This morning I heard words come from my son’s mouth that I didn’t think I’d ever hear from MY kid.
Oliver and I were in the van on our way to preschool. He’s been extremely chatty lately, as he is figuring out the world and he is starting to love language and he really likes the sound of his voice. He speaks so expressively and it’s super fun when Insoo’s around because we toss smiles to one another with our eyes as we listen to him go on and on and on with such expression and conviction. It is usually very fun.
And then this morning happened.
I wish it were just a potty word or something I could easily brush off as something he heard somewhere else. Then I could simply remind him that he should always ask us about words he doesn’t know, and gently explain that we don’t use that word in our family. (And I might even add that “if you ever say it again you’re going to get your mouth washed out with soap.”)
But it wasn’t that easy.
It started out like this…
“Mom, someday me and Isaiah and Elliot can be pastors but you can’t because you’re a girl.”
Weren’t we just talking about something else, like…which kid in our family will become a grown-up first or something like that?
Don’t freak out.
Don’t freak out.
I was a bit thrown off. And my egalitarian heart was punctured.
I paused. (I’m so proud.)
I did not hit the car in front of me. I did not slam on the brakes or pull off the road. I did not say in a restraining from screaming voice, “Where did you hear that? Who said that? Tell me!”
I took a breath and calmly responded in my most chipper voice, “Girls can be pastors too.”
And he might have replied, “oh”…but I am not even sure because he moved right back to the topic of him being 4, and his brothers being 6 and 8, and how cool it would be if they were all the same age and they all turned into grown-ups at the same time. He moved right along.
But I was left in the dust with the heartache that my 4 year old has not “heard” this somewhere else, he believes it because in our family, Daddy is a pastor and he’s a boy. Mommy is a girl and…well, what does Mommy do anyway?
It takes me back to the day a few months ago when my 8 year old, while complaining about heading off to school said, “Why do we have to learn anyway? Mommy went to college and she doesn’t do anything.”
Indeed. It was not my favorite moment. I can’t even remember how I responded to that one.
They are children. They are children! I will admit I’m slightly annoyed by the 8 year old’s comment but I am not taking it too personally because he is 8.
They are kids, but they are my kids, and there’s a nagging question…is my being home with them teaching them that that’s all girls can do?
Many people do argue that women can’t be pastors, but in our family we don’t believe that. Yet my child has this impression because—because I stay home.
Am I doing any good?
I met for coffee this morning with my dear friend who, 8 years ago, changed her whole life and moved to this city to care for her grandson. Before, she had measurable ministry. Before, she had projects and deadlines and she got things done. Now she struggles to feel productive…she feels like she is not “doing anything”.
I see what she has done as sacrificial and absolutely heroic.
We both, teary-eyed, understood each other in this place of having immeasurable work.
I have many more questions than answers. I don’t know if I’m doing things right. I don’t know if I’ll ever know.
But in the car this morning, I did turn the conversation back to women in ministry, and a little more than that. I said,
“Oliver, what if our whole family were pastors? And what if you guys didn’t have to wait until you were grown-ups, you could be boys? And we could all be pastors together?”
I looked at him through the rear view mirror, his eyes big and bright as if to say, “Really? We can do that?”
“Let’s do that!” I said.
And he smiled his big Oliver smile.