I thought, I might have the career and convertible, three little girls showed up. They needed some mothering. And I was doing what I never dreamed of doing—mothering. Again.
That leads me back to last week when I said . . . no, I cried, “I feel like all I get done all day is minister to our kids!” I had hit one of those days when everyone needed me and I felt like I just couldn’t keep up. I was just plain burned out. I had lost my sense of true identity. It still happens to me some days, even after all these years.
You see, I wouldn’t trade being a mother, not for all the letters I could have put after my name. I made choices to keep and serve each child that has come my way, either by my womb or some other miraculous process. And my parents taught me to stand by my choices, even when my choices have led to more dirty diapers than paychecks.
So as I stood up, from that little timeout stool in my kitchen, and reflected, it hit me. I am a Reverend Mother. The title rolled through my mind. I smiled.
I’m not a Reverend Mother in the catholic sense, although, I certainly have bellowed out “Climb every mountain . . . follow every rainbow,” and such, through the years. I’d like to think that I’ve been my children’s strongest cheerleader.
I’m not a Reverend Mother in the theological sense, although I think I’ve listened to more sermon hours than it takes time to get an M.Div. And my older kids will tell you, I’ve certainly preached enough sermons.
But I am a Reverend Mother because motherhood is a sacred calling. Each time I choose to lay down ME to listen to my kids, to guide them, to weep with them or for them, to love them without return, I’m doing the sacred. It’s something close to holy. Something that goes so against my inner core, my human nature, that I get a glimpse of the miraculous.
So I will hold my head high, determined to embrace my new Identity and lay down ME.
And Sister, whether you have twenty titles or one, three careers or one, seven kids or one, if you listen, guide, weep, love, and lay down your ME for your kids or your step-kids, so are you.
Embrace the title with me. Say it with me. Out loud. Head held high. I am a Reverend Mother.
So Sister, what did you want to be when you grew up?