May 16, 2011

Raising PKs

My daughter was only four months old the first time I truly understood the challenge of raising PKs – priest kids.

I held her in my arms as we waited by the door for my husband to lock up the church. Her little face peaked out from a caterpillar costume. Across my back stretched butterfly wings. A Martha-Stewart idea brought to reality by my sewing whiz of a mother-in-law, the costume won first place at the church contest.

Like every mom, I was happy that she won – though she had no idea and was perfectly content with her pacifier. The ribbon will go in her baby book, I decided.

Another family walked out. The mom looked at us and under her breath, she muttered, “Figures she won first place. She’s the preacher’s kid.”

It was a sucker punch.

I’m not prone to casual weeping, but the tears welled up right away. I cried, not over a silly costume contest but rather for a new understanding of the thin space in which we would raise our children.

If they won a contest at church, it would be because they were priest’s kids. If they knew a Bible story, it was because they were priest kids, and if they didn’t, then something must be wrong. If they misbehaved, they would be judged more harshly. If they sat like angels, it would be taken for granted.

When I was five years old, my parents moved to a new church, and I lost a bet with a fellow Sunday School classmate. He told me that Wesley’s dad was the preacher. I didn’t believe it. In my small view of the world, preachers didn’t have families. They weren’t real people with obligations and relationships.

Preachers were on a pedestal.

I don’t want my children to be there too.