Being the Church

Topher has been at day camp at our church this week.

Last week I was envisioning all the free time I was going to have in the mornings while Ellie napped.  I was going to catch up on chores!  Deep clean my house!  Make a work schedule!  Submit queries for freelancing!  Organize the linen closet!  Nap!

None of those things have happened.

Instead, I've been spending my time deep in thought.  The sink is full of dishes, the floor is covered in crumbs, and the doors on the linen closet still won't close - but I've figured something out.

All week I've been struggling with the fact that the place I should feel the most at home is the place where I feel the most self-conscious:


This is how a typical morning goes:

Topher picks out his own clothes so he's probably wearing wearing his swim shorts and an oversized "T-shirts for Turkeys" shirt he got from the local radio station when we donated a turkey last Thanksgiving. I'm wearing my usual summer wardrobe of shorts (that I've probably owned for at least six years) and a tank top from Old Navy.  My hair is in a ponytail, I'm not wearing make-up unless you count chapstick, and Ellie is still in her wrinkled pyjamas.

Our mornings are so rushed that I don't think anything of it.  We have to wake up an hour earlier than usual to drive Nathan to work so we can have the car (our church is too far to away to walk to) and we barely have half an hour at home before it's time to take Topher.  I'm feeling good - we're going to be on time! - but then I see the other moms in their skinny jeans, flowing shirts, and Pinterest updos, with their kids in brand name clothing that actually fits properly and matches.  Topher never matches.

And I feel disgusting.  Frumpy.  Less of a mother.  

Pathetic, isn't it?

The church we attend is fairly large and fairly wealthy.  I never really noticed it when we were part of the young adults/college and career group because we were all struggling to make ends meet, but now it's glaringly obvious.  When I went back to work after Topher was born I felt like I was the only working mother in the history of our church.  I would have loved to stay home but with student loan and car payments and a mortgage, it just wasn't possible - but all of the women's events and Bible studies were during the day.  Now that I am home during the day, every now and then I get invited to join in but I always say no, because they cost at least $80 to join (for "materials), plus $60 (minimum) for childcare - and I can buy the same Beth Moore book on Amazon and do the Bible study at home.   I don't go to the Pop-In group on Wednesdays because we only have one car and it's too much of a pain to drive Nathan to work for something Topher isn't going to enjoy anyway.  And don't get me started on preschool!

Earlier this week I was feeling frustrated that we don't have more.  We don't have a house in the Hamptons - we live in a tiny, two-bedroom condo in a less than stellar neighbourhood.  We only have one car.  I stay home with the kids during the day but work from the time Nathan gets home into the wee hours of the night, either typing medical reports or writing about exciting things like equine dentition and rain rot, just to make ends meet.  We shop the sales at Old Navy and buy used toys and clothing from Once Upon a Child.

But we have enough.

No, we have more than enough.

Sometimes I get so caught up in comparing myself to other people and the lives I think they lead that I forget that.  

I get upset with The Church when I really am is frustrated with not actually being The Church.     

So tomorrow is going to be different.  I'm still going to wear my six-year-old shorts and a tank top, and Topher will probably beg to wear his "T-shirts for Turkeys" shirt again because it's his favourite, and I can guarantee that Ellie will still be in her wrinkled pyjamas.  But instead of feeling disgusting and frumpy, I'm going to take a step outside of myself.  Rather than judging others and deciding that they're judging me, I'm going to talk to the other moms.  Instead of grabbing Topher and making a mad dash for the door, I'm going to thank Topher's teachers for the great job they've done this week with their ten tiny campers.  I'm going to connect with the new mom who posted on the Pop-In Facebook page.

As terrifying as it is, and as inadequate as I feel, I'm going to reach out.

I'm going to be The Church.