Sitting in my home office, I was typing a devotional for an upcoming meeting at church. I could hear my two young daughters playing the famous “laughing becomes crying” game. Soon, the younger was standing by my elbow with copious tears and loud complaints of injustice. Since I was in the moment of the devotional, I pulled her onto my lap, kissed the top of her head, and continued writing about offering a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.
Shortly after I hit save, I chatted with Audrey about how this was not the first time she had sat on my lap while I had worked. As a baby—less than three months old and certainly before she could roll over—I would place Audrey (and her older sister before her) on my knees between my tummy and the keyboard. I would return emails, craft annual budgets, and write the occasional sermon all while alternately cooing at the baby. The baby was happy because she was held by Momma, and Momma was happy because some ministerial work was getting done. Win. Win.
Audrey loved hearing the story about how she had been Momma’s co-worker as a baby while I was reminded of how inseparable are the roles as minister and mother. Both jobs demand that we respond day or night to cries of distress. Both roles are never ending and produce non measurable results. So how in the world do we manage our roles and keep our sanity?
I utilize three different approaches to balance. First, I am thoughtful and careful about the tasks that I agree to do. Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. I don’t have unlimited hours and energy so I must prioritize what I can realistically do.
Second, I am learning to say, “No.” As hard as it is to say, it seems harder for people to hear. However, doing everything partially well is not acceptable to me. When I commit to a responsibility, I want to give it my best time and attention. Therefore, there are tasks I have to refuse.
And finally, the number one way I balance motherhood and ministry is a lot of being gracious to me. On the days when a child is at home sick or a ministry project deadline must be met, balance goes out the window. Rather than obsessing about how I am neglecting one role for another, graciously, I tell myself, “Tomorrow is another day. You’ll get to try again.”
At this moment, one of my girls is sick and out of school. While she rests, I am finishing this blog. With no surprise, today, I am again trying to balance being a mother and minister.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, mother of two amazing daughters, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.