My office is all packed up, the bookcase is bare, I am not leaving the church but while I am away on a 10 week parental leave a new office is being built and our new music director is taking over my current space. Things are changing rapidly around St. Andrew’s Duncan and around my house.
10 weeks with four little boys (and summer vacation in full swing no less!) and a recovering wife? I suppose it would be easier to be at work. But that would be to leave my wife to struggle on her own. I know for many folks that is the only option but I doubt that many think it’s the best option. Being home will allow me to see to my wife’s needs as she recovers, to make her tea, to get some red meat into her, to dry the occasional tear, and to let her sleep in. We are a team and the vast majority of the time she holds her own and in a way the post-birth months are a continuation of that, she just needs a little more support, and I want to give it to her.
My wife has given me many gifts in our marriage (none greater than agreeing to marry me in the first place). Marriage isn’t all about deals or perfect reciprocity but I am behind for sure and taking 10 weeks at this critical juncture in her health and in the life of my family is an opportunity to take advantage of a gift the Presbyterian Church offers staff and to offer that time up to my wife.
Of course, it is also a gift to the boys who will get endless wacky stories, park time, books, pool-time…noses wiped, things cleaned, bikes fixed, sport balls pumped…faces painted, bouncy castles, lakes, rivers, adventures…band-aids (will this be the summer we don’t need to visit the ER to get a kid glued back together?), tantrums, sugar highs…and all the rest of it.
They say the family of a pastor is a pastor’s primary mission field. Parental leave is a chance to live in to that a little bit. One of my mentors said that as a minister it is good to always remember that when you retire there is only one hand that holds yours, walks away from the building, and into the future, the hand of your spouse. So, I look forward to quiet early mornings of prayer and bible reading to keep sane, breakfast alone with whichever child happens to get up first, time with friends and family, a few trips we have planned. Mostly I look forward to getting to be more present for my wife.
I suppose this is the last post for quite a while, I suppose this is me saying thank you for reading, thank you for the time off, and thank you for your prayers and well-wishes.
See you in the fall,