Muffins with Mom Misstep

5 comments Written on June 21st, 2016     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Muffins with MomJo Ann Deasy is an ordained Covenant pastor currently serving as the director of institutional initiatives and student research at the Association of Theological Schools in Pittsburgh, PA.

Last year, in honor of Mother’s Day, my son’s daycare hosted “Muffins with Mom.” While a lovely idea, the event was held at 10:00 am which meant that all of us working mom’s dropped our children off at daycare, rushed to work for an hour or so, and then returned for the celebration. While fun for a minute or two, the event soon devolved into a room of screaming children who did not understand why their mother’s were leaving them once again to return to work. Despite the inconvenience, almost all of the mom’s in my son’s classroom came.

A month later the same daycare held “Donuts with Dad.” Scheduled from 7:00 am to 9:00 am, the event was designed to allow dad’s to spend a few extra moments at drop-off time with their children before heading to work. So convenient for them. Despite trying to work around their schedules, though, many dads didn’t show up or managed to eat their donut before they even got to the classroom. When I showed up at the tail end of this year’s celebration, there was not a single dad still celebrating with their child.

After the “Muffins with Mom” event, several of us spent a few moments in the parking lot sharing the guilt that drove us to be present and the frustration at another Mother’s Day celebration that seemed to be about everyone except mom herself. No one had bothered to ask us what might actually make us feel celebrated. No one had made adjustments for working moms, even in a daycare facility that was designed to watch children while both parents were at work.

So, what does this have to do with biblical gender equality? First, it highlights the assumptions made about gender roles in our society. We often assume that Mom’s don’t work, or if they do work they must have more flexible schedules, or being a mom must be more important than their job and surely their bosses will understand. And even if other people don’t feel that way, as moms we often carry those feelings. The guilt at not being available all of the time, of having other priorities whether work or relationships or self-care or ministry or education.

We also assume that fathers are not willing or able to make the same time available for their children. We actually often make men feel guilty if family is a priority over work, if they are stay at home dads, if their jobs don’t pay as much or they choose to work part-time.

Biblical Gender Equality is not about all women working or everyone neglecting children and family. Instead, it is about supporting men and women as they seek to make the best possible decisions in response to God’s call to care for and provide for each other, their children, and the world that we have been called to minister to. It is about making space to allow people to listen to the call of God on their lives, even if it is out of sync with cultural norms. It is about giving men freedom to care for their children and women the freedom to follow their call whether to ministry or to a job that might provide for her family financially.

Biblical Gender Equality is also about listening. Asking women, and men for that matter, what makes them feel cared for, valued, supported.

I am grateful that our daycare did listen. Not that they had much choice. With so many working moms in the community, they received a lot of feedback on that first “Muffins with Mom.” This year the event was shifted to earlier in the morning, allowing us to extend our drop off time for a few minutes before heading to work. Yes, once again most of the moms showed up and stayed longer, but it was a start. It was the beginning of a larger discussion about what it means to support both women and men as we try to navigate this life together.

When was the last time your church sat down with the moms in your community and asked if they felt supported? Or how you might support them better? Have you asked them how you might support them in their work outside the home? What about the fathers? Have you asked how you might support them not just in their jobs, but in their relationships with their children? As we look at our ministries to families, do we make space for discernment and choices that might look different than the norm? Do we, as a congregation, see ourselves as part of that equation? Part of the community, a resource that should be considered as we all seek to live lives that honor God and one another?

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5 comments “Muffins with Mom Misstep”

Yes. Equality is for both men and women… that both our contribution to vocation and to relationship would be valued. Thank you, Jo Ann, for a poignant illustration. (And for pointing toward helpful advocacy and outcomes!) 

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Beautifully said. I’ve been grateful to have a flexible schedule as a pastor and thus able to make kids’ concerts, lunches, etc. but have also come to realize, being there, how few working parents really get that chance.

And the picture, by the way – so good.

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This is an excellent reminder that the means of seeking equality are indivisible from the ends. If men do not listen and collaborate with women as equals, but instead attempt to establish equality for women on their behalf, we are perpetuating paternalism and inequality.

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There are so many levels that we need to unpack about the way we have been taught. So thankful for each situation that is captured and shared so that it can be used to raise our awareness. Thanks JoAnn!

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Jo Ann,
Thank you. Each point so well made. I so appreciate your point that BGE is about listening. We need to encourage each other to speak and we need to listen and hear each other. You make the point so well with this real life event.

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