Fall’s coming, and my daughter’s getting interested in all the extra-curricular activities. We need to keep it down to one though. I know it’s good for the college apps if she appears to be well rounded, but she’s just in the first grade, so I’m hoping that Harvard will understand (I’m kidding…of course).
We were in a flurry of activities at the county fair. Each booth was wooing C to sign up. We narrowed it down to three options: sports, dance, or girl scouts. She chose scouts. So I went over to the scouting booth, and they had the hard sell. They had lots of activities, and cute older girls who kindly helped C make a craft.
I was ready to sign, until the moms said, “This is a volunteer organization. We’ll need your time.”
I felt like creeping slowly back from the display. Actually, I wanted run, flee as fast as I could. The sad fact was that I didn’t have any time. I had time for my daughter, yes. But I didn’t have time for the weekly meetings that they were describing. No way.
I tried to explain. “Um, well I work. It’s kind of a stressful job, and I often work in the evenings.”
They looked at me with a twinge of pity. “Ooh…you work….” They stopped short at saying, “I’m sorry,” but there was no mercy in their requirements. They were both stay-at-home moms. They informed me that I would probably be signing up for these meetings for the next twelve years.
I smiled, thanked them, took C’s hand, and left. “Let’s see if we can find something else,” I whispered in her ear.
I wish I could describe the panic and guilt that I felt at that moment. I juggle everything now, with relative ease, but if anyone tried to add one more plate to my spinning act, things just might get ugly. It’s not that I don’t want to do it. It’s not that I don’t care for or love my daughter more than anything. I just can’t do one more thing.
I wonder if that’s how the parents feel at our church. Since we’re located in the heart of D.C., we have a church where moms and dads both work. Most people need two salaries to pay the mortgage. Like many churches, we always have difficulty getting volunteers, especially for teaching Sunday school. When we ask older women in the church, they often smirk and say, “Oh no. I did my time. Now the young parents need to step up.”
But when they “did their time,” were they trying to manage a household and work a full-time job? Did the household heavily rely on their income, perhaps even more than their spouses’? Were husbands expected to participate, or did they get a pass because they were supporting the family?
Most of our moms work, and they’re often the HOH. They want to do things, and they do a superb job at rolling up their sleeves and taking on responsibility. But I’m not sure that our church programs are taking into account how panic-inducing and stressful it is for a parent to take on one more thing.
Is there a space in our congregations for a mom or dad who just wants to rest? Just for one hour a week, they might want to worship without being in charge of a program, or a mission, or a class. It probably won’t last forever, but just for now, can they have a little break? Is it possible for a parent to sit in a pew without the guilt from not being more involved?
I’m afraid if we don’t make this space, our moms and dads might run for the exit as fast as I ran away from the scout moms.
the photo’s entitled “Girl scouting is all about fun” by anyadoyzie