I have been a working mom since my daughter, Calista, was born four and a half years ago. I worked part-time and had a great care-giver who came to the house. She made it possible for me to keep working nights and odd hours at Bemidji State for 2 years, until Elam came along.
With two kids in tow, campus ministry became a bit more… challenging. Brian became an area director at some point and traveled more and more. I cut back to 10 hours a week… then we moved to Duluth.
During our first few months of transition time to a new city, 4 campuses in our city, potty training, new church, finding the right grocery store and playgrounds, I became a full-time mom for the first time. Ugh. It was not my best season of life, shall we say.
I was so frustrated that Brian “got” to go to work. He had the privilege of a quiet office space, conversations with rational, educated people and fulfilling, exciting opportunities on our new campuses.
I, on the other hand, lived in Poopville. Elam was in diapers and Calista was potty training. At any given time, one was pooping and the other needed cleaning up from their latest poop.
Ironically, our women’s Bible study was in Jonah that fall. The Ninevites were the last people Jonah wanted to reach out to, but that is exactly where God wanted him. “Who are your Ninevites?” the study asked. I answered confidently, “my kids.” I wanted to be at work! I wanted to share the Gospel, make fund raising appointments and have students think I was brilliant as I spoke at large group. I wanted to train our small group leaders, storm the dorms and have my feet ache after serving root beer floats for 3 hours.
Instead, I got Poopville.
Fast forward 2 years. Duluth is now feeling more like home. I know where to buy milk, produce and hair color. I know where the car wash is and even have a dentist. And thankfully, God released me and I got to go back to work, very part-time.
I still struggle with that. Brian gets all the glory and eats 1/2 off appetizers at Applebee’s with new students. I got to read Duck at the Door and wash blue “paste-tooth” off our sink. Oh and the best part: I get to hear, “MOM!” 12,000 times before child #2 finally gives up and falls asleep. (Do you ever get tired of hearing, “Mom” !?!? It’s horrible, but I do.)
Deep breath. Exhale.
I truly do love my Ninevites. I love my campus. Which is why we are trying to live NSO as a family, together this year. I don’t have all of the answers, but we have done 2 things this week that I thought were worth sharing.
1. Get the kids involved in publicity. We made a sign for campus the other night and had our kids paint their feet and walk across it. It was the perfect addition to our art project. Afterwards, my daughter said, “That was the most fun I’ve ever had!”
2. Eat on campus. We are doing a replant at one of our schools, the College of St Scholastica. Brian is basically trying to hang out everywhere all of the time. This means eating our bag lunches in the union and then dinner in the cafeteria. The kids love being in the “Castle.” And the dining hall provides ample choices for them to eat fairly healthy and cheaply! ($3 a kid!) Brian and I get to have dinner with our kids and students. The best part is, we don’t have to do the dishes! Plus the students love hearing their happy voices as they play hide and seek around the cafeteria.
Sometimes when I’m at home, I wish I were on campus. And then others the opposite is true. For me that reminds me I am called to both. I don’t know how all working staff moms or staff couples do it, but I know that at the end of the day, I am committed to both my family and my campus to be transformed by Jesus. And we pray our kids develop into world changers even as our students do.