I was told, before I was a mother, that to be a mother, was to spend your life on your children. That life revolves around them, through them, for them. That being a mum is a ministry of the highest form. That when you have kids your job, ministry, life and all becomes about raising them.

My experience of being a mum is more varied, more emotional, more painful, and more brilliant than I expected. My girls are two of are the funniest, wittiest, creative, beautiful people I know. They make me laugh more than anyone else and they make me cry more than any other anyone else. I love being a mum.

But I have struggled with the idea that my primary and majority role/identity/meaning for life, is as ‘mum’. In one of my lectures this weekend the lecturer talked about the idea that not only is it possible, but even Biblical, to find a healthy balance between raising children and being involved with a ministry. While I had seen this modelled, I had never heard anyone teach this specifically, particularly in reference to being a woman.

This taps into so many issues: women in leadership, identity, priorities, social and personal expectations.

There is a lot to think about.

This concept did two things for me: it whispered freedom and shouted confusion.

The idea that I can be a mum, a good mum, and also find a way to respond to the things in my heart that I believe God has birthed and grown, is startling and revolutionary. To a large degree I had resigned myself to being on the periphery at my most involved. But what if there was more?

For so long my identity was tied up in ministry and what I did in under the banner of ‘serving the church’. And I have spent a long time and travelled a lengthy distance to discover who I am apart from what I ‘do’. And now all of this needs to be addressed in light of the idea that pursuing the ‘God things’ in balance with the stage of life I find myself in (ie. being a mum) is possible and ok.

This, I am sure, is going to be an ongoing dialogue…. (and now back to listening to my lecturer…!)


3 responses to “mum

  • Geoff Matheson

    Cat, it’s interesting that you’re posting this after hearing Rob and Di talking on Sunday morning about the way that their involvement in Jemima and Johanna’s lives has been a big part of their contribution to the life of Ranges. Now that’s not to say that you should start recruiting baby-sitters as a ministry opportunity, but instead to suggest that when community happens right; even seemingly personal things like raising children happens in community. Now that’s a big call: and means handing over a degree of control (and is very easy for the childless to say), but I was struck by what a beautiful thing it was to hear.

    Having said that, as soon as your kid does a poo: I”m not helping 😛

    • Geoff Matheson

      Bah – there are few things more annoying than seeing a typo moments after hitting “Reply”. Suffice to say, we can all agree that I do not believe there to be a quotation mark between the I and the M in I’m.

  • catjohnstone

    Thanks Geoff, I like it. In the case of Rob and Di and the girls, it’s sad to say that it seems the exception to the rule, partly fuelled by the ethos of Ranges, but mostly because of the heart and generosity of those involved.
    And you’re right, it seems that when community is happening well raising children becomes a shared experience. We have always wanted our girls to be influenced/loved/encouraged etc. by the people closest to use. It stands to reason that if my life is richer for being in relationship with many people, than so will the girl’s lives.
    I really like your take on it because it firmly puts the idea of community in the middle of everything – life, kids, and ministry – as it should be.
    Like I said, there is a lot to think about!

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