When Elijah was about 8 months old, I was out of my mind. Looking back, I can now see a little undiagnosed post-partum depression (yikes, did I really wear those maternity clothes for whole 'nother year after he was born? yes, I did) along with the total shock, which I have heard from some other women too, of not being as "good at parenting" (whatever THAT means) as everyone had always assured me I'd be.
In this zombie state, I went one day to a play room at a nearby community center, and got dissed as usual by some other moms, who always in those days seemed to travel in clumps and be deeply versed in the mysteries of teething, while I hung around the edges trying to get someone to talk to me. After a while, that made me cry (there was nothing that didn't make me cry in those days) so I went to a coffee shop nearby for a cup of tea where I met a pregnant woman.
"What's it like?" she asked with hungry eyes, "I'm worried about getting bored."
"It's never boring. Lonely. Yes, definately, lonely. But never boring."
I thought of that conversation today, wondered as you do about people you meet in passing, what ever happened to that woman, to her baby. Because, in all those first crazy months of Eli's life, she was one of very few people with whom I made a real connection, to whom I told the truth.
I thought of her today because my dear friend was talking about a book she's reading about having a rule of motherhood, about keeping a ritual and rhythmn to every day life. Which sounded so lovely, but so foreign, the way someone talking about keeping a rule in a monastery sounds lovely and foreign to me. I looked around my living room at the women gathered there - all good friends, all moms for whom mommying is their biggest job right now. And with these good friends I felt the way I often feel when moms gather. I felt myself sitting on the edges, wondering what I was missing.
These are not strangers in the park - these are very dear friends I'm talking about. Individually and even collectively I know I love them, know I treasure their children. But I have no idea what they're talking about.
The rest of the day, I've been wondering if I've just become a fundamentally unfriendly person. But having given it some thought, I dont think so. I think instead that the information I need now is not the kind that is passed in a group like this. The information I need now is about how to leave my son for the third night meeting this week, about how to help a church organize a stewardship campaign, about whether a theology of atonement has any relevance in the 21st century.
And these dear, loving, good friends dont have that information right now, because they need something else - the simple company of other women, the assurance they are not alone. I remember needing that, that one day at the community center and days and days before and after, but I just dont need it now. I try not to let this make me feel sad and guilty, but it does.
There are not many other women pastors in my area, in my denomination who have little children (some of the guys do, but it's different for them, isn't it?) - let's face it, there are not many pastors in my denomination young enough to have young children. Virtual support is probably not the very best way to be understanding or understood, but for now I am very very very grateful for the revgals. Thanks ya'll.
More soon, I promise, on the sweet new church.