For the last few weeks, I've been taking Fridays off from taking Fridays off. 

By that, I mean that the boys have been staying home with me. There were a lot of reasons behind this, but it mainly stemmed from the fact that I missed them, my time with them, our days together, our camaraderie. 

When I first started working at Saint Mark, I had spent the previous 5 months home with both boys on an... unanticipated sabbatical, let's say. It was wonderful, most days, but because of all of the anticipation, worry, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future and what the Board of Ordained Ministry might decide for me, that time was not always pleasant. I was sometimes resentful of folks who got to get up, go to their jobs and live out their vocations. 

But mothering and ministering came to me simultaneously, and I have spent my entire ministerial career in a balance between my family and the pulpit. Early on, this worked out splendidly, seeing as infants really do sleep a lot, and tend to doze peacefully and conveniently in carseats during worship services. I did a lot of covert nursing and car-ride-induced naps those first few months to accommodate having a baby around in my pastoral counseling appointments and SPRC meetings. I finally was able to let myself off the hook with my anticipated ways of preaching (i.e. writing a whole manuscript!), and went with what I could manage (lots of reading and a few bullet points). 

I worked with Jackson at my feet for the better part of his first two years. Cooper's gotten a bit of the shaft in this regard, as he was plopped into full-time care at 10 months, with much heartbreak and agony on my part. If it wasn't for his incredible teachers and wonderful class, I would have wrestled with this much longer than I did. He made the transition beautifully, and much faster than I. 

So, I took this last year to celebrate what it would look like for me to have a full day off. Being in ministry, I have a weekday Sabbath that's mine, all mine! My predecessor was so good at drawing that line firmly, so that it wasn't all up to me to preserve this boundary. For the better part of the last year, I have opted to take the boys to school on my day off, leaving me and Matt time to have lunch, see movies, do some shopping, rest. It has felt like a Sabbath in some ways. 

But with this new year, I am seeing a fresh set of priorities. I don't feel so pushed for "me" time. I am feeling a desire to re-claim some of our old habits (napping on the couch, for one). So, for the last month, the boys and I have had an extra family day in the mix. Fridays. Sabbath day. 

Matt and I have worked out a pretty good system of Sabbath equity. He still goes into his office on Friday, but I get to sleep in until at least ... 8 a.m. (Ah, bliss!) He's long had a claim on Saturday mornings, so this works out well for both of us. Once I'm up, he's out the door, and that leaves the boys and I to do the things that we love to do, like eat. A lot. 

Jackson has also become an incredible helper around the house. His passion for vacuums as an infant (DaDoom!) has parlayed into some actual, useful skills. I put Cooper down for his nap and came into the kitchen to find Jackson hand washing the charger plates from last night's dinner. (In case you're wondering - that is the first time we've used them in the history of our child-filled marriage.) I mean, who has time to wash charger plates?! Apparently Jackson does. Since we had company over last night, I hoped all day that a magic housekeeper would appear in my home and dust the nooks and crannies for me while I was at work, maybe creatively organize my shoes. I should have just kept Jackson home. The place would've been spotless! 

But I digress...

I've got to check my Biblical history on this, but I would like to think that Sabbath days do not need to be bothered with the confines of what one might consider to be a "traditional wardrobe." By this, I mean that a day at home should make certain things optional. Like pants. Or, of you're Cooper, any clothing at all. That's how we spent most of today - in nontraditional states of dress (or undress, as the case may be). The top photo has been Photoshopped to appear as though Cooper is simply shirtless. He is, in fact, also pantless. I'm sure this is the marker of a good day. Jackson ran around in a shirt and mini-Hanes all day. For us, this meant a day of rest where we couldn't even leave to get the mail or play baseball in the strangely cool and breezy weather. We stayed inside, playing with favorite toys, cooking up delicious cupcakes for a friend's birthday, catching up on long overdue phone calls, and making the beagle feel a little less lonely. 

I'm certain that my Sabbath days will morph and change a lot through the years, but these days, it feels like I'm being forced to slow down and focus on the most important part of my life right now. My children, in their action and delight, wonder and occasional disagreement, call me to stay focused on them and their spirited creation. I cannot get lost in recipes, cups of coffee, fiction or conversation (however much I'd like to!). But, I can rest up with these boys, and be refueled with their endless source of creativity and effervescent love. I tend to run out of these elements much sooner than I'd like. 

Today I worshiped quietly at home, and as I could, murmured prayers of confession, thanksgiving and pardon, sang hymns of praise and grace, and held firmly to the joy that came to me on this day of rest, my Sabbath.


A heartwarming article. Blessings to you and the children.

Thank you for capturing what I aspire to on my better days. I, too, take Fridays as my Sabbath with my three children under age six. They are constant reminders to me that I am a mother first, then a pastor. And no day am I reminded of that more than Fridays!I will pray for your family as I "rest" this week!

Mandy, thanks for a great article. It's all about finding balance, isn't it? I loved reading about your sabbath and giving myself permission to "rest" at home with my kids. So often I feel rushed and my mind is on other things when I'm with them, but when I can let go of that, we do have beautiful, unscheduled time together.

I also take Fridays off with my children. First it was out of necessity--it's the one day my daycare isn't open. Now it is out of delight. This only works because I have a colleague who can cover emergencies, of course, so if there is a death I don't have to scramble.

So I am grateful too, for the confines of parenting...a duty and a delight--and I am also grateful for shared ministry with others.

The only drawback is I tend to fret about my sermon much more on Fridays "off" than when I was childless and took off Mondays.

Wednesdays are "stay at home day" for me and my four-year-old. We have fun, run errands. But this is not my Sabbath. I try to take Sabbath on Sunday after church for 24 hours. I find this a great compromise between family time and time to myself. Sunday afternoons are for the family--often Monopoly with my son. Then Monday mornings I have about three hours just for me and God.

I love hearing about how others practice Sabbath. I'm still working on this one.

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