Today is Family Day in Canada. It is still a relatively new holiday here, but a good reminder that we need to take some time to dedicate to the nurture of our family. It is also a welcome break in the middle of a bitterly cold, snowy albeit mostly sunny winter. Of course we should take time every day to honour our families and those who are close to our hearts.
Unfortunately, this has been a lesson that many Baby Boomers have learned the hard way. Throughout our lives we have worked extremely long hours, often sacrificing our families on the altar of career advancement. This is especially true of those who entered the ministry.
For example, in my own life, one of the things I have struggled with is the belief that I can do it all. When I entered theological college in the late seventies, women were just beginning to flood the previously male-dominated seminary halls, and this, even though the first time a woman was ordained in the United Church of Canada occurred some forty years earlier when Lydia Gruchy was ordained in 1936. Few Canadians realize that for nearly thirty years thereafter only single women could be ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacraments. I still remember the older female colleague who called on me one day to congratulate me on my recent ordination and to see my new baby. My heart broke as she told me that when she was ordained back in the mid-1950s she had to choose between getting married and having a family or going into full-time ordained ministry. My generation of women, on the other hand, had been given choices that had never been available to her. That said, because the doors now seemed to open wide to me and my sisters in ministry, many of us believed we could do it all and have it all — a full-time ministry in the church and a family — and we nearly killed ourselves in the process!
Moreover, because we were still trying to prove that we could minister just as effectively as our male counterparts, we often burnt the candle at both ends. To this day, I profoundly regret a decision I made to leave my two-year-old daughter and her three-week-old baby brother to take part in a three-day meeting several hours from where we lived. While I had a wonderfully supportive husband and a dear friend who loved the children as her own, my place in those early days should have been at home enjoying this precious time with my little ones. I would like to say that I learned my lesson by the time my two younger sons were born, but that would not be true. I was still trying to keep up with the guys!
The good news is that in the last few years I have witnessed real changes taking place in the lives of my younger colleagues, male, female and transgender, who have better personal boundaries when it comes to protecting their family time.
I still have a lot of improvement to make with regard to establishing healthy boundaries to protect my time with my family. But this is a start. That’s why I plan to enjoy Family Day today with my loved ones. I hope you will too!