Tag Archives: Parent

Why Do I Desire to be a Mom?

 

Where did this come from? This desire and expectation that I had to marry and have children and the white picket fence? I had this expectation of myself that I would be married by 23-24 years old, have a home, a good job, and my first child no later than age 26. My life was laid out before me and I saw it clearly. I reached my first goal, if you want to call it that, by marrying at age 21. Now, Alex and I were working on my second goal, to have a child by age 26.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of becoming a mother. No matter what happened in life, I knew that a child would be a part of it. Early in our relationship, Alex asked, why did I want to be a mother? I stumbled over it at the time because how can you define something that you feel is your basic right? I don’t really know if I have a better answer than it is a desire burned into the very molecules of my being.

I have always wanted to have a family of my own. There are a million reasons why and there are none. One of the reasons that I stumbled to answer the question was that some part of me believed that it was for selfish reasons. So I would have the love of a child for the rest of my life, I would be surrounded by family, I would leave a legacy in the world. None of those reasons really meant that much to me though.
For me, the truer reason why I wanted to be a mom is the yearning I felt when I talked to that little girl at the church.

“Is that your baby?” I asked her, referring to the doll she just tucked under her arm.

She ducked behind her mom, shy.

“What’s your baby’s name?”

“Pretty Baby” is what she told me as a small smile crept onto her face.

Soon she’s prattling on with me and then she’s gone. My stomach gets a knot and feels like it does when I need a snack: hungry. I want more.

I want to be a mom when I’m outside doing something I love, like gardening. I wonder what it might be like to show our child the first signs of spring, to discover the world together. Or when we finger paint together and she takes her first steps into imagination and creativity.  I long to share those parts of myself that make me—me—with a child, and to see the world anew through the eyes of my child.

Who is this child? How will the mystery unfold as she grows? This is another fascination I have with motherhood. Nature, nurture and life circumstance: how these forces come together and turn my baby into a child and then into a woman. I look forward to watching her bloom.

I imagine the difficult days too. Long nerve-wracking nights when my baby can’t sleep yet I am able to soothe her and meet her needs, or being there to help my child find her way through some of the sticky moments in life: indecision, love lost, and struggles with identity. Even though there will be times when being a mom is going to challenge me in ways I can’t even begin to imagine, knowing that I might be able to make a difference and give love and security to a child is another reason I want to be a mom.

And perhaps the most potent answer to why I want to be a mom is this: for a short time, I was lucky enough to spend time with a child who might be ours.  During those days, when I hold her close, mothering will just feel so right.

Little did I know how difficult it would be to conceive that child.

 

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Preacher’s Kids Have Issues

Charity M. Walker-Byers wrote an article titled, “How to Help a Preacher’s Kid” (ChristianStandard). After talking to numerous ministry kids, the following emerged as their biggest issues:

“I don’t measure up to what’s expected of me.” Most preacher’s kids feel pressure to meet a very high standard and have concluded they will never achieve it. The assumption is that their parents are unbelievably holy. PKs are acutely aware of their own imperfections and often become discouraged and suffer from an internalized sense of low self-esteem.

“I’m not sure it’s real.” The children of ministry families often struggle to find their own faith. They know their parents’ faith is real, but are often afraid to voice their doubts and uncertainty about the reality of God. These unspoken doubts are driven inward, and consequently are rarely explored and understood. Doubting PKs struggle with their identities, fearing they aren’t really believers.

“I don’t fit in.” Acceptance is a primary issue for any child or adolescent, yet it is often more acute for PKs. They desire to fit into their family and their peer group, but often believe the two are incompatible. They try desperately to be fully accepted at school and in the family, but often feel they aren’t accepted in either setting.

“I think God is disappointed in me.” Guilt and shame plague many preacher’s kids. They have a strong performance base to their self-understanding and haven’t learned grace personally. They assume their misbehavior, sin, or shortcomings put a frown on God’s face. Insecurity sneaks into their lives, and they assign way too many human characteristics to God and suffer for it.

“I don’t think my parents care as much about me as they do the church.” Children of ministry parents often feel neglected, whether neglect is taking place or not. They see their parents extending themselves for others and believe others to be more important and more deserving of attention. A lot of assumptions are internalized, and the child feels insignificant.

Visit the article to learn more about “How to Help a Preacher’s Kid.”


The Ups and Downs of Being a Preacher’s Kid

Being a PK has influenced every part of my life.  It has influenced my values, my self-concept, and my life goals. I have lived through the joys and challenges of growing up in a ministry family. I also know what it’s like to have my family centered on, and sometimes overtaken by, service to God. Growing up a preacher’s kid has taught me the intense value of living a God-centered life, but it wasn’t an easy path to appreciate that value.

I grew up at the church. Day in and day out, my days were spent running around the church, playing in or near the church, listening to the dirty laundry of the church in hushed voices around me. Typically, if something needed done, it was the pastor’s kids who were volunteered. I served as a janitor, lawn care service, snow plow, babysitter, emergency Sunday School teacher, youth director, meal preparer,  decorator, organizer, secretary, greeter, usher, you name it, usually because so few volunteered in the church or it was just assumed that we would take care of it.

Of course there were fun, loving times, but frequently they were overshadowed by the need of the church. We learned young that our father wasn’t truly “our father” when it comes to the church. He’s the church’s father – caretaker. Other parents in the church didn’t seem to understand that his children had given up a considerable amount that their children never had to. Their children did not have a vacation cut short because someone died and their parents had to come home and do a funeral. Their children did not wait long periods of time after services to go home because their parents had a line of people waiting to talk to them. Their children didn’t have the phone ring non-stop at home for their parents, interrupting their family time and often taking their attention away at times when the kids really wanted it or needed it. Their children didn’t grow up in the “fishbowl” that is the ministry, often a cruel place when it should be a nurturing one.

As I’ve said, there is immense pressure that can be imposed by perceived expectations of parents, the church, and the greater community. The experience of having successful and impactful parents doing “great things” led to a perception that “it is not OK to mess up.” I was afraid when I realized I could not “achieve perfection” as my parents had. As a teen I questioned, “Will I be able to live up to what my parents are doing and what others expect of me?”

My “mess-ups” seemed to be a “bigger deal” than for other kids because they reflected poorly on my family’s reputation. There was barrier that perceived expectations of “perfection” had on my ability to have an open and honest relationship with my parents. I didn’t feel I could tell them the difficulties. I didn’t want to burden them when I knew they already had the burden of the church.

But growing up in a church environment provided many blessings, as well. It’s just harder to see through all the murk. One of the most amazing things was seeing how God works in people’s lives. I got to see how faith and prayer could change a life, drastically and minutely. Being involved in the variety of ministries and services at the church allowed my capacity to love people from all walks of life. It encouraged my desire to work with teenagers through my young adult years. Now, it’s working with women to empower them to live their lives purposefully as God desires for them and to break free from the shadows of expectations.


Expectations of a Preacher’s Kid

Growing up a preacher’s kid (PK), there was an unimaginable amount of expectation placed on me. Ministers often feel pressure to lead perfect lives and that translates to the rest of their family. We must be the perfect family and maintain the perfect image. Passed down through the generations, my family  adopted the unwritten pattern that overcoming Christians are never angry, never depressed, never sick, never upset with a spouse or child – always happy.

As a PK, you live in a glass bubble. The entire congregations eyes are upon you at all times. Some in the congregation had a bad habit of forgetting that children aren’t perfect, including the preacher’s kids. Many congregation members absolved their guilt about their children’s behavior by pointing out the flaws they saw in us, the PKs.

I distinctly remember an incident where I overheard a conversation between two adults of the congregation. They were discussing my brother. The two pious men felt that my parents didn’t know how to discipline a child, how to raise my brother, and were failures on all fronts.  They wondered why my brother was always getting into mischief (according to them dire wrongdoings) and how this reflected on my parents. A stinging point was they felt they could do it better – that my brother would become a convict if he wasn’t straightened out. First, let me tell you that my brother was not in any way, shape, or form, in the makings of a convict or heathen. He was a typical, rambunctious, young boy enjoying life.

Second, I took that conversation and absorbed it into my guilty conscience. I became the protector of my family. I was the good child. The “perfect” child. The one who would do no wrong so as not to embarrass my parents or make them look bad. I wanted to prove those men and the world wrong. I lived in silence, carrying the weight of our family’s image on my shoulders. Unfair, you might think. Unjust, you might cry. And you’re right. But it’s the sad way of the world when it comes to the stereotype of preacher’s kids.