Saturday, May 1, 2010

No Apologies

A person's lifestyle can be something very tricky to try and get a hold on. I'm sure at one point in history, it was relatively safe to make a few assumptions about your friends and neighbors but this is no longer the case. On the one hand I think it is great that life and society has become so diverse. On the other hand, it can make for some very awkward moments. You get invited to a baby shower and the assumption is "well, they can always use baby wash and diapers and wipes" even though these things aren't on the registry so you put together a lovely little gift basket and come to find out the parents are using cloth diapers and all-natural baby products. Oops! Or you put together a lovely chicken casserole for a family who has had an illness or death and you pack your pyrex dish full of lots of love and cheese, only to find out they are vegan! Awkward!

Even getting a handle on your own lifestyle and being able to define and describe it to others can be very difficult. In many cases, there always seems to be an implication that if you are doing something outside the perceived "norm" that you should apologize for rocking the boat or doing things in your own way. This never really bothered me much because I never was one to rock the boat. I liked what was easy and convenient and available.

Now reality has set in. I have come to the realization that I am indeed one to rock the boat. I am now very proud of this fact. I enjoy doing things my own way and making things my own. I see it now to be, in many ways, my responsibility. I look back on life and the things that I remember are the things that were different and special and unique to me or my family or my friends. Yes, I'm still peeved about the cow bell at the wedding, but over all the cow bell tradition is a fun one to share with my family.

From the time I was young, I always knew I wanted to get married and have a family. No question about it. And for the most part growing up in small-town Alabama, that was not only accepted, but expected. No problems there. Except when I started pursuing my M.Div. Maybe it was the influx of people and perspectives so different from my own. Maybe it was the fact that we were all spending buckets of money on a professional degree. I don't know what it was. But I always felt the need to apologize for the fact that I wanted to get married and have a family. And that may mean putting my husband's career above my own. Or taking some time off to raise my kids. That just seemed so "abnormal", some would even say wrong. Sure people got married all the time. Some even had kids. But it was so different when it was a guy. His wife could have a baby and he could show up two days later and take a mid-term. I wouldn't have been able to do that. And I don't know that there would have been much sympathy for me either. It's unfortunate but it is what it is.

Now I find myself in similar situations, except turned around a bit. I am very lucky to have a wonderful, loving, supportive church to serve. They have had two female ministers prior to my coming. They have had one or two who were younger than me as well. I'm not really breaking much new ground here. Except, that I am the first female to be married. And they aren't quite sure what to do with Jeff. They love him dearly, but I see how lots of people aren't quite sure what to expect of him, or of me. On the very first Sunday I sat on the front pew to lead the service because the previous minister never used the "big chairs" up front, and there really isn't much room to move around up there anyway. Jeff chose a pew in the back on the other side. Several people had a fit and asked him "well, aren't you going to sit with her?" Thank heavens he simply responded "She's a big girl, she doesn't need me to hold her hand!" And nobody said anything about it ever again.

I also don't expect Jeff to go to church with me every single week. I would love it if he did, but it's his choice. I'm not his mother, I'm his wife. And I don't expect him to join the church just because I serve it. He isn't Methodist. He doesn't claim to be. I knew that when I met him and I knew it when I married him. He knows that I am. He knows who I am and what I do and that's fine for both of us. I had a church member admit to me that she really doesn't know what to make of the two of us because, with the previous pastor, his wife was "always there, unless she was keeping the grandkids". Good for her. But I am not the previous pastor and Jeff is not the previous pastor's wife. Jeff isn't a pastor's wife at all! Yes he is a clergy spouse, but that is a title, not a definition.

I am excited about the prospect of having children, but I know that they will come when the time is right. I know that we aren't ready for kids yet. I know that on some level you are never ready, but for right now we are willing to wait. However, when we do have children I want the best for them. I want to find out whether we are having a boy or a girl, but I don't know that it'll change much. And just because we know doesn't mean that I will tell the rest of the world. Because I don't want anything to be too super-girly or super-masculine either way. I will probably decorate the nursery in green and yellow. I don't want anyone to give us clothes unless they are plain white onesies. I want to try to use cloth diapers but won't think of myself as a failure if we end up going back to the disposables. I want to try to avoid formula if we can but if the nursing thing doesn't work it's ok. I'm not opposed to putting the child in front of a video for a while so I can start dinner or do a load of laundry or whatever. I want to take full advantage of my maternity leave but would probably want to go back to work part time at least.

Yes I am a female pastor. Yes I am 24 years old. Yes I am married. Yes I want to have children. Yes I want to nurse my child if possible. Yes I would like to try and use cloth diapers as much as possible. Yes I would like to adopt. Yes I throw away some of my cans and forget to recycle my newspapers. Yes I eat McDonalds and shop at Wal-Mart. Yes I occasionally curse. Yes I drive a car that takes premium gas. Yes I let my husband sleep in on Sunday if he so chooses. Yes I am a flawed individual doing the best I can.

No I do not make any apologies for who I am or what I do and what I do not do!


  1. Good for you! You know who you are and don't make any apologies for it. Most 24 year olds do not have any idea who they are and are still out partying trying to find it out. We both got married fairly young by today's standards and people look at you like you are crazy. I tell people that I'm coming up on my 4th wedding anniversary and the next thing out of their mouth is "how old are you"!? Then something about getting married young. Some people just have things figured out. Some people just meet the right person early. I think that makes us lucky, not odd. You don't plan to meet Mr/Ms Right, it just happens.

    Good for you for admitting you are flawed and that you are ok with that. Not everyone can do that. I think it's great that you and Jeff can be different religions and still respect each others views and make it work.

  2. Good for you for knowing yourself so well!

    Sidenote: I've had college classes with two very, very pregnant women. One gave birth in the middle of the term. Baby was born on a Tuesday, and Mom was back in class on Thursday. The second time, the woman in my class emailed her final project to our professor four hours into labor. (The project was a week early.)

    If at all possible, any children we have will be born during the summer, so that I won't have to return to work (or worry about my students) right away, but knowing these women has made me realize that it's not just the guys who can do it all!