May 25, 2019

Confessions from a Millennial Parent

Sunday morning. Our teething five month old was up throughout the night, and my husband was on an overnight shift with the sheriff’s department. Throughout the cluster feeding, I spent more time than I care to admit pinteresting ideas for our middle child’s birthday party. It’s November. He won’t be three until April. Preschool birthday parties are cut throat. Princesses & Pirates at the local Children’s Garden complete with gluten free snack options - no peanuts, early in the morning so it’s not too hot seems to be the plan… unless someone else got to Pinterest before me. I need to make sure I book a spot first thing Monday or, better yet, I’ll send an email right now!

7 a.m. rolls around and the dog decides she needs to go, announcing her needs to the rest of the house hold. The two year old starts crying to come downstairs, the baby isn’t super happy in her swing, and our four year old groans that he’s not ready to get up yet. I’m immediately regretting all that social media time and that I had not taken a shower before I had little people with big needs waking up. The four year old finally makes it down the stairs with the entire contents of his bed trailing behind him: a blanket, 400 stuffed animals, and a thermos cup that he not so gracefully threw down the stairs instead of asking for help. Morning chaos ensues.

One can’t find a stool for the potty, one only wants Daddy to change his clothes, and the baby decides to roll over and immediately regrets her decision. There are demands for chocolate milk and waffles, diapers that need to be changed, and church clothes that need to be found. Today is also the day that our two year old decides to make a political campaign to have Doritos for breakfast. My counter offer of less messy Baked Lays doesn’t seem to suffice, and he begins a full on protest…. I really should have taken that shower when they were sleeping. My husband texts. He got a call and is going to be late. Cue shower panic. My children are quickly handed electronic devices, the baby is strapped securely into the swing so big brothers don’t try to “help” her, and I scramble to get myself ready.

Once somewhat matching socks are found, tags are cut off “itchy” shirts, and wrestle mania into car seats is complete, we are finally in the car on our way to church. My new job as chauffer, DJ, and mediator of playlist requests has begun. After the fourth rotation of “Baby Shark,” some song from Moana, and the Ghostbusters theme song, my 4 year old shouts out that his brother smells like chips…I look into the review mirror to see the 2 year old has smuggled the Doritos into the car. He won, and I #canteven. My first intercessory prayer of the day is focused on the containment of artificial cheese.

I’m exhausted before we even enter the doors of our church building. It would have been so much easier to stay home, but I’m the youth minister and skipping church is generally frowned upon, so we go in.

My children are greeted by adults who know their names. People excitedly run over to hold the baby. Someone sneaks the Dorito King a chocolate chip cookie from the kitchen. The four year old is excited to go to Sunday School, already talking about getting his “cracker” later in church. I settle myself into a pew and enjoy a few moments of quiet before the beginning of the service.

I am exhausted, but I am home.

There is a sense of peace that comes with the familiarity of the liturgy. The predictability that some of my friends have called “boring” allows me the chance to connect with God in very real ways because the other distractions - the constant need to be connected, to be somewhere, or to have my senses overloaded with screens - is gone. There is a sense of belonging, knowing that I’m joining with my friends across the country and the world in our prayers and in our reading of scripture today.

I listen to my kids point out pictures they see in the stain glass windows and repeat the words they remember. I watch their little hands reach over the communion rail to partake in the sacrament that others have been participating in for centuries. I laugh and am grateful that they have grown out of the phase of crying for more “crackers,” and I marvel at how they are growing in their own spiritual journeys already as children.

I’m thankful that my daughter will grow up listening to the words of a female clergy preach the gospel and watching her break the bread. I am thankful that all my children, regardless of their sexual orientation, have models of ministers in our church to watch and to know that their gifts are welcomed and that they are loved. I am thankful that they will hear messages of love and inclusion from the pulpit. I am thankful that their little Dorito covered hands, because their mother was too exhausted to clean them, will always be welcomed to reach across the rail for one more “cracker.”

We will get back in the car after the service and chaos will surely resume. The Baby Shark song will play, teething will continue, Doritos will be smuggled, and the feeling of constantly needing to be connected will creep back in, but as a parent I can leave feeling renewed and refreshed and ready to face the week ahead.