One of the benefits to being in a small community and in a rural area was given the opportunity to bring my baby to work. Now, since we’re working on becoming financially free from debt, I jumped at this opportunity. Not to mention, it’s also crazy hard to find daycare for 18 months and under in a town of only 1200 people. In other words, there isn’t any official daycare really.
So baby came to work with me. TALK ABOUT ADJUSTMENT! My son will be able to come to work with me for eighteen months, which was an extension from the twelve months written into my maternity contract. See above daycare issues for that one.
Some days are fantastic. He’s a generally happy baby, he’s great at playing by himself, and he loves just about everyone. But some days are toss away days. In other words, I get absolutely nothing done. This is a definite advantage to having a flexible work schedule.
I remember back in like April or May I had a funeral to plan. I was at the funeral home, my spouse hadn’t gotten home from work yet, and I had the baby with me. Luckily at this point he was still super little, so I didn’t even take him out of the car seat. I sat him between me and the funeral worker, and then the family came and we talked over all the details and then at the very end of it, the daughter asked me where on earth my baby was. I proudly pointed down to the ground where he soundly slept in the car seat and grinned. Great day.
The number of bad days are about equal to the number of good days. We both end up crying and usually I leave the office and head home early. I try to focus on the good.
Bringing him to work has created new challenges, like when is it appropriate to bring a baby to a nursing home visit, a hospital visit or a home visit? How do I tell people, sorry you’re super sick and I really like exposing my kid to germs in some ways but this was just too much?
The challenge at first was just because everyone wanted to come in to the office to see him. I seriously had people I didn’t know showing up at the church to “talk” to me just so they could try and hold the baby. Not joking here. One of the first questions people ask me as soon as they walk in is “Where’s the baby?” I usually leave him in the pack and play in my office right around naptime, which THANKFULLY, happens right smack in the middle of my 3 hours of office time in the morning.
Bringing the baby to work, however, has afforded me opportunities to talk to people I never thought I’d get through to. They love seeing him grow. They love watching him take his first steps and take a crap because he makes a really funny face, again, not joking. Bringing him to work has created a relaxed environment, where I can converse with people. It’s opened a door to me that I didn’t expect to happen.
So while it can be crazy frustrating, annoying, and insane-driving at some points, overall it’s been a wonderful experience and a wonderful addition to how I do my ministry. Yes, he comes with me for hospital visits, and people love it! I mean, really, bringing a toddler to a hospital to visit someone who has been stuck there for weeks doing rehab after a shoulder and a hip replacement? Perfect therapy.
I do wish more congregations were like me in allowing clergy to bring their children to work. It creates a family environment. It allows people to open up. It gives us (clergy) a village while trying to raise our children and figure out this whole parenting thing. Yes, the advice comes in heaps and not all of it is great, but some of the advice nuggets are gemstones in disguise.
In six months, my son will be eighteen months old and he’ll be off to daycare. It’ll be a quiet day in the office for me, but I can almost guarantee that there will be at least three or four people who stop by that day to give me a smile and hug because they know it’s going to be rough. This is the kind of community I want to be a part of.