Church of England & Ministry Ministry Mum

Marriage, Motherhood and Ministry

First off let me start with a caveat, especially for those who know me face to face – this is not a sob story post or an ‘I’m struggling’ post – I am fine, we are fine and I am loving my job, it’s just an honest reflection on working out a new balance…

In the last few weeks I have thought to myself on more than one occasion ‘what have I done?’. Six months into Curacy and I feel like I’m not being a very good Curate, wife or mum. I knew this transition would be hard and would take time and it is.

It’s fair to say this is always a busy time of year for us with the kids having a 2 week half term and 3 family birthdays in the space of 13 days. It is usually around this time that I either a) have a meltdown b) get sick or c) both of the above. This year it was getting ill. Of the joys of a winter cough, no sleep and the accompanying sore throat…

Thing is this year I feel it’s a bit different – it’s not ‘what have I done’ but ‘what has God done’… yeah so you know Lord it’s your fault, right?…

I never thought ordained life would be easy, and to be honest it’s about as busy as I thought it would be. Someone recently said to me that they thought it was impossible to be a wife, mum, full time stipendiary minster and with a husband who works full time in the city too. I’m not sure it’s impossible, it obviously depends how you define it and hey, with a full time housekeeper and nanny it’d be a sinch! but well, the stipend doesn’t go that far (even if I wanted it to). But either way, it sure is a hard balance that we have not got right yet, who am I kidding that I have not got right yet.

I belong to a fab Facebook group of clergy mums that is really supportive and helpful but at the same time I feel like I haven’t got a role model to look to and some of them seem to be saying the same. Most of the clergy I have worked with have been guys whose wives have been largely at home and managing the family/home, or with older kids who have left home. So I’m trying to work out what balancing the combined callings of marriage, motherhood and ministry looks like, and not really sure who to look to.

I love my ‘job’, it is one of the most fulfilling, joyous, worthwhile and challenging things I have ever done (probably only second to motherhood) and it has its hilarious moments too, like when you’re on a serious pastoral phonecall and one of your kids (who shall remain nameless) comes up and burps in your ear; or having to use up leftover communion in a pudding (don’t even bother to comment on that one…); or wondering why when you moved into your clergy house there is this picture on the downstairs toilet door of Winnie the Pooh but crossed out!

and then you realise after the 1st No.2… 😉

But at the same time I’m asking a lot of questions of myself and God. I don’t know if any other mums in ministry are finding the same, but there will definitely be a few posts flowing out of this blog on that theme.

Like for example:

: What counts as “ministry”?

: How many hours as I am supposed to ‘work’? what is a healthy balance?

: Which is the greater calling – marriage, motherhood or ministry? which takes priority?

: Why do I feel guilty about saying ‘no’ to things?

: How busy is too busy?

and if you’ve got any questions you’d like to add to that list, or would like to input, please let me know!


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  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 6:56 am

    I don’t have any answers to give, but I do know that without the support (and perhaps sacrifice) of a clergy family, the ministry aspect could be more difficult, if not fatally flawed.
    I think that you should look at working about 35 hours maximum on Clergy stuff and the rest being for family and friends and a life outside the dog collar.

    It won’t be easy, as a Curate, you also have the challenges of Post Ordination training for up to three years, which will often take you away from family and parish. I don’t envy you one bit (that’s not true – I only wish that my own BAP result had been different).

    I think that the working agreement with your incumbent is the most important thing. If the demands of being a curate are damaging your family life, than perhaps a review would be helpful?

    • Reply
      November 17, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Thanks Ernie, though 35 hours, hah! seriously though it is ok, I’m not overwhelmed, it’s just working out a new pattern or balance or rhythm – whatever we call it! Hope all good with you x

      • Reply
        November 17, 2016 at 12:51 pm

        It’s really good for me. My third year officially started in September, but modules that I’m doing don’t start until January.

        I will be licensed in Rochester Cathedral on 20th May 2017 – which will be a landmark, but will have two post-licensing modules to do from 2017-2018.

        And the adventure is real – God takes you in directions that you don’t expect. Interfaith work is on the cards and I’m attending some preparation for that last Saturday and next Saturday. We have Ann, who is our Deanery, Community Permanent Deacon and I have been working with her and will continue to do so, post-Licensing. Lots to be done, and labourers few. 🙂

  • Reply
    Caroline Armitage
    November 17, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Seems to me Jules you are expressing the same challenge of every working mother with children still at home in a dual career household in every new job ever – whether they are called to ordained ministry or work in a secular workplace. And what happens is it all settles down and sometimes it’s manageable, and sometimes it doesn’t feel it is. All I can say is I came out the other side one way another?

    • Reply
      November 17, 2016 at 11:12 am

      Thanks Caroline, yes I’m sure it isn’t just a ministry thing! How’s studying going for you? x

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Hi Jules,

    If I can find it, I’ll send you the reflection I did on time ‘management’ and God’s rime when I was an NSM curate, mother of 2 teenagers and a supply teacher because we desperately needed the money. I came to the conclusion that I’m a priest all the time, regardless of what else I’m doing – it’s that irritating dichotomy between being and doing, job and vocation, and whether our friends a family count as ‘ministry’.

    • Reply
      November 17, 2016 at 11:11 am

      thanks Pam, I’d be interested to read that 🙂 x

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Jules,
    I’m sure you are doing just brilliantly, you have been an inspiration to many people and will continue to be!
    Have faith ? And get the kids doing chores ?

    • Reply
      December 20, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      thanks lovely! x

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