As we celebrate Memorial Day with perhaps more time with our families or time to relax and be off of work and school, a reality must be faced. Summer is here. For some of you, that means relaxing with your family, down time, time to regroup from the stresses of the school year, but for some of us, summer means life is about to get really crazy so hold on! I would like to share with you a few words of advice if you are a minister’s wife facing June, July and August with dread in your heart. This post will address challenges that are unique to wives of student ministers because that’s what I know. I don’t pretend that we are the only ones who have busy husbands. I can’t imagine what February, March, and April are like for accountants’ wives or what August- December are like for football coaches’ wives. Maybe someone has written a blog about that!
Rule Number One: No whining!
(Thanks, BC!) Try to keep things in perspective. Most women have busy husbands who work many hours at various times of the year, as referenced above. Some husbands travel for weeks on end. Some women are single moms 24/7/365. That doesn’t make camp week any easier though. If you need to “vent,” first do that in your journal or prayer time then perhaps confide in a close friend when things get really tough, but spare your husband and church members. Your husband has a lot on his mind right now, and your complaints can make church members really uncomfortable. Remember Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” In other words, your husband is doing what he loves and what he is paid to do, so put on your big girl panties and suck it up, Buttercup! That’s easy to say and harder to do, and I have had summers when I’m more successful than others.
Rule Number Two: Plan ahead
Take note of your husband’s calendar. Notice when he will be out of town and plan things to distract you from the fact that you have to parent three preschoolers by yourself that week. Plan a trip to the zoo. Meet friends at the park. Go visit grandparents. Invite grandparents to come visit you. These events break up the endless hours of changing diapers and filling sippy cups and answering the “When is daddy going to be home?” question 4,000 times. Don’t plan a huge painting project or a reorganization of the kitchen when you are home without dad. That is a recipe for frustration and sets him up to be the object of your wrath. I have often found it helpful to join a summer Bible study. Nothing works like walking in the Word to keep the flesh quiet!
Rule Number Three: Take those thoughts captive
You know what sets you off. You see a dad at the park in the middle of the day with his kids. Instead of thinking that his busy time was probably a couple of months ago, so he has time to spend with his kids now, you let yourself think something damaging like this:
“Well! It must be nice to have a husband who takes his kids to the park in this blazing heat so his wife can enjoy some nice, cool, quiet time at home.”
There was no social media when I was raising preschoolers, but I can imagine what it is like to see pictures that people on the trip are posting of the group singing with a tribe in Africa or sitting in a circle of kids in an inner city playing a game of Duck, Duck, Goose or of the whole group playing a game of beach volleyball. It is easy to sink into a pity party and resent the opportunities he has for ministry while you are stuck at home. Please take those thoughts captive as 2 Corinthians 10:5 says. When you know a thought is selfish or bitter, don’t allow yourself to feed that attitude. Focus on the blessing of mothering your children and the joy of watching the man you love do something he loves and that God has gifted him to do well. Remember that as with all things regarding our kids, time passes quickly. You’ll be back in the thick of things with your kids in the student ministry before you can blink!
Rule Number Four: Consider your timing
Resist the urge to have your purse and your keys in your hand the minute he walks in the door and head out as soon as he walks in. That is not good loving. Give him time to rest and sleep off the camp coma before you demand his help with the kids. Don’t be selfish, but make him aware of your needs in a gentle and non-whiney manner. It’s not selfish to need time to regroup by yourself, but just consider gentleness.
Before I close, I want to make sure you hear my heart on this. I don’t set myself up as someone who did every summer well. I can clearly remember visualizing myself shoving Frog Hair’s Franklin Planner down his throat. He is too sweet to do it, but he could easily remind me that there were some thoughts that should have been taken captive before I let them spew out of my mouth. Just remember that your kids are watching you. They will mimic your frustration and your resentfulness or your joy and your excitement. When they ask when daddy is coming home, you have to choose whether to answer, “I don’t know. He’s off having fun while we are stuck at home.” or “Daddy is loving on the teenagers and teaching them about Jesus. I’m sure he can’t wait to come home and see what fun we’ve been having while he was gone.”
Hang in there and make the most of the opportunity God has given you to influence (directly or behind the scenes) the lives of teenagers! May God bless our efforts with a harvest of teenagers walking with Jesus this summer.